Monday, December 26, 2011

Coffee Consumption Lowers Depression by Twenty Percent in Women


Depression is a chronic and recurrent condition that affects twice as many women as men, including approximately one of every five U.S. women during their lifetime. Loss of productive work hours has become a significant problem in the workplace making the development of strategies to prevent the debilitating condition a priority for research scientists.

The result of a peer-reviewed journal study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine explains that consumption of caffeinated coffee can reduce the symptoms of depression in women in a dose dependent manner. This is an important finding because coffee is a popular beverage already consumed by many. Just three to four cups of java each day may just help lift your spirits and improve feelings of melancholy.

Four Cups of Coffee Consumed Daily Found to Lower Depression Symptom by 20%
The authors of the study noted that 80% of worldwide caffeine consumption is in the form of coffee, the most commonly used CNS (central nervous system) stimulant. The research leader, Dr. Michel Lucas and his team set out to determine if the consumption of coffee or other drinks containing caffeine might be linked to depression risk. To conduct the study they gathered data on 50,737 women with an average age 63 years. It was determined that none of them had depression when the study began.

The participants were part of the Nurses' Health Study and were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire detailing their caffeine and coffee consumption over a 24 year period. The researchers determined how often they consumed caffeinated and non-caffeinated coffee, non-herbal teas, caffeinated sodas (sugared or low calorie) and all types of caffeine-free soft drinks as well as chocolate intake. For the purpose of this study, depression was defined as having a diagnosis of clinical depression and being prescribed regular antidepressants during the previous two years.

Coffee Found to Lower Depression in Women in a Dose Dependent Manner
During the course of the study analysis, 2,607 new cases of depression were recorded among the participants. From the data collected, researchers found that women who consumed two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 15% less likely to develop depression compared to those who drank a maximum of one cup of caffeinated coffee per week. Further they determined women who drank at least 4 cups per day had a 20% lower risk than the females consuming only one cup per day.

Interestingly, the consumption of decaffeinated coffee had no impact on depression risk, an indicator that a synergistic link exists between chemical compounds in coffee and caffeine to produce the risk-lowering effect. Study authors concluded "In this large prospective cohort of older women free of clinical depression or severe depressive symptoms at baseline, risk of depression decreased in a dose-dependent manner with increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee." Drinking two to four cups daily of a caffeinated coffee beverage may provide significant depression-lowering benefits in women.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vitamin B12 Increases Brain Volume and Improves Memory and Cognition


Many people are aware that vitamin B12 status declines during aging, as millions of seniors fall prey to a decline in this critical nutrient. Vitamin B12 circulating in the blood declines in the elderly due to absorption problems in the digestive tract leading to poor uptake by body tissues, especially the brain.

Researchers publishing in the journal Neurology have established a definitive link between poor vitamin B12 levels and brain shrinkage, a hallmark of cognitive decline and Alzheimer`s dementia. Supplementation with the biologically active form of the B vitamin may help prevent shrinkage and preserve learning capabilities and memory functions as we age.

Vitamin B12 Deficiencies Linked to Shrinking Brain Volume and Cognitive Decline Among Elderly
The study involved 121 participants from the Chicago Health and Aging Project who underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans over a period of four and a half years. Additionally, each member of the study had blood drawn to measure levels of vitamin B12 and B12-related markers that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The same subjects took tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills.

MRI scans were analyzed to measure total brain volume and look for other signs of brain damage. The tests included seven measures of episodic memory, two measures of visual spatial ability and perceptual organization, two measures of perceptual speed, two measures of semantic memory, and three measures of working memory. Stored blood samples were analyzed for vitamin B12 and homocysteine, a byproduct of metabolism associated with dementia, cognitive decline and coronary artery disease.

Vitamin B12 Levels Improve Cognitive Abilities and Can Help Prevent Stroke
Researchers determined that having high levels of four of five markers for vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with having lower scores on the cognitive tests and smaller total brain volume. Indicators of vitamin B12 insufficiency contributed to poor global cognitive test scores and a decrease in brain volume revealed by MRI findings compared to those with better B12 status. Higher levels of the vitamin B12 markers were linked to decreased total brain volume. Elevated homocysteine levels were indicative of greater white matter volume and elevated risk of cerebrovascular events.

Lead researcher, Dr. Christine Tangney concluded "Our findings suggest that … vitamin B12 deficiency, may affect cognition by reducing total brain volume whereas the effect of homocysteine on cognition may be mediated through increased white matter hyperintensity volume and cerebral infarcts." Vitamin B12 deficiency among the elderly is a significant cause for concern and may very well be a key contributor to the explosion of Alzheimer`s disease cases over the past 50 years. Nutritionists recommend supplementing with the bioactive form of B12 known as methylcobalamin (1 to 5 mg per day taken sublingually) to regulate circulating levels of this critical brain nutrient.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dietary Fruits and Vegetables Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

Health-minded individuals are well aware that a diet high in natural fruits and vegetables equate to vibrant health and dramatically lowered risk of many chronic diseases. The result of a new study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association provides details on how specific fruit and vegetable consumption lowers the incidence of many types of colon cancer, the third most prevalent form of the disease.

Foods such as apples, broccoli and cauliflower each lower the risk of cancer initiation in different parts of the colon while high sugar, fiber-void fruit juices are shown to increase risk of the illness. Nutrition scientists from Australia provide important documentation to confirm the importance of eating a colorful selection of fruits and vegetables to lower colon cancer risk.

Diet Packed With Vegetables and Fruits Shown to Lower Multiple Colon Cancer Risk Factors
Nutrition researchers have designed studies to examine the effect of healthy diet on colon cancer risk in the past, but the protective effect has been debatable as they do not provide specific results for different foods on the key regions or subsites of the colon. Professor Lin Fritschi, PhD, head of the Epidemiology Group at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research and her research team set out to investigate the link between fruit and vegetables and three cancers in different parts of the bowel: proximal colon cancer, distal colon cancer and rectal cancer.

The controlled study included 918 participants with a confirmed colon cancer diagnosis and compared them with 1021 individuals with no history of the digestive disease. All participants completed extensive nutritional and demographic questionnaires to account for potential conflicts such as socioeconomic status. Analysis of the data showed that specific fruit and vegetables from similar varietal families affect risk for colon cancer in different portions of the digestive tract.

Broccoli, Cabbage and Sprouts Lower Most Common Type of Colon Cancer
With respect to different fruit and vegetable consumption, the researchers found a reduced rate of proximal colon cancer was linked to eating brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. In addition, both total vegetable intake and total vegetable and fruit intake were linked to a lower risk of distal colon cancer. And finally a significant reduction in distal colon cancer risk was linked to dark yellow vegetables and apples.

There should be no doubt that natural fruits and vegetables consumed raw or minimally cooked to retain the active enzymes is a critical factor in digestive health to dramatically lower the risk of colon cancer and other chronic conditions as well. This study conveys the important nature of eating a wide variety of different colored fruits and vegetables, high in phytonutrient content to provide a protective shield at different colon subsites and throughout the body.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Omega-3 Fats Help Lower Premature Death Risk by Eighty Percent


Many people make the potentially fatal presumption that aging, chronic diseases and premature aging are natural events that come with advancing years. A plethora of current research studies confirm that nothing could be farther from the truth. In addition to super-nutrients such as resveratrol, curcumin and vitamin D optimization, researchers publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Clinical Cardiology provide documented evidence that beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids from dietary sources and supplementation slash the overall risk of an early death.

The long-chain fats DHA and EPA elicit a profound effect on the heart and brain to ameliorate chronic diseases that bring an early demise to millions of unsuspecting individuals each year. Health-minded individuals today are used to hearing about the myriad of benefits associated with eating fish and supplementing with Omega-3 fats.

Omega-3 Fat Supplementation Slashes Risk of All-Cause Mortality in Half
A wealth of peer-reviewed studies provide solid evidence that the DHA and EPA fatty acids help to prevent heart disease and sudden death from a heart attack, lower depression incidence and reduce stroke and dementia risks as well. New research shows that optimal Omega-3 blood levels lower the risk of dying from all causes by 85% in high risk patients who had suffered a prior heart attack.

Intrigued by the result of this research, scientists wanted to understand if mortality was affected in individuals with no evident heart disease. A group of men aged 64 to 76 years were supplemented with Omega-3 fats (2.4 grams per day) for a period of 3 years. During that time, the participants showed a 47% reduction in risk of dying from any cause compared to a placebo group. Women experienced a 44% lower risk of death in a similar study.

Omega-3 Fats Lower Systemic Inflammation and Balance Omega-6 Ratios
Researchers from the American Heart Association journal Stroke commented on the ground-breaking conclusions of multiple Omega-3 studies, “Evidence from prospective secondary prevention studies suggests that EPA+DHA supplementation ranging from 0.5 to 1.8 g/d (either as fatty fish or supplements) significantly reduces subsequent cardiac and all-cause mortality.” Omega-3 enriched foods and supplements help to improve the critical balance with Omega-6 fats to lower systemic inflammation. This provides the primary risk-reduction mechanism associated with the long-chain fat.

In addition to fatty fish (salmon, snapper, scallops and shrimp), non-meat food sources of Omega-3’s include walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, raw tofu and cooked soybeans. The body does not efficiently process EPA and DHA fats from vegetarian sources, though strong evidence exists that these food sources still provide exceptional health benefits. To be certain you achieve optimal Omega-3 blood saturation levels as referenced in these studies, nutrition experts recommend supplementing with 2.4 grams per day of combined EPA and DHA (read package labels to ensure proper dose). When supplementing, check that the fish oil (krill oil is also an excellent option) is molecularly distilled to avoid contamination.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zinc is Essential to Improve Brain Communications and Improve Memory


Zinc is an essential mineral known to improve skin tone, aid wound healing, fight cancer and shorten the length of the common cold. Researchers publishing in the journal Neuron now identify the crucial role this super-nutrient plays in support of memory formation and cognitive stability. Additionally, they have found that zinc may also play a part in controlling the devastating occurrence of epileptic seizures.

For the first time, scientists have been able to watch zinc in action as the nutrient regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus to improve memory and learning capabilities. Ensuring proper intake of zinc is an important step toward optimal brain function and may prevent cognitive decline as we age.

Zinc Improves Communication between Neurons to Improve Cognition
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center and chemists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology collaborated to study the effects of zinc on brain function. Scientists experimenting with mice used a chemical that binds with zinc to eliminate it from the brain of the test animals. They found that in the absence of the mineral, communications between neurons was significantly diminished and that zinc is vital for controlling the efficiency between nerve cells in the hippocampus.

For more than a half century, scientists have understood that high concentrations of zinc are deposited within nerve cells, called vesicles that package the transmitters which enable nerve cells to communicate. The highest concentrations of brain zinc are found among the neurons of the hippocampus that control the high functions of learning and memory.

Researchers Find Zinc Levels in the Brain Control Memory and Learning Functions
By artificially regulating the level of zinc in the brain of the test animals, researchers were able to confirm that eliminating zinc from the neural vesicles also prevented enhanced communication. By increasing levels of the mineral, they were able to significantly restore enhanced communications in the hippocampal region to improve learning and memory capabilities.

The results of this study conducted using mice can be extrapolated to humans because zinc is known to play a similar role in the brain of both species. Zinc deficiency in the typical western diet is rapidly becoming a serious problem that threatens human health. Due to poor farming practices and the abundance of nutrient-deprived processed foods, many children and adults suffer from a chronic insufficiency of the mineral.

Over time, lack of zinc from dietary sources can result in immune system depression, decline in sexual health and increased risk of dementia and cognitive decline. Ideal dietary sources of zinc include liver, beef and lamb. Vegetarians can include nuts, seeds and peas to obtain the micronutrient. Alternatively, zinc supplements are available (30 to 50 mg per day) to help maintain healthy systemic levels that improve memory, learning and cognition.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Olive Oil and Nuts Lower Heart Disease Risk Better Than Pharmaceuticals


More vindication for a natural Mediterranean-style diet including plenty of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and nuts was released in an advanced study published by the prestigious journal Atherosclerosis. Early results from a Spanish study with more than 7500 participants’ demonstrates that high quantities of dietary EVOO and a variety of different species of nuts is more effective in managing and preventing a heart event than traditional drug therapy.

Many physicians place their patients on the standard prescription of beta blockers and ACE inhibitors in a desperate effort to prevent advancing heart disease, even though repeated studies prove these drugs are detrimental to long-term health. Include copious amounts of EVOO and nuts in your diet to dramatically lower heart disease risk and avoid the need for risk drugs.

Study Provides Proof of Natural Diet over Drugs in the Fight against Heart Disease
To conduct the study, researchers placed the participants into one of three groups following either a Mediterranean style diet receiving 15 liters of EVOO over a 90 day period, a nut group consuming 30 grams per day of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts or a standard low-fat diet. Among those participants over the age of 55, the scientists found that carotid artery thickness was significantly reduced in the EVOO and nut groups for individuals with already thickened arterial walls.

Researchers commented, “A modification in the entire diet pattern managed to achieve in just one year, results that pharmaceutical drugs did not – even after two years of treatment.” Lead study author, Dr. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez was impressed that a diet concentrated on natural food sources high in beneficial fats improved cardiovascular risk outcomes more than Pharma options. The study also found that the traditional low-fat (high carbohydrate) diet frequently prescribed by physicians and dieticians today has no health benefits and allows for heart disease to progress unabated.

Monounsaturated Fats From EVOO and Nuts Improve Vascular Elasticity
Most alternative health practitioners understand that a dramatic reduction of wheat-based carbohydrates coupled with increased monounsaturated fats and Omega-3 sources can provide for vascular elasticity to lower risk of heart disease and stroke. No drug can make the same claim, despite billions of dollars spent to market and promote unnecessary pharmaceutical options to millions of unsuspecting patients.

Dr. Martinez-Gonzalez concluded “We thus observed… a significant improvement and regression of lesions having taken place in those cases that had followed a Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil or nuts.” After just 90 days of EVOO or nut consumption, lipoprotein ratios improved enough to deliver significant improvement in heart disease risk for both men and women following the diet. To lower your risk of heart disease, adopt a Mediterranean-style eating pattern and be certain to include a healthy dose of EVOO (unheated) and unprocessed nuts (not roasted, cooked or heated).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

White Fleshed Fruits and Vegetables Cut Stroke Risk in Half


Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America, affecting nearly one million people and taking the lives of 150,000 each year. Researchers publishing in the American Heart Association journal Stroke have found that increased consumption of white fleshy vegetables and fruits such as apples and pears leads to a dramatic decline in both incidence and death from a stroke.

This study is the first to differentiate between different colors in fruits and vegetables and the risk for developing a specific disease or illness. Beneficial phytochemicals such as carotenoids and flavonoids found in the white flesh and skin of apples and pears can dramatically lower your risk of suffering the devastating physical damage caused by a stroke.

Apples and Pears Can Cut Stroke Risk by More Than Fifty Percent
Nutrition scientists have long known that the brightly colored skin and flesh of fruits and vegetables confer the health benefits normally associated with eating these foods. To further examine this link, researchers examined the relationship between fruit and vegetable color group consumption and contrasted with 10-year stroke incidence in a cohort of 20,069 adults, with an average age of 41. Participants were disease free at the outset of the study and were asked to complete a 178-item food frequency questionnaire detailing foods consumed over the past year.

Fruit and vegetable consumption was broken into four distinct groups, based on pigment color: Green, including dark leafy vegetables, orange/yellow, mostly citrus fruits, red/purple, mostly red vegetables and white, of which 55 percent were apples and pears. Follow up proceeded for a period of ten years during which time 233 strokes were confirmed. Green, orange/yellow and red/purple varieties of fruits and vegetables were found to have no correlation to stroke incidence.

Fruits and Vegetables of All Colors Needed to Lower Disease Risk
White fleshed fruits and vegetables demonstrated a 52% lower incidence of stroke over the ten-year period when those consuming the highest amounts were compared to the group with the lowest intake. The researchers found that each 25 gram per day increase in white fruits and vegetable consumption was associated with a 9 percent lower risk of stroke (the average apple is 120 grams).

The lead study author from Wageningen University in the Netherlands concluded “To prevent stroke, it may be useful to consume considerable amounts of white fruits and vegetables… For example, eating one apple a day is an easy way to increase white fruits and vegetable intake.” Apples and pears are high in a nutrient known as quercetin and fiber that may convey part of the stroke risk reduction. It`s critical to eat a diet packed with fruits and vegetables of all colors to take advantage of the unique disease-fighting characteristics to be uncovered for a multitude of different carotenoids and flavonoids in future research studies.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Green Tea Affects Genes to Improve Cholesterol Metabolism


Green tea consumption has been shown to benefit many health issues ranging from help with weight management to cancer prevention and treatment. New research published in the British Journal of Nutrition explains that the natural extract from the Camellia sinensis plant has a powerful effect on cholesterol metabolism in the human body.

Most forward thinking health professionals now understand that dysfunction in the LDL cholesterol pathway lays the foundation for cardiovascular health problems, cancer and fatty liver disease. Regular green tea consumption is now shown to improve healthy LDL cholesterol function, enabling the fatty molecule to efficiently usher excess cholesterol from the body and improve risk factors for many chronic disease conditions.

Green Tea Alters Gene Expression Lower LDL Cholesterol Levels
In one of the first studies of its type, researchers performed DNA microarray analysis to examine the effect of the active compound found in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Scientists specifically targeted the catechin to determine their effect on cholesterol metabolism in HepG2 hepatocytes. They determined that the expression levels of several genes related to cholesterol metabolism, including the LDL receptor, were changed by EGCG treatment.

EGCG was found to boost the function of the LDL receptor on liver cells. Researchers commented “This is very important as proper function of the LDL receptor enables your liver to “capture” circulating LDL and recycle it.”  In this study, green tea is shown to alter gene expression toward healthy LDL cholesterol metabolism by improving receptor acceptance by the liver. The liver displays an improved capacity to capture and filter LDL cholesterol for removal from the body.

Green Tea Improves Biomarkers to Lower Heart Disease, Cancer and Dementia Risks
In addition to the finding that green tea alters LDL cholesterol metabolism, ECGC was found to inhibit genes to reduce the production of Apolipoprotein B (ApoB). ApoB formation is required to initially form LDL molecules in the blood. Excess production of ApoB is a significant marker for chronic illnesses ranging from cardiovascular disease and heart attack to increased risk of cancer and dementia.

Green tea and the active compound EGCG are quickly ascending to nutritional “superstar” status. The Chinese have extolled its virtues for countless generations. Researchers now document the prowess of this nutrient by scientifically validating the direct impact exerted on our genetic structure to affect healthy cholesterol function and removal from the body. The healthy benefits of green tea are realized by drinking several fresh brewed cups of organically harvested leaves each day or supplementing with 250 to 500 mg of EGCG extract.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Higher Vitamin D Blood Levels Help Prevent Colon Cancer


Just in case you needed more proof that low blood levels of vitamin D represent a significant health concern, researchers publishing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrate that small increases in the sunshine vitamin can add precious years to your life. For nearly a decade scientific evidence has been mounting to show that the vast majorities of adults (and many children) are grossly deficient in circulating blood levels of vitamin D.

Further proof is documented in the PLoS One journal to show the precise cellular mechanism that helps vitamin D dramatically lower the risk of colon cancer. The bottom line is simple: check your vitamin D blood saturation with an inexpensive test and make the necessary adjustments to live a healthier and longer life.

Doubling Average Vitamin D Levels Could Cut World Death Rate by Twenty Percent
Using epidemiologic studies, Dr. W.B. Grant of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco found that doubling the serum blood concentration of vitamin D could increase average life expectancy by two years. Dr. Grant and his team identified the major diseases that responded to increased levels of vitamin D. They then compared mortality rates to six identified regions around the country, and contrasted serum blood levels of the sunshine vitamin with disease occurrence.

After compiling all the data, the researchers found that conditions and diseases responsive to vitamin D that account for over half of the world's mortality include cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases and infections. It was determined that doubling the circulating level of vitamin D would lower the mortality rates of diseases that are sensitive to vitamin D by approximately 20 percent. Dr. Grant concluded “several ways to raise serum vitamin D include food fortification, supplementation and increased ultraviolet B exposure.”

Vitamin D Directly Correlated With Decreased Colon Cancer Risk
Researchers have known for some time that low vitamin D levels are associated with a significant increase in colon cancer cases, but have not understood the specific mechanism responsible. Now, scientists have discovered how a lack of vitamin D promotes DNA damage and colon cancer risk. Specifically, low vitamin D status instigates the development and progression of this devastating form of cancer.

Researchers have focused on a protein in intestinal epithelial cells called beta-catechin that normally helps epithelial cells bond together with other cells to form a protective barrier between the contents in your gut and the physical structure of your digestive tract. They found that when vitamin D is lacking, DNA synthesis is disrupted and beta-catechin builds up in cells, dramatically increasing the risk of colon cancer initiation.

There should be no doubt remaining that one of the most critical foundations to vibrant health is maintaining proper vitamin D blood saturation levels. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, so have your family physician run the simple and inexpensive 25 (OH)D blood test (alternatively, mail-in home testing is now a viable option), and be certain your level runs between 50 and 70 ng/mL to add years to your life and dramatically lower colon cancer and chronic disease risk.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Resveratrol and Vitamin D Team Together to Increase Metabolism and Prevent Obesity


Resveratrol has been on the nutritional radar of researchers because of its proven ability to mimic some of the life-extending characteristics provided by calorie restriction as seen in animals and humans alike. Scientists publishing in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research draw a solid link between resveratrol, vitamin D and other phytonutrients as agents that may lend a helping hand in the life-threatening battle against overweight and obesity.

Researchers document the newly discovered effect of the nature-derived nutrient on lipid metabolism, and demonstrate that supplementation along with the sunshine vitamin and quercetin synergistically decreases the formation of new fat cells in the body. This finding is significant because it may provide a critical metabolic aid to children and adults that suffer the health-damaging effects of obesity every day. Further evidence exists to hail the trio in the genesis of osteoblasts in bone marrow that may offer a new therapy for osteoporosis that affects the mobility of millions of aging adults.

Resveratrol and Vitamin D Combine to Regulate Genes that Control Body Weight
Scientists studying metabolism in aging adults have found that stem cells differentiate in favor of adipocytes (fat cells) and to the exclusion of osteoblasts (cells necessary for the formation of new bone). This means that as we age, our body has evolved to store fat as an aid to our survival. As metabolism slows, we continue to eat the same number of calories that helps to fill the newly acquired adipocytes. While building and maintaining bone structure may sound like a good idea to us, it is not pre-programmed into our genetic matrix.

Development of new fat cells has evolved as a protective mechanism, although the vast majority of older adults really don`t need this genetic advantage. Researchers found that supplemented resveratrol, vitamin D and quercetin work together to regulate our genes and down regulate the production of fat cells while boosting the production of osteoblasts. Naturally it is important to practice caloric restriction as we age. Many aging adults will be able to utilize this phytonutrient trio to prevent excess weight gain and the debilitating effects of osteoporosis.

Natural Nutrients Help Weight Management Efforts Along with Healthy Diet
In addition to the well documented anti-cancer and longevity benefits previously ascribed to supplemented resveratrol, health-minded individuals will want to include resveratrol and other phytonutrients as an aid in the fight against abdominal fat accumulation. Researchers concluded It should be noted that combining resveratrol with other phytochemicals may provide an extraordinary potential for preventing obesity and osteoporosis. These phytochemical synergies may make possible novel safe, potent and efficacious therapies.” Be sure to include resveratrol (25 to 50 mg per day) in your dietary arsenal to assist weight loss, boost metabolism and prevent bone loss.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Omega-3 Fat, DHA Boosts Brain Metabolism to Lower Alzheimer’s Disease Risk


Several recently published articles highlight the critical importance of Omega-3 fats from fatty fish consumption and fish oil supplements. Scientists publishing in the journal Stroke demonstrate that the active DHA Omega-3 fat component helps brain cells to better withstand the stress load placed on the aging brain to lower the risk of a life-altering stroke by as much as a quarter.

Researchers from the Rhode Island Hospital`s Alzheimer`s Disease and Memory Disorders Center have found that DHA from supplements alter the critical brain chemistry and structure to prevent cognitive decline and abnormal brain aging. A wealth of scientific evidence is mounting to document the importance of Omega-3 fats to assist metabolic disorders that lead to dementia, stroke and chronic disease.

DHA, Omega-3 Fat Lowers Brain Inflammation to Improve Cognitive Function
Inflammation of the vital nerves and critical structures of the brain is a precursor to stress that can play an important role in the development of a life-altering stroke. Researchers publish the result of their work designed to determine if Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, specifically the long-chain DHA component would be sufficient to reduce neural inflammation and lower risk from a stroke.

To conduct the study, mice were broken into three groups. The first group was supplemented with a DHA-enriched diet, the second group consumed a DHA-depleted diet and the final mice were fed a control diet. After a period of three months, scientists found that only the group with the DHA-enriched diet experienced lower levels of neuroinflammation and had 25% less tissue injury following an induced stroke. They also noted that long-term supplementation resulted in a healthy buildup of DHA fat in brain tissue resulting in an enhanced Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio.

Consumption of Omega-3 Fats Protects the Brain to Lower Damage from a Stroke
Lead author on the study, Dr. Jasna Kriz concluded “This is the first convincing demonstration of the powerful anti-inflammatory effect of DHA Docosahexaenoic acid Essential Omega 3 fatty acid integral to the health of all cell membranes, nerve and brain function. The consumption of omega-3s creates an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective environment in the brain that mitigates damage following a stroke.”

Additional evidence of the importance of Omega-3 fats from fish consumption or supplementation is provided by researchers from Rhode Island Hospital. A study was designed using 819 senior participants broken into three groups, those with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer`s Disease. 117 individuals were taking fish oil supplements during the three year course of the study. Taking fish oil supplements was associated with less brain shrinkage and improved cognitive function during the study period.

The lead author, Dr. Lori Daiello concludes, “In the imaging analyses for the entire study population, we found a significant positive association between fish oil supplement use and average brain volumes in two critical areas utilized in memory and thinking.” DHA is preferentially conserved for the construction of neural structures and should be an essential part of your regular menu (from fatty fish) or as a molecularly distilled and purified supplement (500 mg to 1 gram per day) to lower stroke risk and prevent cognitive decline.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Daily Serving of Walnuts Cuts Breast Cancer Risk


Researchers from Marshall University in West Virginia report in the journal Nutrition and Cancer that small amounts of walnuts eaten daily can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in women. Walnuts are a naturally great tasting source of healthy Omega-3 fats, minerals, vitamins and protein that have long been associated with good health.

Interestingly, it is not only the potent dose of Omega-3 fats that are responsible for the risk reduction, but a synergistic effect between multiple nutrients provided by the nut. Scientists now confirm that eating two ounces of this super food each day can significantly lower your risk of developing this insidious killer disease.

Regular Walnut Consumption Slows Breast Cancer Tumor Progression
The study was conducted using mice that are genetically predisposed to develop breast cancer tumors.  Lead researcher, Dr. Elaine Hardman set out to determine the effect of a typical diet and a walnut-enhanced diet through an entire lifespan. Scientists examined dietary nutrition supplied by the mother through conception and weaning and then by eating walnuts directly. Mice are frequently used for this type of research because they follow similar patterns of breast cancer carcinogenesis when compared to humans.

Dr. Hardman found that the group whose diet included walnuts from conception to late life developed breast cancer at less than half the rate of the group consuming a typical diet. In addition, the number of tumors and their sizes were significantly smaller. Of the results, she commented “These reductions are particularly important when you consider that the mice were genetically programmed to develop cancer at a high rate... we were able to reduce the risk for cancer even in the presence of a preexisting genetic mutation.”

Walnuts Provide a Perfect Blend of Essential Nutrients
Researchers noted that they were unable to determine if the cancer prevention benefits were the result of deletions or additions to the diet. Adding healthy Omega fats from walnuts displaced unhealthy fats and balanced Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratios to lower systemic inflammation and oxidized LDL cholesterol levels that result in cancer development. Other studies including walnuts have shown that there are multiple health benefits achieved from the unique blend of fats, vitamins (especially vitamin E) and minerals in the flavorful nut.

The result of this study continues to add to the wealth of scientific evidence that natural nutrients provided by an array of `super foods` significantly contribute to our health. Dr. Hardman concluded “Food is important medicine in our diet… the results of this study indicate that increased consumption of walnuts could be part of a healthy diet and reduce risk for cancer in future generations.” It`s easy to add two ounces of walnuts (about 14 halves) to your daily diet to prevent breast cancer and a host of other chronic diseases.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Milk Thistle Protects the Liver, Heart and Brain


The liver is one of the most critical organs essential to human health. It serves more than 300 functions in the body to detoxify against chemical and environmental intrusions, and promotes metabolic function as well. Silymarin is commonly known as milk thistle and new science is emerging to validate the healing potential of this powerful plant.

Publishing in the journal Hepatitis Monthly, researchers provide solid evidence that natural milk thistle extracts can halt and even reverse the effects of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an affliction affecting as much as a third of the adult population. Supplementation with milk thistle will dramatically lower the risks associated with fatty liver disease, atherosclerosis and cognitive dysfunction.

Milk Thistle is a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory and Antioxidant Agent
NAFLD is a significant health concern that is growing at an unprecedented rate due to the obesity and diabetes epidemic currently gripping most western societies. The condition is caused in part by excess accumulation of fats (triglycerides) in the cellular matrix of the liver that result in suboptimal function of the organ. Left unchecked, the disease can result in cell injury and damage, inflammation and ultimately to cirrhosis as the liver becomes less able to perform the multitude of tasks essential to life.

Researchers found that the plant extract has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and becomes concentrated in hepatic tissue soon after ingestion. They found that silymarin promotes liver tissue regeneration by supporting multiple critical metabolic functions including lower oxidized LDL cholesterol levels, regulation of membrane permeability and stability and preventing the deposition of collagen fibers, leading to cirrhosis. In addition, milk thistle inhibits the absorption of many toxins, effectively preventing them from entering circulation through the bloodstream.

Silymarin from Milk Thistle Fight Arterial Hardening and Cancer
Silymarin is known to be a powerful cellular antioxidant with specific properties that can prevent excess oxidation of LDL cholesterol. Oxidized LDL cholesterol particles are sticky and become lodged in the delicate endothelial layer of coronary artery vessels where they combine with other blood-borne compounds to form plaque. Natural milk thistle extracts (570 mg per day) have proven effective to lower risk factors that promote arterial hardening.

Milk thistle has been used as a chemopreventive agent in the fight against certain cancer lines, most notably metastatic cancers of the prostate. Silymarin interferes with cancer growth and immortality, and exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-metastatic activity (prevents cancer spread). Extracts of milk thistle have also been used as an agent in the war against numerous malignancies including those of the liver, colon and skin.

Our body is continually under assault from a barrage of more than 70,000 chemicals and 900 drugs known to induce liver damage. Milk thistle supplementation provides an effective tool to protect and heal our primary filtration organ, the liver. Silymarin is also proving to be an important tool that can naturally lower cancer risk, while providing critical support for the heart and prostate.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chocolate and Cocoa Compounds Lower Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke


Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England have finally published solid evidence to demonstrate the consumption of chocolate is associated with improved heart and vascular health. Writing in the prestigious BMJ (British Medical Journal), Dr. Oscar Franco and his team determined several factors including diet, exercise, body weight control and lifestyle changes could help reduce the risk of heart disease, a condition expected to claim the lives of nearly 24 million people worldwide by the year 2030.

The study authors found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa from chocolate consumption could reduce heart disease risk by one-third and could also reduce the risk of sudden death from a heart attack and stroke incidence.

Cocoa from Dark Chocolate Improves Cardiac Risk Markers
The study included an analysis of seven detailed research bodies that included more than 114,000 participants. All studies independently pointed to the conclusion that different levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardio-metabolic disorders. Researchers found that the flavonoids passed to chocolate from the cocoa bean have a positive impact on health and were found to regulate insulin sensitivity and maintain blood pressure in the normal range.

Researchers ranked chocolate consumption among participants in the seven studies from highest to lowest to determine the effect of the cocoa flavanols on human health risk factors. Five of the seven studies showed that eating the highest amount of chocolate significantly reduced the number of cardiac events. In particular they found those who ate the most chocolate had a 37% lower risk of having a cardiovascular incident compared to those who ate the least.

Chocolate Consumption Lowers Risk of Stroke by Nearly Thirty Percent
When assessing other risk factors, the study authors found that the highest chocolate consumers had a 29% lower incidence of stroke compared to the lowest chocolate eaters. Interestingly the researchers found that high levels of chocolate consumption specifically lowered the risk of a cardiac or stroke event but did not impact heart failure, another very serious form of heart disease and death. The studies examined did not differentiate between milk and dark chocolate, and included chocolate desserts, biscuits, chocolate bars and drinks. Prior research has indicated maximum benefit from eating dark, bitter chocolate with a high cocoa content.

The authors did provide a word of caution regarding excess consumption of chocolate particularly because commercially available chocolate is very caloric and eating too much of it could in itself lead to weight gain, risk of diabetes and heart disease. They concluded, “Based on observational evidence, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardio-metabolic disorders.” Individuals looking to take advantage of the health benefits of chocolate may want to use a cacao bean extract supplement (25 to 50 mg per day) to reap the cardiovascular and stroke risk reduction benefits.

Carnosine Boosts Antioxidant Reserves to Battle Stress, Improve Cognitive Function


Carnosine is a naturally occurring antioxidant and metal-chelating nutrient that is shown to minimize the damaging effects of stress on cellular function. Research presented in the PLoS One journal explains that carnosine can help to drastically reduce the formation of amyloid beta protein associated with the brain tangles seen with Alzheimer’s disease.

Our antioxidant defense system is in a continual state of flux, being tested by external pathogens, metabolic glycation and stress that can determine quality of health and risk for disease. Carnosine is shown to boost and recycle existing antioxidants throughout the body to provide a natural shield against chronic illness, and may specifically halt the progression of deadly diseases that lead to dementia and cognitive dysfunction.

Carnosine Supplementation Improves Cellular Energy Production to Prevent Dementia
Researchers understand that a crucial marker of Alzheimer’s dementia and cognitive decline is the formation of beta-amyloid protein clumps that inhibit the normal electrical and neurotransmitter activity required to function optimally and form new memories. Until recently scientists have not fully understood if the tangles were the cause or result of dementia. New evidence exists to support the theory that amyloid plaques form as a result of a declining ability to naturally clear the protein tangles. Neuroscientists believe that a failure in the energy producing mitochondria where glucose is converted to ATP is to blame.

The study included mice that have been genetically bred to develop a form of dementia that closely resembles Alzheimer`s disease in humans. Energy-producing mitochondria are susceptible to the ravages of free radicals and cellular imbalances in metals like copper, iron, and zinc that cause ultimate failure of the organelles leading to numerous chronic diseases. Supplementing the mice with carnosine was found to “promote a strong reduction in the hippocampal intraneuronal accumulation of amyloid-beta and completely rescue Alzheimer`s disease and aging-related mitochondrial dysfunctions.”

Carnosine Helps Prevent Glycation and May Provide a Treatment Option for Alzheimer’s Disease
Carnosine is a potent antioxidant shown to dramatically lower mitochondrial damage typically caused by stress and glycation (protein-sugar bonds) leading to cellular dysfunction and disease. The study authors went so far as to conclude “Our data indicate that carnosine can be part of a combined therapeutic approach for the treatment of AD.” This is a powerful conclusion considering that Big Pharma has no approved cure or effective treatment for this insidious form of dementia.

Carnosine coupled with other natural nutrients known to be neuroprotective (grape seed extract, resveratrol, curcumin, DHA) can lower the stress placed on critical brain structures and provide an effective shield against development and progression of disease. Carnosine is found most commonly in beef, pork, poultry and dairy products. Many health-minded individuals avoid a diet centered around animal-derived foods and supplementation (1,000 mg per day) has been found to be an effective and bioavailable alternative.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cinnamon and Tumeric Lower Triglycerides and Insulin Triggered by High Fat Diet


Many spices such as tumeric and cinnamon are powerful antioxidants that continue to gain acceptance as natural nutrients able to assist human health and prevent chronic disease. Researchers from Penn State publishing in The Journal of Nutrition provide strong evidence that these potent spices provide a protective shield to reduce the body`s negative responses to eating high-fat meals.

A diet filled with high-fat foods that have been fried or baked with trans fats increases oxidized LDL cholesterol levels and dangerous blood fats known as triglycerides. Tumeric and cinnamon taken before a high fat meal combine to lower triglyceride response by as much as 30%, preventing a cascade of harmful metabolic events that lead to heart disease and diabetes.

Tumeric and Cinnamon Spices Lower Triglycerides and Insulin Levels
Culinary spices have peaked interest among nutritional scientists in recent years as both turmeric and cinnamon exhibit powerful antioxidant properties that may halt dangerous metabolic imbalances prompted by poor dietary choices. To conduct the study, researchers added 14 grams of a combined turmeric-cinnamon spice blend to a 1200 calorie high-fat meal, and compared the results to a control group not receiving the spice mixture.

Blood samples were taken prior to the meal and then again at 30 minute intervals for the next three and a half hours after eating. Participants were tested again one week later, and the two groups were switched to verify the accuracy of the results. Researchers found that blood levels of insulin were reduced by 21% and triglycerides dropped 31% in response to the turmeric-cinnamon mix.

Spices are Potent Antioxidants That Lower Metabolic Damage from Poor Diet
The study authors found that the spices significantly improved two critical metabolic markers that are associated with increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. They commented “Adding spices to the meal significantly increased the ferric reducing antioxidant power, such that postprandial increases following the spiced meal were 2-fold greater than after the control meal.” They also found that the two spices interact synergistically and the impact was significantly greater when both spices were administered concurrently, compared to individual results.

Most health-conscious adults can benefit from a wide array of natural spices added to and consumed with many popular foods, regardless of specific dietary approach. Penn State authors concluded “The incorporation of spices into the diet may help normalize postprandial insulin and TG (triglyceride) and enhance antioxidant defenses.”  Include turmeric and cinnamon to your favorite meals, or take a high quality supplement with meals to maximize your defense against metabolic dysfunction and heart disease.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Red Meat Consumption Doubles Risk of Diabetes


Health-minded adults have been wary of excessive red meat consumption and most avoid any type of processed meats due to the highly carcinogenic nitrite content. Additives used to add taste, cure and prolong shelf life of classic foods such as hot dogs, bologna and sausage not only cause cancer but are now shown to more than double the risk of developing diabetes.

Publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that a 50 gram daily serving of processed meat (equivalent to one hot dog or two strips of bacon) was associated with doubled risk of developing diabetes. They also found that protein from other sources such as nuts, seeds and whole grains will have the reverse effect.

Red and Processed Meats Shown to Double Diabetes Risk Factor
Researchers followed 37,083 men in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, 79,570 women in the Nurses’ Health Study, and 87,504 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Diet was assessed by validated food-frequency questionnaires, and data were updated every four years. Type II diabetes diagnosis was confirmed by a validated supplementary questionnaire. In addition the study included data from a total cohort of more than 442,000 participants to make this the largest study to examine the effect of specific food types on diabetes development and progression.

After all collected data was analyzed with adjustments for age, body mass index (BMI), and other lifestyle and dietary risk factors, researchers found that consumption of 100 grams of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) increased the risk of developing Type II diabetes by 19%. A diet that included only half that amount of processed meats was associated with a 51% increase in diabetes incidence.

Substituting Healthy Proteins from Nuts and Seeds Lowers Diabetes Risk
Most health professionals believe that diabetes risk is linked to increased intake of refined carbohydrates and sugars. While this may be true, it is important to understand that red and processed meats play a significant role in development of the metabolic disorder, likely due to the increased digestive load placed on the pancreas.

Study authors also found that troubling risk factors can be neutralized or even reversed by substituting healthy protein from nuts, seeds, fish and beans for red and processed meats. Senior research author Dr. An Pan found that “for an individual who eats one daily serving of red meat, substituting one serving of nuts per day was associated with a 21% lower risk of type 2 diabetes; substituting low-fat dairy, a 17% lower risk; and substituting whole grains, a 23% lower risk.”

Many health-minded individuals already limit consumption of red and processed meats. The conclusion of this meta-study drives home the importance of severely restricting red meat and totally eliminating processed meats in favor of healthy proteins to lower diabetes risk factors.