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by Karen A. Masterson-Koch

Delicious and enjoyable foods are gluten free. In fact, most traditional foods, other than pasta dishes, do not contain it. The main problem is high consumption — eating less gluten and offending foods would be much better.

Eating natural foods are foundational to the body, besides being one of life’s pleasures. Unfortunately, gluten-packed grain snacks, cereals including oats, and fast foods are being consumed in copious amounts. Despite the insatiable desire for these carbohydrates, science is now proving that the excess of gluten in these foods can be a major roadblock to good health. Health conscious people are finding that just by lowering the breads, cereals and pastas (especially from whole grains) or stopping them entirely, allows them to start feeling better in just a matter of days and weeks.

Eat a variety of natural foods

Reduce or avoid gluten and other allergens

Choose a quality Aloe Vera and probiotics

Other food allergies and additives may also be problematic, explaining why disease is on the rise in almost every category. Two supplements can be helpful along this new natural path. The first step is a quality whole leaf Aloe Vera juice concentrate or tablet to support improved digestion, allergies and skin renewal of the gut and body. The second step would be adding a probiotics (friendly bacteria) partner, especially after a round of antibiotics and/or failing health. Both work as a team for improving digestion and are not contra-indicating to pharmaceutical drug use so commonly seen today.

Gluten & Anti-nutrients Affect All Body Function

Gluten, along with other food allergies, referred to as anti-nutrients, must be considered factors in all ailments from A – Z. The most detrimental triggers include whole grains, dairy and cane sugar. Consuming a large amount may even delay normal growth and development of the body, effecting both mental and physical wellbeing for infants, kids and adults including:

Healthy skin, hair, nails and gums

Energy, weight and athletic performance

Auto-immunity and immunity factor

CVD, strokes and respiratory system

Mental, brain and nervous system

The addiction to bread, pasta and other grain-based foodstuff, along with ice cream, soft cheeses, cow’s milk, many yogurt products, sodas, pizza and more have kept people from experimenting with their diets. Wouldn’t you love to hit your best weight goal, reverse disease and even achieve athletic goals you have only dreamed of? It’s never too late! Going without gluten and making better food choices is doable for the whole family.

In fact, many of the top athletes of today are finding that their best performance has come after giving up gluten. Both world tennis player, Novak Djokovic, who carries multiple world titles and 2009 Super Bowl MVP, Drew Breeze, of the Saints, put gluten on the back burner and reaped the benefits. Top track and field athlete and 2013 World Figure WBFF first place winner, Monica Brant, says, “Eating a low gluten diet and consuming a whole leaf Aloe Vera juice concentrate were two of the best decisions I have made to keep my competitive edge, even at age 46.”

What is Gluten?

Gluten is primarily found in grains and its flour products including wheat, rye, barley, oats and even brown rice. The clincher is its highest content is in the fiber. Boy, did we get it wrong! My suggestion is to aim for increasing food fibers easier to digest from fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, celery, yams, red potatoes, and raw nuts, seeds and legumes as tolerated and leave the grains alone for now.

More devious in recent years, gluten flour is also being added to foods as a thickening agent to maintain firmness of breadstuff and many times not included on the ingredients. Even trendy foods like granolas, Ezekiel and sourdough breads, plus some tortillas have been fortified, lending a slight rubbery texture, yet also triggering more body symptoms of gluten intolerance.

The name “gluten” actually tells you its property is glue like. And, its chemistry is a protein carbohydrate molecule that is very sticky and challenging for many — if not all people to digest. Not digesting gluten and other complex carbohydrates well brings about unhealthy inflammation in the gut and the entire body.

This sometimes silent, poor digestion damages the ability to absorb valuable building nutrients from our foods and supplements. This can lead to malnutrition and lots of disease opportunity. Even neurological disorders effecting balance and brain function are accentuated, plus all body pathways decline. A fellow with Parkinson’s disease remarked that every time he ate his favorite sandwich made on whole grain bread, his limbs would shake so badly he had to lay down! Classic gluten symptoms include digestive and joint pain, bloating, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea, fatigue, bruising, skin blisters, manic-depression and failing health.

Food Trends & Marketing Are Confusing!

Food trends like pizza and fast foods have all but replaced homemade dinner at an alarming rate. Yogurt sales have exploded and ironically, organic sugar is being given a healthy pass; yet these two both need to come with a warning — may increase bowel inflammation, very problematic in large amounts!

People think they are eating healthy, yet even foods marked Gluten Free still contain many challenging ingredients that bring about more gut grief for sensitives than eating just plain white flour, crackers and white rice at times. Some low gluten flours are tolerated better like millet, quinoa, bean and almond flours, plus the rare sprouted variety.

Diet fads like Raw Foods and the Paleo-Caveman diets have evolved out of the necessity to avoid the anti-nutrients and temporarily serve a good purpose. Yet research supports that long-term, the Mediterranean Diet, with a variety of quality proteins including fish and lean meats, along with an abundance of lightly steamed or raw vegetables, best supports body wellness.

Why Aloe Vera & Probiotics?

The ancients used Aloe Vera as a First Aid plant for digestion, constipation and illness on the inside. Topically, the yellow sap soothed pain, burns, swelling and wounds from head to toe. The whole leaf Aloe Vera is classed as an herbal bitter — that is if it still contains the dark yellow sap found just under the outer leaf of mature plants.

Look for the concentrated Activ-Aloe products that are not diluted and work fast. It turns on all digestive juices to flow properly including the important hydrochloric acid (HCL), giving support for heartburn, IBS, reflux, ulcers and more. Studies show absorption of important food nutrients are increased by almost 300%. A quality probiotic is also important for combating bad bacteria in the lower gut, reducing gas and supporting immunity. Together with healthier foods, Aloe Vera and probiotics make the best supplement picks of today for a healthier world — Enjoy!

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Natasha Trenev

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) describes a group of symptoms that occur together including repeated pain in the abdomen, changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea, constipation or a mixture of both. Doctors try to rule out all other structural or GI abnormalities and, if nothing else fits, they’ll often use IBS as the final “catch-all” diagnosis. IBS affects females more than males, with about 70 percent of cases being in women. Unfortunately, since it’s often used as a last resort diagnosis, receiving this diagnosis will not necessarily lead to any clear treatment options.

Most doctors suggest a combination of diet and lifestyle changes to help relieve the symptoms of IBS, some of these include eating more fiber, avoiding gluten, or following a special diet called the low FODMAP diet. These changes often affect each individual differently since the root cause of each case is unknown and unique to each person. The downside to this is that it can take an individual years of experimenting with various changes in order to finally figure out what will really help them heal. Fortunately, more and more studies are now being completed to better understand the changes that occur in the gut of IBS sufferers. A better understanding of these gut level changes may result in more direct and natural approaches to healing.

The Gut Microbiota in IBS

When scientists compared the gut microbes of healthy individuals to the gut microbes found in the IBS sufferers, they noted that those with IBS-D, meaning they predominantly had diarrhea or alternated between diarrhea and constipation, are suffering from a loss of bacterial diversity in their guts.¹ This makes sense when you think about how the strong action of diarrhea can drain your body of nutrients — at the same time it can flush out your gut microbes, both the good and the bad. It seems that a particular set of bacteria is missing or reduced in IBS sufferers. The species lacking are responsible for producing butyrate and methane. Butyrate is a type of fatty acid known to help the gut work and it contributes to the function of the internal gut barrier. When butyrate is lacking it becomes easier for all kinds of microbes and other digested particles to cross the intestinal barrier (often referred to as ‘leaky gut’), enter the bloodstream and potentially infect the body or otherwise interact with our immune system. This means bad bacteria, viruses, fungi, and more all have easier access to upset the overall workings of the rest of your body.

Probiotics and IBS

More doctors and patients are learning to appreciate the positive effects that probiotics have on restoring health to the GI tract and reducing the symptoms of IBS. In July of 2017, a research team from the University of Illinois compiled and published data from five human clinical trials on IBS that included the probiotic bacteria known as Bifidobacterium infantis. After reviewing the data from these five trials and combining the overall results, they concluded that this probiotic might be an effective therapeutic option for IBS patients, which could significantly alleviate the symptoms of IBS without significant adverse effects.

The probiotics seem to go beyond alleviating the GI symptoms of IBS and have also been shown to positively influence some mood disorders associated with IBS. It should come as no surprise that people with IBS frequently suffer from depression and anxiety. Can you imagine trying to lead a normal life, but always needing to know where the closest bathroom is or having to take into account what color pants you wear each day because your bowels are unpredictable and painful.

A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University in Canada showed a link between a probiotic and mood improvement in people suffering from IBS.³ In this study, 44 IBS patients who also suffered from moderate depression and anxiety were divided into two groups. One group received daily doses of a probiotic that contained Bifidobacterium  and the other group was given a placebo for six weeks. Individuals were asked to track their depression, anxiety and gastrointestinal symptoms throughout the study. At the end of six weeks, 64% of those who received the probiotic had improvements in depression scores, while only 32% of those in the placebo group reported these changes. Even four weeks after the end of the study, depression scores remained lower in the probiotic group.

The research went beyond just asking the participants about their feelings, they also used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain patterns and noted improved depression in the probiotic group that was linked to changes in brain activity specifically in areas associated with mood regulation. This was a small study, and everyone involved agreed that larger human clinical trials will be needed to confirm these findings, but the initial results are still exciting and promising for anyone suffering from IBS.

With multiple research teams, from multiple countries reporting these interesting and promising probiotic findings for IBS sufferers, the future sounds promising for a more natural approach to IBS symptoms through the balancing of the gut microbiota.

What to Look for in a Probiotic Product

Probiotics are live bacteria. So the most important consideration when selecting a useful probiotic is making sure that the beneficial bacteria are actually alive and thriving when they reach you — anything else is just a waste of money. Check the label and look for a guarantee of potency through the expiration date. Products that only provide a guarantee at the time of manufacture may be substandard products.

Also, pay attention to the species of bacteria used in the supplement. The research presented here pointed predominantly to the use of Bifidobacteria for IBS and more specifically to Bifidobacterium infantis. Look for a probiotic that focuses solely on this strain so you can see if it will help you, without diluting it in a multi-strain supplement full of so many different bacteria that you’ll never know which one provided the ultimate results.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Ken Babal, C.N.

One of the best kept secrets is that we don’t have to have heart attacks. The biggest killer of Americans is completely preventable. But we’re not going to end this epidemic with drugs, stents and bypass operations because they don’t address the cause. It’s going to take strong dietary measures.

Government guidelines stress reducing saturated fat (fatty meats and whole milk products) and increasing vegetable and fruit intake, mainly for their fiber and antioxidant content. Fiber promotes excretion of toxic substances and helps to lower cholesterol while antioxidants protect against free radicals and artery damage. Also, government has placed a limit of no more than 10 percent of daily calories coming from added sugars. Too much sugar contributes to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and increases your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

It’s important to note that it’s not just about what we exclude from our diet, but also what we include. Surveys show that most people subsist on the same ten foods day in and day out. Many of them are not consistently associated with reduced disease risk. For example, only about 25 percent of vegetables consumed are classified as being rich in protective phytochemicals. Fruits that are most closely associated with reduced disease risk make up only about half of our fruit intake. Some vegetables and fruits closely associated with reduced disease risk are cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts), leafy greens, berries, cherries, grapes, pomegranate, avocado, artichoke, mushroom, yam and olive.

Polymeal for Reducing Heart Disease Risk

In 2003, an article in The British Medical Journal proposed the idea of a drug cocktail for preventing cardiovascular disease. The “polypill” would consist of a statin drug to reduce cholesterol plus a diuretic, beta blocker and ACE inhibitor to reduce blood pressure, and folic acid and aspirin for additional benefits.

In response to the polypill concept, an article was published in the same medical journal a year later on a “polymeal.” The meal, designed by a team of Dutch researchers, was based on the ability of each of its ingredients to reduce heart disease risk. Effects were calculated from data obtained from the famous Framingham Heart Study and its offshoot studies. According to calculations, the polymeal would reduce cardiovascular events by 76 percent and increase total life expectancy of men by 6.6 years and that of women by 4.8 years. The polymeal consists of wine (in moderation), fish (four times per week), dark chocolate, fruits, vegetables, almonds and garlic.

Traditional Mediterranean Diet

The polymeal has similarities to the traditional Mediterranean diet, the most scientifically documented diet in the world. The Mediterranean diet is a diet that was eaten by people living in southern Italy and the Greek island of Crete in the 1960s. At that time, the population had a low rate of chronic disease and enjoyed the highest life expectancy of all countries reporting to the World Health Organization. Crete reported an especially low rate of heart disease, which was 90 percent lower than that of the United States.

The diet was based on vegetables, fruits, potatoes, breads and grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Modest amounts of cheese and yogurt were consumed daily, and up to four eggs per week. Fish and poultry were consumed several times a week, but red meat only a few times per month. Olive oil was the principal source of fat, and wine was enjoyed in moderation. Today, the Mediterranean diet is still saving lives and has proven to be more effective for heart patients than any drug, lifestyle program or other diet.

High Priority Supplements

When people think of vitamin K, most think of healthy blood clotting. Recently, additional benefits beyond coagulation were discovered about vitamin K in regard to bone and cardiovascular health. Research shows that vitamin K in the form of MK7 is an important cofactor in calcium metabolism in that it helps direct calcium into bones where it belongs rather than soft tissue. Calcification is not desirable in soft tissues as it can contribute to problems like kidney stone formation, bone spurs and artery plaque. Thus, MK7 supports both bone building and arterial flexibility.

A new study shows that MK7 may actually reverse calcification of blood vessels in people with kidney disease. Dialysis patients given MK7 for four weeks showed large reductions in calcium deposits in their blood vessels. The patients were chosen since calcium deposits in the blood vessels is a major mortality risk factor in advanced kidney disease. Another study concluded that vitamin K deficiency is as big a risk factor for developing heart disease as smoking.

CoQ-10 is an antioxidant present in the mitochondria of all cells where it participates in the production of aerobic energy (using oxygen). The body manufacturers CoQ-10, but it declines by as much as 80 percent in the course of normal aging. It is critical for heart function because the heart consumes so much energy. Not surprising, CoQ-10 levels are low in patients with heart disease. Ironically, statins used to treat high cholesterol block the body’s synthesis of CoQ-10. The Association of the European Society of Cardiology declared in 2003 that CoQ-10 is the first “drug” known to improve heart failure mortality in over a decade.

Increasing our intake of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly from fish and fish oil, could have a major impact on heart attack risk. One mechanism by which fatty acids EPA/DHA may lower the risk of heart disease is inflammation control. Evidence strongly supports the idea that chronic low-grade inflammation in our blood vessels may be a bigger threat than one’s cholesterol level. Also, fish oils are very effective in reducing triglycerides, a type of blood fat and risk factor for heart disease. Recently, the FDA granted approval of a fish oil, allowing it to be prescribed as a treatment for high triglycerides.

Heart disease is a food-borne illness. It’s estimated that if all forms of cardiovascular disease were eliminated, life expectancy would rise by about seven years. Though we’ve eaten ourselves into a problem, we can eat our way out of it.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Karen Masterson Koch

Millions of people, both young and old, are cheating themselves of a fun and productive long life because of Blood Sugar Imbalance. Blood sugar (glucose) can run both high and low. Each has similar symptoms and causes, even though different parts of the body are involved. Both control the body’s energy output and functions including the brain and emotions. Feeling good demands a balanced blood sugar. You can control it!

Balanced Blood Sugar Support

  1. Daily Healthy Nutrition
  2. Supplements (as desired)
  3. Exercise & Water

Diabetes is the disease of High Blood Sugar (HBS) and insulin resistance. It leads to poor circulation in the body that, if not addressed, impacts quality and length of life. Statistics are skyrocketing with younger diagnosis. It is the fifth leading cause of death, yet also a factor in the development of other diseases, to include: Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney failure, neurological disease, traumatic amputations, and other metabolic imbalances like Metabolic X Syndrome (MXS), characterized by weight gain.

Hypoglycemia, on the other end of the spectrum, is Low Blood Sugar (LBS). Every year, thousands of emergency visits are diagnosed as Low Blood Sugar Hypoglycemia and increasing suicides are linked to LBS. Some cases are from diabetic patients who take too much medicine. However, the most common causes are alcohol and drug addiction, excess caffeine, mal-nutrition and food abuse, plus high stress.

Psychologist MD, Michael Lesser states, “Nine out of ten neurosis (mental illness) patients have Low Blood Sugar.” He has written at length about the importance of nutrition in his book, The Brain Chemistry Diet, 2002. Hypoglycemia can be a living hell. Not feeling good, inability to think, outburst of anger or aggressive behavior, crying, depression, even disorientation, are all part of the emotional roller coaster of LBS and body imbalance.

Thankfully both High and Low Blood Sugar can be brought back into a much healthier range, often without medication, by adding a few common sense steps: nutrition, supplements, exercise and daily hydration with water. Feeling good, again, is all about fueling the body with good nutrition, regardless of what ails you. Decreasing stress and increasing circulation by walking, running and movement the best you can is important. To speed the process, research supports taking some nutritional shortcuts that won’t conflict with medication and may even help to avoid them — what a bonus!

High Blood Sugar Facts

  1. The 2014 Center of Disease Control (CDC) statistics are up. One in eleven people, adults and children (10 to 20 yrs. of age), live with symptoms of pre-diabetes, or a diagnosis of Type I or Type II Diabetes. Blood Sugar Glucose levels are best in the 70 – 100 range with HbA1C below 5.7.
  2. Symptoms include fatigue, moodiness, non-quenchable thirst, frequent urination, always hungry, weight loss, blurred vision, loss of eyesight, tingling, numbness and pain in hands and feet, very dry skin, slow healing of wounds and sores, increased infections, stomach pains, nausea and potential unconsciousness (coma).
  3. Diabetes is both a deficiency and absence of the insulin hormone that is produced in the pancreas gland, designed to assist glucose into cells for energy. Secondary, insulin resistance may exist when insulin is sufficient, yet the cells need more help to absorb the glucose into the cell to create energy. Glycogen stores are also a factor.
  4. Genetics has a factor in body health, especially in Type I Diabetes, often developing at birth or in the first years of an infant’s life, requiring insulin medication. Type II was seen in older adults 40 yrs. and above, yet recent studies from the CDC show a tripling of cases from 1980 – 2009 and now effecting younger people.
  5. An autoimmune factor has also been studied in several countries called Latent Autoimmune Diabetes (LADA). This repeatable work has validated nutritional support as an important modality to lower the oxidative stress associated with inflammation to achieve immunity balance for body wellness.

Low Blood Sugar Facts

  1. Hypoglycemia involves the adrenal gland and occurs when blood sugar decreases to below normal levels of 70 – 150 glucose level. Also, check your...
  2. levels of HbA1C for HBS. Stored fat reserves called glycogen are also important and not always available when the body is requiring glucose, as in a fasting state.
  3. Symptoms include clumsiness, trouble-making, confusion, slow learning, loss of consciousness, seizures, or death. A feeling of hunger, sweating, shakiness and weakness may also be present.

Nutrition, Exercise & Water
Support Blood Sugar

American Diabetes Association trained Melissa Joy Dobbins, RD, of Chicago, IL, states, “Breakfast is the most important meal of your day and is especially important for diabetics. It’s key to keep your carbs between 30 ‒ 45 grams daily with more protein foods, lean meats, eggs, fish, low fat Greek yogurt, cheddar and Swiss Chess, vegetables, nuts and seeds (raw), beans and fruits.”

Melissa continues, “Optimize digestion with smaller meals and healthier snacks. Spread your food throughout the day every few hours. Make sure to make Heart Healthy choices with lower sodium and fried foods, while increasing vegetables and fruits.” Excessive oils, as well as sugars, will cause your Blood Sugar to fluctuate more.

  1. Exercise, as tolerated, at least 30 – 45 minutes daily helps circulation to stabilize blood sugar.
  2. The Mayo clinic suggests women drink two quarts of water daily and men three quarts.

Supplement Support

Researches in multiple studies have found people living with diabetes mellitus tend to be very low in important nutrients to include antioxidants (Vitamin C and E), Phase II Enzymes (liver enzymes) and minerals. These may be sourced from vegetables, fruits or herbs. Poor digestion is another factor to consider if patients are eating a variety of good foods and still have failing health due to poor absorption.

Several trace minerals were found to play a factor in insulin metabolism, in particular, vanadium, chromium, zinc, iron, copper and manganese. A most significant human study, conducted in Mahidol Medical University of Bangkok, India, reported in 2004 by Ken Jones, PhD, NNFA, concluded that using an oral treatment of Aloe Vera (abundant in minerals) with meals, plus an increase in dietary fiber (beans or low gluten grains), resulted in 3,000 diabetic heart patients reducing blood sugar levels over 60%, with many back to normal in 14 – 60 days. A significant decline in triglycerides was also experienced (10). In 2012, published studies with Maitake SX-Fraction Mushrooms also showed favorable results in lowering blood glucose in animals and some individuals when taken with medication.

  1. Maitake SX-Fraction Mushroom
  2. Nopal Cactus
  3. Vitamin C & E
  4. GTF Chromium
  5. Cinnamon

Health begins in the kitchen. More and more people are visiting their local health food store to purchase tastier local produce and quality supplements. Give any new herb or supplement three months to judge its effectiveness, as a rule of thumb, for support.

Even though these supplements are not contra-indicated with medication, you may find they will reduce the amount of medicine you need. Ancient traditional text mentioned Aloe Vera for blood sugar and digestion and it just may put the FUN back in your daily life with Healthy Energy — Enjoy!

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Natasha Trenev

Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host,” or, as we like to think of them, simply beneficial microbes, most often of the bacterial kind. Prebiotics are defined as “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit,” or simply thought of as the food source for the probiotics.

Prebiotics are a class of simple carbohydrates that are non-digestible by humans and are found naturally in foods such as leeks, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onion, wheat, banana, oats, as well as soybean. However, you would need to consume a large quantity of these foods for them to have any useful prebiotic effect.

Prebiotics are designed to feed the probiotic supplements and encourage their growth and to feed the bacteria already found in our gut. It sounds like it makes common sense to combine them so you have the total package of the probiotics and the food they need to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, that’s only half of the story.

Prebiotics Feed the ‘Bad’ Bacteria, Too

Prebiotics are designed to provide the beneficial bacteria in your GI tract with a food substance that encourages their growth. However, when you take a prebiotic, you have no control over which bacteria are benefiting and proliferating because of it. Therefore, you may be feeding the bad bacteria along with the good bacteria. Scientific evidence has shown that by taking a prebiotic, we are also encouraging yeast growth and the growth of potentially harmful bacteria such as Klebsiella, E. coli, and Salmonella. Klebsiella has been identified as one of the “big three” gram-negative pathogenic bacteria with growing antibiotic resistance in the United States and abroad.

If the balance of bacteria in your gut is already unhealthy and skewed in favor of bad or potentially pathogenic bacteria, taking a prebiotic may just help these species proliferate and make the balance worse.

Prebiotic Side Effects Can Be an Issue

In addition, studies have shown that one commonly used prebiotic known as Fructooligosaccharide (FOS) actually can impair the intestinal barrier (this is exactly what most people are trying to prevent by taking probiotics in the first place). And you might be shocked to know that the list of side effects associated with FOS include diarrhea, abdominal rumbling, bloating, cramping and excessive flatulence. Many people take probiotics to help with digestive upsets, so why would they want to add on a prebiotic with known side effects like this?

Another commonly used prebiotic is called inulin. Inulin is a complex sugar found and extracted from the roots of various plants. Researchers from the University of Helsinki and the University of Montana studied mice fed with inulin prebiotic diets, and discovered shifts in the total bacterial community, including the discovery of previously unknown bacterial strains. Other studies have reported the increased potential for intestinal tumors and colon cancer in mice fed inulin supplemented diets. These studies strongly suggest a negative aspect to the use of inulin as a prebiotic.

The Intrinsic Supernatant

All probiotics are live organisms that require nourishment in order to survive and flourish, and what sets some probiotics apart from the rest is knowing if they contain their own intrinsic supernatant or not. During the process of making probiotics, the live bacteria must be provided with a nutritionally-balanced food base formulation that is specifically selected for each bacteria strain to optimize the potential health-promoting properties of the bacteria. This food source allows them to grow, multiply and thrive. As the bacteria grow, not only do they transform this surrounding ‘food’ (aka culturing medium) into an active and very essential byproduct known as the supernatant, but they also produce and release very powerful active substances like hydrogen peroxide and acidophilin and vitamins into the supernatant. These byproducts then enhance the health properties of the probiotics.

The supernatant becomes the natural food source and therefore the natural prebiotic specific to the probiotics being grown. The problem is, during the manufacturing process, many companies exclude this important growth medium in favor of collecting higher numbers of bacterial cells into their final product. It’s an added expense to include the intrinsic supernatant in the final probiotic product. However, the benefit to the consumer is that probiotics that include the intrinsic supernatant (aka growth medium) are carrying their own food source with them so there is no need to combine them with additional prebiotics. Since the supernatant already provides specifically designed food for the good bacteria, there is no need to add fillers such as FOS or inulin to these probiotics.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Danielle Myers

Every day our bodies put up a fight against illness, stress, fatigue and aging in order to sustain overall wellness. We knowingly take precautions in order to maintain the best health possible; however, environmental as well as internal and external causes sometimes still result in poor health.

As conscientious consumers, we search and search for effective solutions. We look for ways to have more energy, healthier skin and a better memory. We turn to products such as herbal supplements, caffeinated drinks, topical creams and the like. But what if one product could address a wide scope of concerns? What if, rather than walking up and down the aisles of the health store, we could focus on just one simple, yet all-inclusive herb?

Most consumers are familiar with and benefit from the positive health properties of ginseng. Often referred to as the “King of Herbs,” ginseng is known as the world’s most powerful adaptogenic herb — meaning it assists the body to manage stress and achieve homeostatic balance. Used medicinally in Asia for thousands of years, ginseng is utilized as a remedy in treating a host of health problems, such as managing stress, stimulating one’s immune system and helping resist fatigue.

What is Ginseng?

Ginseng is a deciduous, perennial plant that belongs to the Araliaceae family. There are 12 known species identified in the Panax genus. Panax ginseng, cultivated in China, Korea, Japan and Russia, is available as fresh, red, white and wild varieties:

  • Red ginseng — peeled, heated by way of steaming at boiling temperatures and then dried or sun-dried. Often it is marinated in an herbal brew, which makes the root brittle.
  • Fresh ginseng — a raw product and limited by availability.
  • White ginseng — fresh ginseng which is dried without being heated, then peeled and dried again to reduce water content to 12% or less.
  • Wild ginseng — harvested wherever it can be found; however, it is relatively rare.

The plants are usually harvested between four and six years of age. Special effort is made to keep the roots in tact, as this is where the valuable properties come from.

Traditionally, ginseng root was used as an ingredient in the preparation of tea and soups; however, recent breakthroughs in extraction and concentration methods have produced ginseng with higher potencies that are available in powder or liquid concentrates and capsules.

How Does Ginseng Work?

The ginseng plant root contains saponins, which are natural plant chemical components called ginsenosides. These unique active compounds found only in Panax ginseng are what make it authentic and unrivaled. The botanical genus name ‘Panax’ is derived from the Greek words ‘Pan’ meaning “all” and ‘axos’ meaning “cure.” Panax can literally be translated as cure-all, or panacea.

Orally administered, ginsenosides are difficult for the body to break down; however, they can be metabolized by intestinal bacteria and then these metabolites are absorbed from the intestines.

Is All Ginseng Created Equal?

The simple answer is no. There is a lot of information out there about ginseng and it can be a little confusing. Other herbs claim to be ginseng, but since they are from a different genus, or family, they do not contain the ginsenosides. These include Siberian ginseng (eleutherococcus senticosus), Prince ginseng (seudostellaria paniculate), Indian ginseng/Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), and Brazilian ginseng/Suma (Pfaffia paniculata).

Therefore, true ginseng plants belong solely to the Panax genus.

Benefits to Health and Wellness

Clinical studies have shown that ginseng extract stimulates the immune system, improves mental and physical performance, reduces fatigue, supports healthy glucose regulation and improves general quality of life. Here are a few details about how ginseng can help improve your overall health and wellness:

  • Energy and Stamina — helps to increase both energy and stamina while having a soothing effect on the nerves. Unlike caffeine, ginseng does not have jittery effects or high-low crashes associated with it. It also helps to support adrenal health.
  • Immune System — improves mental and physical performance, strengthens the immune system as well as regains stamina lost during illness. It can also help to balance blood sugar levels and improve cardiovascular health.
  • Detoxification — improves skin and rids it of free radicals that accumulate from daily sun exposure and environmental pollution. Internal use of ginseng can aid the body in repairing and building healthy cells.

Why Korean Ginseng is Better

When comparing Chinese, American or Korean ginseng, it’s important to know the ginsenoside content. Chinese and American ginsengs have 13 or 14 ginsenosides, but more than 30 ginsenosides have been identified in Korean ginseng.

Because there are many ginseng products on the market, it’s important to choose a quality brand with proven results in order to get the most benefit from what ginseng can offer.

Ginseng is a delicate plant that requires special handling and care. For the best results, ginseng plants should be harvested at the optimal time (4.5 ‒ 5.5 years), and the entirety of the root and rootlets should be maintained without peeling, boiling, steaming or using high heat. All of these factors affect the final product and determine the level of quality and effectiveness of absorption.

According to one study, less than 30% of males and less than 40% of females had full positive absorption of all ginsenosides. In other words, most consumers do not get the full benefit of ginseng because their body does not properly break it down. In response to this, some producers of Korean ginseng have developed a fermented ginseng extract that mimics the fermentation that occurs naturally in the intestine to transform ginsenosides to an end-stage compound. This has been proven in clinical trials to dramatically improve the rate, speed and consistency of absorption. Fermented ginseng extract containing this metabolite has been shown to have many adaptogenic qualities, such as strong anti-oxidants, anti-stress, anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, the fermentation process helps to increase the taste profile compared to other conventional ginseng extracts.

Is Ginseng Right for Me?

People across the globe are constantly searching for ways to attain more energy, balance and overall wellness in daily life. Most Americans start each day with a hot cup of coffee (or two), a caffeinated soda, or an energy drink. We need that extra shot-in-the-arm to start our day and to sustain energy.

Unlike caffeine, fermented ginseng can provide a calm, centered and sustained energy that lasts all day without a crash. Additionally, long-term use can help strengthen the immune system and provide optimal energy, vitality, mental clarity and focus.

While energy products and supplements ebb and flow with the tides of change, ginseng has been a constant feature for thousands of years. Recent advances in biotechnology have allowed companies to optimize the growing, harvesting, processing, extraction and concentration of ginseng, which have resulted in improved effectiveness. This humble plant continues to live up to its name and reign as the “King of Herbs” for its countless medicinal properties.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Mark J. Kaylor

Why are we still talking about sugar? You would think that with all we know about the health costs associated with excess sugar consumption, we would all be eating less. This is not the case. While the American Heart Association recommends no more than 9.5 teaspoons a day (a figure I believe is still too high), the average American still consumes about 20 teaspoons. This adds up to 130 pounds of sugar every year with a whopping 3,550 pounds consumed over a lifetime. Sugar remains the largest source of calories in the US.

How Big is the Threat?

So how big of a concern is sugar consumption? In a recent statement, the UN Secretary General said that conditions associated with sugar and carbohydrate consumption, such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer and heart disease are a bigger threat to the entire world than infectious disease. Roughly 35 million people die each year from these diseases. And there are 30% more obese folks than there are undernourished ones. Today, about one in twenty of us suffer from diabetes. By 2030, in the US, that ratio could be as high as one in three.

While many of us think we don’t eat any sugar, it is often added to or hidden in processed foods under an assortment of names (see image on page 12). You will find sugar in breads, sauces, dressings and virtually every other processed food. We also need to beware the “healthier” sounding fructose (sounds a lot like fruit). While it does not spike your blood sugar like glucose does, due to the way it is metabolized, it creates a whole other series of health concerns.

Sugar's Evil Twin

A leading concern with the consumption of fructose is that it turns off leptin, the hormone that tells you when you are full. Excess fructose consumption is also associated with fatty liver, elevated triglycerides, increased risk for cardiovascular disease, clogged arteries and insulin resistance. By raising uric acid production, fructose may also increase one’s risk for gout, hypertension and kidney stones. In the US, about half of our sugar consumption is fructose. It is important to mention here that I’m talking the isolated concentrated fructose, as seen in high fructose corn syrup, not the naturally occurring fructose that is found in fruits.

Sugar, the Consequences

Let’s get right to it. First, there is no need to consume refined sugar. Second, there is no nutritional necessity or justification for eating it. Sugar is a pointless food; nothing but empty calories.

The number of health concerns associated with sugar consumption is too long to list here. Leading consequences include Alzheimer’s disease, negative behavior, dental issues, cardiovascular disease, aging before your time and, of course, obesity and diabetes. In fact, drinking one serving a week of a sugary beverage raises one’s risk for diabetes by 15%. Many of the health concerns associated with excess sugar consumption are related to its capacity to increase inflammation, oxidative stress (free radical damage), glycation (a process whereby sugar binds to various proteins in the body causing them to malfunction) and insulin resistance.

Sugar and Cancer

Sugar and corresponding insulin resistance are often overlooked as leading contributors to increasing one’s risk for cancer, as well as malignancy and recurrence. Studies suggest that malignant cancers are relatively rare in communities that don’t eat the high sugar, high carbohydrate Standard American Diet, a.k.a. SAD. A study published in the leading cancer journal concluded that eating refined carbohydrates and sugars dramatically increases one’s risk for breast cancer. It also found that recurrence is twice as likely if refined carbohydrates and sugar intake stays the same or increases after surgery. In general, diets that consist of a large amount of foods that are high on the glycemic index are associated with greater risk of developing cancer.

Sugar Liberation

Chromium — This mineral is essential for insulin activity. Unfortunately, it has been estimated to be deficient in up to 50% of the US population. Multiple studies confirm it improves blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity by improving the cells communications. Not surprisingly, when you consider sugar’s damaging effects on the body, chromium was able to improve lifespan in one animal study. My preferred chromium is chromium polynicotinate.

SX-Fraction — What makes this unique extraction of the Maitake mushroom so promising is that, in clinical studies, it has demonstrated effectiveness at lowering the twin culprits of high blood sugar and insulin levels. Studies have found that it can significantly lower the important measure of long term sugar levels, HbA1c. The clinical evidence suggests it works by improving insulin sensitivity. Evidence of this is seen in its cardiovascular activities, i.e. lowering cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and blood pressure while improving HDL levels. In fact, it was found even more effective than a leading pharmaceutical in a comparison study.

Glucomannan or PGX — Four to five grams of this highly viscous fiber can reduce the after meal insulin spike by ~50%. A double blind study found that when one gram was taken before meals, the individuals lost 5.5 pounds over 8 weeks. PGX is an even more viscous fiber blend. A clinical trial showed it reduced after meal blood sugar spike by 23% and after meal insulin release by 40%, while improving insulin sensitivity by over 55%. There are a number of other promising blood sugar battling allies including Green Coffee Bean, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Carnosine, Banaba Leaf, Cinnamon (water soluble extract) and Bitter Melon.

The Time to Act is Now

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not just diagnosed high blood sugar at issue. A growing body of evidence suggests that even high normal blood sugar levels may be problematic. A study of nearly 2,000 men covering 22 years found that fasting glucose levels over 85 yielded a 40% greater risk of death and cardiovascular disease. The bottom line is that excess sugar and insulin are major contributors to many diseases and even mortality. One study found that high blood sugar levels doubled one’s all-cause mortality over 10 years. The time to act is now. Give up the sweets, move more, embrace a whole foods diet and profoundly impact your health and healing.

Since over-consumption of sugar is to a large degree a diet issue, the answer is correspondingly a diet one as well. It’s actually really simple, but not very easy for most of us. Stop eating refined sugar and carbohydrates. Focusing on a plant-based, whole foods diet will take care of this and bring with it a wide array of health and healing benefits. That’s not to say there aren’t some natural remedies that can help us keep our blood sugar under control…there are.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

The state your colon’s health is one of the greatest indicators of your overall health. The GI tract helps to cleanse toxins from your blood, intestines, and lymph systems with the assistance of your kidneys, lungs and skin. Quite simply, you can’t be vital and healthy without a properly functioning colon. Bernard Jensen—an alternation health expert who revolutionized our ideas about bowel health and the author of Dr. Jensen’s Guide to Better Bowel Care said it best:

“Every tissue in the body is fed by the bloodstream, which is supplied by the bowel. When the bowel is dirty, the blood is dirty, and so are the organs and tissues. It is the bowel that must be cared for first. Sickness and disease respond more effectively and faster to treatment when bowel irrigation is done first.”

To ensure that your gut is functioning at maximum efficiency, do consider some measures to cleanse it regularly.

Natural Cleansing

It’s not uncommon for the health of the gastrointestinal tract to be compromised by inflammation and irritants. Inflammatory reactions lead to increased permeability and malabsorption, which automatically posts a welcome sign for leaky gut and its ensuring allergies and challenges. And because many parasites can become embedded in the intestinal wall, no type of natural cleansing or otherwise can effectively reach them until the mucus and encrusted matter lying over them are softened. So, the first step in ridding the body of one of the more immunosuppressive causes of colon dysfunction is to detox the gastrointestinal tract naturally.

The intestinal cleansing process can be accomplished through the use of one or more of the following natural substances: rice bran fiber, alfalfa leaves, butternut root bark, fennel seed, licorice root, Irish moss, anise seed, peppermint leaves, cranberry, psyllium seed husk fiber, flaxseed fiber, apple or citrus pectin, and buckthorn bark. These substances act like a broom and sweep debris out of the digestive tract.

(Do note that this cleanse would not be appropriate for the more exotic blood- and tissue-invasive parasites, which cause malaria, trichomoniasis, toxoplasmosis, schistosomiasis, filariasis, elephantiasis, and leishmaniasis.)

Without equal, psyllium seed husk fiber, flaxseed fiber, and bran fiber are gentle and effective bulking agents in the removal of accumulated wastes. Their extremely high water-absorbing capacity lubricates old fecal matter dried on the colon wall for a softer, more normal evacuation. And their tremendous swelling capacity lets them absorb toxins and waste materials stored in the body. Bulking agents must be taken with adequate amounts of water, so be sure to check the directions on the product label.

It’s not unusual, once you begin the cleansing process, for the body to pass strings of mucus and even worms from the colon. That’s why the highly beneficial detoxifying fiber found in citrus pectin as well as naturally effective herbs is so important in absorbing toxins from the system. These herbs include cranberry powder (known for its anti-yeast properties); butternut root bark (one of the best and safest laxatives); fennel seed (to soothe the digestion and help against flatulence and heartburn); licorice root (a mild laxative/detoxifier to help heal the irritated mucous membranes of the intestinal tract); and peppermint leaves (to help relieve gas pain and aid digestion).

It’s not unusual, once you begin the cleansing process, for the body to pass strings of mucus and even worms from the colon. That’s why the highly beneficial detoxifying fiber found in citrus pectin as well as naturally effective herbs is so important in absorbing toxins from the system. These herbs include cranberry powder (known for its anti-yeast properties); butternut root bark (one of the best and safest laxatives); fennel seed (to soothe the digestion and help against flatulence and heartburn); licorice root (a mild laxative/detoxifier to help heal the irritated mucous membranes of the intestinal tract); and peppermint leaves (to help relieve gas pain and aid digestion).

A Cleansing Flush

Colonic irrigation and home enemas can be a helpful adjunct in cleansing the colon. Colonic irrigation (sometimes called a high enema) is a procedure whereby a lukewarm water solution is irrigated into the entire length of the large intestine. The procedure, which dislodges and removes toxins over the entire length of the intestine, takes about 45 minutes and is usually performed in a professional office. Sanitary procedures and ingredients, such as filtered water and disposable specula, are essential.

Some experts also believe that colonics, through the gentle internal massage of the water pressure, help to reestablish the original shape of the colon. Bulges and pockets, where wastes and other critters have been “hiding” and fermenting or putrefying, are re-formed back into their healthy shape. In addition, colonics firm up the colon’s muscles, stimulating their peristaltic action that squeezes and excretes waste material. In that way, they boost regular bowel movements and put a stop to both constipation and diarrhea.

At-Home Options

For those who prefer the do-it-yourself method, home enemas can be effective. Remember, however, that enemas reach only the lower 12½ inches of the 5½ foot colon, whereas colonic irrigation cleanses the entire length of the colon, up to the ileocecal valve.

Numerous home remedies can be added to enemas to make them more effective. Garlic’s well-documented anti-parasitic properties make garlic juice enemas a beneficial treatment in cases of pinworms in children and adults. Garlic’s active component, allicin, seems to be the substance that has the anti-parasitic properties.

Many herbal healers recommend an enema of two mashed garlic cloves boiled in six ounces of milk and given for three consecutive nights to kill pinworms in children. Garlic enemas are also good because they support the normal acidity of the colon. Vinegar enemas (two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one quart of water) are also helpful as general detoxifiers. Blackstrap molasses enemas (one tablespoon to a quart of water) will actually pull encrusted fecal matter and some parasites off the intestinal wall. Organic wheat grass juice has been used at health clinics and at home for enemas. The late Dr. Ann Wigmore, the pioneer of wheat grass juice in the United States, used wheat grass juice for implants and enemas. Coffee enemas, used in detoxification programs made famous by Dr. Nicholas Gonzales, are helpful in cleansing the liver, but can cause tissue weakness with prolonged use.

A word of caution when taking enemas: Use only properly filtered water, or purchase distilled water and further sterilize it by heating to a rolling boil for at least 10 minutes. Sterilize the tubing and enema bag by soaking them in a cleansing bath (half a teaspoon of colloidal silver or hydrogen peroxide combined with a gallon of water). Rinse thoroughly with purified water.

We can all agree that cleansing your colon is one powerful method to heal your digestive system and repair any damage, but restore your body’s vitality from your head to your toes.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Natasha Trenev

Celiac Disease (CD), also referred to as gluten intolerance, can mean a lifetime of avoiding grains containing gluten, wheat, rye and barely. Exposure to even the smallest amount of gluten can trigger a damaging and sometimes painful gastrointestinal reaction in people who are sensitive to the stuff. Avoiding gluten altogether can be very difficult, and the quest to avoid it can disrupt the lives of those suffering from the sensitivity, as well as the lives of family members. Due to the constraints of a gluten-free diet, alternative therapies for CD are being explored.

About Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease affects approximately one in 133 Americans, or around 2.18 million Americans. Symptoms can range from classic gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea, reflux, abdominal pain and bloating, to more complex symptoms such as malnutrition, weight loss, fatigue, easy bruising, skin rashes, anemia and other isolated nutrient deficiencies.

The gastrointestinal tract breaks down food into smaller components the body can absorb and use for various purposes. People with CD cannot break down gluten into proteins small enough for their bodies to digest. With repeated exposure to larger, unaltered proteins, the body may develop an immune response to gluten.

The Connection between Microbes in the Gut and Gluten Sensitivity

Some of the newest research shows an association between gluten sensitivities and the bacteria living in the intestinal tract known as the gut microbiota. Bacteria living in the small intestine participate in the metabolism of gluten. Scientists know that people with gluten sensitivities tend to have a different set of bacteria living in their intestines compared with those without the dietary problem.

Scientists wanted to know, though, if the bacterial communities from a person with gluten sensitivities would handle wheat proteins differently than the bacterial communities of a person without the condition. To find out, researchers from McMaster University in Canada isolated gluten-degrading bacteria from the small intestines of participants with and without gluten sensitivities. The scientists then transferred the bacteria from both groups into germ-free lab mice, which had no intestinal bacteria at all, and then created colonies of the mice. Next, the scientists fed gluten to the mice and observed the results.

Microbes in the small intestine trigger immune reactions when they encounter gluten. The scientists determined that the microbes from a person with gluten sensitivities trigger different immune reactions than do the microbes from someone without the sensitivity. Specifically, the bacteria from those with gluten sensitivities reacted by producing peptides which talk differently to immune cells and provoke a stronger immune response.

The researchers then tested how various peptides isolated from people with gluten sensitivities reacted with blood immune cells. They found that certain peptides from gluten-sensitive individuals activated gluten-specific immune cells. The scientists also found that different bacteria isolated from healthy people were able to degrade the peptides in a way that decreases gluten-related immune reactions.

New Research Indicates Specific Probiotic Bacteria May Help

In another study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, supplementation with the probiotic bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis NLS super strain was shown to alleviate some gastrointestinal symptoms associated with celiac disease in newly-diagnosed participants who were still consuming a gluten containing diet. In that study, researchers randomly assigned participants to either the test group receiving B. infantis probiotic capsules, or the control group receiving a placebo capsule. Participants took two capsules three times each day, 15 minutes before meals, for three weeks. The researchers gathered data on the participants on the first day of the study, on day 10, and again 21 days later at the end of the study. Data included vital signs, safety reports, urine and blood tests, and questionnaires.

The researchers found that some gastrointestinal symptoms improved for participants who took B. infantis probiotic, specifically indigestion, constipation and gastroesophageal reflux. Furthermore, the scientists noted administration of the B. infantis probiotic was not associated with serious adverse effects or significant biochemical changes. The researchers also noted that these changes took place despite the fact the participants were still consuming gluten. In the future, they hope to repeat this study to see what changes occur in a similar group already on a gluten-free diet.

The research underscores the link between gut bacteria and the immune system during gluten metabolism. The results of the study highlight the roles bacteria play in modulating the body’s reaction to gluten. The findings are also consistent with the theory that imbalances in bacteria could contribute to the symptoms of gluten sensitivities, even though the bacteria included in the study may not be the only ones capable of modifying gluten digestion.

Infants, B. infantis and Celiac Disease Development

In addition to the role that Bifidobacterium infantis has been shown to have in people with active CD, it’s also been well studied for its importance in the infant gut. Breast milk has been shown to stimulate the growth of B. infantis in the guts of healthy newborns. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have even gone so far as to name it the “Champion Colonizer of the Infant Gut.” In one study of 164 healthy infants who have at least one first-degree relative with celiac disease, they found reduced numbers of Bifidobacterium in infants who later had an increased risk for developing celiac disease. This indicates that the type of milk fed, the gut bacteria that develop early on, and genetic predisposition may all play a role in the development of Celiac Disease later in life.

Research continues to show a connection between microbes living in the gut and celiac disease. These studies are early indicators of the use of specific strains of probiotics as supportive supplements for people who suffer from celiac disease and ongoing research may someday help provide non-dietary treatments for people who suffer from celiac disease.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Mark J. Kaylor

Let’s get right to it — heart disease is largely preventable and reversible. Heart disease is the number one killer in America, for both men and women, and has been for some time. While the stats have improved some recently, almost 400,000 people die every year from coronary heart disease (CHD). The creation of arterial lesions and plaque buildup occurs over decades* and is a fundamental contributor to an array of cardiovascular issues. The good news is that “heart disease is largely preventable and reversible.” Here are suggestions from four key categories that are likely to have the biggest, quickest and, hopefully, best impact.

In the Beginning — Diet

There are thousands of diets out there, but there is one that stands out in the research that is actually quite simple, a plant-based diet. It’s as simple as that; eat a whole food, plant-based diet. Numerous studies confirm that this simple yet effective approach can not only prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD), but reverse and repair the damage from it. A whole foods plant-based diet reduces our risk for CVD, reduces inflammatory markers and free radicals, improves endothelial (lining of the arteries) dysfunction and probably most importantly of all — reduces our risk of dying from CVD. One food group of special note is nuts (especially walnuts). Nuts are research supported to reduce risk for CVD, improve endothelial function and lower cholesterol.

One big step is to eliminate, as much as possible, all the refined carbohydrates and sugars that make their way into our diet. How impactful is eating refined sugars? Consuming 25% of your calories from sugar almost triples your chance of developing CVD. While we are cutting back on our sugar intake, we can use things like the Maitake SX-Fraction  (to lower blood sugar and insulin levels), chromium and PGX fiber.

All-Star Heart Health Tonics

There are two natural remedies that stand out for supporting overall cardiovascular health in what I consider a holistic manner, the traditional heart herbal Hawthorn and Reishi.

Hawthorn - long used in Europe for all things cardiovascular, it has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, increase oxygen and blood supply to the heart, improve heart energy production and strengthen the contraction of the heart muscle.

Reishi - shown to lower blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, while reducing systemic inflammation and free radical damage (preventing oxidation by macrophage — a key step in the build up of plaque), lessen myocardial collagen cross-linking and enhance heart mitochondrial activity. It has also demonstrated heart-protecting actions against several toxins including alcohol and Adriamycin. On the holistic side, it supports liver health and function. The liver is where cholesterol is synthesized and is responsible for filtering and replenishing the blood, all the while helping the body to respond to stress in a healthier manner.

Key Remedies for Heart Health

If there was a germ that was killing one American every 83 seconds, we would undoubtedly have declared war on the bug and eliminated it. However, this is precisely what is happening with the highly preventable coronary heart disease and yet the deaths continue to accrue. The difficulty is that the primary answer to this epidemic requires us to change our diet and we all know how resistant we can be to that. On top of this, you have huge financially-vested interests that want to keep you eating the S.A.D. (Standard American Diet) way. Let’s change this today and make this the beginning of the end for CHD by changing our eating habits.

Ensuring that our cardiovascular system is receiving all the nourishment it needs is obviously a starting point, but there are a few nutrients that are especially impactful.

Magnesium - diets deficient in Magnesium are associated with atherosclerosis, heart attacks and CVD. Unfortunately, it is a nutrient most of us are deficient in. Magnesium is useful for prevention and treating CVD and plays a key role in myocardial energy production. It also inhibits platelet aggregation and promotes vasodilation, while supporting endothelial function.

CoQ10 and Carnitine - These two synergistic nutrients are essential. CoQ10 deficiency is associated with CVD and plays a key role in the mitochondrial production of energy. Keep in mind the heart is a muscle and is absolutely dependent upon this process. It has shown promise for cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, angina, arrhythmias and hypertension. Carnitine also plays a key role in myocardial metabolism. It is important in energy production by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel. Studies suggest potential use in benefiting lack of blood flow, decreasing mortal-ity for heart attack sufferers, heart failure and angina.

Let it Shine 

Traditional Chinese Medicine refers to our emotional/spiritual center of the body as Shen, located, of course, in the heart. Healthy Shen is related to not just emotional health, but radiant health. My top Shen tonic is the aforementioned Reishi mushroom. Not only does Reishi benefit your physical heart, it also benefits your emotional one as well, bringing balance to the mind-body-spirit.

Here is an effective, yet simple Shen breathing technique to support your heart and overall health. Begin by breathing from your diaphragm saying the word “peace” in your head, pausing for a moment to let your heart fill with the peace energy, then exhale slowly thinking “love” allowing this energy to radiate throughout your whole body. Shen health is not to be overlooked. It has become very clear in recent research that our emotions are intimately tied and connected to our health, especially our heart health.

Romantic Heart Help

One “heart” area we seem to need help with today is in the romance and ‘bedroom’ areas. Thankfully, there is a long-used ‘aphrodisiac’ tonic to help, Cordyceps. It is one of the few clinically-confirmed natural aids for libido and hypo-sexuality for both men and women. Cordyceps has been shown to improve sex drive, virility and sexual function. It also brings a myriad of heart benefits as well, including improving blood flow to the heart, preventing platelet aggregation, anti-atherosclerotic and vasodilation. Clinically, it has been used for maintaining oxygen levels in stroke victims and improving overall quality of life in patients suffering from chronic heart failure. Studies show promise for arrhythmias as well.

The Time is Now

It would be wise for us to continue to lay claim to the old adage that “love is the best medicine.” Not only is it healing in and of itself, we can take it a step further and expand it to caring and loving ourselves enough that we make the necessary changes to our diets and routines to prevent and reverse the scourge of cardiovascular disease. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, this is a condition that we can do much to prevent and reverse. All it takes is to start making the changes today, right now.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]