Blog posts tagged with 'health'

by Suzy Cohen, RPh

We’re doing something wrong because, as a nation, we spend twice what other comparable countries spend on health care, but we have the lowest life expectancy. Worse, we have the highest infant mortality rates. Our medical system is expensive, slow, inefficient and at times, miserably incompetent.

It’s not me saying this, I’m just passing along news from a JAMA study that was just released. Today, I’d like to get back to nature. I’m going to share the best teas for various health concerns. Teas are gentle, but they contain powerful natural compounds that man has relied on for eons. If you have a medical condition, please make sure your practitioner or local herbalist or acupuncturist weighs in for you. The teas I mention below are sold as commercially prepared teabags or you can learn to make them yourself.

Many good animal studies prove that EGCG in green tea can slow down the growth of many cancers, including pancreatic cancer. Angiogenesis slows. If you have chronic infections or cancer, talk to your oncologist about taking this because timing is important if you’re on chemo.

Gotu kola is for your brain, baby! It boosts memory and helps with age-related cognitive decline. I have my own refreshing recipe for Mint Hibiscus Memory Tea. If you’d like to watch my video, I’ll make this exact tea for you. Watch at suzycohen.com/hibiscus-tea.

Lavender tea is the best option. It works like prescribed tranquilizers, meaning it activates your natural sleep hormone called GABA. Rose petals can do the same thing! I crawled out of bed one night in my jammies to make Lavender Rose Sleep Tea.

Rooibos tea is excellent at cleaning capillaries and there are many of these tiny capillaries that lead to your retina. I think it’s great for both blood pressure and vision. Rooibos has no caffeine. It contains chrysoeriol, which helps reduce blood pressure. You might also consider goldenseal or dandelion, two of Mother Nature’s best diuretics.

Ginger tea is easy to make, and it does not have caffeine. It contains numerous biologically active compounds, including gingerols, which act like medicine in the body. You can grate fresh ginger into some water and simmer it for a few minutes. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory for joint health.

The herb Stinging Nettle is a very common natural way to deal with allergies. It’s a natural anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory herb. It helps with hay fever according to some well-designed trials. You should ask your practitioner about this if you’re interested. It’s a natural diuretic by the way, so be careful if you take HCTZ or furosemide.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Karen A. Masterson Koch

People are not robots. The human body is made from natural elements and it runs on food. Foods found in nature, not a battery purchased from Amazon. And, the way many people disrespect the needs of the body by skipping meals and eating junk foods, it is no wonder that Cancer rates are on the rise.

1) The American Cancer Society estimates in 2017, 4,630 new cases of cancer every day with 1,650 deaths, daily. The top five; Skin, Lung, Prostate, Breast and Colon.

2) Cancer is becoming common with a 30% increase in the past 30 years and it’s estimated (1) in (3) people will have some form of Cancer in their lifetime.

3) Experts also agree that “Prevention” is the best action to take and that means choosing “Health.”

Health can complement any protocol, especially eating more healthy foods. It’s common sense to give the body the building blocks required for immunity daily. A spokesperson from the City of Hope when asked, “What is new in the treatment of Cancer?”  They replied, “Prevention and that is all about health!” The definition of health is the state of being free from illness or injury. And believe it or not, health can be fun — to actually grow younger in so many aspects including more energy, less disease and even looking younger.

Everyone knows someone with cancer or they themselves have had it or currently do. And leading experts agree on the cause of it. The American Cancer Association states, “Cancer generally takes 10 – 20 years of neglect to develop. And the heredity factor is only 6th on the list of why cancer develops. Smoking cigarettes, alcohol, obesity, poor diet and lifestyle choices are much more damaging to health.”

Today, Cancer has been politicized and is surrounded by confusion and misrepresentation. The truth is, cancer is caused by a number of factors including toxicity, malnutrition, genetic mutation and poor body metabolism. In fact good digestion is often lacking in cancer patients, contributing to malnutrition and disease.

Factors Influencing Cancer Development

1) Toxicity and Malnutrition (drugs, environmental pollution, junk foods, rancid oils, diet abuse lacking core nutrients).

2) Poor Body Metabolism (digestion, regularity/detox, balanced immunity and more).

3) Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices (addictions, lack of exercise, water, sunshine and fresh air).

...Genetics is 6th!

Poor digestion can prevent even good eaters, from experiencing health — due to poor absorption. It is linked to several factors including food allergies. Excess of gluten, dairy and refined sugar is most problematic. So, keep these foods lower in the diet. Excess of sugars along with toxic chemicals cause multiple bad effects. Sugars increase microbial growth of yeast, viruses and bacteria. It also depletes valuable vitamins and prevents healthy oxygenation while blocking the enzyme process that creates waste. The overuse of antibiotics and drugs further harm the body, increasing the need for more preventative health measures especially for balanced bowel regularity and detoxification.

Recent Research on Immunity & Health

Genetic scientists have confirmed that cells that do not absorb critical core nutrients from foods (and or supplements), cannot repair damaged chromosomes (DNA). The DNA determines just how healthy a replicating cell develops. When functioning properly, the body makes specialized cells that build, repair, protect and run all the systems of the body for wellness including immunity. Good digestion and detoxification are critical to health. Truly, improving one’s diet and taking key supplements supports the renewal process of reversing disease conditions. We are only as healthy as each cell.

Tuft’s University researchers have proven that by eating better and adding some nutritional supplements — disease in the body reverses. UCSD research studied Vitamin E and it showed significant support for immunity while also decreasing dementia in just months. Scientists have also researched many herbs found to be helpful to health, highlighting two in particular that support digestion and immunity, Aloe Vera and Medicinal Mushrooms.

Immunity Support Factors

1) Nutrition: Proteins (50 to 60 grams — variety of fish, lean meats, beans, nuts & seeds, avocado, broccoli); Vegetables (4 to 5 servings — rainbow of colors); and Fruits (1 to 2 servings — variety and seasonal).

2) Supplements: Probiotics, Essential Core Nutrients and Antioxidants (Vitamins A, C, D3, E, B-Complex, Omegas — EFAs, plus Minerals like Selenium and more).

3) Herbs: Quality Whole Leaf Aloe Vera (concentrate if possible) and Mushrooms (Maitake D-fraction extract).

4) Lifestyle: Exercise (30 to 45 minutes per day) and other Healthy Choices.

Agreed, daily schedules can make eating healthy a challenge, so prioritize and plan ahead. Protein foods actually build immunity. Vegetables and fruits contain the core nutrients and anti-oxidants. According to several cancer patients, existing tumors shrank from eating an abundance of berries and seasonal fruits like apples and vegetables — so, doesn’t it follow they will help to be “Preventatively Healthy,” too? Daily supplements including herbs may come in handy like a healthy short-cut along with a healthier diet and exercise.

Why Whole Leaf Aloe Vera (concentrate) is a first step for Digestion? The ancients living around the Mediterranean Sea used the entire Aloe Vera plant for everything from head to toe. They would eat the mature plant that developed the dark yellow bitter sap and apply it to the skin. Classed as an Herbal Bitter, one might say it is an herbal medicine chest that supports health foundationally, especially the digestive system and detoxification. Aloe Vera is best taken before meals and is more efficient than enzymes because it’s a catalyst for improving stomach flow of Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) supporting better digestion, constipation, gas, bloating and poor health.” Modern research shows improved absorption of nutrients including: Protein 50%, Vitamin C 200% and Vitamin E up to 300%. Also, if not diluted, over-filtered or overheated, quality products contain glyconutrients (polysaccharides). If over 80,000 – 400,000 Daltons, research supports improved immunity. Dose dependent, therefore concentrates may provide the most value in actives over 100 phytonutrients in the plant juice or powder.

Ancient civilizations from the cooler regions like China, Japan and Europe used medicinal mushrooms to support immunity health. In particular, the Maitake Mushroom species was a favorite and more recent research is confirming why its popularity is growing. Available in combination formulas or in a new spray, it is used in many research studies conducted for complimentary health.

Health may seem simplistic and easy to achieve for some. Yet, so many kids and adults do not have this accurate education to motivate their efforts. Recent studies have confirmed that early detection is saving lives, yet how about avoiding the diagnosis altogether by knowing the real answer to Cancer? Prevention — “Choose Health” today. Enjoy!

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Michael Ozner, M.D., FACC, FAHA

With cardiovascular disease (CVD) the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, it’s important that everyone understand their risk factors for heart attack and stroke. One easy way to combat your risk is to increase consumption of omega-3s—fatty acids that have been shown to support a healthy heart throughout life.

Omega-3 refers to a family of fats that the body can’t produce on its own—they have to be consumed. Although there are plant sources of omega-3s (e.g. flaxseed, walnuts), the optimal source is fish, especially cold-water fish that are rich in omega-3s (e.g. salmon, tuna, sardines). People often don’t know the difference between omega-3s and fish oil, and doctors sometimes use the two terms interchangeably. Fish oil, or fish oil products, are simply supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fats—particularly the two named EPA and DHA—are important because our bodies need them for optimal health. Omega-3 supplements are used when people are unable to maintain normal omega-3 levels in their bodies despite, or in place of, fish consumption.

Research on omega-3s and heart health is extensive, and the majority of clinical trials have demonstrated an improvement in heart health with regular fish or fish oil consumption. The prestigious medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine, had a review article in 2011 highlighting the importance of omega-3s for cardiovascular health. The mechanisms of action of omega-3 fats discussed in this article that can potentially improve cardiovascular heath include:

  • Lowering triglycerides
  • Addressing inflammation
  • Promoting healthy blood pressure
  • Supporting a healthy resting heart rate
  • Maintaining healthy insulin
  • Supporting normal endothelial function
  • Addressing atherosclerotic plaque

The American Heart Association recommendation for omega-3 intake is to eat (preferably oily omega-3 rich) fish at least twice a week for healthy individuals, if approved by their physician. For those with a history of coronary heart disease or elevated triglycerides, the intake of fish or fish oil supplements is greater, and should be considered in consultation with their physician.

The bottom line is: take your heart health seriously. Don’t wait until you’re in trouble to make necessary changes in diet, exercise, and stress reduction. Avoid cigarette smoking. See your personal treating physician to assess your heart disease risk factors and develop a prevention strategy to stay healthy. Regarding omega-3 fat, measure your omega-3 level at the time of your routine blood tests—if you are deficient in omega-3s, discuss corrective measures with your physician.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

by Karen A. Masterson Koch

Herbs really work! Hundreds of herbs grow around the globe and each contains different amounts of food nutrition along with special medicinal compounds, called Phytonutrients (from plants). Together, these actives from the herbal plants support body wellness.

The Aloe Vera plant works as a catalyst with smart food choices and supplements — to support many important health needs including healthier blood sugar. Blood sugar, known technically as blood glucose, is required for cellular energy and fuels every body function for both kids and adults.

Highlights of Aloe Vera Support

Digestion, Energy & Detox

Allergies, Skin & Collagen Renewal

Immunity, Auto-Immunity

Glandular Function

Quality Aloe Vera products contain over 100 safe actives.* When using the entire whole leaf, not over-filtered or over-heated, and concentrated to avoid diluted products — it is the most important herb of all time. In fact, recent sales statistics place Aloe Vera as #4 of all Herbal and Superfood sales through the health food stores. Sales of Aloe are growing each year and this is due to its broad and amazing health results. Research revealing the impact of normalizing high blood sugar levels in pre-diabetics is one of the many important reasons behind the booming sales.

The Health Crisis of Diabetes

Diabetes is a world health crisis, costing billions of dollars annually and the human toll is a tragedy. Often a factor in cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer and failing health — diabetes affects one in 11 people and is considered the fifth cause of pre-mature death. Soaring statistics, of all ages has sparked important research in many countries. In fact, there are now ten definitive studies with human or mammal subjects showing with pre-diabetic or Type II Diabetes, the use of a quality Aloe Vera works to improve healthier blood sugar levels.

A.D.A Symptoms of Diabetes (high blood sugar)

Extreme Thirst, Frequent Urination, Dry Mouth, Tingling in Limbs.

Fatigue, Itchy and Dry Skin, Poor Wound Healing, Vision Changes & Moodiness.

Why does Aloe Vera work?

The Aloe Vera plant provides several key actives responsible for the results of reducing risk of diabetes. Both minerals and other core nutrients critical to life itself have tested deficient in many diabetics and also approximately 25% of Type II Diabetes is directly linked to Auto-Immune reactions making the case for following a low-gluten diet. Therefore, the research makes sense because Aloe Vera improves digestion of foods, lowers inflammation found responsible in the auto-immune cycle that may reduce natural insulin levels from the pancreas, and the high trace mineral content found in Aloe Vera may help replenish deficiencies.

Like a medicine chest in a plant, Aloe contains over 100 Actives. The nutrition content includes amino acids, vitamins, minerals (over 60), plus a variety of fatty acids. The valuable phytonutrients include Polyphenols, Polysaccharides, Saponins, Salicylic Acid, Gibberellins, Campesterol, B-Sitosterol, Lupeol & Anthraquinones (Valuable Yellow Sap) and more.

Trace Minerals are Key

A 2007 study at the Univ. of Madras, India looked at the high trace mineral content of Aloe Vera and its biological importance to health and why Aloe Vera lowers blood sugar. Thirteen minerals were found in the Aloe Vera juice in larger quantity plus an abundance of trace minerals; zinc, chromium, manganese, vanadium, iron, potassium and iodine. Research showed that each of these lend importance to diabetes risk reduction. Also, in a 1980 study, “vanadium” was found to mimic the metabolic effects of insulin in mammals and subsequent studies revealed it normalized blood glucose levels in humans with high percentages.

Improving Glucose and Lipid Profile with Aloe Vera

Research in 2015 celebrated Aloe Vera once again with human studies getting great results. The University of Cairo, in Egypt followed 218 adults, dividing them into three groups; 76 adults not receiving Aloe Vera, 76 adults taking 300 mg. of quality Aloe Vera Extract twice daily and 76 adults taking 600 mg. twice daily. The conclusion was clear that Aloe Vera extract reversed and improved high-fasting blood sugar within four weeks. It took eight weeks to show a significant drop in HbA1C levels and triglycerides down towards normal. The higher dose also brought down the negative cholesterol (LDL) and improvement was seen in building positive (HDL) cholesterol.

Most people want to feel better and reduce health costs and this is an herb that has something to offer for everyone. When using a product that is not over-processed and still containing the dark yellow sap the ancients wrote about — there are endless applications, both topically and internally, “Truly a Gift of Nature.”

Aloe Vera for the Skin

Applied on the skin, it soothes pain and supports any skin irruptions or injury, while encouraging collagen renewal, even minimizing scarring. This is great news for teens suffering the anguish of acne along with advanced diabetes sufferers with skin ulcers. A quality Whole Leaf Skin Gel makes a world of difference and be sure a breathable dressing is applied. Aloe Life Int. Inc. is the only company to have conducted a wound study with all 150 diabetic ulcers 100% resolution.

Daily Aloe Vera Juice or Tablets

Traditional use of drinking and eating the Aloe Vera plant, as written in ancient text, describes many of the same ailments of today. These first cultures used the whole plant including the yellow sap, classed as an “Herbal Bitter.” Bitter on the tongue translates to sweet on the stomach. The bitter encourages gastric juices to flow better into the stomach of Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) and bile, plus lends support to the Pancreas, which produces both Insulin and digestive enzymes. All are necessary for good absorption of vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats. Research support improved digestion almost 300% with quality Aloe taken before meals and supports all digestive issues including heartburn, gas, bloating and more.

Lots of choices, yet I always suggest the Whole Leaf Aloe Vera Juice concentrate or tablets that work fast. Also, look for the ActivAloe logo for quality and a dark yellow color for a more authentic product that still retains higher valuable actives from the plant.

Healthier is Fun with Aloe Vera

Join the Healthy Bunch to feel your best — eating a variety of good foods, getting some daily exercise and using a quality Aloe Vera. The body responds to health at any age and even the American Diabetes Association supports “Healthy Lifestyle Choices” friends to control blood sugar naturally. ** Choose the best Aloe Vera for topical and internal following the guidelines and look for the delicious fruit juice flavored variety as well — great for kids both big and small — Enjoy!

* Caution: If sensitive blood sugar, ill or bowel sensitive or a child, start with one teaspoon or a capful of concentrate daily and reduce Aloe Vera amount with diarrhea.

 ** Aloe Vera is not contraindicated with medication; however, it can lower your blood glucose. Do not stop medication, but may need to alter amount after discussing with a health professional.

[article reposted with permission from developinghealthyhabits.com]

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 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]