probiotics

  • 5 Supplements to Consider

    Taking Supplementation Seriously Part IV

    In past articles, we presented the case for insuring nutritional sufficiency of the essential vitamins and minerals through supplementation. There is little debate that these micronutrients are requisite for human survival, and that their supplementation may be an apt course for some. A healthy diet also provides several other nutritionally-beneficial elements which, like the vitamins and minerals, are not always present at optimal levels and thus can potentially benefit from supplementation.

    Here is a list of five dietary supplements that are worth considering as additions to the multivitamin. They are not meant to represent the "best" or "most useful" of the supplement field (which has little meaning given the individuality of metabolism); rather, these choices represent common dietary constituents that primarily function to broadly improve health and well-being (as opposed to addressing a single aspect of it). Each has a defined, critical role in normal human metabolism, and all but one are only obtainable through the diet.

    Omega-3 fatty acids and whey protein are sources of essential fatty and amino-acids, the two remaining classes of essential nutrients after the vitamins and minerals. Fiber supplements provide this oft-deficient dietary macronutrient, which along with probiotic bacteria are a major determinant in intestinal function and the maintenance of healthy gut microflora. Supplementing with the nutritionally non-essential Coenzyme Q10 can augment the levels of this general purpose fat-soluble antioxidant and critical component for cellular energy generation, which may be of particular significance for older consumers.

    Note that this list is a starting point; there are many additional dietary supplements that truly "supplement" the diet with nutrients that are often missing or suboptimal (phytonutrients such as carotenoids, isothiocyanates, and polyphenolic antioxidants are notable examples), as well as several well-studied natural ingredients that address specific health concerns but may not be "normal" constituents of the diet (herbal supplements such as milk thistle or saw palmetto fall into this category).

    Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish, shellfish, algae, or seed oils that have well-established roles in human nutrition, both as building blocks for the cell membranes of the brain, and as precursors to the human body's own natural anti-inflammatory system. Sufficient intake of omega-3s has been associated with reduced risk of heart disease, may facilitate healthy levels of circulating cholesterol and triglycerides, and may help maintain a healthy heartbeat and blood pressure. A balanced inflammatory response also relies on sufficient omega-3 fatty acids for the synthesis of endogenous anti-inflammatory factors.

    Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a constituent of seed oils from flax, perilla, and chia, is an essential nutrient for humans. The principle omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from marine oils are not considered essential to human nutrition (we can make these from dietary ALA), but there is evidence some people may have trouble synthesizing sufficient levels of these fatty acids on their own, making them a good supplement choice. Omega-3 fatty acids from krill (a cold water crustacean) are in a potentially more bioavailable form (phospholipids) and contain high levels of the fat soluble antioxidant astaxanthin. Initial studies of krill oil suggest it may have a more potent lipid-lowering effect than other cold-water fish oils, meriting its choice as an omega-3 source.

    Whey Protein. It's not a capsule, and might be better described as a food product, but whey deserves consideration for increasing the amount of high-quality protein and essential amino acids in the diet. Whey protein is the "soluble" protein fraction from milk, and is commonly sold as a concentrate (most often about 70 percent protein with very low amounts of milk sugar or fat) or isolate (>90 percent protein, usually fatand lactose-free ), as well as in flavored pre-mixes or ready to drink beverages. Diets which are higher in protein have been associated with better glycemic control, normalized blood lipids, and have been shown to promote greater fat reduction, thermogenesis, and energy expenditure than high carbohydrate or high fat diets. Protein can also be more satiating than other macronutrients. "Fast proteins," like whey, are quickly digested and absorbed, which results in large, rapid increases of amino acids in the bloodstream following a meal, signaling fullness. Compared to other common protein supplements (soy, casein), whey exhibits superior appetite suppression when taken with a meal as 25 percent of total calories.

    Many of the health benefits of whey have been attributed to its high concentration of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), a group of three nutritionally essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine). BCAAs serve as muscle fuel (which is why whey is often considered a “sports” supplement), but they may also stimulate the bodies basic satiety response. BCAAs also aid in fat loss, preserve lean body mass, and may help to lower insulin levels following a meal.

    Probiotics: Probiotics are living microorganisms, which upon ingestion in sufficient numbers, exert health benefits beyond general nutrition. Probiotic bacteria and yeast can reside on the surfaces of mucosal tissues (such as the gastrointestinal or upper respiratory tract) and provide a living barrier to environmental insults. Probiotic bacteria function in a variety of ways; they can inhibit the growth or block the attachment of rival pathogenic bacteria, they can improve the barrier function of mucosal membranes (providing protection from pathogens or toxins), they bolster immune function, produce vitamins, and enhance mineral absorption. Probiotic bacteria can play significant roles in systemic detoxification by trapping and metabolizing harmful dietary compounds or heavy metals. The production of the short chain fatty acids by probiotic bacteria in the intestines (from the fermentation of dietary fiber) improves the detox function of the liver and skin; this may also contribute to some of the anti-carcinogenic properties of dietary fiber.

    Probiotic supplements come in a myriad of forms and formulations, encompassing a wide variety of bacterial species and potency (probiotic potency is expressed in colony forming units—CFU—which is a measurement of the number of bacteria per serving.) A good starting point for general health maintenance would be a multi-strain product (having more than one type of bacteria) at a moderate potency (3–10 billion organisms); this is similar to the probiotic intake from a diet that contains fermented foods.

    Fiber Supplements: Fibers are polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates) that are indigestible by humans, yet have some significant roles in general health maintenance. The bulk of fiber and its resistance to digestion lend it satiating properties in the stomach; these same properties also cause it to increase the bulk of stool and hasten the transit of digested food through the intestines. This increase in gastric motility helps to minimize exposure of colonic epithelial cells to potential carcinogenic compounds or other dietary toxins. Dietary fibers can bind up bile acids and cholesterol, and prevent them from being re-absorbed; this facilitates the body’s ability to rid itself of excess cholesterol. Some fibers can also be specifically digested (fermented) by beneficial colonic bacteria into short chain fatty acids (like lactate or butyrate), which have their own health benefits throughout the body. Fermentable or prebiotic fibers (such as inulin and fructooligosaccharides) are available as supplements as well and are an appropriate complement to probiotics.

    There is convincing evidence that fiber intake reduces the risk of colon and breast cancers and cardiovascular disease; it has also been associated with healthy body weight, serum cholesterol levels, blood sugar control, and blood pressure. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of adults in the United States do not get the daily recommended intake of fiber, which is 38 grams/day for men 19–50 (30 grams/day for men over 50) and 25 grams/day for women 19–50 (21 grams/ day for women over 50). Even a modest increase to 20 grams a day from average current dietary levels has been estimated to reduce the rate of colorectal cancer by 40 percent. The fiber in our diets is heterogenous, containing several types of gums, pectins, lignans, cellulose, beta-glucans, fructans, and digestion-resistant starches. A good choice in fiber supplements would contain a mixture of multiple fiber types.

    Coenzyme Q10. Despite being the only member of the list that isn’t a nutritionally essential nutrient or a major component of the diet (young, healthy people can make sufficient CoQ10 for their metabolic needs), the potential health benefits of CoQ10 merit its consideration as part of a supplement regimen, especially in older consumers. CoQ10 is a fat-soluble substance that is an essential component of the energy production system in cells. It is found in each cell in the body, but is particularly concentrated in tissues which have large energy requirements (like the heart). There are also substantial amounts of CoQ10 in the blood, protecting circulating lipids (LDL and HDL) from oxidative damage. Supplemental CoQ10 has been the subject of numerous studies, particularly in applications for improving cardiovascular health (as in subjects with chronic heart failure, exercise-induced angina, or hypertension); it may also be protective of the cardiovascular system in diabetics. CoQ10 continues to be the subject of academic research, and is beginning to find acceptance as a supplement amongst mainstream medical practitioners.

    The average diet contains only a small amount of CoQ10, which is generally poorly absorbed (by some estimates, as little as two to three percent of dietary CoQ10 is absorbed). Variability in absorption also appears to be age-dependent; case reports suggest decreased fractional absorption in older patients. Several "enhanced absorption" strategies and products have been developed to overcome this hurdle, with improved uptakes verified by clinical data. Recently, the second naturallyoccurring form of CoQ10 (ubiquinol) has been introduced into the supplement market (CoQ10 supplements have typically been in the form of ubiquinone.) Ubiquinol is absorbed more efficiently than ubiquinone, especially in individuals who have difficulty absorbing CoQ10.

  • Becoming Allergy-Free Through Nutrition

    Rates of allergies seem to be increasing like wildfire throughout industrial nations. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, sensitization rates to one or more common allergens in children have increased by 40–50 percent worldwide.1 And 30–35 percent of the world’s population are expected to experience allergies at some stage in their lifetime.2 With the rise in industrial pollutants and the fall in healthy eating patterns, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the number of allergy sufferers is going to continue to grow. So what is an allergy anyway? An allergy is defined as the immune system’s answer to any substance that the body considers as foreign (allergen). In response to the so-called foreign substance, the immune system generates a series of reactions that eventually lead to the production and release of an immune antibody called IgE and a substance called histamine. IgE along with histamine, are called into action in order to neutralize the foreign substance. Inflammation in various parts of the body is the usual end reaction to allergens. The problem is, excess inflammation is also a leading cause of disease these days.3

    The body’s ability to detect foreign substances varies from person to person. Thus, some people react to certain substances while others do not. What may be recognized by one person’s body as foreign is not recognized as such by another person’s body.

    While allergies are part of the normal function of the immune system, it does not follow that they cannot be managed or minimized. Certain nutrients, when taken in the right amounts, can go a long way in minimizing—if not totally eliminating—the unpleasant symptoms of allergies. Following are my top nutrients for beating allergies:

    1. Vitamin C
    Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps reduce allergy symptoms like inflammation. It has been shown in past medical studies that a high intake of vitamin C prevents or at least minimizes the release of histamine, and consequently decreases the unpleasant sensations endured by allergy sufferers.4

    Vitamin C can be readily added into the diet, because of the many fruits and vegetables that contain it. Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons contain very high amounts of vitamin C in its most natural form. Excellent non-citrus sources include papaya, pineapple, and strawberries. Aside from fruits, vitamin C can also be obtained from over-the-counter supplement tablets or capsules and one of the best forms to consume it in is camu camu berry.

    2. Selenium
    Selenium is a trace element that is a component of some proteins with powerful antioxidant properties. These proteins help reduce allergy symptoms by minimizing tissue damage and inflammation.5 The U.S. National Institute of Health recommends that all adults take 100 mcg of selenium daily. Fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains are rich sources of selenium. Meat sources include poultry (turkey and chicken), lean pork, beef, and eggs.

    3. Omega-3 fats
    Also known as healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids have long been proven by science to have anti-inflammatory properties. As such, they help relieve some allergy symptoms. On the other hand, the structurally-related omega-6 fatty acids have the opposite effect: they stimulate the production of inflammatory substances. In fact, one study appearing in the British Journal of Nutrition, indicated that pregnant women who had a lower intake of omega-6 and a higher intake of omega-3’s, gave birth to children with lower risks of certain allergies.6 Allergy sufferers are therefore advised to decrease intake of foods that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids (i.e. poultry, eggs, nuts, cereals, durum wheat, whole-grain breads and most vegetable oils). Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include cold-water fish, soybeans, flaxseeds, spinach, parsley, walnut oil, soybean oil, and flaxseed oil.

    4. Vitamin E
    Vitamin E, when taken in proper amounts, can help reduce allergies. A study investigating the connection between vitamin E and allergies suggested that sufficient vitamin E intake decreased the production of IgE, the antibody responsible for allergic reactions, anywhere from 34–62 percent.7,8

    Dietary sources of vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, cooked spinach, safflower oil, and beet greens. And even though the RDA for vitamin E is fifteen milligrams (which is equivalent to 22 IUs or International Units), studies indicate a lot more than the RDA is needed to ensure optimal health. Also, I highly advise the most natural forms of vitamin E, as mixed tocopherols, as opposed to only one isolate form like alpha tocopherol.

    5. Quercetin
    Quercetin belongs to a class of organic molecules called bioflavonoids. Scientific research has proven it to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-histamine properties. Quercetin has been shown to exert properties that prevent the production of substances involved in allergic reactions.9 Sources of quercetin include apples, black tea, red wine, onions, beans, grapefruit, berries, peppers and green leafy vegetables. There are also commercial quercetin supplements that are sold online and in health food stores, should the allergic person choose to take it in tablet or capsule form.

    6. Probiotics
    Probiotics is the collective term for the live microorganisms (bacteria and yeast) that are essential for optimal health. These microorganisms are present in the body, as well as in various supplements, drinks, and food (i.e. yogurt made fron grassfed cows). Their main role is to prevent the growth of “bad” bacteria, and in doing so, also prevent diseases brought about by these “bad” bacteria. There are two very common probiotic bacteria—Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum. One of the most research proven shelf-stable forms of the latter is found in my Ultimate Probiotic,10,11 product.

    While probiotics are usually involved in digestive health, studies have suggested that they can also help prevent or minimize allergies12, since digestive health is very closely connected to overall body health.

    Foods with probiotics include miso, fermented milk, kefir, sourdough bread, tempeh, and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.

    7. Rosmarinic acid
    Rosmarinic acid is a plant substance that is found in large amounts in herbs like rosemary, marjoram, sage, and oregano. Studies have shown that it has anti-inflammatory properties that are more potent than those of vitamin E. In 2004, Japanese researchers published a paper that demonstrated the ability of rosmarinic acid as a therapeutic substance for those who suffer from asthma.13 Rosmarinic acid seems to prevent allergic reactions by blocking the activation of biochemicals produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance.14

    References
    1. Pawankar R, et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011–2012 Executive Summary.
    2. Why is Allergy Increasing? Allergy UK. www.allergyuk.org.
    3. Li L. Biologist studies possible link between chronic low-grade inflammation, major diseases. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Jun 12, 2011.
    4. Johnston CS, Solomon RE, Corte C. Vitamin C depletion is associated with alterations in blood histamine and plasma free carnitine in adults. J Am Coll Nutr. 1996 Dec;15(6):586–91.
    5. Kamer B, et al. Role of selenium and zinc in the pathogenesis of food allergy in infants and young children. Arch Med Sci. See comment in PubMed Commons below 2012 Dec 20;8(6):1083–8. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2012.32420. Epub 2012 Dec 19.
    6. Nwaru BI, et al. Maternal intake of fatty acids during pregnancy and allergies in offspring. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108(4):720–32. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511005940. Epub 2011 Nov 9.
    7. Yamada K, Tachibana H. Recent topics in antioxidative factors. Biofactors. 2000;13(1-4):167–72.
    8. Tsoureli-Nikita, et al. Evaluation of dietary intake of vitamin E in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a study of the clinical course and evaluation of the immunoglobulin E serum levels. Int J Dermatol. 2002 Mar;41(3):146–50.
    9. Salvatore Chirumbolo. Dietary Assumption of Plant Polyphenols and Prevention of Allergy. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 2014, 20, 000-000 1.
    10. Ballongue J, et al. Effects of Bifidobacterium fermented milks on human intestinal Lait 73, 249–256 (1993).
    11. Tomoda T, et al. Effect of yogurt and yogurt supplemented with Bifidobacterium and/or lactulose in healthy persons : A comparative study. Bifidobacteria Microfloa 10, 123–30 (1991).
    12. Prakash S, et al. Probiotics for the prevention and treatment of allergies, with an emphasis on mode of delivery and mechanism of action. Curr Pharm Des. 2014;20(6):1025–37.
    13. Osakabe N, et al. Anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect of rosmarinic acid (RA); inhibition of seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (SAR) and its mechanism. Biofactors. 2004;21(1-4):127–31.
    14. Huang SS, Zheng RL. Rosmarinic acid inhibits angiogenesis and its mechanism of action in vitro. Cancer Letters. 2006 Aug 8;239(2):271–80. Epub 2005 Oct 18.
  • Eating "Bugs" is a Good Idea

    Dear Pharmacist,

    You’re sort of obsessed with gut health because you frequently suggest probiotics to people seeking better health. I don’t take probiotics but I do appreciate your perspective. Not one of 14 doctors over six years has ever suggested probiotics. What’s the big deal?

    --R.M., Ocala, Florida

  • Green Vibrance

    Why should I supplement with a superfood supplement?

    It has often been said our best source of vitamins, nutrients and supplements is from the food we eat. If you are eating a properly balanced organic diet with a lot of raw fruits and vegetables then you are way ahead of the curve and probably feeling pretty healthy. But it is not always easy to get the proper nutrients we need on a daily basis for many reasons. Too busy to shop often for fresh organic fruits and vegetables, limited access to the broad range of foodstuffs we need for optimum health and many other reasons.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 11% of Americans meet the USDA’s guidelines for eating 5-9 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily. CDC data indicates:

    • 93% of Americans don’t enough vitamin E
    • 56% don’t get enough magnesium
    • 31% don’t get enough vitamin C
    • 12% don’t get enough zinc
    • Many seniors lack B vitamins
    • Many people are low on vitamin K, calcium, and potassium

    In addition to our lack of eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables every day the same foodstuffs have been losing nutritional content over the decades.

    In 2004, a University of Texas research team headed by biochemist Donald Davis, Ph.D., analyzed a USDA report on 43 common garden fruits and vegetables and found that almost half of the substances containing minerals important to good health had lost some nutritional value. Dr. Davis suggests one of the reasons for this decline is the result of the faster methods major agro-farm companies employed to grow high-yield crops to meet consumer demand.

    So what is one to do?

    Step 1: Go organic. One of the reasons many people do not go organic is because of price. Take bananas for example. I see non-organic bananas for sale at 79 cents per pound sitting beside organic bananas that are 99 cents per pound and most shoppers opt for the less expensive. Why? They do not realize that the organic bananas have more nutrients and significantly less pesticides as they are just looking at price. But the fact of the matter is you are getting significantly more nutrients while avoiding toxic pesticides and herbicides. And of course you are avoiding GMOs. By the way GMO bananas are currently in testing and are on their way to a supermarket near you soon. So yes organic fruits and vegetables are probably going to cost more...but you get a lot more for your money...and a lot less (pesticides).

    In a report from The Organic Center organic foods have been found to have1:

    • Organic milk has 62% more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk
    • Organic crops have higher cancer-fighting antioxidant levels
    • Organic crops have 48% lower levels of the toxic metal cadmium than conventional crops
    • Pesticides are found 4 times more frequently in conventional crops than organic crops

    And of course organic crops are non-GMO. The devestating health effects of GMO plants are too lengthy to go into in this piece so we recommend you do a little homework. Search for the Seralini study and health effects of Roundup for startes. Read Seeds of Destruction and bookmark Institute for Responsible Technology

    Step 2: Supplement your diet with a fantastic superfood. This is where we recommend Green Vibrance from Vibrant Health.

    Green Vibrance supports the 4 foundations of health. Nutrition, Digestion, Circulation & Immune System.

    The Benefits
    There are a lot of ingredients in Green Vibrance: 73 in all. They were put together with care, in order to maximize the synergism among nutrients. The result delivers healthful nutritional support to the 11 body systems. Enjoy:

    • More complete nutrition; a host of rare, scarce nutrients.
    • Support for digestion and gastrointestinal function*
    • Support for healthy circulation*
    • More energy*
    • Support for clearance of waste products of metabolism, detoxification*
    • Support for neurological health*
    • Support for cardiovascular function*
    • Support for normal blood sugar and cholesterol*
    • Support for immunity*
    • Resistance to oxidative changes associated with aging*
    • And some consumers swear they look younger

    The ingredients in Green Vibrance were selected to support essential bodily functions without which life cannot be sustained. Cereal grass powders and juices (i.e. Certified organic barley, oat, wheat, and Kamut) deliver virtually all known nutrients and several uncharacterized co-nutrients of great value. For example, cereal grasses contain a hidden “growth factor” that causes young animals to more rapidly develop, growing larger, stronger, and healthier with robust immune systems. Those same cereal grasses allow mature animals (and undoubtedly humans) to repair bodily tissues more quickly. Organic alfalfa sprouts, organic broccoli sprouts, organic spirulina, soft-cell chlorella, stabilized rice bran, organic beet juice, organic parsley, organic spinach, organic carrot, green bean, zucchini and sea vegetables enrich the nutrient density and diversity of the primary food ingredients in Green Vibrance.

    Their industry leading dose of 25 billion friendly probiotics, balanced by a rich combination of Bifido- and Lacto- bacilli from 12 strains in each serving of Green Vibrance bolsters the one system that must function well first and foremost above all others if health is to be improved or optimized. One must be able to digest food and transport nutrients into the body from the gastrointestinal tract before health can be sustained. The 12 strains of probiotics in Green Vibrance help assure a healthy G.I. tract by building and maintaining colonies of robust intestinal flora.

    Chlorophyll from the green foods in Green Vibrance further supports intestinal health. Apple fiber from our certified organic whole apple powder plus sunflower lecithin help support elimination of heavy metals, cholesterol and toxins from the intestinal tract before they can be absorbed. To a lesser degree, they can perform similar tasks in the circulating blood itself.

    Over eons of time, the liver became quite adept at denaturing, destroying and getting rid of unnecessary substances in everyday foods. Keep in mind that 40% of a plain old carrot is unneeded, toxic material. Your liver has no trouble handling that. But when it comes to detoxifying some of the modern chemicals which are absorbed by, and circulate through, your body, we believe the liver needs a little help. That is why we’ve added liver support ingredients.

    Human metabolism is built on oxidation, which both keeps us alive and slowly pushes us toward the grave. The quiet damage to cells caused by necessary cellular oxidation defines the degenerative changes of aging. Oxidative damage is involved, too, in the progression of every known “disease of affluence” such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes and others. Certainly one’s personal genetic code and lifestyle also contribute.

    Aging and degenerative disease are ubiquitous -- we all will encounter them in time. Nutritive antioxidants may diminish the severity and slow the advance of oxidative damage and.* Each serving of Green Vibrance delivers a powerful 960 mg of herbal antioxidants in addition to the beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and other antioxidants naturally present from the other plant components of the formula. These antioxidants, plus lecithin, soluble fibers, policosanol and other ingredients help support cardiovascular health.* A strong heart and clear arteries are essential to delivering nutrients to and removing waste from every cell in the body. Ginkgo biloba extract, grape seed extract, green tea extract pomegranate extract, and Silymarin (milk thistle) extract are all known to improve peripheral circulation.

    The immune support delivered by Green Vibrance is found in its content of betaglucans, ImmunEnhancer™ arabinogalactans and Astragalus extract.* But let us not loose sight of the immune enhancing effect of a healthy digestive tract. 50% of your own immune cells are found there. Well nourished, vibrant cells, amply protected by the army of antioxidants in Green Vibrance, are themselves resistant to disease.*

    Green Vibrance has always supported good skeletal health, undoubtedly due to its alkalinizing nature, bioavailable boron and CalZbone®, an extract of Cissus quadrangularis that has been clinically shown to improve bone mineral density. Beginning with version 9.0, Green Vibrance added another key nutrient for bone health: Vitamin D3. The vitamin D3 in Green Vibrance is a specially made material from an actual plant source, lichen. Green Vibrance is now safe for vegans.

    The entire Green Vibrance formula was designed and balanced to help establish and sustain good health.

    Vibrant Health gives "going green" a whole new meaning.

    Green Vibrance

    References:

    1. http://organic-center.org/organic-fact-sheets/the-health-benefits-of-organic/
  • H. Pylori, Probiotics and Autoimmune Disease

    A lot of you suffer with disturbing problems such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, belching, bloating, nausea, reflux, esophagitis, stomach ulcers and fatigue related to anemia. These symptoms might be tied to H. pylori, the ulcer bug. Complications of untreated Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) lead to severe reflux, dysphagia, peptic ulcer disease, stomach cancer and gastric lymphoma.

    Without a pill to fix you, this leaves little hope for relief, even if you're restricting yourself to chicken soup and a glass of water! It's clear to me we need something other than conventional treatments and pharmaceuticals which have limited effectiveness and adverse reactions.

    H. pylori can easily survive stomach acid, in fact it thrives in it. People often look surprised when I tell them that H. pylori can infect you all over, and plays a role in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura), Hashimoto's thyroiditis and iron deficiency anemia.

    Treating H. pylori is tough. Today, the standard of treatment is dubbed "triple therapy" and includes two antibiotics (usually amoxicillin and clarithromycin) along with a PPI (proton pump inhibitor like omeprazole). Unfortunately, there's a high rate of relapse. You can improve your odds of beating this infection if you take probiotics. More on that soon, but first, I want you to really wrap your head around this destructive pathogen.

    H. pylori causes mineral malabsorption and vitamin B12 deficiency which contributes to dementia, irritability, memory loss, arrhythmias and hypothyroidism. The mere presence of H. pylori activates your immune system causing it to stay on guard 24/7 and that pours a cytokine waterfall of inflammatory compounds all over your body. Then you become flooded with antibodies. The immune system activation appears to stir up bad superantigens and molecular mimicry which confuses your body. It will cause you to lose "tolerance of self" so you attack yourself. You develop an autoimmune disorder which can be different for everyone. Lupus for you, rheumatoid for her, Crohn's for him, and so forth. Infections combined with genetic SNPs are often the root cause of an autoimmune disorder.

    Recently, researchers evaluated 33 different trials that involved 4,459 participants with H. pylori. They wanted to know whether probiotics had any beneficial effect. They compiled statistics on 3 groups: People who took a dud pill (placebo), people who took antibiotics (triple therapy), and people who took probiotics with their antibiotics.

    Individuals who had took probiotics with the triple therapy had a much higher success rate in treating the H. pylori overgrowth and experienced fewer adverse events. In fact, it helped people who had already done the antibiotic course unsuccessfully! Four probiotic strains stood out: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Bifidobacterium infantis. This is so awesome and it's simple! Taking a probiotic supplement with these strains (about 4 to 6 hours after your antibiotic) may ultimately beat this infection. I've posted a longer version of this article at my website if you'd like to learn more about soothing symptoms while treating the infection.

  • Natural Remedies that Help From Head to Toe

    I've been a pharmacist for 25 years now. Let's face, I know the good, the bad and the ugly drugs. I know we need some of them, and I know that others are not useful, or worse, they are harmful. So today I've decided to share the best remedies that help from head to toe:

    Headaches- Taking butterbur (Petasites hybridus) at a dose of 75mg twice daily helps reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. You can take all the triptan drugs you want (ie Imitrex, Zomig or others) but these drugs usually just reduce pain, sometimes they abort a headache. The butterbur may slash the number of attacks in half. This is HUGE if you have to hold down a job or take care of kiddos. I discussed butterbur and dozens of other solutions my book, Headache Free.

    Hypothyroidism- It's impossible to have healthy thyroid function without selenium. Not only will it hinder your ability to make thyroid hormone, it will also stifle your ability to use the hormone inside the cell. There's more about selenium, iodine, B12 and ashwagandha at my website where I archive other articles on thyroid health.

    Heart Failure- Niacin (vitamin B3) was found to reduce heart attack and stroke risk in a 2010 study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Doses vary tremendously, so please do nothing until you have your physician's approval. Niacin causes vasodilation (opens vessels) which reduces arterial pressure. I would be remiss if I didn't mention CoQ10 while discussing the heart or heart failure. CoQ10 also lowers blood pressure. I like about 100 to 200 mg daily but again, please always ask your doctor what's right for you.

    Digestive disorders- My number one go-to supplement is probiotics. These improve digestion and support a healthy immune system and mood. Digestive enzymes break down the food you eat into absorbable molecules. For heartburn, I recommend slippery elm or marshmallow root. As for nausea and vomiting, ginger tea is gentle and popular. It's a mild blood thinner though, so be careful. And finally peppermint supplements can help with irritable bowel syndrome. The value of peppermint has been discussed many times, even in the British Medical Journal in 2008.

    Bone loss- We all know about calcium. But did you know without enough magnesium, vitamin D or K2, you don't even incorporate the calcium into your bones?! So keep in mind the best bone-building supplements contain key minerals, you don't just push one like calcium all by itself. Natural strontium is another over-the-counter mineral used for bone integrity.

    Painful knees- Glucosamine sulfate promotes cartilage formation. Collagen is another supplement that reduces pain in the knee joint of osteoarthritis sufferers. A 2012 study in the Annals of Rheumatic Disease found that losing weight helped reduce the amount of cartilage loss while increasing proteoglycan content (squishiness).

    Toenail fungus- Apply essential oil of tea tree, and eliminate all sugars. You should also be checked for diabetes if you have a lot of toenail fungus.

  • Probium® Premium Probiotics Pro-Cran Blend 6B

    It looks like we're not the only ones who like the new line of Probium probiotics. In 2014, the 3rd Annual SupplySide CPG Editor's Choice Awards have announced Probium Probiotics Pro-Cran Blend 6B as a finalist with the winners to be announced Oct 6th at SupplySide in Las Vegas.

    Not having spoken with the SupplySide Editors I can only guess why they have chosen Probium Probiotics Pro-Cran Blend 6B as a finalist. D-mannose, an ingredient in Probium products, won the Better Nutrition 2010 award for Best of Supplements.

    Probium Probiotics Pro-Cran Blend 6B is a terrific supplement for women. With the combination of the timed-release capsule, very high quality of probiotics, D-Mannose and Cranberry extracts you will love the benefits it offers your gut health, digestive system, immune system and urinary tract health.

    Key points:

    • Contains 6 Billion CFU per Serving of a Proprietary Blend of Lactobacillus acidophilus La14, Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04, Bifidobacterium bifidum Bb-06 and Bifidobacterium longum Bl-05 along with a Proprietary Blend of Cranberry Fruit Extract, Sunfiber®, FOS and D-Mannose which contains the Equivalent of 752mg of Fresh Cranberry Fruit per Serving
    • Other Ingredients - Sunfiber® (Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum), Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), Vegetable Powder, Silicon Dioxide and Vegetable Cellulose (Delayed Release Capsules)
    • 6 Billion Active Microflora per Serving (1 Veggie Capsule)
    • Two Year Shelf Life at Room Temperature
    • No Wheat, No Eggs, No Yeast, No Soy, No Sugar, No Salt, No Animal Derivatives, No Maltodextrin, No Magnesium Stearate, No Artificial Flavors or Preservatives
    • Gluten Free, Non-Dairy, and Non-GMO
    • Kosher Certified
    • Made in Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
    • Digestive Health**

    Suggested Use

    As a dietary supplement, take 1 capsule per day, preferably in the morning on an empty stomach or as directed by a healthcare professional.

  • Refining Fat Flush

    Fat Flushing has always defied conventional wisdom.
    Its novel approach to weight loss first made waves in the Fat Flush Plan when I suggested there are “hidden” weight gain factors, beyond diet, exercise, and your own willpower, that are making you fat. Research now confirms weight loss is also about an array of newly uncovered concerns that are contributing to the unrestrained obesity epidemic. When you address and correct seemingly unrelated factors like microbes, fish oil, iodine deficiency, and copper overload, you can drop those pounds for good. You’ll restore the body’s natural ability to regulate metabolism and detoxify. Controlling what is really weighing you down might just change your total outlook and your outfit.

    So let’s take a more careful look at the new research that has enhanced many of the fundamental Fat Flush protocols.

    Gut Bacteria Tied to Weight Loss
    Counting on supplemental probiotics (beneficial bacteria or friendly flora) may be the real deal when it comes to losing weight. A newly introduced probiotic, which can also be used as a natural sweetener, is the Fat Flushing response to the research published in Nature (December 2006), which suggested there is a strong connection between obesity and the levels of certain types of bacteria in the gut. The researchers basically found that without the right amounts of friendly bacteria, animals got “twice as fat” and utilized more calories from the same amount of food than those with the more normal bacteria ratio.

    For years, beneficial bacteria (or friendly flora) have been well known to fight yeast, combat disease-causing bacteria, help clean out parasites, and break down toxins. A lack of the beneficial bacteria has been connected to ulcers, digestive difficulties, bad breath, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, menopausal discomforts, acne, eczema and psoriasis, arthritis, persistent aches and pains, as well as asthma, sinusitis, and kidney stones. And now there is a connection to weight.

    Probiotics, which means “for life,” play an important role in the digestion of foods and help to produce B vitamins, vitamin K, as well as digesting fiber—the short-chain fatty acids upon which your colon desperately relies. These friendly flora assist your system in the production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid while helping to transport nutrients.

    In the right balance of power, a ratio of 85:15 in favor of the “good guy” bacteria, probiotics are so vital to good health they are considered an “organ” by many experts. In reality these friendly flora also make up most of your immune system because 60 percent of your immune system’s receptor cells are in your large intestine while another 15 percent reside in the small intestine.

    Probiotics represent the next wave of health and healing and are intimately involved with every organ, tissue, and health concern of the body. It should come as no surprise that researchers made a link between weight and gut bacteria in two studies published in the journal Nature.

    This groundbreaking research, conducted at Washington University’s Center for Genome Sciences, initiated a whole science called “infectobesity” that looks at obesity from the microbial and viral standpoint. Simply put: viruses and bacteria may impact the absorption of food and influence gut hormones that regulate appetite and metabolic rate.

    The lead author of the study, Jeffrey Gordon, M.D., stated, “Our studies imply that differences in our gut microbial ecology may determine how many calories we are able to extract and absorb from our diet and deposit in our fat cells.” Gordon’s studies showed a significant difference in the bacterial balance in the guts of animals and humans, noting decreased microflora in the gut of those who were obese. While it is still unclear whether this imbalance is a cause or consequence, the potential implications for obese humans to reduce weight by balancing gut bacteria is downright fascinating.

    For years, probiotics have been an integral part of my dietary protocols in books like Guess What Came to Dinner, The Fast Track Detox Diet and The Gut Flush Plan. For the basic weight loss and cleansing purposes of Fat Flush for Life, I am recommending a powdered probiotic supplement that I have been using in private practice for over a decade, Flora-Key. It can do double-duty as an immune booster and natural sweetener since we are cutting out sugar, sugar alcohols, and even artificial sweeteners like aspartame or Splenda®. My one exception is the legal cheat Stevia.

    In Fat Flush for Life, Flora-Key is a key dietary ingredient in no-heat foods like frappes, fruits and the Green Life Cocktail (more about that in a moment). It contains a basic combination of lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) from complex sugars that function as a prebiotic. A prebiotic is a food that feeds the beneficial bacteria while discouraging pathogens. FOS is a naturally occurring sweetener in fruits and some vegetables, which provides the taste buds with the sweetness of sugar but the molecules are too big to be digested by the body as sugar. Since FOS is digested, this sweetener doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. It also can’t be utilized by Candida albicans, other yeasts and some bacteria. The best news about FOS though is that it provides a benefit that none of the other sweeteners do: It nourishes and promotes the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria such as bifidobacteria in your large intestine without feeding pathogenic bacteria.

    This makes it a potentially good-for-you sweetener for people struggling with weight, yeast infections, and other GI disorders. With Flora-Key, you get the best of both worlds: a probiotic fed by a prebiotic. You can take two to three teaspoons per day.

    For heavy-duty immune enhancement, I stand by Dr. Ohhira's Probiotic 12 Plus™, found in health food stores all over the country. It contains all the beneficial lactic acid bacteria found in humans. Perhaps its major claim to fame is its patented TH10 strain that neutralizes the smart bugs (like salmonella and E. coli ) that spread food borne disease and are resistant to antibiotics. More than a probiotic, this product represents a flora-balancing system. It improves gut pH for the benefit of other friendly flora while requiring no refrigeration and is dairy, soy, and gluten-free. Best yet, the product is backed by nearly 15 years of university backed scientific research.

    Aiding the probiotic process, are even more potent fat-flushing elements like chia seeds and the Green Life Cocktail, a green superfood drink. Chia seeds are the richest known source of omega-3s and blood sugar controlling soluble fiber which act as a fuel that probiotics ferment into healing compounds strengthening the GI tract and boost immunity. The Green Life Cocktail provides purifying chlorophyll that also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria to assist in longer lasting weight loss while tamping down inflammation. Chlorophyll carries significant amounts of oxygen that zaps disease-promoting anaerobic bacteria in the gut.

    Fish Oils Linked To Tummy Fat Reduction
    While mainstream media and mainstream products are thankfully taking a more reasonable approach to fat in the diet, gaining an awareness of bad and good fats is critical to maintaining health and achieving weight goals. Along with high lignan flaxseed oil, fish oil is another option. This is because of the reams of research demonstrating how fish oil can make you thinner, soothe arthritis, improve focus, protect the eyes, lower cholesterol, balance out blood sugar, prevent heart disease and boost brainpower. An earlier weight loss study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1999 suggested the EPA and DHA essential fatty acid components of fish oil were responsible for the increased oxidation of fat, the activation of genes that break down fat in the mitochondria, a reduced number of fat cells especially in the tummy region, and an improvement in insulin response.

    In terms of weight loss alone, in another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, individuals who consumed fish oil and walked 45 minutes three times a week, lost up to five more pounds than the control group! Researchers noted the combination of fish oil and exercise significantly reduced body fat, which indicates the potential benefit of a combined treatment strategy for optimizing body composition in overweight or obese subjects. Fat Flush for Life reflects this research with the addition of a fish oil option to the original protocol.

    Iodine Deficiency and Hypothyroidism
    Hypothyroidism (under activity of the thyroid gland, your body’s energy burner and thermostat) is epidemic. I hear from women of all ages, starting in their late 20s, how the doctor has put them on thyroid meds like Synthyroid® and Armour®. Although the latest statistics suggest that four out of ten Americans have hypothyroidism, I think the number may even be higher due to subclinical thyroid conditions. Next to diabetes, hypothyroidism is the most common endocrine disorder in the country these days. A low-functioning thyroid will slow down your body’s metabolism as well as influence your heart and muscle strength.

    Besides the inability to lose weight, hypothyroidism is linked to depression, hair loss, poor eyebrow growth (especially the outer third of the brow), dry skin, irritability, aching wrists, fluid retention, constipation, a coarse voice, decreased blood pressure and premature graying of the hair.

    The connection between thyroid function and iodine levels became clear about 60 years ago. The thyroid gland depends upon iodine to make its hormones. T4 has four iodine molecules attached to it and T3 has three iodine molecules. If your body lacks adequate levels of iodine, your thyroid gland can’t produce those all-important T3 and T4 hormones. Why are they important? T4 is a hormone that regulates energy metabolism; it determines how fast your body burns food for energy. T4 is converted to T3. T3 is the active, intracellular thyroid hormone that stimulates energy burning within a cell. And you need 20 times as much T4 as T3 to operate normally. The bottom-line is that iodine is able to restore balance to thyroid hormones whether they are high or low.

    According to David Brownstein, M.D., over the past three decades, iodine intake decreased fifty percent while thyroid disorders (hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroid disorders, and thyroid cancer) increased significantly. Brownstein tested more than 1,000 people at his Michigan clinic and discovered that 95 percent had low, inadequate iodine levels. His findings mirror results found by a national laboratory that tested more than 4,000 individuals.

    So how can you tell if your thyroid level is low? Other than the symptoms I describe above, the best way to know for sure is to get tested. You can test and effectively treat your iodine levels by doing a special, iodine loading test pioneered by Guy Abraham, M.D. the visionary endocrinologist. Dr. Abraham’s 24-hour urine test found that most individuals need about 50 mg of iodine per day — far more than the RDA’s recommendation of 150 mcgs.

    In higher amounts, iodine acts as an adaptogen and plays a significant role in disorders like polycystic ovary disease, fibrocystic breast disease, sleep apnea, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, and hormone imbalances. As my friend and colleague Nan Fuchs, Ph.D. points out, while 150 mcg of iodine per day is adequate in preventing goiter there are many benefits to taking more— especially for women. Since women have larger breasts than men and iodine is concentrated in the breast tissue, women simply need more iodine to protect against disease and possibly cancer.

    It is important to also note that a low hydrochloric acid level (HCL), healthy stomach acid, can be triggered by an iodine insufficiency because we need iodine to enable chloride to enter the stomach cells. Without enough HCL, the body won’t digest protein or use iron or calcium and magnesium. As we hit the age of 60, our HCL levels decrease by almost half. Increasing your iodine is one good way to increase HCL production naturally, thereby improving digestion.

    In light of the importance of iodine to so many bodily functions, you will be shoring up your iodine levels with iodine-rich sea vegetables (hijiki, wakame, kombu, agar, and nori) at least twice a week on the Fat Flush for Life menu plans and incorporating an iodine-rich seasoning (Seaweed Gomasio) for flavor and health.

    Copper Overload and Hypothyroidism
    Besides being affected by iodine, your thyroid can be suppressed by an elevated copper level. Copper, like iodine, can also inhibit the conversion of the thyroid hormone thyroxin (T4) resulting in a slow down of metabolism on the cellular level. In my experience with Tissue Mineral Analysis (TMA) over the past two decades, I have observed that an elevated tissue level of copper is frequently linked with hypothyroidism, especially when the zinc/copper ratio is higher than ten to one (ideal is eight to one in favor of zinc). In fact, women with low zinc levels also tend to have high copper, a connection that I’ve found in 70 to 80 percent of women. Zinc is typically very deficient in vegetarians, individuals under stress, and those who don’t eat zinc-rich sources of foods like red meat, eggs, and pumpkin seeds.

    A copper/zinc imbalance also affects the liver’s ability to detoxify. Copper and zinc are both needed to activate key liver enzymes, so if they are out of balance then your liver is out of balance. This leaves the liver less able to eliminate toxins, including excess copper. The result is high copper and poor liver function.

    Copper levels seem to rise and fall in tandem with estrogen levels. So if you are deficient in zinc, the balancing mineral to copper, and/or lacking in progesterone, the hormone which balances estrogen, copper levels tend to rise. Weight gain as well as frontal headaches, menstrual irregularities, food cravings, mood swings, fatigue, depression, and yeast are all common symptoms of copper overload.

    Lowered adrenal gland activity is another key reason behind high copper levels. Interestingly, TMA results from my clinical experience show that seven out of ten women have weak adrenal glands. Adrenal gland activity is required to stimulate production of ceruloplasmin, the leading copper binding protein. With diminished adrenal activity, the liver makes less ceruloplasmin and unbound copper starts to gather in various tissues, organs, and glands—like the thyroid.

    There are a myriad of external sources for copper exposure. Drinking water (occurs naturally in drinking water in some areas and in some areas it is actually added to municipal water sources as copper sulfate), copper water pipes, copper cookware, birth control pills, copper IUDs, dental fillings, and crowns, put you at risk for copper overload. But the interesting thing is that the typical vegetarian menu contains a high copper and low zinc assortment of foods. Add to this a diet high in phytate-rich grains (like whole grains) known to lower zinc levels and the trouble becomes two-fold.

    The truth is we need just a pinch of copper in our bodies. The average person ingests 2.5 to 5.0 milligrams of copper per day; those who eat vegetarian diets typically take in more. The range that is considered safe and adequate to meet our needs is 1.5 to 3.0 milligrams per day; the recommended dietary intake for adults is 2.0. In light of the copper overload from the environment, controlling dietary copper is paramount.

    As mentioned earlier, these newly uncovered concerns that are contributing to the unrestrained obesity epidemic. When you address and correct seemingly unrelated factors like microbes, fish oil and iodine deficiency, and copper overload, you can drop those pounds for good. You’ll restore the body’s natural ability to regulate metabolism and detoxify.

  • Should I be taking vitamins?

    Taking Supplementation Seriously Part I:

    There is an ongoing debate on whether dietary supplements deserve to be part of a health-promoting strategy. Several medical organizations do not advise routine supplementation for people, without underlying deficiencies, citing safety concerns or lack of clear evidence of benefits, and suggest that an adequate diet should be sufficient in obtaining proper nutrition. Prophylactic use of supplemental vitamins or minerals, like iron, has sparked controversy. On the other hand, there is a wealth of published, peer-reviewed scientific data that present strong correlations between adequate nutrient intake and lowered disease risk/incidence, as well as studies in which nutrient interventions demonstrated significant health benefits. Hyperbolic media reports that “resveratrol may make you live longer” or “multivitamins may cause prostate cancer” further complicate the dialog.

  • Supplements For Celiac Disease and Grain Sensitivity

    In this week's column we will investigate the 3 most important oral supplements for repairing the integrity of the digestive system.

    Glutamine
    Glutamine is an amino acid found in most foods containing protein. However, to obtain enough glutamine to have therapeutic effects one must take it as a supplement in capsule or powder form. Glutamine is a very important nutrient for repairing damage and rebuilding the integrity of the cells that line the intestines. These cells gobble up glutamine like it is going out of style. They use glutamine to rebuild their structural components so they can withstand the rigors of existence in the digestive tract. Relatively high doses of glutamine should be taken for several months in order for optimal healing to occur.

    Probiotic Bacteria
    Probiotic bacteria are the "good guys". They are the native bacteria that live along our digestive tracts. Species like acidophilus, bifidus, and hundreds of other species colonize our digestive system and live in harmony with the cells of our intestines. Basically, we give these bacteria a home to live in and they keep that home neat, tidy, and clean no matter what we throw at them. However, people with digestive system disorders like Celiac Disease and Wheat Sensitivity typically have an imbalance of the "good" bacteria vs. "bad" bacteria and yeast species. A major part of treatment is to use probiotic bacteria to restore a healthy population of the "good guys" and dismantle the "bad guys". For probiotics to be therapeutically useful you must take in more than is available in most yogurts. In fact, I typically recommend a probiotic with at least 20-30 billion live organisms per day.

    Essential Fatty Acids
    Essential fatty acids are amongst the most important nutrients for all of us. They play several crucial roles in every cell of the body. The most significant may be the role they play in the cell membrane. This is the outer lining of a cell. The cell membrane is where most of the cell-to-cell communication takes place. It is also the part of the cell that allows nutrients and other molecules either into or out of the cell. When cells of the digestive tract are damaged by the inflammatory processes associated with digestive disorders like Celiac Disease and Wheat Sensitivity they need higher than normal amounts of essential fatty acids for optimal repair.

    The most important essential fatty acid for the digestive system is an omega 3 fatty acid called EPA. This is a highly anti-inflammatory molecule that helps to damper down inflammation in the digestive system so that repair can begin. However, it is best to take more than just EPA because the other types of essential fatty acids also play crucial roles in repair. The best sources of essential fatty acids are purified fish oils, hemp oil, and flax oil. However, there is a great deal of other benefits in consuming some essential fatty acids from flax seeds, hemp seeds, or chia seeds. These sources also provide extremely healthy forms of fibre that supports the proper elimination of toxins from the bowel.