Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pro-Biotics and Pre-Biotics

The winter holiday season is upon us. With that comes family gatherings and feasts, along with the indigestion that inevitably follows. Whether eating too much or eating foods we know aren’t healthy for us, this season can take a toll on almost anyone.

Digestive health is an issue that affects countless people worldwide. There are many drugs, supplements, and other products marketed at people as being able to improve digestion. One of the easiest ways to prevent digestive problems is by making sure you have a good balance of bacteria in your digestive system. A healthy digestive tract is estimated to have over 100 trillion microorganisms. These microorganisms (including many species of bacteria) break down food and convert it to nutrients we need, but when they’re out of balance, all kinds of health issues can arise.

An easy way to help your body through these digestively troubling times is to take a simple supplement called a “Pro-biotic”. In addition, there are “Pre-biotic” supplements and foods. So what are “Pro-biotics” and “Pre-biotics”, and what do they do?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

GMOs - Genetic Roulette

Companies making Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are literally playing “Genetic Roulette” with the future of our food. In our last post, we looked at some disturbing new research on GMOs. Long time readers of this blog may remember that this is not the first time we’ve discussed the controversial issue of Genetically Modified foods. In October of last year, we looked at what it means when a food or plant is Genetically Modified and we discussed in detail the potential risks associated with this very new technology. A new documentary and an upcoming conference discuss the important scientific research regarding this topic.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

GMOs and the Right to Know

In a recent study released this week, French scientists studied the effects of both genetically modified corn and also the pesticide in the popular and widely used product RoundUp. This subject has been covered extensively by the media, but we wanted to touch on some key points briefly.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Magnesium - Maximizing This Essential Mineral

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is absolutely critical to health. Without magnesium we cannot make energy or even grow healthy bones. Sadly, magnesium is one of the most overlooked nutrients, yet it may be one of the most important in the prevention and treatment of many diseases like osteoporosis.

Let’s look at how magnesium is used in the body and how you can make sure that you get enough magnesium to maintain optimal health.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Dangers of Acetaminophen Abuse

Acetaminophen (or Paracetamol), the drug commonly known as Tylenol, is used for fever reduction and pain relief. It is very inexpensive and widely available, but is it actually safe?

Did you know that acetaminophen is the leading cause of liver failure in the United States or that poison control centers receive more calls about acetaminophen than about any other pharmaceutical medication?

So why is this happening and how can you protect yourself?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Food Sensitivities and Allergies

We take eating for granted. We know that we must eat in order to stay alive, but most of us don’t really think too much about what we eat as long as it tastes good. But what if what tastes good makes you sick? Not food poisoning sick, but rather vague symptoms that don’t seem to be related to the food you ate at all? Could you still be getting sick from your food? The answer is a resounding YES!

Many foods that taste great and that are even recognized to be “healthy foods” may make you sick if that particular food doesn’t happen to agree with your body (specifically your immune system). While most of us know about serious food allergies that can send people to the emergency room with swollen lips, hives, or difficulty breathing, many people are not aware of food “allergies” that may show up in a less dramatic manner. These more subtle food “allergies” or “sensitivities” may be the cause of significant symptoms or even chronic illness (e.g. gluten sensitivity leading to Celiac Disease). Minor food sensitivities are often missed as a cause of illness because the symptoms rarely show themselves immediately, which often makes it difficult to realize that a food sensitivity may be the problem.

So why do some people become sensitive to certain foods, what are the most likely culprits, and what can you do to find out if you are suffering from this problem?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sodium Study's Surprising Suggestions

Salt is the stuff of life and has been an essential and prized nutrient since the dawn of civilization. Salt used to be hard to obtain and civilizations often thrived or perished based on their access to it, as Mark Kurlinsky describes in his book titled simply “Salt” (well worth a read if you have the opportunity).

New research suggests that salt is indeed critical to our health and that eating too little can be just as unhealthy as eating too much. Table salt is actually made from two elements, sodium and chloride. In this post we are going to specifically examine the sodium portion of salt because that is what the researchers looked at in their study.

So let’s look at sodium, how it creeps into our diet, and how we can decide whether we are getting enough or too much.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Deep Vein Thrombosis - A Look At Prevention

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a medical condition that is both dangerous and often preventable. We are all at risk for DVT when we sit too long in one position, as when we get sandwiched into a window seat on a long airplane flight or sit in a chair all day at work.

New recommendations on the prevention of DVT have been recently released. Many of us are at risk of DVT because our lifestyles and jobs often require prolonged sitting of one kind or another. Since a DVT can lead to dangerous and life threatening complications I feel it is well worth your while to understand what you can do to protect yourself.  

So what is a DVT, why is it dangerous, and what are the new guidelines for prevention?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Exercise, Lysosomes, and Cellular Garbage Recycling

A new research article in the journal Nature sheds some light on why regular exercise is so valuable for health.  What is really interesting about this research is that it explains not only why exercise is great at preventing illness but it also helps explain how exercise can actually reverse chronic diseases like diabetes.

As you probably know, exercise is one of the essential keys to a healthy life. It is critically important for virtually every facet of health. Almost any disease or disorder you can name has at least a dozen studies that show the health benefits of regular exercise. It’s not always exactly clear why or by what mechanism exercising helps, but the resulting benefits are pretty clear. This research definitely helped me to understand what happens in my body during exercise and I hope it will help you too.

I am going to spend a little time giving you an in depth look into this new research because I think it might help motivate you to exercise. I found that once I was able to visualize what this research study demonstrated, I felt motivated to move and exercise more.

This research suggests that exercise is key to the proper and healthy functioning of lysosomes in your body. So what are lysosomes, why do they matter, and what does this new research tell us about how to get healthy?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

NASA's Biocapsule Breakthrough

NASA has developed a new technology called a “biocapsule”, designed to prevent the damage from the radiation exposure that occurs when astronauts spend extended periods of time in space. The biocapsule is designed so that it continually assesses certain conditions (like an elevated radiation level) and then treats the condition. What is exciting, for those of us who stick to living on terra firma, is that these biocapsules hold a lot of promise for treating chronic illnesses.

So how does it work and what other kinds of illnesses might we eventually treat with biocapsules?

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Cholesterol Conundrum (part 3) - Statins

In our first two posts on cholesterol, we discussed the flawed research that created the myth that cholesterol and dietary fat cause heart disease. We also discussed the role that cholesterol actually plays in the body. With these pieces in place, we can discuss what, if any, benefit can be gained by taking cholesterol lowering drugs called “statins”.

Statin drugs are among the most widely used and studied pharmaceutical drugs of all time. They are primarily prescribed to lower cholesterol levels in people who are considered at risk of developing cardiovascular disease. But, due to the confusion around cholesterol, many people who only have slightly elevated cholesterol and no other risk factors are being prescribed statin drugs. Statins are the number one prescribed class of drugs in the developed world and yet this “miracle drug”, has not improved the amount of heart disease, in fact, heart disease continues to go up despite the massive number of statins being prescribed. 
Why is this so? The real question is, do statins actually help prevent heart disease or any other health problems? If they don’t, then what are risks of taking statins and are they actually as safe as the manufacturers would have us believe?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Single Best Thing You Can Do For Your Health (Video)

This morning, I came across a very well done video lecture by a doctor at my alma mater, University of Toronto. Dr. Mike Evans discusses a treatment that he believes is the single best thing his patients can do to help dramatically prevent many different diseases. This treatment is one which we have discussed in many of our posts and is absolutely essential for achieving and maintaining optimum health. What is this miraculous treatment?

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Cholesterol Carriers (Part 2)

In our last post, we discussed the origin of the cholesterol myth and how the early research on cholesterol and fat intake was so flawed as to be meaningless. In this post, we will look at what we now understand actually causes heart disease. So if eating fat and cholesterol does not cause heart disease, then how exactly is cholesterol involved in heart disease?

The Myth of Cholesterol and Heart Disease

We’ve all seen the advertisements about cholesterol. One day, eggs are good for you, the next, they’re filled with evil cholesterol, then they’re good for you again. Drug manufacturers sell pills by the billions to people looking to lower their cholesterol and, hopefully, avoid heart disease. Many doctors blindly repeat to patients, many of whom are at risk of heart disease, to avoid eating cholesterol-rich foods.

While we briefly addressed the issue of cholesterol in our post about a healthy diet, this particular issue is the cause of so much confusion by patients and physicians alike that it really deserves a more detailed discussion. Decades worth of misinformation and improperly interpreted research studies (much of which, when reexamined, do not appear to be correct) have muddled the issue. Furthermore, there is no shortage of people who firmly believe that cholesterol is something to be strictly avoided. But, does avoiding cholesterol actually help to reduce the incidence of atherosclerosis and heart disease?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Research on Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a great mystery. Not only do we not really understand the underlying cause, we don’t understand the mechanism of its progression. The better that researchers come to understand the cause and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, the greater our chances of being able to find effective treatments or even a cure.

An article in the New York Times today highlights an exciting new development in Alzheimer’s research. This newly published research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease may progress in the brain not unlike an infection.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Heavy Metals

A few years back, there was a widespread news story about a man who’s skin turned a bright shade of blue. He was taking a home-made colloidal silver remedy which he thought would be healthy. After a while, the silver started to build up in his system, causing a condition called argyria, which turned his skin blue. Silver is one of a group of elements known as “heavy metals” and in even small quantities, these metals can lead to big problems. This story helps to illustrate how profound an impact heavy metals can have on your body.

From Arsenic to Zinc, heavy metal elements are an emerging topic in health. Mercury is perhaps the most well known heavy metal, and you’ve likely heard warnings about seafood which contains this toxic element. Even exposure to minuscule levels can add up (or bio-accumulate) over time, causing chronic illness. But there are many other heavy metals which can have extremely negative effects on your health.

While heavy metal toxicity may be obvious, as in the blue man example or a toxic industrial exposure, the slow incremental build up of heavy metals is often overlooked by most health care practitioners. Unfortunately, chronic heavy metal toxicity can lead to many vague and yet serious problems. These problems can range from headaches to hair loss, and relief can only be obtained upon ridding your body of these excess heavy metals.

So how can you tell if you have an excessive build up of heavy metals and how can this be treated if you do?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Antioxidants and Free Radicals

We generally think of oxygen as the stuff of life. After all, if you can’t breathe oxygen, you die. Oxygen is a vital part of respiration and of life itself, but it also has a significant down side. Oxygen is a highly reactive element, which means that it loves to combine and react with other molecules. This is very useful for driving the chemical engines that keep us alive, but byproducts of these reactions (free radicals) can cause significant damage and destruction to living tissue (cell membranes, DNA, etc.). While we absolutely need oxygen to live, we also need some kind of protection from oxygen (and free radicals) in order to prevent the damage it can cause.  

Oxygen may not seem like it would be particularly dangerous to us. But, for an idea of just how damaging oxygen can be, consider that rust is formed when oxygen interacts with iron (i.e. the iron “oxidizes”). While the cells in a human body are different from a piece of iron, the oxidation in this example is very similar to what happens in cells. This “oxidation” reaction (on a larger scale) is also what causes most fires to burn; chemicals (like wood) oxidize and release energy causing physical damage to the surrounding material. Clearly oxidizing reactions are very powerful and potentially dangerous. This is the way that oxygen can damage cells and DNA leading to cell death and premature aging.

To solve this “oxygen” problem, humans evolved the ability to make antioxidants. To understand what an antioxidant does, you just have to look at the word itself. Breaking it down, “anti” means against and “oxidant” basically means a chemical with a reactive form of oxygen. You need antioxidants to protect your body from “oxidative stress” (the cascade of damage done by reactive oxygen molecules created in your body).

Fortunately, antioxidants can prevent and protect us from most of this damage. But what are antioxidants and how can you get or make more of them in your body? What do free radicals have to do with all this and how can you minimize their formation and protect yourself and your health?

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Balanced Diet - Why is it so complicated?

With the new year upon us, many of us are looking to shed some weight and so I thought I would write about how you can lose weight both safely and effectively.

Confusion abounds when it comes to dieting. Fad diets are very lucrative (for selling books), but many may be very unhealthy or even dangerous. The options presented to people who want to lose weight come in many forms that are drastically different. They can include low-fat, high-fat, low-carbohydrate, vegetarian, vegan, low-calorie, and on and on, each claiming to be the “holy grail” of dieting (i.e. lose weight and stay healthy while doing so). Unfortunately, very little in the way of scientific fact seems to make it into many of these diet recommendations and so I thought I would undertake to make this less confusing.

So let’s take a look at what constitutes “healthy eating” and on the way, I will explain how you might lose weight safely in case you “indulged” a little too much over the holidays.