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Top 5 Anti-Stress Foods

Here is a list of top 5 stress reducing foods that you can indulge on to deal with your stress. However, please do be careful as some of us may be allergic to certain food items. Please proceed with caution and always make certain of the foods your are about to partake will not cause harm to your health.

As a fourth part of our Anti-Stress blogs, let’s take a look at something we all love to do and that is EAT!

Here is a list of top 5 stress reducing foods that you can indulge on to deal with your stress. However, please do be careful as some of us may be allergic to certain food items. Please proceed with caution and always make certain of the foods your are about to partake are organic, non-GMO and will not cause harm to your health.

Green Leafy Vegetables

Dark leafy greens contain high levels of magnesium, a critical mineral for managing stress. Stress depletes your body of magnesium, and this can lead to headaches, anxiety, and restlessness.

According to Time magazine, a 2012 study in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that elderly people who ate more folate from dark green leafy vegetables had a lower risk of depression than those who ate fewer leafy vegetables. “It can be hard to tell which came first—upbeat thoughts or healthy eating—but the researchers found that healthy eating seemed to predict a positive mood the next day,” the Time article further stated.

You won’t feel the results of eating greens instantaneously, so be sure to keep them in daily rotation to reap the benefits.

Nuts -Almonds and Seeds – Chia and Pumpkin

Nuts such as Almond are rich source of magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B’s. All of which are excellent nutrients for help us combat stress and nourish our nervous system.

Chia and pumpkin seeds are no exception as it is a good source of magnesium, for managing stress and mitigating depression. Plus they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits to the brain. In fact, some doctors and researchers believe the growing epidemic of depression and anxiety in our population has something to do with our diet, including widespread omega-3 deficiency.

We add pumpkin and chia seeds and almond milk to your morning cereal and lunch smoothie.

Bran Breakfast Cereal and Yogurt

Some scientists say that carbohydrates might help you better manage stress. But you need complex carbs, not your typical refined carbs such as donuts and cup cakes.

superfoodsAn organic form of bran breakfast cereal such as oatmeal has abundant source magnesium and other nutrients. According to Authority Nutrition, oats are a whole-grain cereal, known scientifically as Avena sativa. They are mainly grown in North America and Europe. They are a very good source of fiber, especially beta-glucan, and are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Whole oats are the only source of a unique group of antioxidants called avenanthramides, believed to have protective effects against heart disease.

Similar to antidepressants, complex carbohydrates might help your brain generate calming serotonin, MIT researchers say.

We’re learning more about how our gut affects our brain. According to Time, “stress can inflame gastrointestinal symptoms.” In 2013, scientists at UCLA found that healthy women who ate the probiotics in yogurt reduced activity in regions of the brain that handle stress.

We add blueberry and other kinds of berries, almond nut and a variety of seeds to our morning White Mountain L. Bulgaricus yogurt. Sounds delicious doesn’t it. It is indeed!

Fish

Believe or not, fish like Halibut and Mackeral are among the food source that have rich content of Magnesium per serving. Magnesium is a vital mineral for many of our body systems including but not limited to nervous system (calming effect), muscular functions, cardiovascular activities, and immune system. With the current U.S. adult RDA of magnesium set at 320-420 mg per day, the average American’s intake is only slightly more than half the minimum amount of magnesium required to function effectively. So eat more fish and you may want to consider Magnesium supplementation as well.

“The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have healthy inflammatory properties that may help counteract the negative effects of stress hormones,” says Lisa Cimperman, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

A 3-ounce serving of cooked wild salmon might contain 2,000 milligrams of omega-3s, which is twice the daily intake the American Heart Association recommends for people with heart disease.

Dark Chocolate

You must be saying to yourself, now you are talking about a food item that I can easily stick with every day.

In fact, you might be asking why didn’t you mentioned it on top of this blog instead of leaving it for last. Well, for one, I have a weird sense of humor that I like to tease people a bit from time to time. Secondly, I know you won’t be reading the rest of this blog attentively without being tempted to go get that chocolate right away.  

There’s no mistaking the feel good rush we feel after biting into a piece of dark chocolate. That’s because it boosts our serotonin levels, which also boosts our mood and makes us feel happier. In addition, studies indicate polyphenols found in cocoa can reduce stress.

Of course, we are talking about dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa (85% is even better!) without sugar content. If you find that too bitter, get one with a gentler natural sweetener such as coconut sugar. Better yet, add pure cocoa or cacao powder to your smoothie like we do from time to time.

Additional benefits of dark chocolate has been shown that the antioxidants in cocoa trigger the walls of your blood vessels to relax, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. And finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love!”

OK, now you may go get your chocolate and be happy!

Remember to come back to our site and check out what we have prepared for you in our next blog.

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Stress

In this blog I will share some basic but intricate ways how our body handles stress.

I believe all of us have seen the “KEEP CALM” images somewhere. Is this a sign of time? Are we all so stressed that we need to constantly remind ourselves to “KEEP CALM”?

Kidding aside, I have observed, among my clients at our wellness center, a rather high percentage of them are coming for stress relief. Some of the time, the manifestation of their stress is expressed in ways far more complex and out of control than you might think. So, I have decided to explore into the subject of stress a little further and share some of my learning in a series of blogs for the next few weeks. Interested in joining me on this journey?

Coincidentally enough, we are right in the middle of the tax season. So, take a brief brake from that stress and read over the blogs to better understand about stress and how to address them.

In this blog I will share about basic but intricate ways how our body handles stress.

Just about everyone knows that we deal with stress by production of adrenaline from the inner adrenal medulla. But few people understand the implication of adrenaline on:

  • Hyperactivity, anxiety, PTSD, depression (nervous system)
  • Appetite control, bowel issues (digestive system)
  • Blood pressure (circulatory system)
  • Sugar balancing, insulin production, energy level (metabolic system)
  • Hormone imbalance and its reproductive and mood implications

Upon reception of a stressful signal, our body reacts to it using the electrical impulses through the nervous system as its first line of communication. Unlike other glandular system organs, the adrenal gland’s inner medulla has a direct line to our brain which acknowledges and processes decision on what needs to be done. This is obviously good because you sure don’t want to leave your hand on the hot stove even for a second long. We need to have a local instantaneous response to pull our hand off that hot spot to minimize damage.

What happens anatomically after that instance of stress is a thing to behold. In concert with your sympathetic autonomic nervous system, the inner adrenal medulla produces adrenaline (or epinephrine) and noradrenaline (or norepinephrine), two key hormones responsible for our reactions to stress. Since both the adrenaline and noradrenaline are produced in our adrenal gland and for the same purpose of getting our body ready for stress, we can call them collectively as our “survival hormones”, adrenaline. Adrenaline triggers the fight-or-flee response for immediate physical action. Adrenaline stimulates glucose release from stored-sources into the blood stream and directs this sugar-rich blood to the muscles so that you can fight harder and flee faster. Your heart rate and breathing pattern begin to accelerate to maximize its ability to distribute this sugar-rich blood to where it’s needed, such as the brain for higher alertness and focus. You pupil dilates to improve vision. The image shown below depicts these effects.

Adrenaline also dilates the blood vessels to where it is needed and constricts the blood vessels to organs not needed. Case in point, the digestive system. Ever been in a stressful period, when you don’t feel hungry long past your regular meal time? It’s your body’s way of keeping you fighting or fleeing using your reserved energy. And once the crisis is over, your appetite returns back to normal. Smart, isn’t it?

In nature, the fight-or-flee response is designed to last but for a short period of time and then should come to a quick end once the crisis is over. Our adrenaline level likewise is designed to resume to a normal dormant level immediately once the crisis is done with. Our parasympathetic system kicks in and has proper channels to reduce the adrenaline level, slowing down of the heart rate and lung performance, and increase blood flow to the digestive organs. It’s our restoring mechanism to help us to get back to our restful state as shown in the diagram. The sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems normally function in opposition of each other, such that the sympathetic system prepares the body in response to stress (like the accelerator pedal on a car) and the parasympathetic plays its part by slowing that reaction and restore the body back to its homeostasis after the initial reaction (like the brake on a car).

In modern day urban living, the stresses we face every day are typically not few and far between. We may face less life-threatening dangers like the old-days but we face continuous low- to mid-range level stressors all day long in a way that as human beings we have not experienced historically. Our daily sources of stressor can come from stress experienced in traffic, at work, at school, deadlines, demands, expectations, financial challenges, family conflicts, insufficient sleep, continuous bombardment of noises, job transition, loss of a loved one, social engagements, so on and so forth…

As a result, we are in a constant state of adrenaline high. We learn to cope with it from day to day. In fact, some of us are so used to that “high”, we don’t know what to do when we are off the crisis mode. Many of us seek for that high by means of stimulating events and/or stimulant in-take (e.g. coffee, high energy drinks and other forms of stimulants) to artificially trigger the adrenaline into action. In the next blog, we will look at the implications of the consistent high level of adrenaline have on our body. I will get into the stress-adrenaline-insulin connection that is very prevalent in our society today. Perhaps you may be experiencing now!

Until then, Keep Calm and Carry On!

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Back To School Health Tips

Breakfast should provide nutrients to nourish your brain and ample energy fuel to get you through the day. While carbohydrates are a part of the nutrients we need, donuts, white bread, many of box cereals, juices, and even coffee will not do the job. These simple carbohydrates may give you an instant jolt to your energy level, but they won’t last beyond mid-morning. Protein needs to be a major key component of your breakfast, because it breaks down to amino acids which your brain uses as neurotransmitters. Additionally, proteins are a great source of energy that lasts much longer than simple carbohydrates. Protein is best taken at breakfast and not dinner, because that’s when your stomach’s hydrochloric acid is highest to help digest them. Some of you might be asking, are you talking about the oily sausages, processed hams, and bacon? If you mean from a processed package of feedlot cow/pork raised on commercial feed, the answer is NO – simply because of their final “denatured” state and the harmful additives in them. However, if it is organic, or preferably “grass fed” animal, they are not only pure and nutritious, they are delicious. When protein from animal sources is not a desirable option, there are plenty of excellent botanical alternatives that are great for breakfast. Spirulina, chlorella or blue-green algae supplements found individually or together in the Super Algae product is excellent for breakfast. Protein powders from the whey, soy, rice, or other sources all may work as well. We recently discovered a pea protein powder product called Love & Peas that works great for our family. We either take it in a smoothie form with assorted berries, banana, and kiwi, or we simply mix the protein powder with water in a cup and take it along with yoghurt.

Just the thought of going back to school can give you a headache as parents, I know, because I am one. Your child’s health should rightfully be a top priority, hence the timing of this article – to help you and your kids get ahead in wellness not just at the beginning but throughout the school year.

Get Back To Routine – One of the fun parts of the summer is to enjoy the relaxed lifestyle with plenty of spontaneity, watermelon, barbeque, and ice-cream. But once school starts, tight structure and time constraints come into play. This imposes stress on every member of the family. A transition period with a gradual increase in structure and routine a couple of weeks before the actual class start date can help everyone to ease into the school routine.

Resting Well – A lack of sleep can affect brain activity, impair motor skills, decrease performance and even alter emotions. Inadequate sleep diminishes creative activity and can make operating machinery or driving risky. Insufficient rest disrupts the hormones that regulate glucose metabolism and appetite. Without sleep, healing is slowed, immunity is impaired, energy is drained, and mental fatigue and depression begin to set in. A 2006 study of 1,600 adolescents found that one in four high school students falls asleep in class at least once a week. Children ages 5 to 12 should sleep for 10 to 11 hours a night, adolescents 9 to 10 hours and a solid 7 to 8 hours for adults. No supplement, stimulant or diet will make up for lack of sleep. It would be wise to have school-bound children to establish their school-day sleep routine at least one-week before classes start. If you are tired but having trouble sleeping consider Herbal Sleep, 5-HTP, or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) formula Nervous Fatigue.

Nutritious Breakfast – Breakfast should provide nutrients to nourish your brain and ample energy fuel to get you through the day. While carbohydrates are a part of the nutrients we need, donuts, white bread, many of box cereals, juices, and even coffee will not do the job. These simple carbohydrates may give you an instant jolt to your energy level, but they won’t last beyond mid-morning. Protein needs to be a major key component of your breakfast, because it breaks down to amino acids which your brain uses as neurotransmitters. Additionally, proteins are a great source of energy that lasts much longer than simple carbohydrates. Protein is best taken at breakfast and not dinner, because that’s when your stomach’s hydrochloric acid is highest to help digest them. Some of you might be asking, are you talking about the oily sausages, processed hams, and bacon? If you mean from a processed package of feedlot cow/pork raised on commercial feed, the answer is NO – simply because of their final “denatured” state and the harmful additives in them. However, if it is organic, or preferably “grass fed” animal, they are not only pure and nutritious, they are delicious. When protein from animal sources is not a desirable option, there are plenty of excellent botanical alternatives that are great for breakfast. Spirulina, chlorella or blue-green algae supplements found individually or together in the Super Algae product is excellent for breakfast. Protein powders from the whey, soy, rice, or other sources all may work as well. We recently discovered a pea protein powder product called Love & Peas that works great for our family. We either take it in a smoothie form with assorted berries, banana, and kiwi, or we simply mix the protein powder with water in a cup and take it along with yoghurt.

Healthy Snacks – Young children have small stomachs. As a result, they cannot get all the nutrients they need through regular meals alone. Snacks therefore do play a role in healthy eating. However, when you survey the popular snacks available in the market today, you’ll find very few healthy choices. A study published in Health Affairs on March, 2010 showed that up to 27% of children’s daily calories come from snacks. They concluded that our children are snacking not for satiety’s sake but because the snacks are abundantly available everywhere. You know what I mean if you are a soccer mom or attending a birthday party, school break or church event. Even more alarming is the very low-quality ingredients these snacks are made of. The same study showed children are consuming less fruit and more salty snacks, candies, juice and soft drinks – essentially junk food with little to no nutrient value. Is it a wonder that childhood obesity is at an epidemical and alarming level?

By shopping carefully, parents can get their children started in healthy eating habits.

Avoid soda drinks and salty, high-calorie prepackaged snack foods. Replace milk or juice with servings of fresh fruit or vegetables and grains and nuts instead. Finally, as parents, model good snacking behavior for your children by helping yourself with healthy food and snacks daily!

Brain Hazards – There are many common chemical substances we are exposed to daily that are hazardous to our health and brain function. For example, neurotoxins such as heavy metals and food additives can cause depression; headaches; lack of mental acuity and concentration; mental confusion; allergic & asthmatic reactions; endocrine disrupters may contribute to infertility, PMS, and other glandular related issues; liver and kidney toxicity; and carcinogenic effects. You might be more prone to chemical exposure than you think – in 1989, EPA reported that common household cleaning products, often dispersed in fumes, are three times more likely to cause cancer than other air pollutants. I would suggest an herbal liver (Tiao-He TCM) and/or heavy metal detox to reduce the chemical toxins in our body before school starts. Drink purified water and avoid processed food additives. Even better, consider removing all household cleaning products containing any form of hazardous chemicals and replacing them with all-natural and environment-friendly cleaning products that contain natural cleaning agents derived from plants while leaving no residues nor harmful fumes. They are also pH neutral and biodegradable. Examples – Nature’s Fresh Bamboo Dryer Sheets, plant-derived enzyme spray to break down carpet stains and house odors, and plant-based surfactants derived from coconut kernel and essential oils to replace laundry soap and dish-washing liquid.

ADD & ADHD – Parents with an ADD or ADHD child are especially challenged for obvious reasons. The most common underlying causes, according to Dr. Mark Hyman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, are a nutrient depleted diet caused by overwhelming processed foods and sugars, toxic environment (addressed above), unremitting stress both at home and school, immune and inflammatory triggers from continuous exposure to allergens and infections, childhood vaccinations and hormonal imbalance.

Here are a few simple but important steps you can take as parents:

1. Identify and reduce food allergies by process of elimination.

2. Eliminate foods that cause over-stimulation – all simple sugars, artificial sweeteners and caffeine-based soft drinks.

3. Do a detox as mentioned in this article, particularly liver and/or heavy metals.

4. Feed the nervous and brain system functions using lots of Vitamin B complexes and other foundational whole-food based vitamins and minerals.

5. Take herbs and combination herbal supplements especially designed to enhance neurotransmission, memory, and focus. I would also add antioxidants to protect brain function.

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Sugar Can Make You Dumb

“Because insulin can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the hormone may signal neurons to trigger reactions that disrupt learning and cause memory loss,” Gomez-Pinilla said.

In other words, eating too much fructose could interfere with insulin’s ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar, which is necessary for processing thoughts and emotions.

Sugar can make you dumb, US scientists warn. Published originally by Yahoo.com

AFPAFP – Tue, May 15, 2012

Eating too much sugar can eat away at your brainpower, according to US scientists who published a study Tuesday showing how a steady diet of high-fructose corn syrup sapped lab rats’ memories.

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) fed two groups of rats a solution containing high-fructose corn syrup — a common ingredient in processed foods — as drinking water for six weeks.

One group of rats was supplemented with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids in the form of flaxseed oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), while the other group was not.

Before the sugar drinks began, the rats were enrolled in a five-day training session in a complicated maze. After six weeks on the sweet solution, the rats were then placed back in the maze to see how they fared.

“The DHA-deprived animals were slower, and their brains showed a decline in synaptic activity,” said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

“Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier.”

A closer look at the rat brains revealed that those who were not fed DHA supplements had also developed signs of resistance to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar and regulates brain function.

“Because insulin can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, the hormone may signal neurons to trigger reactions that disrupt learning and cause memory loss,” Gomez-Pinilla said.

In other words, eating too much fructose could interfere with insulin’s ability to regulate how cells use and store sugar, which is necessary for processing thoughts and emotions.

“Insulin is important in the body for controlling blood sugar, but it may play a different role in the brain, where insulin appears to disturb memory and learning,” Gomez-Pinilla said.

“Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. This is something new.”

High-fructose corn syrup is commonly found in soda, condiments, applesauce, baby food and other processed snacks.

The average American consumes more than 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of high-fructose corn syrup per year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

While the study did not say what the equivalent might be for a human to consume as much high-fructose corn syrup as the rats did, researchers said it provides some evidence that metabolic syndrome can affect the mind as well as the body.

“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” said Gomez-Pinilla.

“Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

The study appeared in the Journal of Physiology.

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Joint Health Part I

Got a joint pain? Join us and learn about your body’s joints and how to keep them healthy, naturally.

This is the first part of our Joint Health Series planned for the month of May. As an intro, we will go over some common facts and fictions about the joints. Then we will focus on joint issues and their causes in part 2, followed by the third and last part of this series on natural and holistic approaches to joint health.

Got a joint pain? Join us and learn about your body’s joints and how to keep them healthy, naturally.

This is the first part of our Joint Health Series planned for the month of May. As an intro, we will go over some common facts and fictions about the joints. Then we will focus on joint issues and their causes in part 2, followed by the third and last part of this series on natural and holistic approaches to joint health.

First of all, let’s establish one thing, there is no known exact number of joints in a human body. Since joint is defined as the locations where 2 or more bones meet, getting a precise number of bones is a prerequisite. And the answer to that is it depends on age. A fetus has about 300 bones but by the time of birth, many of them have fused together. On average, an adult has about 206 bones. Definition of a joint is also not as simple as I first described. For example, the human skull is made up of a group of bone plates that are sort of knit together along their edges. Some folks think of them as a single bone unit while others considers them as multiple bones with multiple joints. Unless you like to count all the joints for yourself (somehow), you would not be wrong if you guess-estimated at about mid-200 to 300 joints in a single adult.

Here are some more myths and facts about joints:

Fact or Fiction: All Joint Pains Mean Arthritis

One of the more common myths about joint pain! The answer is no! Joint pain is the most commonly experienced symptoms but they are not always necessarily due to an arthritic condition. Joint pain can be a symptom of infectious diseases as well as by one of the 50 or more inflammatory arthritis issues. Epstein-Barr viral syndrome, hepatitis, influenza, measles, chicken pox, and lyme disease and more, all can contribute to joint pains.

Fact or Fiction: Weather Affects Joint Pain

Research evidences tend to agree with this assertion as a fact. One scientific theory suggest cold temperature, low barometric pressure, and high humidity are the worst weather conditions may cause swelling of the joints. This, of course, adds more pressure and thereby pain for those who are already suffering from inflamed joints.

Fact or Fiction: Exercise Can Aggravate Joint Pain

All literature I have read tells me that one should NOT stop doing exercise because of joint pain. Of course, if you are in pain, do only the light exercise that are not taxing on your joints. Personally, I used to do quite a bit of walking on the treadmill machine until I found it to be hard on my foot and pelvic joints. Now, I walk on grass outdoors (weather permitting) and indoor elliptical machines where there is less pounding on the feet and related joints. The most important thing here is to continue to move your body despite of the joint pains but moderately only to your comfort level. Our body is made to move, so don’t stop. Exercise strengthens your muscles around your joints and helps to maintain bone strength. It will also likely keep your weight under control which is another important factor to your joint health. Plus exercise gives you more energy and help you get a better sleep. So, keep on moving.

Fact or Fiction: Pain Killer Meds Are The Only Solution to Joint Pain

When the pain level is intolerable and significantly affecting your normal routines, pain killers are good for the pain relief. However, make sure they have anti-inflammatory properties and take note of their adverse side-effects. That’s why I believe they are only temporary measures. There are a variety of alternative options available from the herbal side (last part of this series – stay tuned) to chiropractic and acupuncture therapies that can be of great assistance to reducing pains. Please see the new Thermo-therapy we are introducing that you may want to consider for relief of joint pains and all sorts of other bodily aches. Read my recent blog here.

Fact or Fiction: Healthy Lifestyle Can Prevent and Relief Joint Pain

The answer to this one is most definitely. Consider the medical facts linking arthritis and other types of joint pain concerns to over-weight, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and inactivity, you would have to agree that healthy lifestyle is key to prevention and bring much relief to existing joint conditions. I will be covering in greater detail on how additional supplementation can further aid in your with joint pains but for now, here are some general things you can do right away to keeping your joints healthy.

Avoid injury
–Damage to joint or cartilage often triggers osteoarthritis
–Warm up before exercising
Watch your weight
–Excess weight strongly linked to osteoarthritis, especially in knees and hips
–Losing just 15 pounds can reduce risk by 50%
Lubricate joints with liquid
–Water is a major component of cartilage
–Hydrated cartilage provides more cushion and is less vulnerable to injury
Take Core Nutrition
– Eat a healthy and balanced diet with sufficient daily supplementation of the following
– Wholesome food based multi-vitamins and minerals
– Vitamin D3
– Omega 3 EPA
– Glucosamine, MSM, and Hyaluronic Acid

Feel free to contact us by giving us your valuable comments in the provided space below or call us for any questions and/or product inquiries, we’d love to hear back from you.

Round Rock Store – 512-310-8880; Leander/Cedar Park – 512-528-0130
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Importance of Magnesium

Dr. Mark Hyman gives an excellent condensed summary on the importance of magnesium to our health in general.
I will follow (in the next day or two) with a blog on how proper levels of magnesium in our brain can help support our memory and cognitive functions.

Dr. Mark Hyman gives an excellent condensed summary on the importance of magnesium to our health in general.

I will follow (in the next day or two) with a blog on how proper levels of magnesium in our brain can help support our memory and cognitive functions.

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Digestive Health Part II – Food Transit

The functions of the digestive and intestinal systems are to breakdown, digest, absorb, transform food nutrients into energy (assimilate) and process them out of our body. The overall digestive tract is a muscular tube of about 30 feet long coupled with a whole host of primary and secondary organs (i.e. liver/pancreas) as well.

The main functions of the digestive and intestinal systems are to breakdown, digest, absorb, transform food nutrients into energy (assimilate) and process them out of our body. The overall digestive tract is a muscular tube of about 30 feet long coupled with a whole host of primary and secondary organs (i.e. liver/pancreas) as well.

Digestion process actually begins before the food is placed in your mouth. It begins with the first thought of food or smell of food! Your body sends signals to stimulate the stomach to start producing Hydrochloric Acid (stomach juice – HCl) to be ready for the food that is incoming.

As the food enters in the mouth, it mixes with saliva which contains Ptyalin (a form of carbohydrate enzyme containing amylase) dissolves food immediately and saliva provides lubrication. We produce about a quart and a half of saliva everyday!

Ever heard your mom telling you to chew well. It is now proven that chewing well does improve your digestion. In fact, there is a simple experiment you can do to convince yourself of the enzyme action in your mouth. Take a piece of cracker (even salty ones will work) and chew it until it becomes liquidy in your mouth before you swallow it. The taste of the cracker will change from plain or salty to sweet in the liquid form. This is because the amylase action taking place breaking the carbohydrate into sugar right in your mouth.

Esophagus is the conduit by which your partially broken down food is channeled by peristalsis into the stomach where most of the breaking down take place. In the stomach, food is mixed with hydrochloric acid (HCl) and pepsin (enzyme). The curd-like fluid at this point of digestion is called ‘chyme’. Chyme enters small intestines by way of the pyloric sphincter and the first part of the small intestine is known as the Duodenum.

See the illustration here to identify key components.

It is at the Duodenum where chyme is broken down further with the help of the Pancreas and Liver/Gallbladder. These organs are attached to Duodenum by the common bile duct. They dump in more enzymes (catalysts) and bile salts (fats) to help digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

Pancreas double duties both for digestion (amylase) and hormones (insulin/glucagon). Pancreas produces Amylase (for carbohydrates), bicarbonates, Insulin and Glucagon. Liver is the largest organ in the body. Liver stores fats, carbohydrates, proteins, and vitamins. Contrary to a common mis-understanding, gallbladder does not produce bile but liver does. Bile is stored in the gallbladder and at the proper time, the bile is released from the gallbladder to digest fats. The liver also neutralizes poisons by acting as a blood filter. It has over 500 duties everyday. Clearly one of the key organs in our body (considered THE most important organ in Traditional Chinese Medicine), liver can also function with a great deal of it removed!

In the Small Intestines – The 2nd part of the small intestines after the Duodenum is called the Jejunum. The 3rd part is the Ileum. These 3 parts together absorb carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. The chyme is now broken further down into smaller “micro-nutrients”(carbohydrate turns into glucose and other forms of readily assimilable sugars; proteins into amino acids; and fats in triglycerides, triesters of glyceryl and any of several fatty acids) where they are absorbed into the blood stream via the villi.

Intestinal villi are tiny, vertical standing, finger-like epithelial lining of the intestinal wall. Each villus is approximately 0.5-1.6 (millimetres) in length and has many microvilli. Villi increase the internal surface area of the intestinal walls. Increased surface area allows for increased intestinal wall area that is available for maximum absorption. Increased absorptive area is useful because digested nutrients pass into the villi which is semi permeable between the intestinal walls and the blood vessels. The increased surface area in the villi maximizes the distance nutrient molecules has to travel to get into the blood stream for optimal absorbancy. The circulating blood then carries these nutrients away eventually into the left ventricle chamber of the heart for them to be pumped to and used by the rest of the body.

The small intestine ends at an important junction called the illeocecal valve. This valve controls mucous and exit of unused and potentially toxic micro-chyme into the large intestine (colon). The ileo-cecal valve is the gate keeper between these two important organs. It serves to preventing a back-flow of unused and potentially toxic material. Keeping toxins out of the small intestines is critical as you can imagine toxins being absorbed into our blood stream causing eventual havoc to our health. The illeocecal valve is located at the same area as your appendix.

The colon is a 5 to 6 foot long muscle designed to pull water from the waste material and recycle the water back into the bloodstream while compacting and moving the waste toxic material out of our body. There are 3 parts to the colon sections – Ascending, Transverse, and Descending. The descending colon empties into a “S” shaped area called the Sigmoid Colon. Fecal matter is formed for elimination throughout the entire colon and it is expelled out of the system via the rectum.

The colon houses over 700 species of bacteria, some of which are “friendly” bacteria. They produce vitamin B12, Biotin, Vitamin K, and keep healthy flora balance against harmful bacteria, virus, and fungus. It is absolutely important therefore to keep the fecal matters moved out of our colon system so that it does not cause any potential damage such as fissures, hemorrhoids, and polyps. Stagnant toxins in the water material will also be partially re-absorbed back into our body thus compromising your immune system. Keeping a healthy colon bacterial environment is therefore critical to our health. More on that later.

Proper transit time for food to traverse from your mouth to rectum is anywhere between 24 to 36 hours. The peristalsis is the process which your muscles contracts and relaxes to help to push the chyme along the digestive and intestinal tubes. You can look at this entire system as a serial processing factory where one meal arrives and is processed at a time. Everything gets “piled” up in the colon sequentially. One can check his/her food transit time with the “beet juice” experiment. If you see the red beet color coming out within the 12 hours time then it is too fast (means little absorption); while if it takes 48 hours or longer then it is too slow. Toxification is the potential concern here along with  constipation. Finally, because matters are processed somewhat sequentially, one is ideally expected to have one bowel movement after every solid meal. If that is not the case, you may need ask yourself if you are “backed up” or not.

Well, that pretty much summarizes the overall system from a top-down food transit point of view. Now that you have a good idea on your food’s processing capabilities, in our next few blogs, we will dive into some of the key issues Americans are facing today in the digestive and intestinal area and highlight some important nutrients we can use to prevent and even possibly eliminate these concerns.

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Confessions of a Frustrated Pharmacist

When an insider breaks ranks with pharmaceutical orthodoxy, it is time to take notice. “Whistleblower” may be an overused term, but the article that follows might be well worth readers’ consideration before standing in line for their next prescription refill. – Andrew W. Saul, OMNS Editor

I’m a registered pharmacist. I am having a difficult time with my job. I sell people drugs that are supposed to correct their various health complaints. Some medicines work like they’re supposed to, but many don’t. Some categories of drugs work better than others. My concern is that the outcomes of treatment I observe are so unpredictable that I would often call the entire treatment a failure in too many situations.

Printed with permission.

by Stuart Lindsey, PharmD.

When an insider breaks ranks with pharmaceutical orthodoxy, it is time to take notice. “Whistleblower” may be an overused term, but the article that follows might be well worth readers’ consideration before standing in line for their next prescription refill. – Andrew W. Saul, OMNS Editor

I’m a registered pharmacist. I am having a difficult time with my job. I sell people drugs that are supposed to correct their various health complaints. Some medicines work like they’re supposed to, but many don’t. Some categories of drugs work better than others. My concern is that the outcomes of treatment I observe are so unpredictable that I would often call the entire treatment a failure in too many situations.

How It Started

In 1993, I graduated with a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of New Mexico. I became pharmacy manager for a small independent neighborhood drug store. Starting in the year 2000, nutrition became an integral part of our business. The anecdotal feedback from the customers who started vitamin regimens was phenomenal. That same year, my PharmD clinical rotations began with my propensity for nutritional alternatives firmly in place in my mind. On the second day of my adult medicine rotation, my preceptor at a nearby hospital informed me that he had every intention of beating this vitamin stuff out of me. I informed him that probably wouldn’t happen. Three weeks later I was terminated from my rotations. The preceptor told my supervisor at UNM that there were acute intellectual differences that couldn’t be accommodated in their program. What had I done? I was pressuring my preceptor to read an article written by an MD at a hospital in Washington state that showed if a person comes into the emergency room with a yet to be diagnosed problem and is given a 3,000-4,000 mg bolus of vitamin C, that person’s chance of dying over the next ten days in ICU dropped by 57%! [1]

One would think that someone who is an active part of the emergency room staff might find that an interesting statistic. His solution to my attempting to force him to read that article was having me removed from the program.

Pecking Order

The traditional role of the pharmacist in mainstream medicine is subordinate to the doctor. The doctor is responsible for most of the information that is received from and given to the patient. The pharmacist’s responsibility is to reinforce the doctor’s directions. The doctor and the pharmacist both want to have a positive treatment outcome, but there is a legally defined ‘standard of care’ looking over their shoulder.

The training that I received to become a PharmD motivated me to become more interested in these treatment outcomes. After refilling a patient’s prescriptions a few times, it becomes obvious that the expected positive outcomes often simply don’t happen. It’s easy to take the low road and blame it on “poor compliance by the patient.” I’m sure this can explain some treatment failure outcomes, but not all. Many (indeed most) drugs such as blood pressure regulators can require several adjustments of dose or combination with alternative medicines before a positive outcome is obtained.

Wrong Drug; Wrong Disease

One drug misadventure is turning drugs that were originally designed for a rare (0.3% of the population) condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome into big pharma’s treatment for occasional indigestion. These drugs are called proton-pump inhibitors (PPI). [2] After prolonged exposure to PPIs, the body’s true issues of achlorhydria start to surface. [3]

These drugs are likely to cause magnesium deficiency, among other problems. Even the FDA thinks their long-term use is unwise. [4]

The original instructions for these drugs were for a maximum use of six weeks . . . until somebody in marketing figured out people could be on the drugs for years. Drug usage gets even more complicated when you understand excessive use of antibiotics could be the cause of the initial indigestion complaints. What you get from inserting proton pump inhibitors into this situation is a gastrointestinal nightmare. A better course of medicine in this type of case might well be a bottle of probiotic supplements (or yogurt) and a few quarts of aloe-vera juice.

Many doctors are recognizing there are problems with overusing PPI’s, but many still don’t get it. An example of this is my school in NM had a lot of students going onto a nearby-impoverished area for rotations. They have blue laws in this area with no alcohol sales on Sunday. The students saw the pattern of the patients going into the clinics on Monday after abusing solvents, even gasoline vapors, and having the doctors put them on omeprazole (eg. Prilosec), long term, because their stomachs are upset. This is medicine in the real world.

Reliability or Bias?

Mainstream medicine and pharmacy instill into their practitioners from the beginning to be careful about where you get your information. Medical journals boast of their peer review process. When you discuss with other health professionals, invariably they will ask from which medical journal did you get your information. I actually took an elective course in pharmacy on how to evaluate a particular article for its truthfulness. The class was structured on a backbone of caution about making sure, as one read an article, that we understand that real truthfulness only comes from a few approved sources.

I was never comfortable with this concept. Once you realized that many of these “truthfulness bastions” actually have a hidden agenda, the whole premise of this course became suspect. One of my preceptors for my doctoral program insisted that I become familiar with a particular medical journal. If I did, she said, I would be on my way to understanding the “big picture.” When I expressed being a little skeptical of this journal, the teacher told me I could trust it as the journal was non-profit, and there were no editorial strings attached.

Weirdly enough, what had started our exchange over credibility was a warm can of a diet soft drink on the teacher’s desk. She drank the stuff all day. I was kidding around with her, and asked her if she had seen some controversial articles about the dangers of consuming quantities of aspartame. She scoffed at my conspiracy-theory laden point of view and I thought the subject was closed. The beginning of the next day, the teacher gave me an assignment: to hustle over to the medical library and make sure I read a paper she assured me would set me straight about my aspartame suspicions, while simultaneously demonstrating the value of getting my information from a nonprofit medical journal. It turned out that the article she wanted me to read, in the “nonprofit medical journal,” was funded in its entirety by the Drug Manufacturers Association.

Flashy Pharma Ads

As I read the literature, I discovered that there is very decided barrier between two blocks of information: substances that can be patented vs. those substances that can’t be. The can-be-patented group gets a professional discussion in eye-pleasing, four-color-print, art-like magazines. This attention to aesthetics tricks some people into interpreting, from the flashy presentation method, that the information is intrinsically truthful.

The world’s drug manufacturers do an incredibly good job using all kinds of media penetration to get the word out about their products. The drug industry’s audience used to be confined to readers of medical journals and trade publications. Then, in 1997, direct-to-consumer marketing was made legal. [5]

Personally, I don’t think this kind of presentation should be allowed. I have doctor friends that say they frequently have patients that self-diagnose from TV commercials and demand the doctor write them a prescription for the advertised product. The patients then threaten the doctor, if s/he refuses their request, that they will change doctors to get the medication. One of my doctor friends says he feels like a trained seal.

Negative Reporting on Vitamins

A vitamin article usually doesn’t get the same glossy presentation. Frequently, questionable vitamin research will be published and get blown out of proportion. A prime example of this was the clamor in the press in 2008 that vitamin E somehow caused lung cancer. [6]

I studied this 2008 experiment [7] and found glaring errors in its execution. These errors were so obvious that the experiment shouldn’t have gotten any attention, yet this article ended up virtually everywhere. Anti-vitamin spin requires this kind of research to be widely disseminated to show how “ineffectual” and even “dangerous” vitamins are. I tracked down one of the article’s original authors and questioned him about the failure to define what kind of vitamin E had been studied. A simple literature hunt shows considerable difference between natural and synthetic vitamin E. This is an important distinction because most of the negative articles and subsequent treatment failures have used the synthetic form for the experiment, often because it is cheap. Natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols costs two or three times more than the synthetic form.

Before I even got the question out of my mouth, the researcher started up, “I know, I know what you’re going to say.” He ended up admitting that they hadn’t even considered the vitamin E type when they did the experiment. This failure to define the vitamin E type made it impossible to draw a meaningful conclusion. I asked the researcher if he realized how much damage this highly quoted article had done to vitamin credibility. If there has been anything like a retraction, I have yet to see it.

Illness is Not Caused by Drug Deficiency

If you’ve made it this far in reading this article you have discerned that I’m sympathetic to vitamin arguments. I think most diseases are some form of malnutrition. Taking the position that nutrition is the foundation to disease doesn’t make medicine any simpler. You still have to figure out who has what and why. There are many disease states that are difficult to pin down using the “pharmaceutical solution to disease.” A drug solution is a nice idea, in theory. It makes the assumption that the cause of a disease is so well understood that a man-made chemical commonly called ‘medicine’ is administered, very efficiently solving the health problem. The reality though, is medicine doesn’t understand most health problems very well. A person with a heart rhythm disturbance is not low on digoxin. A child who is diagnosed with ADHD does not act that way because the child is low on Ritalin. By the same logic, a person with type II diabetes doesn’t have a deficit of metformin. The flaw of medicine is the concept of managing (but not curing) a particular disease state. I’m hard pressed to name any disease state that mainstream medicine is in control of.

Voltaire allegedly said, “Doctors are men who pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, into human beings of whom they know nothing.” Maybe he overstated the problem. Maybe he didn’t.

 

References:

1. Free full text paper at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422648/pdf/20021200s00014p814.pdf

Also: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422648/?tool=pubmed

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2777040 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1697548

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21509344 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21731913

4. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/
SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm245275.htm

5. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa070502#t=articleResults

6. Media example:
http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Nutrition-Vitamins/2008/8-02-29-VitaminEMay.htm .

OMNS’ discussion at: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n18.shtml

7. Original article at:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2258445/?tool=pubmed or http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2258445/pdf/AJRCCM1775524.pdf

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Raspberry Ketones

On February 6, 2012, Dr. Oz did a show featuring raspberry ketones (RK) as the number 1 solution to fat burning. He called it the “miracle in a bottle to burn your fat”.

According to Dr. Oz, raspberry ketones, help the body burn fat easier. Of course, they’re natural and nutrient dense product derived from raspberries. Just how dense are the raspberry ketones? According to Dr. Oz’s show, we’d have to eat 90 pounds of the raw raspberry to equal the proper amount of one capsule.

On February 6, 2012, Dr. Oz did a show featuring raspberry ketones (RK) as the number 1 solution to fat burning. He called it the “miracle in a bottle to burn your fat”.

According to Dr. Oz, raspberry ketones, help the body burn fat easier. Of course, they’re natural and nutrient dense product derived from raspberries. Just how dense are the raspberry ketones? According to Dr. Oz’s show, we’d have to eat 90 pounds of the raw raspberry to equal the proper amount of one capsule.

Here are some more info on Raspberry Ketones (RK):

Raspberry Ketones are known less commonly as Rheosmin and Rasketone. Raspberry Ketones are found in red raspberries, and are the constituent primarily responsible for the odor of raspberries. Raspberry Ketones are either extracted from red raspberries or made synthetically, and are used as a food additive for their fruity odor. Raspberry Ketone is a natural phenolic compound that is responsible for the wonderful aroma of red raspberries.

Raspberry Ketones Block Fat – by encouraging the body to use fat instead of storing it. The molecular structure of RK is similar to capsaicin and synephrine, which are thermogenic. Research showed that RK prevented from obesity and an increase in blood triglyceride in mice even when the animals were on a high-fat diet.

Raspberries Contain Significant Amounts of Polyphenol Antioxidants – which are linked to promoting endothelial and cardiovascular health. This fruit ranks near the top of all fruits for antioxidant strength due to their high contents of ellagic acid (from ellagotannins), quercetin, gallic acid, anthocyanins, cyanidins, pelargonidins, catechins, kaempferol and salicylic acid.

Raspberry Ketones Help Suppress Appetite and aid in the breakdown of fat molecules to be used for fat metabolism. RKs offer lots of fiber and antioxidants with very few calories, making them very “dense” nutritionally. Raspberry ketones help the efficiency of your metabolism by increasing the body’s core temperature and in so doing increasing the body’s fat burning abilities.Raspberry ketones encourage hormones that metabolize fats for energy.

Raspberry Ketones Encourage Hormones That Metabolize Fats For Energy – These hormones have direct influence on glucose levels by lowering them, allowing it to be converted into energy.

Raspberry Ketones are also an excellent source of vitamin A, B vitamins 1-3, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K and magnesium.

Raspberry ketones help prevent and improve many health conditions, including sugar overload, cellulite, skin looseness and fluid retention

Click the link here to find out what was said on Dr. Oz’s recent show on Raspberry Ketones: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/miracle-fat-burner-bottle?hs317=billboard_3

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Diet Rich in Fish, Vitamins May Reduce Brain Shrinkage

People who enjoy a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids have less brain shrinkage and better cognitive abilities, while those who indulge in food high in trans fats show the opposite, a new study suggests.

Those who ate trans fat-laden foods had low memory and thinking score

Researchers believe that the nutrient levels in the bloodstream of the study’s participants accounted for 17 per cent in the variations of thinking and memory scores and 37 per cent of the variations in brain volume. (Matthew Mead/Associated Press)

People who enjoy a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids have less brain shrinkage and better cognitive abilities, while those who indulge in food high in trans fats show the opposite, a new study suggests.

A diet rich in Omega 3s, primarily found in fish, as well as B, C, D and E vitamins appears to ward off brain shrinkage associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to new research from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Study participants who ate both large quantities of fish, healthy oils and antioxidant vitamins received high scores in mental thinking tests.

Conversely, those who consumed foods high in trans fats — largely found in packaged, fried and fast foods — showed evidence of increased brain shrinkage and had lower scores on memory tests.

One hundred and four people with an average age of 87 were involved in the study, which measured their blood nutrient levels as well as memory and thinking skills. Forty-two of the study participants had their brain volumes measured using MRI. All of the participants were not at high risk of memory problems.

The scientists found that seven per cent were low in vitamin B12 and 25 per cent had too little vitamin D in their systems. While age, education and health issues such as high blood pressure accounted for the bulk of the variations in cognitive performance, researchers believe that the nutrient levels in the bloodstream of the study’s participants accounted for 17 per cent in the variations of thinking and memory scores and 37 per cent of the variations in brain volume.

“These results need to be confirmed, but obviously it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet,” said Gene Bowman, an author of the study, in a release.

“The vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers,” said Maret Traber, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute and co-author on the study. “I’m a firm believer these nutrients have strong potential to protect your brain and make it work better.”

The study was published in the Dec. 28 online issue of Neurology.

Source: CBC News

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