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  • You're going to fall in love with this soup and all it's healthy variations. I love its vibrant orange color and the mild sweet aroma of the anise-flavored liquor. I am not a fan of licorice flavor, but this recipe gained the respect of my taste buds. It's an amazing addition that transforms what can be a bland soup into a gourmet mouth-watering one.

    Again, our recipes are created and tested in our health sciences kitchen in Cotacachi, Ecuador. As more people, here and the U.S., learn how to substitute and create tasty gourmet recipes that DO NOT induce inflammation, they're e-mailing asking for more. Don't let the small amount of alcohol deter you; it's cooked out, leaving a gentle and palate-pleasing aroma and taste that you'll want to experiment using in other recipes—we are.

    I'm sharing options for this same recipe for those of you with special dietary needs other than avoiding nightshades. It's winter, what can be more of a comfort than a nice bowl of soup? Enjoy.

    Ingredients:
    • 2 tsp. anise seeds—finely ground—we use a coffee grinder
    • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter or ghee
    • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
    • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into pieces
    • 6 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 6 Tbsp. anise-flavored liqueur, such as sambuca, ouzo, or Pernod, reserve 2 Tbsp.
    • 1/4 cup crème fraiche
    • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
    Directions:
    • Toast anise seeds in a small frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice or coffee grinder and finely grind.
    • In a soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and anise seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, 7 to 10 minutes.
    • Add carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Pour in stock, bring to a simmer, and cook until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
    • In batches, purée soup in the pan with a hand-held blender or transfer to a freestanding blender until very smooth.
    • Check for salt and pepper and adjust to your taste.
    • Place over medium heat, stir in cream, and heat until hot.
    • Stir in 6 Tbsp. liqueur.
    • In a bowl, stir together crème fraiche and remaining 2 Tbsp. liqueur.
    • Ladle soup into warmed bowls. Drizzle with crème fraiche and sprinkle with chives.
    Dr. G's Notes
    Gluten-Free option is to use gluten-free stock.

    Substitute coconut cream and coconut milk for dairy.

    Butter can be replaced with coconut oil.

    Sprinkle before serving with grated cheese of your choice; we liked Parmesan.

    Top with croutons if not avoiding gluten.

    For a white soup, substitute parsnips or combine with carrots.

    Health Benefits

    Health Benefits of Anise
    • Anise, an exotic spice, holds some of the important plant-derived chemical compounds known to have antioxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
    • The primary essential volatile oil that gives the characteristic sweet, aromatic flavor to anise seed is anethole. Other important compounds found in these grains include estragol, p-anisaldehyde, anise alcohol, acetophenone, pinene, and limonene.
    • Anise seed oil obtained from extraction of the seeds has found application in many traditional medicines as a general digestive aid, antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, expectorant, stimulant and tonic agent.
    • The seeds are an excellent source of many essential B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin. Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) helps increase GABA neurochemical levels in the brain.
    • The spicy seeds are one of the important source of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, potassium, manganese, zinc and magnesium. 100 g dry seeds contain 36.96 mg or 462 percent daily required levels of iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
    • Copper is a cofactor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome C-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals that function as cofactors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Copper is also required for the production of red blood cells.
    • The spice also contains good amounts of antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A.

    Medicinal Uses
    Anise seed, as well as its oil, found application in many traditional medicines for their unique health-promoting and disease-preventing roles, examples follow:

    • Anise preparations are an excellent remedy for asthma, cough associated with bronchitis, as well as digestive disorders such as flatulence, bloating, colicky stomach pain, nausea, and indigestion.
    • The essential oil "anethole" (anise seeds comprise 75.90 percent) has been found to have an estrogenic effect. The decoction obtained from the seeds is often prescribed to nursing mothers to help promote breast-milk production.
    • Anise seed water is very helpful in relieving running nose condition in infants.
    • Its seeds are traditionally chewed after the meal in India and Pakistan to refresh post-meal mouth breath and assist digestion.

    Disclaimer:The information references in this article are intended solely for general information for the reader. The contents of this article, or its author, are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications.

  • Everything that lives requires enzymes; humans, plants and animals.

    Enzymes are protein-based substance found in every living cell. Enzymes can be likened to the starter in your automobile; they ignite the process into action and the speed is dependent on the amount of power under the hood (a full-spectrum of enzymes for specific jobs, working in powerful synchronicity to enhance performance).

    In today’s diet of over processed and overcooked food, we can expect to be enzyme deficient. High temperature food preparations can lead to lessened activity or the destruction of many innate food related enzymes. As well, a poor intestinal tract environment which affects most Americans can lead to reduced production of our own enzymes. Therefore, digestive disorders may get their start because of the body’s inability to produce enzymes sufficiently for optimal digestion, absorption, and elimination leading to chronic disorders or discomfort.

    Trivialized, untreated, over self-medicated and misunderstood, weak gastrointestinal conditions chronically plague more than 95 million Americans. Avoiding or overcoming digestive enzyme deficiencies is imperative to overall health and longevity.

    We suggest establishing a health reserve is dependent upon supplementation with full spectrum enzymes that act as the engines to carry the load for our digestive well-being.

    Trends

    by Karen DeFelice, M.S.

    My experience in tracking results with typical families using quality enzyme supplements in daily life and following the guidelines developed for enzymes since 2001, show around 93 percent of all individuals across all age groups see success of some kind.

    This means most people can see improvements by the time they get to the end of one bottle of a quality enzyme product.

    You do not have to change any diet, supplement, medication, or therapy to try enzymes. One bottle, one month, and typically under $40—that is your investment in trying enzymes.

    The following are typically reported improvements, often dramatic in degree, seen in both children and adults, when following the relatively new guidelines.

    • Improvement in foods tolerated, eating patterns, and weight regulation
    • Improvement in digestive function and bowel regularity
    • Improvement in energy levels, stamina, and overall health
    • Improvement in quality of sleep and moods
    • Improvement in cognitive awareness, problem solving, and memory
    • Improvement in language, socialization, and general behavior
    • Improvement in transitioning, sensory processing, and attention
    • Decrease in general anxiety, obsessive compulsions, and hyperactivity
    • Decrease in acid reflux problems
    • Decrease in autoimmune problems
    • Decrease in chronic pain and joint stiffness
    • Decrease in chronic viral-related problems
    • Decrease in harmful bacteria and yeast problems

    Another general improvement is that enzymes enhance the effectiveness of other supplements, diets, and therapies. You may see your overall program become much more effective when you start enzymes. Given how relatively inexpensive, easy to take, and fast acting enzymes are, it is generally worth at least a trial especially considering the wide range of potential improvements.

    Many people find the longer they take enzymes, the fewer enzymes are needed to maintain the same level of health. Taking higher doses of enzymes for the first few months may improve health substantially so lower amounts of enzymes are necessary later. In addition, as the gut heals and the intestinal cells return to proper function, your own natural enzyme production improves. Various therapeutic enzyme programs have been extremely successful recommending high-doses of particular enzyme blends for designated periods of time, especially in the cases of persistent health problems. As with most measures, always consult with your health care professional whenever you have major health concerns.

    Karen DeFelice, M.S. is the author of Enzymes: Go With Your Gut. DeFelice works in education and the sciences and is available for speaking, workshops, or teaching. www.enzymestuff.com.

    Overview

    Enzymes are substances that occur naturally in all living things, including the human body. If it’s an animal or a plant, it has enzymes. Enzymes are critical for life. At present, researchers have identified more than 3,000 different enzymes in the human body. Every millisecond of our lives these enzymes are constantly changing and renewing at an unbelievably fast speed.

    Every life process depends on the action of enzymes, protein “go-betweens” that control the fueling and energy output of each cell in the body. Bodies rich in enzymes function at their best, with high energy levels, and full powers of disease resistance.

    Each activity that occurs within the body involves enzymes. Examples include: 1) the beating of the heart, 2) the building and repairing of tissue, 3) the digestion and absorption of food. Nothing can take place without energy and energy cannot be used or produced without enzymes. Enzymes are involved in all bodily functions. In fact, the very existence of each living cell depends on complicated chemical reactions that require a constant supply of energy and enzymes. Without energy, cells become disorganized, resulting in illness and death. It is for this reason that the body’s energy needs to take precedence over all other body requirements.

    Enzymes are very specific. Each enzyme promotes one type of chemical reaction and one type only. Some enzymes break down large nutrient molecules (the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in our foods) into smaller molecules for digestion and aids the human body incorporating the raw material from food or supplements.

    Without enzymes, our bodies cannot process and use the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients present in our food and supplements. It is also important to remember enzymes are not nutrients themselves but rather work with the nutrition that is in the food or supplements you are consuming. Taking enzyme supplements does not replace a good healthy diet of quality food. Additional enzymes are responsible for different functions, such as the storage and release of energy or the processes of respiration, reproduction, vision, and others.

    Without enzymes, none of the body’s chemical reactions would take place. Without enzymes, there would be no breathing, no digestion, no growth, no blood coagulation, no perception of the senses, and no reproduction. Our bodies contain trillions of enzymes, which continually renew, maintain, and protect us. No person, plant or animal could exist without them.

    The body’s ability to function, to repair when injured, and to ward off disease is directly related to the strength and numbers of our enzymes. That’s why an enzyme deficiency can be so devastating.

    It is the energizing, staying power of enzymes that helps start the day and keeps you going. Enzymes may be the way to recover faster from injuries, relieve back pain and circulation problems, and combat viruses.

    Each process consists of a complex series of chemical reactions. These reactions are referred to as metabolism.

    Metabolism includes all the physical and chemical processes involved in the activities of life. Enzymes are the catalysts that make metabolism possible. Consequently, enzymes are involved in every metabolic activity in the body—from digesting and assimilating food to catalyzing the thousands of reactions that are necessary for the body to function in the activities of life. Enzymes are the means within the cells by which the building-up and breaking-down processes of metabolism take place. Nature has devised a brilliant procedure to supply the constant demand for energy, called biologic oxidation.

    Enzymes are involved in the synthesis and repair of DNA; in the production of proteins, and connective tissue necessary to grow and regenerate cells; and in the breakdown and detoxification of cellular wastes that are a by-product of normal metabolism.

    This process allows us to obtain energy from food without burning up body tissue at the same time. Because of the catalytic activity of enzymes, food can be burned at low temperatures which are compatible with the life of the cell.

    Because enzymes are catalysts, their effectiveness can be greatly influenced by their environment. An acid or alkaline environment will affect their activity, as will temperature, concentration of substrate (the substance upon which they work), coenzymes or cofactors, and inhibitors.

    Cells obtain energy from the protein, carbohydrates, and fats we eat. They do this only with the assistance of enzymes. Before they reach the cell, all proteins are converted into amino acids, fats are converted into fatty acids, and carbohydrates are changed to sugars, such as glucose. The cells oxidize these nutrients, releasing large quantities of energy in the process. We need this energy to enable mechanical muscle movement and other body functions to occur. To produce this energy, chemical reactions must be “coupled” with the systems responsible for these physiological functions. This coupling is achieved through special energy transfer systems and cellular enzymes.

    Enzymes are also important for your nervous system. Nervous system function is regulated by various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, the catecholamines (dopamine and norepinephrine), and acetycholine. These neurotransmitters are manufactured by the action of enzymes in the brain on the precursor amino acids, tryptophan, tyrosine, and choline, respectively. Because the brain cannot make adequate quantities of the various precursors, it must obtain these precursors from the bloodstream.

    However what if your digestive system hasn’t properly broken down the protein you eat into its component amino acids, thus leading to a deficiency state in your bloodstream?

    Enzymes and Aging

    As we grow older our bodies are faced with an array of age-related disorders. If you study societies as they age and their corresponding disease rates, you can see a clear parallel between increase in age and the occurrence of diseases.

    Enzymes are the most powerful weapon we have against these diseases of age, and possibly a significant factor in avoiding age-related diseases.

    The benefits of enzymes can be verified by solid scientific data, including clinical studies. We also know that systemic enzyme therapy is helpful in supporting the immune system and the immune system is affected by every disease.

    Enzymes are active throughout and benefit the entire body, not just the immune system. Generally speaking, aging is a dehydration of the body’s protein supply–sometimes referred to as protein polymerization.

    This is actually why we wrinkle as we age. These dehydrated proteins lose their flexibility, specifically under the skin. Proteases, such as those in systemic enzymes, hydrate the proteins by depolarizing them. This is a very important anti-aging mechanism and may actually prevent or repair the skin’s wrinkled look.

    Taking protease enzymes orally may help reduce the pain, swelling and overall discomfort of varicose veins, phlebitis and post-thrombotic syndrome. Enzymes improve blood circulation and therefore reduce the risk of thrombosis.

    With regular use of enzymes people can enjoy a better quality of life. As more of our aging population realizes the benefit of enzymes, more 90-year-olds will enjoy life in good health.

    Life is aging and aging is a process. Aging is relative. Compared to the drosophila fly, the human life span is long; compared to the redwood tree, the human life span is short.

    Aging is a variable parameter. The rate at which you age is determined by three factors: your genetic background, your life style and your nutritional habits. We can only influence aging by changing our life style and our nutrition.

    Sources of Enzymes

    Traditionally, foods have been the primary source. Uncooked foods (such as fruits and vegetables) are usually high in enzyme activity and, fortunately, taste good, too.

    In theory, it works—absorbing enzymes from the food we eat. However, in practice, with the magnitude of food additives, preservatives, radiation, long-term storage, canning, freezing and drying, the actual enzymatic activity level of foods can be grossly reduced. Because of this there is an energy drain. As we age, the quantity of our body’s enzymes decreases and so does the quality. The speed with which this happens is greatly influenced by our life style and diet. An enzyme-poor diet can overtax an already deficient system.

    The Solution

    What’s the solution to an energy drain? Daily supplementation in addition to foods may ensure an adequate supply of enzymes.

    We can’t produce energy without catalysts, and enzymes are those catalysts. You can’t jump start your day and feel young, with energy and vitality, if your body has lost its enzyme punch.

    Life is similar to walking on a tightrope. Like everything else, there is a beginning and an end on the tightrope called life. As we move along on our journey, we must balance our bodies (this is known as homeostasis) or we can fall off the tightrope before our time, before reaching our scheduled end. This balancing act involves the total body (mind and spirit), yin and yang, temperature, pH, vitamins, minerals, anabolic-catabolic ratio, the oxidation of body cells, and importantly enzymes. All must be in harmony and enzymes help us maintain that balance.

    Jump Start Digestion

    Some people can eat nutritious foods and yet be continually tired, develop chronic diseases, and/or age prematurely.

    Quite possibly it could be poor digestion and/or absorption of foods. In other words, an individual could be eating a healthy diet, but the nutrients aren’t getting to the cells. Literally, one can eat the best and yet the body is starving.

    One way to support an overworked digestive system is to take natural digestive enzymes. Pepsin is probably the best known and is essential for protein digestion. Enzyme preparations contain many enzymes capable of breaking down proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Some sources of digestive enzymes include papain, amylase, protease, and lactase.

    Today’s scientific research indicates large enzyme molecules can be absorbed from the intestines, passing into the circulatory and lymphatic systems and, ultimately, to every cell of the body. For a long time people didn’t think we could absorb supplemental enzymes. We now know that we can absorb enzymes in a number of ways, primarily through a mechanism known as pinocytosis. Pinocytosis is actually a system whereby enzymes, after connection to a receptor in the mucosa of the intestinal wall, are absorbed into that wall, guided through the intestinal cells, and finally released into the blood, much like an elevator going from one floor to the next.

    Researchers are now able to produce enzymes to treat specific acute and chronic disorders. This technique is called systemic enzyme therapy. Since many chronic disorders involve disturbed enzyme function, it seems logical to take supplemental enzymes.

    It is also important to be apprised of the potency details of every individual enzyme so you know exactly what you’re getting. Enzyme strength is measured in terms of activity (not weight).

    Enzymes may be present, but unless they are functional, they will not do any good. Instead of weight (such as milligrams) the important measurement with enzymes is the activity and potency of the enzyme. A product label should list enzyme strength in standard activity units rather than by weight.

    DIGESTIVE ENZYMES

    Digestive enzymes provide optimal support for healthy digestion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

    Benefits of Microbial Enzyme Supplementation
    Enzyme supplementation promotes enhanced digestion and delivery of vital nutrients to the body. This benefits good health in many ways, including better elimination, support for healthy energy levels and maintenance of healthy body weight. Enzymes also help prevent accumulation of undigested foods in the large intestine, which may disrupt the normal healthy bacterial balance in the bowel.

    Overeating can lead to incomplete digestion. Occasional heartburn, bloating, belching, discomfort, and a “sour stomach” is often a result of this.

    The nature of the digestive process in the human body is such that it is highly energy-intensive. The pancreas is the organ that produces most of the digestive enzymes required for food breakdown and secretes them into the small intestine. The lower the efficiency of digestion in the stomach, the higher the requirement of newly produced pancreatic digestive enzymes. This process can place a burden on the pancreas, which may, in turn, place a large burden on other parts of the body. If the pancreas is working overtime to support our body’s digestive process, it is diverting crucial resources from normal repair functions the body may need to perform in diverse organs and systems.

    However, the body has developed a compensation method for dealing with this undue burden. The body smartly recycles enzymes that it produces as the unused portions enter the bloodstream into systemic circulation. Research has shown this recycling is facilitated by pancreatic secretory cells themselves. These cells, which normally secrete enzymes produced by the pancreas into the small intestine, serve as collectors of unused enzymes that are circulating in the bloodstream and can then re-secrete these enzymes into the intestines when needed for digestion. This reduces the burden on the pancreas to produce new enzymes in increasingly large amounts. What is most interesting, however, is research shows this mechanism is used by the body not only for the endogenous (produced by the pancreas) enzymes that are in circulation, but also for exogenous (i.e., supplemental) enzymes taken in from an outside source.

    Supplementing with enzyme formulations containing a full-spectrum of digestive capacity, can reduce the need for the pancreas to manufacture enzymes and reduce the need for the body to devote large amount of resources for this purpose. This frees up the body to devote its energies to the daily maintenance of other critical bodily organs and systems, potentially maintaining and enhancing overall health.

    Choosing a Digestive Enzyme Supplement

    Microbial-derived enzymes have distinct advantages over animal-sourced enzymes such as pancreatin and have been shown to be more effective at supporting the digestive physiology of the human body when supplemented. Animal-derived standard enzyme preparations are active only in a narrow pH range and the activity of these enzymes is destroyed by acidic conditions in the stomach. By contrast, microbial-derived enzymes have higher activity levels (less enzyme has to be used for the same purpose) and are active over a wide pH range, with some reports showing activity from pH two to ten. This means while over 90 percent of animal-derived enzymes may be inactivated in the stomach and thus useless for digestive purposes, microbial-derived enzymes would begin digesting food in the acidic conditions of the stomach and continue this process well into the small intestine, increasing the efficiency of the digestive process.

    Profile of Digestive Enzymes, which Provide Support or Carbohydrate and Fiber Digestion

    Alpha-galactosidase—An enzyme that facilitates the breakdown of carbohydrates such as raffinose and stachyose. This enzyme is especially helpful in supporting the digestion of vegetables and beans. A study published in 1994 showed alpha-galactosidase supplementation was effective at reducing indigestion and flatulence in healthy individuals consuming a high-fiber diet consisting of grains, beans and other vegetables.

    Amylase—This enzyme functions to break down carbohydrates such as starch and glycogen (rice and potatoes), a storage form of glucose.

    Beta-glucanase—An important enzyme that facilitates the digestion of beta-linked glucose bonds associated with whole grains such as barley, oats and wheat.

    Cellulase—This enzyme helps free the nutrients found in both fruits and vegetables by breaking down cellulose, a plant fiber.

    Glucoamylase—This enzyme complements the function of amylase for the complete digestion of carbohydrate rich foods by further breaking down starches and dextrins into glucose.

    Hemicellulase—This enzyme assists in the breakdown of carbohydrates (fruits) and is most useful for enhancing the efficiency of polysaccharide digestion from plant foods.

    Invertase—This enzyme facilitates the breakdown of carbohydrates and is especially effective at helping to digest sucrose, common table sugar.

    Lactase—This enzyme is necessary for the proper utilization and digestion of lactose, the predominant sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

    Phytase— This enzyme (found in flax seed) breaks down plant carbohydrates and is especially helpful at breaking down phytic acid found in leafy vegetables. Because it breaks down phytic acid it frees the minerals in plants and aids in their absorption.

    Xylanase—This enzyme is a sub-type of hemicellulase and functions to break down soluble fiber from food sources.

    Support for Protein Digestion Bromelain—An enzyme that is derived from pineapple, this nutrient also facilitates the digestion of proteins. Bromelain has also been associated with the wide range of diverse health benefits on its own.

    Papain—This enzyme is derived from papaya and serves to enhance the digestion of proteins, facilitating nutrient absorption.

    Proteases—This grouping of enzymes support the digestion of protein and protein-containing foods, breaking them into absorbable units of amino acids, the building blocks for the body’s regenerative purposes.

    Support for Fat Digestion
    Lipase—The main enzyme that functions to break down lipids and improve fat utilization. In this capacity, it supports the function of the gall bladder. The microbial-derived lipase used in this formulation has been shown to have much higher activity levels than animal-derived lipase enzyme, enhancing the efficiency of fat digestion. Microbial lipase is resistant to inactivation by stomach acid and can digest dietary fat beginning in the stomach and continuing into the small intestine. A study in animals showed that microbial-derived lipase was as effective at digesting fat as a 25 times larger dose of conventional pancreatin.

    PROTEOLYTIC ENZYMES

    Proteolytic enzymes function throughout the body to digest and break down proteins into their amino acid components. When taken as supplements, studies show that various proteolytic enzymes, including bromelain (from pineapple), papain (from papaya), serratiopeptidase (from bacteria), and fungal protease (from a non-pathogenic fungus medium), are absorbed through the lining of the digestive tract and into the circulation. These enzymes, once in the bloodstream, are available to facilitate chemical reaction throughout the body and have a wide range of applications.

    A potent, high-quality proteolytic enzyme formula should include a broad spectrum of proteolytic enzymes from a variety of plant, bacterial, and fungal proteases. The goal is to create a blend that works at a variety of pH levels to support the body’s native enzymatic needs. Maintaining optimal enzymatic function is a key factor in supporting the foundation for health and wellness of numerous individuals. For example:

    Papain—A proteolytic enzyme derived from the sap (also called latex or milk) of unripe papaya, traditionally used with bromelain.

    Fungal amylase—An enzyme derived from the fungus Aspergillus oryzae it breaks down carbohydrates, such as starch, and glycogen.

    Lipase—The main enzyme responsible for breaking down fats, lipases hydrolyze triglycerides (fats) into their component fatty acid and glycerol molecules.

    Protease (bacteria, fungal, neutral)—A group of enzymes whose catalytic function is to hydrolyze (breakdown) peptide bonds of proteins. Proteases differ in their ability to hydrolyze various peptide bonds. Bacteria proteases are optimally active in alkaline conditions, fungal proteases in more acidic conditions, and neutral proteases (from bacteria) are optimally active at a neutral pH.

    Serratiopeptidase (aka Serrapeptase)—The “Miracle Enzyme” according to Dr. Hans Nieper, a legendary medical doctor known for his extensive use of proteolytic enzymes. This proteolytic enzyme has been shown to be more powerful than the pancreatic proteolytic enzymes chymotrypsin and trypsin. Serrapeptase appears to thin mucus and modulate molecules involved in both the immune and blood clotting systems. Studies thus far suggest Serrapeptase is a promising, safe and useful supplement to help support the immune system and thin mucus. Other double-blind studies have shown Serrapeptase supports the body’s immune response to infections and that it modulates the body’s immune response after surgery.

    Bromelain—A general name for a family of proteolytic enzymes derived from the pineapple plant. Bromelain effects various systems in the body through a variety of physiological mechanisms, including inhibiting the formation of bradykinin, limiting the generation of fibrin, increasing the breakdown of fibrin, modulating prostaglandins, and decreasing platelet aggregation.

    Nattokinase—This proteolytic enzyme is extracted from a Japanese food called Natto. Is has been identified to be a potent fibrinolytic enzyme, showing as ability to break down fibrin, a blood clotting protein. Supported by strong research and historical anecdotal use, Nattokinase shows promise in supporting areas such as cardiovascular well-being, stroke, angina, thrombosis, atherosclerosis, fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue, varicose veins, and other conditions of chronic inflammation.

    totalhealth magazine is committed to keeping our readers up-to-date as more information is released on the benefits to human health of these and other existing or newly introduced enzymes. In the interim we suggest you seriously consider including digestive and proteolytic enzymes as an integral inclusion in your personal natural health regimen.

  • The essential GLA (gamma linolenic acid) is not just your ordinary Smart Fat. Distinctively different than thyroid-targeting coconut oil, GLA is a multitasking essential fatty acid that activates brown fat to effortlessly burn calories from heat. Our bodies need to get GLA from foods because we cannot manufacture this essential fatty acid without an outside source. GLA has proven benefits to ignite a slow metabolism and is a healer for PMS, bloating, depression, diabetic neuropathy, morning stiffness, and skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

    As far back as the 1980s, many studies focused on GLA as a natural aid to weight reduction. They were published in prestigious medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine. These reports documented GLA's definite promise in the battle of the bulge.

    Prostaglandin Power
    GLA regulates metabolic functions all the way down to the cellular level, helping the cardiovascular, immune, and reproductive and central nervous systems through its prostaglandin pathways.

    Prostaglandins are short-lived hormone-like substances that regulate metabolic processes throughout the body. They were discovered over 60 years ago in the prostate gland, hence the name "prostaglandins." Today, prostaglandins are included in a larger group of hormones known as eicosanoids. So profound is the ability of the essential fats to transform themselves into these substances that the 1982 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to scientists in prostaglandin research.

    Prostaglandins can only be made from two essential Smart Fats, GLA, an omega-6, and EPA, an omega-3 fat. These two are the direct prostaglandin building blocks. Together they form an unbeatable combination and ideally should be consumed in a one-to-one ratio since so many overweight individuals are GLA deficient based upon essential fatty acid testing.

    All That And Fat Burning, Too!
    Our Smart Fat produced prostaglandins have far reaching implications. They control inflammation, blood clotting, blood pressure, tumor growth, brain function and allergies. They soothe skin, promote healing and regulate water loss. Their natural anti-inflammatory properties reduce pain, swelling and redness. They are burned off much more quickly than other fats and their biochemical structure easily permeates cell walls, making them flexible and less rigid and stiff, thereby inhibiting overeating because of more rapid satiety. Other GLA attributes include stellar skin protection to moisturize internally and diminish symptoms of eczema and psoriasis; reduction of excess inflammation and alleviation of morning stiffness; support of healthy cholesterol and relief of PMS, perimenopause, and menopausal symptoms; and alleviation of hangover and substance abuse symptoms.

    The series one prostaglandins created from GLA are believed to regulate many aspects of metabolism. GLA-induced prostaglandins regulate brown fat by acting as a catalyst to either turn it on to trigger calorie burning or turn it off to trigger calorie conservation. Prostaglandins are also connected to a metabolic process referred to as ATPase. ATPase is also known as the sodium pump, a biochemical process necessary to keep the right amount of potassium inside cell walls and too much sodium out. GLA-rich substances like black currant seed oil, by means of prostaglandin activity, control the sodium pump, which in turn revs up metabolism.

    When GLA is in the diet, it operates as a remarkable fat-burning agent when it triggers brown fat calorie burning and the sodium pump. Brown fat is also known as brown adipose tissue or BAT. It gets its color from the many fat-burning mitochondria it contains. It only comprises 10 percent or less of total body fat, yet it can burn one-fourth of the calories burned by all other fat tissues combined. In a similar way, GLA can stimulate the sodium pump to use up to nearly 50 percent of the body's total calories.

    In 2009 a flurry of new studies about fighting fat came out that were heralded as the "newest obesity theory," claiming that brown fat was a potent regulator of metabolism and weight. The research said that brown fat was deficient in overweight people and was primarily activated by cold.

    I remember shaking my head about this new obesity theory because I had written about brown fat back in 1988 in connection with GLA. Since the new research, the scientists completely overlooked the role of GLA, which stimulates brown fat activity, through its prostaglandin pathways.

    And while omega-6s as a whole have gotten a bad rap, their reputation is not quite justified. The issue is that GLA's raw materials, the linoleic-acid containing safflower, sunflower, soy and corn oil, are possible, but not always probable, precursors. Possible—because under ideal conditions they should easily be converted into the powerful prostaglandins that have all the healing and metabolic benefits.

    The problem is these typically refined and processed oils are further blocked from converting into the biologically potent prostaglandin, which make them biologically worthless to the human body. A number of dietary and lifestyle conditions like a lack of enzymatic cofactors such as niacin, B6, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc as well as the presence of transfats, excessive saturated fats, or alcohol in the diet, impairs the delta-6-desaturase enzyme charged with the transformation process. (The same metabolic suspects, by the way, are in play, which can impair the transformation of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid into EPA.)

    Since food sources cannot always convert into GLA on their own, you are much better off taking GLA in supplemental form from borage, evening primrose or black currant seed oil with two exceptions: hemp seed oil (not marijuana but from the same plant) and spirulina, a blue green microalgae. Hemp seed oil contains "pre-formed" GLA with a perfect blend of omega-3s.

    If you prefer to take a supplement, my recommendation is the GLA from black currant seed oil. Because of all the pre-formed GLA sources, it is the best balanced with omega-3s as part of its makeup. Perhaps most interesting of all is the hypothesis that GLA, like other fatty acids, has the potential to elevate levels of serotonin, the "feel good" brain chemical which contributes to the feeling of fullness. By elevating serotonin, you will feel calmer and satiated sooner. So not only does GLA have the ability to increase the body's metabolism and burn fat, but it may also work as an appetite suppressant as well.

    Smart Tips: GLA

    Want to know how to get more GLA in your life for a metabolic kick?

    1. Nibble on hemp "hearts" (seeds) and drizzle hemp seed oil. Hemp is a great tasting source of balanced omega-6 and omega-3, and also contains vitamin E. Nutty and full of flavor; the hemp seeds are great snacks and make a smoothie nice and creamy. The oil is perfect over veggies and salads. Besides spirulina, which can be taken as a supplement or sprinkled in powder form in a smoothie or green drink, hemp seeds and oil are the only direct preformed food sources of thermogenic GLA.

    2. Take supplements of ready-made GLA. Found in black currant seed oil, borage or evening primrose oil for stronger GLA power, I recommend 360 to 900 mg daily.

    CLA – The Tummy Fat Blaster

    CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has profound fat loss and healing benefits. CLA helps reduce body fat while retaining lean muscle mass, a ready-made innate calorie burner. It is also considered a necessary fatty acid for both cell growth and as a building block for cell membranes.

    To date, there are over 500 published studies on this previously unrecognized nutrient. The first human clinical trial using CLA was conducted in 1997 in Norway. It was a 90-day double-blind clinical study that showed a stunning 20 percent decrease in body fat, with an average loss of seven pounds of fat in the group taking CLA. These results were achieved without a single change in dietary habits, establishing CLA supplementation for the first time as a simple, effortless weight loss tool.

    In addition to the ability to reduce body fat, CLA has also been shown to increase lean muscle mass. In this same study, although participants lost body fat, they experienced very little change in overall body weight due to the increase in lean muscle mass. The end result was a stronger, healthier body.

    CLA is also a powerful tool for anyone who finds themselves with weight gain over the holidays. In 2006 researchers studied 40 healthy but overweight subjects over a period of six months. Over the holiday season, the placebo group displayed a greater rate of weight gain; while the CLA group showed significantly reduced body fat of around 2.2 kg over the six month period.

    Cellulite be gone! Did you know that biopsies of cellulite demonstrate that unlike fat in most other areas, the fat within cellulite is actually inflamed? This type of inflammation speeds up the breakdown of collagen and contributes to that puckered-up, orange peel look we all dread. Studies also show that CLA increases strong and healthy collagen and prevents fat cells from accumulating even more fat and swelling up. And, both ultrasound and visual examination has proven that CLA can markedly reduce the appearance of cellulite.

    CLA occurs naturally in grass-fed dairy foods—especially cream, butter and full-fat cheese. It is also found in beef and lamb. Before the 1970s, Americans got plenty of CLA by eating these Smart Fat-filled foods. Today we are getting next to no CLA because livestock is rarely grass-fed anymore, which decreases CLA levels by about 80 percent.

    To compound this deficiency, over the past 70 years many misguided Americans on low- or no-fat diets have stopped eating these dietary sources of CLA. While adding grass-fed dairy and meats back into your diet is highly recommended for a variety of health reasons, there are other ways to get more potentized CLA into your body. Science has been able to create CLA from the linoleic acid found in sunflower and safflower oils. Today CLA is available as a convenient dietary supplement.

    Smart Tips: CLA
    Want to increase your CLA to rev up metabolic rate?

    1. Eat CLA-rich grass-fed beef and pastured butter and cream. Also be on the lookout for grass-fed, non-denatured whey.
    2. Consider CLA supplements from conjugated safflower or sunflower oil. I recommend 3,000 mg daily. But, just be careful. With many of my clients, you lose weight so quickly you will go down a pants size or two in no time!

    GLA vs. CLA: What's the difference you ask?
    GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) are both important fatty acids that will help burn fat to promote weight loss, and help control appetite to prevent weight gain.

    They can be taken individually or as a duo to help break down fat.

    • GLA raises your metabolism by stimulating brown fat (adipose tissue) in the body to burn calories for energy.
    • CLA especially targets visceral fat (found deep within the abdominal area) and is helpful for burning belly fat while increasing lean muscle mass.
  • 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.

  • An ancient adage from Chinese medicine says, “A doctor would rather treat ten men than one woman.”Chinese medicine validates what women have always known, we are indeed intricate creatures! Our hormones are in part responsible for this complexity. Their ebb and flow influence all aspects of a woman’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.

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