Science Proven Natural Health

David Rodgers, LN, MS
Licensed Nutritionist

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What Are Some Healthy Naturally Sugar-Free Beverages?

Natural No-Sugar Drink Options

One of the biggest issues any nutritionist deals with is teaching people to “not drink your calories.” Unless it is a healthy soup or smoothie, calories consumed while drinking are almost always a bad idea. Detrimental health effects of simple sugars are numerous. For example, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who drink one or more regular sodas or fruit punches daily had an 83% or 100% (respectively) greater risk of type-2 diabetes than those drinking 1 or less per month (Pubmed: JAMA Soda Study). A Boston University study found that women drinking 3 or more sodas daily had a 52% lower fertility index (probability of becoming pregnant within a given time frame) (Pubmed: Boston U. Soda Fertility Study).

Additionally, artificial sweeteners are also an unhealthy choice. Consider that those having at least one daily diet soda were 67% more likely to have type-2 diabetes. Diet soda was also significantly correlated to a high waist circumference (indicating high body fat) and high fasting blood glucose (Pubmed: U. Texas Diet Soda Diabetes Study). Those who drink one or more diet sodas per day showed a 43% greater risk of combined vascular events (including strokes), and this association held even after controlling for age, sex, race, education, smoking, activity, alcohol, BMI, calorie intake, protein, carbs, saturated fat, sodium, diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and more (Pubmed: U. Miami Diet Soda Vascular Events Study).

With all of this in mind, you probably would like a list of options that you can substitute. Perhaps they don’t have quite the flavor of your favorite soda, but consider all of the negative health effects you can avoid by consuming these safe beverages rather than unhealthy sodas, juices, and milkshakes, etc.:

Water: Okay, it is boring, but consider how much money you could save in a year if you order a water instead of soda at restaurants. Sometimes, water is just the thing to hit the spot, like after a hike on a 90 degree day. Those who have made the switch from soda pop to water generally find that after a month or two, water no longer tastes so boring.

Unsweetened Iced or Hot Tea (Including black, green, white, and herbal teas): Nearly all teas have significant health benefits. Regular green tea consumption has been associated with between a 66% and 72% reduction in overall cardiovascular disease risk. In the same study, oolong tea also showed up to 61% reduced cardiovascular risk. (Pubmed: Kyoto U. Tea Cardiovascular Study). A separate study found regular black tea consumption to be associated with a 14-30% decreased risk of type-2 diabetes. (Pubmed: U. Minnesota Beverages Diabetes Study) If you need some sweet flavor in your hot or iced tea, sweeten with stevia and erythritol powder.

Seltzer and Flavored Seltzer: Straight carbonated water has none of the negative health effects correlated with regular and diet sodas. In fact, it may have a few positive health effects. Those drinking carbonated water showed improvement in constipation when compared to tap water in a Korean study (Pubmed: Korean Carbonated Water Constipation Study). Mineral water was also found to cause 100 times less dental corrosion than soft drinks (Pubmed: U. Birmingham Mineral Water Dental Erosion) Many seltzer beverages are also flavored with a touch of fruit that contains no sugar. This is a very small amount of flavoring and should have no health effects at all. Additionally, stevia and erythritol powder can be used in order to make flavored carbonated water taste more like regular soda pop.

Vitamin Water Zero: Very few beverages on the market are sweetened only with natural sweeteners that have shown no negative health effects. Vitamin Water Zero is one that only includes stevia and erythritol as sweeteners and therefore is a zero calorie beverage that can be consumed without guilt. Okay, technically erythritol has 0.2 calories per gram, so Vitamin Water Zero may actually be mislabeled as it contains 7 grams of carbohydrates that probably mostly come from erythritol. This means that the total count may be a whopping 1.4 calories rather than zero. Perhaps we should demand it be relabeled Vitamin Water 1.4. Regardless, feel free to enjoy.

Coffee (Hot and Iced): Similar to saturated fat and sun exposure, coffee has largely been vindicated relating to its health effects in recent years. However, too much coffee still can have negative health effects. Consuming either regular or decaffeinated coffee in moderation is healthy. It is likely to correlate to a reduced risk of heart disease (Pubmed: Italian Coffee Heart Disease Study). Additionally, coffee is correlated to a lower risk of type-2 diabetes. (Pubmed: Harvard Coffee Diabetes Study) You can flavor your coffee with milk and erythritol and stevia powder.

Zevia Soda: For those who see all of the options in the above list and still need soda, Zevia brand is the best option. You can find it online or in health food stores and supermarkets (call ahead to ask if they carry it). Zevia is sweetened only with erythritol and stevia. It is available in cola flavor as well as ginger root beer, grape, cream soda, ginger ale, grapefruit citrus, black cherry, and mountain.

If you have any questions about natural sugar-free beverages, you may contact me via the contact page – I answer short questions by email for no charge. For more in depth health concerns, I offer natural health / nutrition consultations over the phone or in-office in Berkley, MI. Specialties include Lyme Disease, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, weight loss, heart disease, diabetes, and digestive conditions.

 

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Lyme Disease and the CoQ10 Supplements, Ubiquinol and Ubiquinone

Many Lyme patients ask me about coq10 and it is a great question, because it definitely has the potential to help people a great deal for a number of different symptoms.

What is it and What are the Forms: First, it is important to know more about CoQ10. It has an odd name, but the substance is actually very similar to a B-vitamin. Co stands for coenzyme. This means the substance is necessary to complete an enzyme. It could be considered a key that fits into a larger lock. This key turns the larger enzyme on, and when they are turned on, the enzymes facilitate major chemical reactions in the body, such as those needed for energy production, heart function, and antioxidant activity. Both B-vitamins and Coenzyme-Q10 are coenzymes. However, one area they differ is that the Bs are water soluble and CoQ10 is fat soluble.

CoQ10 comes in two main forms, ubiquinone (the –one form) and ubiquinol (the –ol form). Both are similar, except that ubiquinol is already in the form necessary for the workings of the body’s cells. Ubiquinone must first be converted into ubiquinol before it actually can begin working and providing benefits. For this reason, studies have shown that the =ol form is about eight times better absorbed than the –one form. This means if you purchase 200mg of ubiquinone, you are getting essentially the exact same benefit as 25mg of ubiquinol.

Why is it Helpful for Lyme Disease? First I should point out that not everyone is deficient in CoQ10, including not all Lyme patients. In fact, one of the primary reasons that people take natural supplements and find that they don’t work is that they actually were not deficient in the first place. This is often true with B vitamins in fact, because most of the Bs are largely prevalent in the diet. However, extra Bs in reasonable doses are not harmful. No studies have been done to determine whether people with Lyme Disease specifically are more likely to be deficient in CoQ10 than healthy people. However I would estimate that on average, people with Lyme or most types of chronic disease are in fact more likely to run deficiencies.

Should I Get Tested for Deficiency? Many vitamins and minerals have ambiguous tests that don’t show a whole lot in regards to whether supplementation would be helpful. CoQ10 is actually NOT one of these. It does have a reliable test that can be used to determine deficiencies. However, for financial reasons, it is often not necessary to make use of this type of testing – it gets pretty pricey. Because supplementing is not harmful, even at relatively high doses and when one is not deficient, an easy test can be done to find out how helpful CoQ10 is for anyone in particular. Here is the test: test and see how you feel, and whether symptom markers go away (such as those listed below).

Are There Other Ways to Assess Deficiency? Yes, even without costly lab testing, there are ways to know if CoQ10 deficiency is more likely. Here are a few of the ways:

People who

–        Are taking or recently haven taken statin drugs

–        Often Have migraine or tension headaches

–        Have issues with gums

–        Have significant fatigue

–        Have high blood pressure, heart disease, or heart failure

Are you interested in finding out more about Lyme Disease, CoQ10, and other natural therapies? David Rodgers, M.S. Nutrition has put together a free presentation at http://www.nutrientbalance.com/freewebinar He is also available for consultations by phone / video or in office in Berkley, MI.

 

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Everything You Should Know About California Proposition 37 and GMO Food

GMO Corn California Prop 37

I usually try not to be political in my posts about natural health, but one ballot proposal deserves your attention. It’s in California, and whether or not you live in California, it affects you directly, and you can affect the voting outcome directly.

The measure is called Proposal 37, and it calls for labeling on genetically modified organisms in our food supply. Many Americans aren’t yet aware of GMOs, but are consuming them daily. Over time, farmers have taken seeds they particularly like and have cross-bred them to make the resulting food easier to grow and better looking. This practice is not harmful. However, beginning in the mid 1990s, government gave the go-ahead for the country’s largest food producers to develop genetically modified foods. This means that, rather than naturally cross-breeding to make a better plant, scientists in laboratories began inserting and replacing parts of DNA with other DNA from separate species, and sometimes not from plants, but from animals. The purpose of these modifications is generally to make the crops more resistant to pesticides. For this reason, many of the genetically modified foods are called Roundup-Ready, which means that endless amounts of Roundup (pesticide that is highly toxic to pests, but also humans), can be sprayed on these plants without killing the plant, as it would do to non-GMO crops.

Most GMOs are found in corn and soybean products currently, although canola oil and cottonseed oil and a small number of other crops are also sources, with more being added regularly. In fact, the vast majority of corn and soybeans grown in America are genetically modified. Estimates from the mainstream media indicate that 80% of processed foods in America contain at least some GMO foods in the ingredients.

There was zero oversight into allowing these genetically modified foods into our food supply. No studies were required to verify safety. To this day, not a single human study exists to verify short term or long term health risks of GMOs. Rat studies do exist and the results are shocking. The following links verify from peer-reviewed studies that the rats suffered from hepatorenal (liver and kidney) toxicity among other health concerns:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17356802

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20011136

Additionally, a new study from the University of Caen in France, the first long term GMO study on rats, found that those exposed to GMO corn alone, Round-Up pesticide alone, and conventional corn plus Round-Up pesticide all had significantly higher rates of cancer and tumors than those exposed solely to conventional corn. The results were widely criticized by those in the food industry and the “No on 37” crowd. I personally am a scientific researcher in addition to a nutritionist. The qualms they had with the design of this study in my opinion held very little scientific weight. Here is a link to the study: http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/20/science/la-sci-gmo-food-study-20120920. Nonetheless, if a significant number of studies indicate that negative effects are at least possible, it clearly is an indication that more studies need to be done. Rather than agree that more studies are necessary, the “No on 37” crowd continues to argue that no other studies are needed because GMOs are already shown to be “safe”. Of course, this means “safe” according to them and the government bureaucrats they pay off.

Many people have seen reports about unexplained rises in diseases of childhood that can last throughout adulthood, including autism, allergies, asthma, and more. Official government scientists continue to assure us that vaccinations are not to blame, which may or may not be true (billions of dollars of litigation would be at stake if the government ever admitted to a correlation).

Okay, so if vaccinations aren’t the cause then what is the cause? People’s genetic makeup didn’t just spontaneously mutate within the last two decades and render these diseases genetic. The cause is environmental. Perhaps genetically modified foods have something to do with it. Of course, I couldn’t prove such a correlation to you, but it is highly plausible in my opinion. Public health officials are always quick to shoot-down any theory on causation, but remember this… something must be causing these increases in diseases.

Whatever the case, I pay hard earned money for my food, and I have a right to know whether it contains crops that have been inserted with foreign DNA. I have a right to know if the food I buy has been specifically designed to withstand pesticides that are known to be highly toxic to humans.

So, where do you come in on this matter? It happens that California has the largest population of any state in the U.S. For this reason, if the law passes, food manufacturers will most likely provide the California food packages with labels to the entire United States. Therefore, California voters are affecting your refrigerator and your food pantry directly.

The long term implications of this proposal are far more significant than simple labels on packages. If labels were the only issue, the largest food and chemical corporations wouldn’t care all that much about the proposal. Instead, they care immensely and are investing millions – estimates are between 8 and 10 times the amount of money that the proposal supporters are spending. The reason is the fact that labels signal to the public to not buy the food. Given the choice between two products with all other things being equal, most people will choose the non-GMO variety. This means that food corporations eventually will have to submit to the will of the public and once again grow and offer non-GMO foods. These companies don’t like this option, because the only seeds allowed to be patented are the GMO seeds. Therefore, they lose the monopoly on the seeds and once again food is subject to the economic laws of commodities rather than monopolies.

Are you beginning to understand how companies have immense financial incentives to keep you in the dark, even when they know about (but won’t admit to) significant dangers to public health? They will say anything to get you to vote against this bill. Usually, I believe that people in positions of power for the most part do what they believe is correct for the most amount of people. I believe that both Romney and Obama believe what they are doing is best in most cases. The leaders of these corporations know full well that what they are doing is wrong. It has everything to do with greed and lack of respect for fellow human beings. You can be sure that the largest food company executives eat organic foods in their own homes (which automatically excludes GMO foods). Reputable reports indicate that both Romney and Obama, as well as the Bushes and Clintons, and their families eat largely organic foods. http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/09/report-monsanto-man-mitt-romney-eats-organic. But both Romney and Obama will do nothing to advance the cause for labels on non-organic foods. It is in the hands of the people of California.

The following are arguments from the “No on Prop 37” crowd, and their repudiation:

Proposition 37 picks winners and losers: For example, they correctly point out that restaurants and store-bought alcohol don’t need to label their foods. Restaurants have never been required to put nutrition or ingredient labels on foods (except for some legislation regarding major chain restaurants). So telling them to label this one area wouldn’t make sense. Alcohol makers could in fact be getting an unfair break. However, should we reject a positive proposition that moves the country forward based on a single bad line? The proposition also states that dairy and meat products coming from animals that were fed GMO based food would also not have to state this on the label. Again, is this unfair? Perhaps it is, but why would this change your mind about voting for the law as a whole? Modifications can be made later, but it is time to put the law on the books now.

Proposition 37 would make food cost hundreds more per year for the average family: This is absolutely false. Did food prices skyrocket when laws were passed regarding introducing nutrition and ingredient labels? No. Does food cost comparatively more in the dozens of nations that already require labeling (which include the entire European union, Japan, China, Brazil, India, Australia, Russia, and many more)? The answer is absolutely not. Labels cost the same whether a couple new words are added or not. There could be a small increase in cost, but only if companies choose to give California its own food labels, and this would never happen. Based on economies of scale, food companies would almost certainly provide the same labels to the entire country (which is good for you and me).

The law is too complicated or confusing: The law is actually very simple. Foods made from GMOs need to be labeled. Current technology exists to test whether a food is made from GMO seeds or not. If a company is not careful to separate their crops when using both varieties, they simply need to test their products and label them the correct way.

You can help this law pass. Chances are, you have a Facebook or Twitter account where people can see what you post. Chances are, you have at least one friend from California. Chances are, even if you don’t have a friend in California, any of your dozens or hundreds of friends will have one or multiple friends in California. Share this post. Tell them to VOTE YES on PROP 37 and Spread the Word to Their Friends!

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Why I’m Not Worried About High Cholesterol

Fatty Red Meat and Cholesterol

I got some blood results back last week, and one result was eyebrow-raising… LDL cholesterol (the so-called “bad” form of cholesterol) was high. What was weirder is the fact that historically I have had very low cholesterol, probably way too low – in the range of 120-130 total cholesterol. Now this test was showing me that my LDL is 125 (normal reference range 60-99). My total cholesterol now is 194, just below the top of the reference range of 200.

Before anyone starts worrying about me, let me say that a significantly more important marker than LDL cholesterol is the LDL to HDL ratio. If this is 4:1 or higher, some changes are probably necessary to avoid a high heart-disease risk. My HDL is 57, meaning my ratio is just over 2:1 which is about as good as it gets (although I’ve seen women with close to 1:1 ratios, which I can’t argue with).

Also included in the cholesterol reading is triglycerides, which essentially is a reading of fat cells in the blood. High triglycerides aren’t just a heart disease marker, they are also correlated with type II diabetes. In the range of 30-149, mine were 48, which is probably exactly where they should be.

So here is the question of the day, and it took me a little longer than it should have to answer it, considering I am a nutritionist and all. About 6 years ago I became a vegetarian except for fish and eggs, but about two years ago, I reintroduced poultry and beef (trying to eat the healthy, humane, and organic versions as best as I can, just as I advise clients). Prior to six years ago, I ate meat and my cholesterol was low. During the vegetarian years, my cholesterol was low. How come when I reintroduced meat, my cholesterol went up, when it never had been high before?

The answer is that now when I eat meat, I pay no attention to the fat content. I eat ground turkey and beef that is not lean, I eat the chicken skins, I eat the egg yolks (although for most people, egg yolks do not raise serum cholesterol). Because I used to focus on leaner meats, my cholesterol never rose. So now that I don’t avoid the fat, my cholesterol has risen.

Do I think that I am at risk for heart disease more so than before? Almost certainly not, because of my stellar LDL to HDL ratio, low triglycerides, and the fact that cholesterol is not the true cause of heart disease. Inflamed and oxidized LDL cholesterol are the true culprits, and the simple cholesterol numbers don’t tell this story. Other important risk markers are CRP (C-Reactive Protein, a whole body inflammation marker), and homocysteine, which can be controlled with vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid.

Additionally, many people don’t know that cholesterol is the precursor to pregnenolone, which itself is the precursor to most hormones in the body. A low cholesterol level, as I had before, was probably a hindrance for the entire hormonal cascade.

Will I lower animal fats now, knowing my LDL is high? I think I will just a little bit, to bring them to the top of the range rather than above it. However, I don’t even think this is necessary for any reduction in heart disease risk, provided I stay away from the three real main causes of heart disease:

1. Processed foods

2. Trans Fats / Deep Fried Foods

3. Sugars and White/Refined Grains

 

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The Best Healthy Fast Food Restaurants – Chipotle Wins

Fast Food French FriesIn the media and in real life, fast food has come to mean “unhealthy junk food.” And this idea largely has merit. After all, the nutritional value of a Big Mac, Large Fries, and Large soda, (or diet which is even worse – sign up for my free report for details), is terrible. The meal might as well be called “heart disease on a tray.” Perhaps the only thing in the entire meal that doesn’t increase heart disease risk is the beef and the lettuce (yes, unprocessed beef doesn’t cause heart disease – again see my report), but both of those are loaded with pesticides and/or hormones.

So to make a list of healthier fast food restaurants seems like an oxymoron, but it’s not. There are a few fast food restaurants that offer truly healthy meals that you can feel good about. Not only that, they are tasty as well.

Here is the list of Best Healthy Fast Food Restaurants –

1. Chipotle – This Mexican restaurant wins because they do almost everything right. Most of the meats, poultry, and dairy are hormone and antibiotic-free, a significant portion of the veggies and beans are organic, and starting recently, they offer brown rice in addition to white rice as an option. They also support local farms when possible. Chipotle’s foods are rather spicy, so they don’t appeal to all, but if you can stand the heat, it is likely that you’ll enjoy the taste. Chipotle is not available in all areas, but it is growing, especially in bigger cities and along major freeways. Other Mexican chains, such as Qdoba, Rio Wraps, Baja Fresh, etc., also offer some healthy options, however they don’t have the humane and non-chemical versions of foods as noted above. No matter which Mexican restaurant you go to, never get the salad shell/bowl because it is loaded with trans fats and is worse for you than a large fry.

2. Panera Bread
– All of Chipotle’s chicken is dark meat, and all of Panera’s chicken is white meat. Interestingly, they are the same chickens, split and sold to the two different chains. Therefore you can be happy that at Panera Bread, you also get hormone/antibiotic free chicken. Panera also has chips with sunflower oil (no processed items like chips are healthy, but if you eat them, it’s better to eat those with sunflower than canola, corn, soybean, or cottonseed oils). Panera offers a large selection of bread, of course including many whole wheat varieties. Whole wheat can sometimes be deceiving (really just white bread turned brown), but Panera’s breads are higher quality and are a true whole grain. Do note that Panera’s meals, unlike Chipotle above and Noodles and Company below, have very few vegetables.

3. Noodles and Company
– The main negative about Noodles and Company is that it is a carb heavy meal, which I generally don’t advocate. This being said, they offer whole wheat and gluten-free rice noodles at Noodles and Company which adds to the healthy factor, so once in a while you can indulge in a a few more carbs than you should . Take note that menu items list several veggies each, but you are allowed to swap veggies for your favorites at no charge. You can also specially request an egg mixed in like they do for Pad Thai.

In general, eating at home is the best and cheapest way to ensure quality, healthy foods. But, I admit that we do live in a modern society with modern conveniences like fast food, so you might as well know your healthy options, should the need for fast food arise. Just be sure to get water rather than any type of soda, because that alone would ruin the health factor of your meal.

 

 

 

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Vitamins are Dangerous? Here are Contrasting Positive Studies

Archives of Internal Medicine Vitamins and Minerals Study

Recently, the media has been sounding the alarms about an Archives of Internal Medicine study linking vitamin and mineral usage to an increased risk of death. Please don’t be alarmed by the reporting or this study. You should know that every week, there are positive studies about vitamin usage from the same prestigious journals and universities. For whatever reason (influence of money from drug companies might be a tiny clue), these positive studies don’t even make the back pages of the papers, but the negative studies make the front pages.

Here are some of the positive studies that came out just in the past couple months (the earliest being August 20, 2011).

European Journal of Ophthalmology – The carotenoids lutein/zeaxanthin and astaxanthin (plant compounds that are precursors to vitamin A) were found to provide clinically meaningful improvements in visual acuity, contrast sensitivity and visual function through 24 months. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22009916

Journal of the American Medical Association – The usage of folic acid during pregnancy reduced the risk of severe language delay in children by 45%. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21990300

Integrative Cancer Therapies Journal. The usage of Chinese herbs along with vitamins in combination with standard chemotherapy/radiation treatment reduced colon cancer stage 1 deaths by 95%, stage 2 by 64%, stage 3 by 29%, and stage 4 by 75% when compared to standard therapy alone. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21964510

BMC Public Health Journal – Vitamin D insufficiency in Malaysian adults was associated with a 157% greater risk of abdominal obesity, and 73% greater risk of metabolic syndrome. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21943301

Journal of the American College of Nutrition – Harvard study shows that in men (though not in women), supplemental vitamin C and E lowers upper respiratory tract infection risk by 31% and 44%, respectively. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21917705

Here are more previous studies on vitamins and their effect on chronic disease and mortality:

Cochrane Database – Fifty studies compiled together (this is a huge sample size) indicate that vitamin D3 reduces mortality by 6% on average. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21735411

Stroke: A Journal of Cerebral Circulation – The highest versus lowest quintile of vitamin C usage saw a 30% decrease in strokes, 37% decrease in coronary heart disease and 21% decrease in total cardiovascular disease for women (but not men). http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21512181

Age and Ageing Journal – In men over age 71, vitamin E supplementation reduced mortality by 24%. For those men sufficient in vitamin C and who smoked less than a pack a day, vitamin E increased life expectancy by 2 years. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21242192

Journal of Nutrition – The highest tertile of vitamin K2 intake saw a 26% drop in overall mortality compared to the lowest tertile. In addition, coronary heart disease risk was 57% lower and aortic calcification was 52% lower in the same population. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15514282

Did I cherry-pick these studies? Yes I did, but clearly the media cherry-picks as well (otherwise you would have heard about all of these), so this is meant to be a balance against their picks. Also, keep in mind that those studies that do find negatives to vitamins almost always are extremely slight. For example, other than copper, the highest raised risk of mortality in this study was 5.9%, and most were under 4%. For those positive studies, often ranges of 20 to 30% percent improvement are found. Therefore, you can relax and not worry about media-hyped studies. When you take your vitamins, you are still doing your body good.

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Juices, Polyphenols, Phytochemicals, and Alzheimer’s – A Connection?

Fruit and Vegetable Juice and Alzheimer's DiseaseOften people focus on natural health using vitamins and minerals as a base of good health. However there are thousands of chemicals throughout the plant kingdom that also have vital roles in our health – these are called “phytochemicals.” When recommendations are given to eat more fruits and vegetables, many people turn a deaf ear, because they don’t know the true benefits. Below is a powerful example of why the recommendation of fruits and vegetable consumption may be so powerful.

Polyphenols are one of the classes of phytochemicals that are concentrated in the skin of fruits and vegetables. Recently, researchers from Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Tennessee found that consuming fruit and vegetable juice three or more times per week correlated with a 76% reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease when compared to those having close to no juice. Presumably, researchers concluded that it was the polyphenols in the juices that were so important in healing the brain from potential oxidative stress that would have otherwise led to the Alzheimer’s Disease. See the study in the American Journal of Medicine here.

Many of the people reading my blogs/newsletters have chronic disease, and have taken the recommendation from me or from others to avoid sugar, even when coming from fresh fruit, or fruit juice. I still hold to this recommendation because sugar has been proven so detrimental in it’s effect on bacterial and pathogen proliferation (see my Lyme Webinar for the studies). However, you can see that it is important for long term brain health to consume these phytochemicals. When symptoms from chronic disease have improved greatly, it is okay to reintroduce some fruit or fruit juice if you monitor your symptoms. Another way to obtain fruit polyphenols in the form of juice without the sugar is various powder products on the market like Madre Labs Eureka Berries, or Macrolife Miracle Reds, or Jarrow Organic Berry High.

Of course raw is a better source for fruits and vegetables,  but certainly any source is better than no source, and if you are holding to the low/no sugar recommendation than these powders are excellent substitutes. Even the study I quoted made no mention as to what type of fruit or vegetable juice people consumed. They just reported whether or not the juice was consumed and how much. It might have been powdered or from concentrate or fresh, or anything. The result of 76% lower Alzheimer’s risk was still the same.

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Spices Shown to Attenuate Markers of Fatty (or Carbohydrate-Laden) Meals

High Fat Meal

Fries include Trans Fat - Should be Avoided

If you have been following my research, you know that I generally think that most natural fats, when eaten in the right quantities, are health promoting. It is only trans fats, and the highly processed oils – CCCS (canola, corn, cottonseed, and soybean), that I highly recommend against consuming due to long term negative health effects.

This being said, certain spices are extremely healthy, and can be added to the diet for significant benefits, whether or not one takes my recommendation to avoid trans fats and CCCS fats. A study reported this month in the Journal of Nutrition found that certain spices attenuated the negative effects of a high fat meal.

Before I continue, let me say that the effects that were studied, post-meal insulin and triglycerides, should more correctly be blamed on the carbohydrates in the meal, especially if refined (other reports on the internet are saying this is a study on high-fat foods). In fact, studies have shown those going on a low fat, high-carb diet have higher triglycerides than those consuming a lower carb, higher fat diet. In addition, post-meal insulin levels are reliant mainly on carbohydrate intake, and very little on fat intake. So in my estimation, the study should have said that spices attenuate the negative effects of carbohydrates, not fats.

Back to the study… the spices used were rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder and paprika. Compared with the same meal, sans spices, the spice meal lowered postprandial (post-meal) insulin by 21% and lowered postprandial triglycerides by 30%. These are markers that are significantly correlated with diabetes and heart disease, respectively.

In addition, antioxidant increases in the blood post-meal were twice as high in the group consuming the spices. Add this to the fact that several of the herbs are also proven effective at least in-vitro against some cancer lines, and against various pathogens, and it would be a mistake to not add spices to every meal possible. Can you counter an unhealthy meal with spices? Only partially, but hey – they even taste good, so go and spice away.

See the full Journal of Nutrition study here.

David Rodgers, MS Nutrition, is a nutritionist based in Michigan. He specializes in Chronic Lyme Disease, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lupus, and Multiple Sclerosis. Consultations are offered via phone, video conference, or in person. Natural therapy Lyme and Fibromyalgia webinar recordings are available free (see links).

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Can Chewing More Make You Leaner?

Importance of ChewingSince I was young, I have always had a difficult time at meals with other people because they would be finished, and I would still have half my food on my plate. This was not because I was eating more food, it was because I was eating slower. I always had the feeling that if I didn’t chew my food fully before swallowing, then I wasn’t really eating, and it would be uncomfortable going down. It turns out, I was right and the rest of my family and friends, (except for my grandmother whom I must have gotten the chewing gene from), were actually eating too fast.

A recent study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, when comparing obese subjects to lean subjects, both took the same sized mouthfuls, but the lean subjects chewed their food significantly more. Further, researchers compared the intakes of meals when chewing with either 15 or 40 chews per mouthful. Regardless of whether subjects were lean or obese, those who chewed their food 40 times per bite consumed an average of 11.9% fewer calories in the meal. They also found that ghrelin levels (which is one of the hormones that spikes hunger) were much lower in the high-chew groups. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Study). This means that chewing while eating satisfies hunger significantly more than scarfing food down.

What the study did not even point out (at least in the abstract) was that chewing is also related to absorbing more nutrients. With carbohydrates, as opposed to protein and fat, a significant amount of digestion takes place in the mouth with the help of a digestive enzyme known as salivary amylase. Without this digestion occurring, it puts more of a strain on the rest of the digestive tract.

The take-home with all of this is to simply chew your food more and longer. Aim for 40 chews per mouthful, which will provide enough time for proper digestion and mixture of the food with saliva and salivary amylase, etc. Improved overall health and a more sleek waistline will likely be your reward.

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What Are Some Good Natural Ways to Keep Teeth Healthy?

Natural Dental Therapies

Natural Dental HealthOf course brushing your teeth and flossing are of primary importance in keeping your teeth clean. I won’t take the time to discuss the pros or cons of fluoride in toothpaste or the water supply, however I will say that after reviewing the full scope of the literature, I choose to use a natural fluoride-free toothpaste. Most any fluoride-free toothpaste worth its salt, so to speak, will replace it with xylitol, which brings me to my first suggestion.

Xylitol:

This is one type of sugar alcohol that is derived from tree bark or corn. Unlike sugar, it does not spike blood glucose. Also, while sugar has been shown to cause tooth decay, xylitol has been shown to protect against tooth decay. For example a Scottish study found that children in the top third of sugar intake were 84% more likely to have tooth decay than those in the lowest third of intake. (British Journal of Nutrition) In contrast, a review in 1995 from the University of Connecticut Dental School found there to be conclusive evidence that xylitol gum was anti-cavity forming. (International Dental Journal) You can use xylitol as a sugar replacement in recipes (not too much, as an abundance has been shown to cause stomach upset), as xylitol gum, xylitol toothpaste, or xylitol powder in water swished around towards areas of concern.

Salt and Peroxide:

A few years back I had an infection in the back molars of my upper teeth. I brushed and flossed in the area for a few days, but it didn’t seem to go down. On the third night, when deciding whether or not to make a dentist appointment, I decided to simply swish a little bit of salt water. The next morning, the infection was almost gone, and in one more day, it was totally gone. The use of salt water along with hydrogen peroxide, is backed up by clinical evidence, as a University of Minnesota study showed that it was effective in moving clinical markers of periodontal disease towards states of dental health (Journal of the American Dental Association). This is also about the easiest and cheapest method of infection control. Also, there is no need to even run to the store because nearly everyone has a shaker of salt in their home.

Oil Pulling:

Using the above two measures, you probably won’t need to resort to oil pulling, because you’re mouth will already be as clean as a whistle. However, if you find that you need extra help, oil pulling might be your answer. “Oil pulling” is a terrible name for the practice because it brings to mind pulling of teeth. Actually, it simply refers to the use of various dietary oils, such as sesame, olive, or coconut, as a mouth swish held in place for a longer than usual amount of time. Oils have antiseptic properties, and oil pulling was found to be similarly effective to the mouthwash chlorhexidine in a 2009 study from India. (Indian Journal of Dental Research) Some believe that oil pulling will help heal other parts of the body besides the dental areas, however this has not been formally researched. For more information on this therapy, see oilpulling.com, highlighting the work of Dr. F. Karach, who presented a paper on the practice to the All-Ukranian Association.

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