Archive for June, 2016

Build a strong complete supplement foundation

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Last week I met with several listeners for mini-consultations. They brought in their supplements for a review as I had requested. Apparently many did not know how to build a strong complete supplement foundation. Perhaps some of my observations about what was in their bags might be useful to others.

  • Many people were missing fundamentals. covers my thoughts on a basic supplement program. It includes vitamins and minerals that the body cannot make—they must come from the diet and/or supplements. Given how nutrients are depleted in today’s foods, a multivitamin-mineral is a good way to assure at least the bare minimums. In my article at this link about a basic supplement program, I say what to look for in a multi and give good and bad examples. In a recent blog, I highlighted a few benefits of one fundamental—vitamin C. Here is another benefit of the often overlooked vitamin: A recent large 10-year study of twins showed that the twin who consumed greater amounts of vitamin C was on average 33% less likely to develop cataracts. Study.
  • Some folks showed me several prescriptions. For example, one might have a drug for high blood pressure. However, if he had been taking sufficient magnesium, not only might he have avoided the prescription, he could also enjoy the mineral’s many other benefits. My favorite natural remedy for blood pressure is Kyolic Formula #109. (There are over 700 studies on Kyolic aged garlic!)
  • When I see calcium without magnesium, I cringe. While calcium is a necessary nutrient, it is already present in great quantities in the American diet. Calcium must be balanced with magnesium which is much less prevalent. Hormone imbalances, insufficient vitamin D and K2 are more common reasons for bone thinning than is lack of calcium. Bone-Up by Jarrow is my favorite bone formula in part because it contains the type of calcium actually used by bones (not ground rock which is basically what some popular brands are made of). It also contains a lot of bone nutrients that you might not think of like boron and zinc. (Bone-Up is widely available in stores, but I like to support my son’s business, HealthWorksMart.com when I can.)
  • I saw some forms of nutrients and supplement brands in which I don’t have much confidence. If a person isn’t trained in the differences, it is tempting to think that the only difference is price. With cars we understand that either a Rolls Royce or a Mini Cooper will get you were you are going. However, the same is not necessarily true with supplements. Some Brand X knockoffs can even be dangerous. Mostly the “bargain” brands are often not really a good value because they may not deliver good results. Unfortunately, their failure may not show up for many years. Take resveratrol as an example. The type of resveratrol and combined ingredients in Longevinex has been shown in studies to reverse macular degeneration and perform other wonders outlined in my article at this link. You can buy something at COSTCO labeled as “resveratrol”, but it is synthetic and may not provide anywhere near the benefit.
  • Several listeners said they were working on yeast overgrowth. That is a common problem and a worthy project. But, in addition to probiotics and oregano oil, it is crucial to remove sugar and most starch from the diet. Why try to kill yeast and yet at the same time give these yeastie beasties their favorite food?

Information overload?

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If we are better informed about health, we obviously can make better choices. Back 34 years ago when I first got into the nutrition field, there were just a few places to go for information about natural medicine and supplements. As recently as 19 years ago, when we started the radio show, I was still scrambling a bit to find good spokespeople. But, these days a massive number of physicians have become advocates of functional medicine. There is also a veritable flood of research data and so, I now have the opposite problem. Then of course there is the internet—the great (mis)information highway.

I was reminded of this information issue when I decided to change the way I store my personal collection of books—switching from health categories to alphabetical by author. I’m also putting them to a spreadsheet so that I can search by title and key words. Why all this trouble? It’s because I have well over 800 books! Below are some thoughts going through them has generated.

  • Some authors perform a great service by researching exhaustively, writing with passion and balance. For example:

Naturopaths Joseph Pizzorno and Michael Murray wrote The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Third Edition, a wonderful reference that no home should be without. Their Textbook of Natural Medicine should be required reading for every doctor.

Some call our attention to the need for a nutrient. For example, lives have been saved by Could It Be B12? and Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox.

Others save lives by warning us not to overdo nutrients—for instance, Dr. Levy’s Death by Calcium and Bill Sardi’s Iron Time Bomb. (It is now out of print, but I did find this article.)

Any book by Sherry Rogers, MD is a good bet because she supports all her recommendations with scientific studies.

(I don’t pretend that my work is in the same league with most of those above. However, I can say that I put a ton of work into Natural Alternatives to Nexium and The Probiotic Cure.They are based on many hundreds of studies and have been blessed with good reviews.)

  • Sometimes authors are so far ahead of the parade that they are ridiculed. Robert Atkins, MD is a case in point. He wrote Atkins’ Diet Revolution in 1972. What he was saying 44 years ago about the obesity, diabetes and heart disease problems with starch and sugar is now “big news”.
  • The photo above is of 62 weight loss books I have in my collection. Many of my other books have at least chapters on weight loss. (You’d think after all those words we would have solved the problem. Perhaps if we’d listened more to Dr. Atkins and less to the government, we’d be closer to a solution. )
  • David Reuben, MD had a good idea. (No, I don’t think it was the namesake sandwich.) In his 1975 work, The Save Your Life Diet, he said that we could lower cholesterol and body weight with fiber. I was shocked to see that 4 decades ago he was also talking about fiber being food for our good bacteria—again, big news in research today. I do have 2 issues with his recommendations. (1) He gave the impression fiber was about all we needed and (2) giving the impression that everyone can tolerate wheat bran.
  • Some authors go on a crusade, but their ideas are later disputed by science. For example, I have 2 books on the evils of coffee. Coffee has now been shown to reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes and colon cancer.
  • I MUST slim down the load on my overcrowded shelves. So, I’m getting rid of:

Books that were written just to promote a product in which the author had a financial interest

Vanity books written mainly to promote the writer’s celebrity

Books without original ideas…ones that say the same things that many others have, but not as well.

When I’m finished with this project I will still have too many books.

We miss out if humble vitamin C is under-appreciated and under-used.

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Sometimes it is easy to become so enamored of the latest and greatest high-tech supplement that we forget about the basics. That is unfortunate because those fundamentals may be even more important to our health and are often less expensive. For example, we miss out if humble vitamin C is under-appreciated and under-used.

During our May 28th interview with Bill Sardi, he discussed renewed research about the role of our old friend vitamin C in fighting our old enemy, cancer. That is heavy lifting indeed, but there are a number of more routine uses for vitamin C.

  • The effects of aging. Even though it was an animal study, it is very interesting that vitamin C was found to be rejuvenating and even helped repair DNA damage. It is noteworthy that mice have the ability to make their own vitamin C (we cannot), but apparently adding even more helped. STUDY
  • Endometriosis. This is a serious condition especially affecting women of reproductive age. In an animal study, supplemental vitamin C significantly reduced problems with experimentally induced endometriosis. STUDY
  • Others: There are many other vitamin C benefits supported by science: athletic performance, bronchitis, colds, fragile capillaries, glaucoma, gum disease, high cholesterol, infertility, sore throat, stress, and wound healing…I could go on but you get the idea.

How much vitamin C is enough?

It is a challenge even for a nutritionist to sort out the government’s various guidelines: “Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs)”, “Adequate Intakes (AIs)”, “Daily Value (DV)” and “Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs)”. Even if we figure out which one to use, I have little to no faith in the numbers. That is because the goal of the guides is to prevent deficiency diseases—not to optimize health. Also, they do not reflect our unique biochemical differences. Besides the government’s long-standing built-in bias against supplements, there is political pressure to specify low amounts because the guidelines influence public policy. That said, these experts do come closer to getting it right in their recommendations for minerals than they do with vitamins.

The DV for vitamin C is a mere 60 mg and that includes what is in food. For example, that is about the amount in an orange. At that level at least we won’t likely get scurvy, that ancient sailor’s disease. Bill Sardi wrote an interesting article on how effective very high amounts of vitamin C can be for treating cancer. What treats cancer naturally may well be preventive. Considering that and the above benefits of C, it might be smart to take more than 60 mg. Many nutritionists that I know recommend 500 mg twice a day because the vitamin is water soluble and flushes out of the body.

  • Recent research showed that 75 mg a day was not sufficient to maintain what is considered “adequate” blood levels. STUDY
  • But, what about the risk of kidney stones? End stage kidney disease patients on dialysis did not seem to have an increased risk of stones, even with vitamin C at blood levels expected to be therapeutic for healing wounds and forming red blood cells. Note: those levels may be 3 to 4 times more than what is considered “adequate”. STUDY

Myth versus science

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While the above graphic is chuckle-worthy, it is horrifying how many people believe everything they read on the internet or see on TV. However, even very intelligent and cautious people can be misled when they receive misinformation from their doctors and other supposedly credible sources. The trick to separating the gluten-free grain from the chaff is seeing if there is factual proof of what may only sound plausible. It is a matter of myth versus science.

Too often the truth becomes unrecognizable because it has had so much self-serving spin wrapped around it by vested interests. That was the case with the disastrous USDA food pyramid of a few years ago. It was not a product of science, but rather the work of lobbyists for the food industry. (The pyramid base was starchy foods and I nicknamed it the “obesity/diabetes pyramid”).

With medical information, a factoid may look only at some midpoint finding, not the end result that we assume. For instance, a drug or diet plan may indeed reduce blood cholesterol in a certain group of people. And yet it may have no impact whatsoever on preventing heart attacks or on saving lives.

Here are a couple current myth-busting examples:  

Disinfecting

The theory: Bleaching the heck out of everything at home (or school) should reduce the incidence of disease. (Chlorox brand brags about this idea on their website specifically noting the idea it will reduce cases of the flu.)

What the science shows: Over 9,000 children 6-12 years of age from various European countries were studied for one year. The researchers compared rates of influenza, tonsillitis, sinusitis, ear infections, bronchitis and pneumonia with the use of bleach at home for sanitizing. It turned out that greater use of bleach resulted in 20% more cases of flu, 35% more tonsillitis and 18% more recurrent infections in general. STUDY

Possible explanation: The extra sanitizing may have killed protective organisms along with those that might cause disease. And/or the sanitary conditions prevented kids from exposure to very small amounts of a virus thereby making their immune systems less prepared if they accidentally encountered a large amount of pathogen (like being in range of a sneeze).

Low Fat Dairy

The theory: Virtually every diet recommendation we hear from dietitians mentions that we should use low-fat or even fat-free dairy. They claim to be protecting us from calories and the “evils” of saturated fat and by extension from obesity and heart disease. Given the massive number of low-fat products at the typical grocery store, Americans have apparently believed what they said and voted with their dollars.

What the science shows: We now know that the scant science on fats (even saturated fat) was shaky at best and we have had it all wrong. One recent study showed less weight gain around the waist in men who ate full fat dairy. STUDY. A review of several studies showed less risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease with high fat dairy. STUDY. It was always at least hinted that fat in the diet contributed to bad skin. However, interestingly, a study showed that skim milk was more significantly associated with acne than full fat dairy. STUDY.

Possible explanation: For one thing, fat satisfies appetite and so, in its absence, we eat more food. Also, sugar is the real villain and the reduction of fat led to an increased intake of sugar. Finally, there are beneficial substances in fat and we usually seem to get in trouble whenever we start processing whole real food to remove parts of it.

 

 


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