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Some Shrooms for Your Brain

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDSun

I like to study in the morning after I do my PACE workout. It’s quiet, and the sun I get on my back patio here in South Florida is warm and pleasant early in the morning.

It feels like my own personal bottle of vitamin D shining down on my skin. I thought about that yesterday in particular as I was reading up on the newest research on Alzheimer’s disease and how I can help my patients and their spouses.

I get a lot of patients who come to me saying their mother or husband has the disease, and what can I do to help them? As I was browsing one database, I came across a new study in the prestigious journal Neurology.

Researchers from Exeter University in England and the University of Michigan followed 1658 people who were healthy when the study started, with no dementia or Alzheimer’s. Of the 141 people who developed dementia or Alzheimer’s, they found a shocking 225% greater risk for people who got the least vitamin D.(1)

If you’ve been receiving my letters to you for a while now, you’ve read a lot about vitamin D for its role in health. It prevents 17 different kinds of cancers, and helps you build strong bones so you can avoid osteoporosis.

Vitamin D also lowers inflammation, improves mood, boosts your immune system, lowers your risk of heart disease, and helps prevent diabetes.

And here we have another piece of evidence that staying out of the sun – our main source of vitamin D – is contributing to many of the diseases that are the most prevalent today. People with Crohn’s disease, osteoporosis, prostate cancer, breast cancer and those who have heart attacks are also overwhelmingly short on vitamin D.

Problem is, if you don’t live in South Florida or another very sunny place, it’s going to be tough to get all the vitamin D you need for optimal health just from sunlight.

A study done in the city of Calgary – one of the sunniest places in Canada – almost every person measured had a vitamin D deficiency … 97 percent of them! It prompted Canadian authorities to encourage more vitamin D intake.(2)

In the study I mentioned earlier, the group of people that had the least occurrence of Alzheimer’s had a blood level much higher than what mainstream medicine recommends. The current national guideline that says minimum blood serum should be 20 ng/ml, which would mean getting 600 IU a day. The people who avoided Alzheimer’s got much more vitamin D.

So how do you get enough vitamin D to help prevent diseases like Alzheimer’s?

I still recommend you go outside for 20 minutes in full sunlight every day if you can. Take a walk for 20 minutes or do some exercise. Sit on a bench and read the morning paper. Or sit outside and read or study for a bit, like I do.

I also recommend you stay away from commercial sunblocks. They can have toxic ingredients that may increase your risk of cancer … plus they stop you from making vitamin D from sunlight.

If you can’t get outside, or if you live someplace that doesn’t have enough sun, you can do something to boost your vitamin D that I learned years ago but I haven’t talked about a whole lot.

You already know that your skin makes vitamin D in response to sunlight shining on it. But what you may not know is that mushrooms, even after they’re picked, can do the same trick.

In fact, a few years ago I enjoyed reading the book Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by mycologist Paul Stamets. He knows so much about mushrooms and health that he’s now an advisor at the Program of Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School.

I already knew mushrooms are the only vegetable with vitamin D. But Stamets did a study where he picked shiitake mushrooms that had been grown indoors and placed them gills-up in the sunlight for six hours. Their vitamin D content shot up from around 110 IU of vitamin D per 100 grams to a pretty remarkable 46,000 IU.(3)

That means all you have to do is eat around 10 grams of sun-dried mushrooms to get at least the 5,000 IU a day I recommend. For cancer and Alzheimer’s prevention and brain health, try to get at least 10,000 IU (1 IU is equal to 40 micrograms).

Drying and storing the mushrooms is pretty easy to do.

  1. First, I get some fresh organic shiitake mushrooms (you can also try maitake, shimeji, or oyster mushrooms if you like) from my local produce stand.
  2. If you live up north you’ll have to do this in the summer, but I do it all year ‘round. Just spread the mushrooms out in the sun on some parchment paper or flat pieces of wood (I don’t recommend aluminum trays) during the sunniest part of the day.
  3. Before it gets dark, cover the mushrooms to stop them from getting dew on them the next morning
  4. Repeat the drying the next day.
  5. When they’re kind of crispy (and you can put them in a food dehydrator if you have one to make sure they’re dried) and thoroughly dry, store them in a large glass container.
  6. Add a spoonful of rice to keep the mushrooms dry, and seal it up.

The mushrooms should be good for at least a year. Then you can do like I do and eat a few mushrooms to get a good start on the vitamin D you’ll need for the day.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD

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1. Littlejohns T, Henley W, Lang I, et al. “Vitamin D and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer disease.” Neurology August 6, 2014. Epub ahead of print.
2. Berger C, et. al. “Temporal trends and determinants of longitudinal change in 25-hydroxyvitamin D and parathyroid hormone levels.” J Bone Miner Res. 2012;27(6):1381-9.
3. Stamets, P. “6 ways mushrooms can save the world.” Ted Talk on Myceluim Fungus. ted.com. Retrieved Aug 29, 2014.

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10 Ways to Boost Testosterone Naturally

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetMan

If you’ve watched television or flipped through a magazine lately, you may have seen one of the many ads targeting men that sound something like this:

“Do you experience fatigue, moodiness and loss of libido? If so, you may have low testosterone…”

By defining low testosterone as a “disease”, drug companies have turned this hormonal issue into a $2.4 billion industry and growing. The number of testosterone prescriptions (like AndroGel, Fortesta and Axiron) has quadrupled since 2000.

And while low testosterone is a common issue for many men as they age, it doesn’t have to be.

In fact, testosterone is very responsive to simple diet and lifestyle changes that don’t require a prescription and have only pleasant “side effects.”

Here are 10 simple and effective things that men can do to boost testosterone naturally:

#1: EAT MORE CHOLESTEROL & FAT

Cholesterol is a steroid-like compound that acts as precursor to testosterone. Without enough of this vital starting material, your body cannot produce adequate levels of testosterone. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods and is richest in wild shrimp, bacon, liver, sausage, butter and whole eggs.

Like cholesterol, fat is also necessary to produce testosterone. In fact, research published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry found that eating a diet comprised of less than 40% fat can reduce testosterone levels. Saturated fat is especially important to boost this male hormone and is found in grass-fed beef, pastured pork, tallow, lard, duck fat, and coconut products.

#2: GET MORE ZINC

Zinc is best known for its beneficial effects on the immune system. But it is also crucial for your body’s production and release of testosterone. Zinc also inhibits the action of aromatase – an enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen.

Sufficient zinc levels also help to prevent insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and weight gain – two more contributing factors to “low T” (as we’ll discuss in the next section).
Oysters are the superior food source of zinc. But grass-fed beef and lamb are also very high in this T-boosting mineral and are preferable to vegetable sources which contain phytic acid – a nutrient that inhibits the absorption of zinc and other minerals.

#3: LOSE THE BELLY FAT

Visceral fat is the unsightly fat that surrounds our belly and internal organs. It is also quite dangerous because visceral fat is metabolically active. It promotes inflammation, insulin resistance, and increases your risk for a wide range of diseases. It also produces the enzyme called aromatase, which helps to convert testosterone to estrogen.

If you’re serious about your health (and your manhood) reducing visceral fat is essential.
The best way to accomplish this:  Enjoy a low-sugar, low-glycemic, grain-free diet that models that of our ancestors. Engage in high intensity interval training (HIIT) several times per week. And fast intermittently.

#4: EAT MORE CRUCIFEROUS VEGGIES

Cruciferous veggies – like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale – contain powerful compounds like indole-3-carbinol and diindolymethane (DIM) which facilitate the removal of estrogen hormones from the body.

These veggies also help boost glutathione – your body’s master antioxidant and detoxifier – which helps carry waste products and excess estrogen out of the body.

#5: BOOST MAGNESIUM LEVELS

Magnesium is best known as the relaxation mineral. But it also helps to boost athletic performance by reducing inflammation and promoting optimal testosterone release following exercise.

A recent study published in Biological Trace Element Research found that supplementing with 750 mg of magnesium daily for four weeks increased free testosterone by 26 percent. Another study found men with low levels of magnesium also had lower levels of testosterone compared with men who had the highest levels.

While magnesium is found in many foods, most Americans are deficient. Boost your levels of this important mineral with dark leafy greens, Brazil nuts and mackerel.

#6: LOWER STRESS

Cortisol, the stress hormone, blocks the positive and beneficial effects of testosterone. This is just another reason to get your stress levels in check. Exercise, meditation, yoga, a hot bath with Epsom salts and long walks can all help to bring your levels of cortisol down.

#7: ELIMINATE ENVIRONMENAL ESTROGENS

Our world is awash in chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen. Known as xenoestrogens, these chemicals are most often found in plastic products (water bottles, food containers, etc), canned products which contain BPA-lined interiors, personal care products that contain phthalates and parabens, microwave cooking bags and roasting bags, and nonstick pans. These estrogenic chemicals have a potent ability to hamper testosterone.

And while they are impossible to avoid entirely, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself from them. Choose organic foods in their least processed state and cook in cast-iron enamel, cast-iron, stainless steel or glass. Also, be sure to opt for personal care and household products with natural (rather than synthetic chemical) ingredients.

#8: GET SOUND SLEEP

Testosterone is produced during sleep.

One study found that men getting five hours of sleep per night had testosterone levels that were 10 to 15 percent lower than when they got eight hours.

Promote a good night’s rest by going to bed at the same time each night, unplugging from devices and bright lights at dusk, and creating sleep ritual that helps you drift off early and sleep soundly through the night.

#9: OPTIMIZE VITAMIN D

Vitamin D (actually a pro-hormone) plays many roles in boosting testosterone.
The first way is by reducing aromatase – the enzyme that diminishes testosterone by converting it to estrogen. Vitamin D also helps make the testosterone receptors on cells more sensitive. In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Endocrinology found that men with low T who received 3,332 IU of vitamin D daily experienced a 20% increase in testosterone after a year.

#10: IMBIBE WISELY

Most forms of alcohol increase aromatase and are therefore considered estrogenic.
However, according to recent research published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, red wine can helping to reduce aromatase. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation and opt for organic red wine.

When it comes to boosting testosterone, opt for these simple lifestyle changes before resorting to a potentially harmful testosterone prescription.  Not only will you avoid the many negative side effects (and potentially unknown long term effects) that can accompany drugs, you’ll optimize your health in the process.


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ED NOTE:  Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Better Breads – which includes information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Better Breads…

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REFERENCES
1.    Jacques Baillargeon, Randall J. Urban, Kenneth J. Ottenbacher, Karen S. Pierson, James S. Goodwin, Trends in Androgen Prescribing in the United States, 2001 to 2011. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(15):1465-1466. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6895.
2.    Anahad O'Connor. Men’s Use of Testosterone on the Rise. The NY Times. June 3, 2013
3.    Vedat Cinar, Yahya Polat, Abdulkerim Kasim Baltaci, Rasim Mogulkoc Nagendra, R., et al. Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Testosterone Levels of Athletes and Sedentary Subjects at Rest and after Exhaustion April 2011, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 18-23 Biological Trace Element Research
4.    Angwafor F, Anderson ML. An open label, dose response study to determine the effect of a dietary supplement on dihydrotestosterone, testosterone and estradiol levels in healthy males.J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Aug 12;5:12. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-5-12.
5.    Kilic M.Effect of fatiguing bicycle exercise on thyroid hormone and testosterone levels in sedentary males supplemented with oral zinc. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2007 Oct;28(5):681-5
6.    Mehta PH, Josephs RA.Testosterone and cortisol jointly regulate dominance: evidence for a dual-hormone hypothesis. Horm Behav. 2010 Nov;58(5):898-906. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2010.08.020. Epub 2010 Sep 15.
7.    Mehta PH1, Josephs RA.Testosterone and cortisol jointly regulate dominance: evidence for a dual-hormone hypothesis. Horm Behav. 2010 Nov;58(5):898-906.
8.    Mediation and Its Regulatory Role on Sleep. Frontiers in Neurology. 2012. 3(54).
9.    Trasande, L., et al. Association Between Urinary Bisphenol A Concentration and Obesity Prevalence in Children and Adolescents. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2012. 308(11), 1113-1120.
10.    Pilz, Frisch S, Koertke H, Kuhn J, Dreier J, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Wehr E, Zittermann A.Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men.Horm Metab Res. 2011 Mar;43(3):223-5.
11.    Lerchbaum, E., et al. Combination of Low Free Testosterone and Low Vitamin D Predicts Mortality in Older Men Referred for Coronary Angiography. Clinical Endocrinology. 2012. 77, 475-483.
12.    Lee, D, Tajar, A., et al. Association of Hypogonadism with Vitamin D Status: The European Male Ageing Study. European Journal of Endocrinology. January 2012. 166, 75-85.
13.    Pilz, S., Frisch, S., et al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Testosterone Levels in Men. Hormone and Metabolic Research. 2011. 43, 223-225.
14.    De Castro Toledo Guimaraes, L., et al. Physically active elderly women sleep more and better than sedentary women. Sleep Medicine. 2008. 9(5), 488-493.
15.    Cleveland Clinic: Testosterone Replacement Therapy
16.    University of Maryland Medical Center: Magnesium
17.    National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
18.    Nutrition: Zinc Status and Serum Testosterone Levels of Healthy Adults
19.    European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Serum Testosterone and Urinary Excretion of Steroid Hormone Metabolites after Administration of a High-dose Zinc Supplement
20.    Neek, L., Gaeini, A., Choobineh, S. Effect of Zinc and Selenium Supplementation on Serum Testosterone and Plasma Lactate in Cyclist After an Exhaustive Exercise Bout. Biological Trace Element Research. 9 July 2011.
21.    Chang, C., Choi, J., Kim, H., Park, S. Correlation Between Serum Testosterone Level and Concentrations of Copper and Zinc in Hair Tissue. Biological Trace Element Research. 14 June 2011.
22.    Banudevi, S., Elumalai, P., et al. Chemopreventive Effects of Zinc on Prostate Carcinogenesis Induced by N-Methyl-N-Nitrosourea and Testosterone in Adult Male Sprague-Dawley Rats. Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology. 201. 137(4), 677-86.
23.    Gumulec, J., Masarik, M., et al. Molecular Mechanisms of Zinc in Prostate Cancer. Klinical Onkology. 2011. 24(4), 249-255.
24.    Eng ET, Williams D, Mandava U, Kirma N, Tekmal RR, Chen S Anti-aromatase chemicals in red wine. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;963:239-46.

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Should You Stop Using Your Computer?

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDComputer

When I went to Malaysia, I really started to notice this…

In Malaysia, which most people think is a backwater, developing, jungle-covered, rural country… they all have iPhones.

The first iPhone wasn’t around until 2007. And now smartphones dominate places as far away as Malaysia. When I went there, I saw them all use their iPhones to take pictures then post them on Facebook. The name is a verb now. They say, “Facebook me” instead of “call me” or “e-mail me.”

It’s a great thing that technology is spreading worldwide, and it’s spreading so fast and it has so much improved efficiency. It’s helping improve lives and economic opportunity.

But along with this incredible technology comes some of the problems I’ve been writing to you about. Issues with heart health and brain health and premature aging and the inappropriate use and abuse of technology.

For example, our favorite tech toys like smartphones and tablets give off ultraviolet light that goes directly into our eyes. Those lights are also in LED screens like your TV and computer.

Why is that important? Because UVB light from these devices, which is in the “blue light” spectrum, can damage your eyes when you get too much of it.

That’s why I’m writing to you today. I’m going to show you ways you can protect your eyes from getting too much UVB radiation blue light, so you don’t have to worry about using this incredible new technology.

Here’s what you need to know…

UVA is the radiation that tans your skin. But UVB radiation is stronger. It’s the blue light that gives you sunburn when you’ve been overexposed to sunlight.

At the beach you keep your eyes shut tight to soak up the sun. But you are staring directly into UVB radiation when you watch HD TV or work or play on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

And, the effects of blue light on the retina grow as we age. The reason is that the number of blue light absorbers in the retina increases.

These “blue light absorbers” form as we get older and are called lipofuscin. It’s is a mixture of “metabolic waste” that cannot be cleaned out from the retina. It gathers in retinal pigment epithelium, a layer of cells that maintain the eye’s light receptors.

The two main light receptor cells are rods and cones, and they enable us to see. Lipofuscin generates free radicals as it absorbs more and more blue light, which damage the rods and cones.

When you get too much lipofuscin it can lead to Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the U.S.

The younger you are, the more protection you have against blue light. We’re flushed with antioxidants and antioxidant enzymes that protect your eyes. After the age of 40, the production of these decreases, opening your eyes to possible damage.

Here’s what I tell patients at my wellness center who come to me with strained or impaired vision:

1) First, I recommend that you get as much astaxanthin as possible. It’s a powerful antioxidant that protects your eyes when you are watching HD TV or working at a computer for many hours.

A little-known study proved this. Animals that were given astaxanthin had no damage to their eyes(1) even when exposed to a harsh light source equal to that of blue light from a computer.

When you get astaxanthin it acts as an antioxidant and absorbs radiated blue light that can damage the retina. It protects the retina against photo oxidation and loss of photoreceptor cells.

You can get astaxanthin from food. Sockeye salmon has the most astaxanthin of any food: 3.6 mg in six ounces. Coho salmon, red trout, red sea bream, lobster, shrimp, crawfish, crabs, and salmon roe also have astaxanthin.

You want to eat wild-caught – not farm-raised – salmon. They get their astaxanthin by feeding on microalgae, the natural source from the open ocean.

But if you don’t like seafood, I recommend supplementing with 2 mg per day. However you can increase the dose to 8-10 mg if you want to use it for great anti-inflammatory eye benefits.

2) Second, did you know that your eyes are hungry for as much CoQ10 that they can get? Usually when I talk to you about CoQ10, it’s about the great benefit to your heart and how it gives you a boost of energy. But it’s also the main source of energy for you most energy-hungry organs, like your eyes.

And, CoQ10 protects the cells in your retina from all kinds of radiation damage, including overexposure to the sun’s rays.(2) A Columbia University study showed that lower levels of CoQ10 meant your retinas may not produce enough energy to protect themselves from damage like the kind you get from blue light.(3)

The best way to get plenty of CoQ10 is to hunt for wild animals. Slice them open while they are still warm and cut out their liver, kidney, heart, and other internal organs. Then throw them on the grill and enjoy.

However if you don’t like eating internal organs, the closest thing to eating a wild animal is grass-fed meat. I grew up eating grass-fed beef, and still enjoy it today. Grass-fed beef has the most CoQ10 that you can get in the universe. It’s in your supermarket. Look for grass-fed beef, bison, and other meat.

But it’s difficult the get all the CoQ10 you need for eye health from food alone. So I recommend that you take supplements. Many of the powder and tablet forms of it are worthless. Stay away from them because they won’t get absorbed into your cells.

To supplement take at least 50 mg of the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 daily. Don’t take the ubiquinone version; it is weaker and does not absorb as well as the ubiquinol CoQ10.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
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Resources:

1. Li Z, Dong X, Liu H, Chen X, Shi H, Fan Y, Hou D, Zhang X. “Astaxanthin protects ARPE-19 cells from oxidative stress via upregulation of Nrf2-regulated phase II enzymes through activation of PI3K/Akt.” Mol Vis. 2013;19:1656-66.
2. Lulli M, Witort E, Papucci L, Torre E, Schiavone N, Dal Monte M, Capaccioli S. “Coenzyme Q10 protects retinal cells from apoptosis induced by radiation in vitro and in vivo.” J Radiat Res. 2012;53(5):695-703. 3. Qu J, Kaufman Y, Washington I. “Coenzyme Q10 in the human retina.” Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2009;50(4):1814-8.

Could the Fruits and Veggies You Love be Destroying Your Health?

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetFood

Onions, garlic, apples, asparagus, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts…

These colorful fruits and vegetables would appear to be the foundation of a healthy diet. But is it possible that they could also cause digestive distress and other disorders for some people?

The answer may surprise you.

According to recent research, the foods listed above (among others) may contribute to painful and embarrassing “functional gut disorders” including bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.

The reason is FODMAPS, an acronym for Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols.

What are FODMAPS?

This group of compounds is found in a wide variety of foods, ranging from berries to buttermilk. Each one can have a distinct effect on the digestive system.
Let’s take a look:

Fermentable:  Carbohydrates that are fermentable are those that rely on gut bacteria (rather than digestive enzymes) to break down. As these carbohydrates ferment in the digestive tract, they produce a food source for the bacteria that reside in our digestive system. For many people, fermentable carbs are a good thing. They can boost digestive health and increase the number of beneficial bacteria. But for some people, the results are gas and bloating and an overgrowth of harmful gut bacteria.

Oligosaccharides: These short-chain carbs include fructans (chains of fructose with a glucose molecule) and galactans (chains of galactose with a fructose molecule). For many who suffer from digestive distress, these compounds are poorly absorbed. This can cause an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine (called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO).

Disaccharides: Two sugar molecules bound together, with the most common being lactose (milk sugar). Many people have low levels of lactase – the enzyme that breaks down lactose – causing malabsorption when lactose-containing foods are consumed.  

Monosaccharides: A single sugar molecule. Fructose (or fruit sugar) is the often most problematic monosaccharide and contributes to gas and bloating for those with FODMAPS issues.  

Polyols: Also called sugar alcohols, polyols occur naturally in a wide variety of foods – from mushrooms and snow peas to cherries and apples. Polyols are also found in low-calorie sweeteners including sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol and isomalt. In excess, these substances can have a laxative affect as they are poorly absorbed in the intestine.

Can a Low FODMAPS Diet Reduce Gut Issues?

For many people, reducing foods that contain FODMAPS can provide significant digestive relief or cessation of symptoms.

In fact, according to the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, reducing FODMAPS reduced symptoms in approximately 75% of patients with functional gut disorders.

But all FODMAPS are not created equal when it comes to their impact on your health.  

For example, you may react poorly to fructose, but have no problems with fermentable carbohydrates.

Another important factor is the amount of FODMAPS consumed. Because the compounds are ubiquitous in our food supply it is almost impossible to avoid them entirely. But reducing the FODMAPS that you personally react to is the best way to reduce digestive distress from these compounds while still enjoying a diverse, nutrient-rich diet.

Take a look at the classes of FODMAPS and the foods in which they are found:

Lactose Fructose Fructans Galactans Polyols
Milk Products Apples, Pears, Peaches, Mangoes, Watermelon Artichokes, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Beets, Cabbage, Chicory, Garlic, Leeks, Okra Chickpeas, Lentils, Kidney Beans, Soy Apples, Apricots, Blackberries, Cherries, Nectarines, Pears, Peaches, Plums, Prunes, Watermelon
  Coconut Milk, Coconut Cream Grains (including wheat & rye) Vegetables (such as broccoli) Vegetables (such as cauliflower, button mushrooms, snow peas)
  Dried Fruits, Fruit Juices     Sweeteners (including sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, malitol, isomalt)
  Sweeteners (such as agave, honey & high fructose corn syrup Insulin & Fructo-oligosacharides (FOS)    
  Sweet Alcohols (including sherry & port) Fruits (such as watermelon)    

If you suffer from digestive issues, choosing a Paleo diet, rich in healthy fats and protein is a good first step. Not only are grains, legumes and most dairy products problematic for the GI tract, but for overall health, as well.   

From there, a food journal can be beneficial in rooting out the offending FODMAPS. Pay close attention to how you feel after consuming FODMAP-rich foods to create your personalized healthy-gut diet.

Finally, eating a low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Here are a few quick and healthy meal ideas to get you started:  

•    Grass-Fed Beef and Bok Choy Stir-Fry With Red Bell Peppers
•    Oven-Roasted Pastured Chicken with Organic Tomatoes and Wilted Spinach
•    Almond Flour Paleo Pancakes with Blueberries and Sugar-Free Pork Bacon or Breakfast Sausage
•    Grilled Heirloom Pork Chops with Sautéed Carrots and Butter Lettuce Salad
•    Bison-Stuffed Bell Peppers

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ED NOTE:  Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Better Breads – which includes information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Better Breads

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REFERENCES
1.    de Roest RH, Dobbs BR, Chapman BA, Batman B, O'Brien LA, Leeper JA, Hebblethwaite CR, Gearry RB. The low FODMAP diet improves gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a prospective study. Int J Clin Pract. 2013 Sep;67(9):895-903.
2.    Gibson PR, Shepherd SJ. Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms:  The FODMAP approach.  J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;25(2):252-258.
3.    Ringel Y, Williams RE, Kalilani L, Cook SF. Prevalence, characteristics, and impact of bloating symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009;7(1) 68-72.
4.    Shepherd SJ, Parker FC, Muir JG, Gibson PR. Dietary triggers of abdominal symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: Randomized placebo-controlled evidence. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008;6(7):765-771.
5.    Rumessen JJ, Gudmand-Høyer E. Absorption capacity of fructose in healthy adults. Comparison with sucrose and its constituent monosaccharides. Gut. 1986;27(6):1161-1168.
6.    Muir JG, Rose R, Rosella O, et al. Measurement of short-chain carbohydrates in common Australian vegetables and fruits by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(2):554-565.
7.    Moshfegh AJ, Friday JE, Goldman JP, Ahuja JK. Presence of inulin and oligofructose in the diets of Americans. J Nutr. 1999;129(7 Suppl):1407S-1411S.

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Lost Secret to Better Vision

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDSalmon

Ancient cultures knew the value of the whole, fresh foods they ate, and what to do with them. Like eating fish for better eyesight. Unfortunately, this way of looking at things with an eye on nature has been discarded and forgotten.

Today, we have all of these individualized categories of study being looked at by very smart people. But we’re not as smart as we think. The people who interpret the information often don’t apply wisdom.

And their attempts to outsmart nature run into predictable problems.

Vitamin A was the first vitamin isolated and studied by modern science. And until a few years ago, it was mainstream advice to only take vitamin A for your eyes.

Then we discovered a natural vitamin A precursor called beta-carotene. Pick up any multi-vitamin formula today and you’ll see beta-carotene. But that turned out not to be a complete solution either. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, and can protect your own photosystem – your eyes – by turning to vitamin A. The problem is that if your body has enough vitamin A, it won’t convert beta-carotene.

Today, we are finding other carotenoids that are not only better than Vitamin A but better than beta-carotene. In fact, they’re up to 100 times more powerful.

So it’s a good thing we’re so smart now, and we don’t just recommend pure vitamin A or pure beta-carotene as the total solution. Because what you really need are these other carotenoids… right?

Not so fast…

My instinct is that we’re still only catching a very thin slice of that pie. The truth is they’re going to find a whole bunch more things next year or in ten years.

What we should learn from this is, the first thing you should do is get the right nutrients in as close to their native form as possible, rather than get them in a refined or processed form.

You’re always better off eating whole foods like wild-caught fish to get a baseline of nutrients for your eyes. Because your eyes depend on good, balanced nutrition, just like the rest of your body does.

If you give your eyes the building blocks and maintenance materials they need most, you can reverse many of the common symptoms of vision loss. And you may also prevent the major causes of blindness – glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration, or macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye problem related to age. It’s a disruption of nerves in the retina. This disruption causes loss of sight. AMD is one the leading causes of blindness in older people.

Researchers from the National Eye Institute found that it’s not just carotenoids or vitamin A that helps fish protect your eyes. DHA, one of the omega-3 fats found in fish, supports the nerves in the retina. Their study looked at over 4,500 people ages 60-80 and found that people who ate two servings of high-DHA fish a week were 50% less likely to develop AMD that those who ate no fish.(1)

Another study performed by Harvard’s Schepens Eye Institute found that the DHA in fish protects you from dry eye syndrome. When a person’s eyes do not make enough moisture, the dryness can damage the cornea.

The study followed over 32,000 people. Those who ate more fish had up to 66% less chance of developing dry eye syndrome.

Wild cold-water fish like pollock, salmon, and sardines, as well as calamari, give you the most DHA. And if you eat those, or a good quality fish like wild-caught salmon a couple times a week, it should keep your eyes in top condition.

Our primal ancestors knew this through thousands of years of practice. Native Americans would eat the eyes out of the fish for better eyesight. Today we know that it’s not just vitamin A but that DHA collects in the vital organs of the fish.

However, in today’s world, we’ve lost that knowledge, and have gone very far from nature. We started to “grow” fish in man-made ponds, feeding them foods that are not native to their diet.

This has produced fish that are too high in omega-6, with little omega-3 and almost no DHA.

So while I recommend food as the most natural way to get your nutrients, and a supplement should never replace whole fresh foods … it’s very hard to get enough DHA from fresh fish alone.

I used to recommend cod liver oil as a supplemental source of DHA. But a much more bioavailable and concentrated source is krill oil. Krill’s DHA is in the phospholipid form instead of cod liver’s triglyceride form. So the DHA can cross cell membranes better and get deep into the tiny blood vessels of your eyes.

Try to get at least 500mg of DHA per day, and if you can, get it from a pure source of krill oil.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD

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Resources:

1. SanGiovanni J, Chew E, et. al. “The relationship of dietary omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid intake with incident age-related macular degeneration: AREDS report no. 23.” Arch Ophthalmol. 2008;126(9):1274-9.

Is Gluten Intolerance Real – or a Made-Up Hoax?

By:Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetBread

Earlier this year, a university study appeared to throw a bucket of cold water on the “gluten-free” food craze. And there’s a good chance you heard about it, because within days the media had jumped on the bandwagon.

Much to the dismay of millions of people who have reported significant and measurable health improvements after adopting a gluten-free diet, dozens of mainstream news publications published articles based on this study claiming that non-celiac gluten sensitivity or “gluten intolerance” did not exist. Some even called it a hoax.

As usual, the truth is more complex than a daily newsbyte…

The study in question was performed by Dr. Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia. Part of the reason this study gained so much traction is that Gibson had gained notoriety for a previous study suggesting that gluten sensitivity in non-celiac patients was a serious and legitimate health concern.

In his follow-up study, professor Gibson recruited 37 participants who had reported that they were sensitive to gluten and who had irritable bowel syndrome.(1)  All of the subjects reported that their gastrointestinal symptoms improved on a gluten-free diet.

The study began with a two-week period where the subjects consumed a baseline diet low in FODMAPs. These are fermentable, short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the body, especially common in grains like wheat. Following the baseline diet, the subjects were divided into three groups and consumed a diet that was either considered high gluten, low gluten or no gluten.

What the researchers found is that all of the participants did well on the baseline low FODMAPs diet – in other words no gastrointestinal symptoms. However, they also discovered that the patients who consumed the “high gluten” and “low gluten” diets did not show any raised biomarkers or gastrointestinal reactions to the isolated gluten.

Well, there you have it… sensitivity to gluten is obviously a hoax!

The first thing to understand about this study is that prior to and during the study, the subjects’ gastrointestinal symptoms DID improve on a diet that had no wheat. All this study proved is that the subjects did not react to gluten itself.

However, the protein we call “gluten” actually consists of hundreds of smaller compounds. Any ONE of these could trigger an inflammatory or immune response. And that’s not even a fraction of the whole story, because…

According to a study published in Plant Physiology, modern wheat is capable of producing at least 23,788 unique proteins!  

And that’s not all, because science has found numerous compounds in grains – besides gluten – which can cause serious long-term health issues…

One of these is a compound called wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). Note: despite the similar sounding name, this compound does not contain gluten.

Unlike animals, plants cannot escape being eaten. That’s why many plants have defenses to discourage predation. Thorns on a cactus are an obvious example.

But wheat and grains have defenses too, and WGA is one of these. Studies show that WGA can have direct toxic effects on most tissues in your body, including the heart and brain.(3)  WGA can also disrupt your hormonal system, weaken immunity, cause digestive problems and promote systemic inflammation (the cornerstone of degenerative disease).

Another highly problematic compound in wheat is a carbohydrate called amylopectin A, which is unique because of just how rapidly it is transformed into glucose. Seventy five percent of the carbohydrate in modern wheat is in the form of amylopectin A.

This is why wheat spikes your blood sugar higher than almost all foods – even when the same number of carbohydrates is consumed!

In fact, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating two slices of whole wheat bread spikes your blood sugar more than drinking a can of soda… eating a candy bar… or just helping yourself to SIX teaspoons of table sugar!

As you know, high blood sugar levels trigger a cascade of inflammation. It also promotes the storage of fat, especially “visceral” belly fat, which surrounds your organs and sends metabolic messages that promote disease.

And that’s not the only damage that the specific carbohydrates in wheat can do to your health…

The medical establishment has greatly exaggerated the role of cholesterol in heart disease. But there is one type of cholesterol closely linked to this killer – small dense LDL particles.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people with high levels of small dense LDL have a 300% greater risk of heart attack!(4)  Many doctors believe it is the number one risk factor for heart disease in the U.S.

According to preventive cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, the compound that triggers these dangerous compounds to form at a faster rate than any other food is the amylopectin A found in wheat!

One study does not seal the argument against gluten – and by no means does it prove that gluten sensitivity does not exist. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine lists 55 conditions that can be caused by eating gluten.(5)  And the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that gluten-sensitive people who still consume grains increase their risk of death up to 75%!

All this study that gained so much media attention shows is that some people who have a problem with wheat do not have a reaction specifically to gluten.

The bottom line is that there are MANY very good reasons to exclude wheat and grains from your diet – and most of them have nothing to do with gluten.

If your goal is to feel your very best… to prevent the onset of chronic disease… and to maintain your strength and vitality and quality of life well into your later years… then your best bet is to stick to the diet that our ancestors consumed – one that is rich in colorful vegetables, seasonal whole fruits, nuts, seeds and berries… and based upon the proteins and healthy fats found in grass-fed meats, pastured pork and poultry, wild fish, farm-fresh butter and organic eggs.


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Editor’s Note: Kelley Herring is the author of the brand new book Better Breads – which includes information you need to know about why it is so important to avoid wheat and grains in your diet, plus how to use healthy replacements for these foods to create all the breads you love… without the gluten, carbs and health-harming effects. Click here to learn more about Better Breads…Click here to learn more about Better Breads…
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References:  

1.Biesiekierski JR, Peters SL, Muir JG, Gibson PR. No Effects of Gluten in Patients with Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity after Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates.” Gastroenterology. 2013 Aug;145(2):320-8.e1-3.
2.Vandepoele K, Van de Peer Y. Exploring the plant transcriptome through phylogenetic profiling.Plant Physiol. 2005 Jan;137(1):31-42.
3.Ji,Sayer. Opening Pandora’s Bread Box: The Critical Role of Wheat Lectin in Human Disease. GreenMedInfo.com
4.Melissa A. Austin, PhD; Jan L. Breslow, MD; Charles H. Hennekens, MD; Julie E. Buring, DSc; Walter C. Willett, MD; Ronald M. Krauss, MD. Low-Density Lipoprotein Subclass Patterns and Risk of Myocardial Infarction. JAMA. 1988;260(13):1917-1921.
5.Richard J. Farrell, M.D., and Ciarán P. Kelly, M.D.Celiac Sprue. N Engl J Med 2002; 346:180-188 January 17, 2002DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra010852

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5 Reasons to Eat Offal (And 6 Delicious Ways to Enjoy It!)

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetPate

Once reserved for the obligatory standard meal of “liver and onions”, offal has taken the culinary world by storm. And for good reason…

Not only does offal – which includes organ meats, bones, trimmings and pretty much everything in between – provide rich tastes and unique textures to a wide variety of cuisines, it is also some of the most nutrient-dense food you could put on your plate.

Of course, for many people, the idea of “nose-to-tail” eating may be a bit off-putting.
But today I’m going to show you five reasons why you should be eating these superfoods… plus six simple ways to make them delicious (or sneak them into your meals without a trace!).

Offal: The Disease-Fighting Nutritional “Supplement”

Nutrient-dense organ meats provide a stark contrast to the calorie-rich, nutrient-poor diets most Americans consume today. In fact, gram for gram, organs provide greater nutrient density than any other food we consume.

A study published in Horticultural Science illustrates why this is so important. The study found that the nutrient density of vegetables and fruits has declined by as much as 40% over the last 50 – 100 years. This means that even if you’re eating a whole-foods diet, free of processed foods, you’re still not consuming the nutrients our grandparents did.

And because nutrient deficiencies are a key factor in the onset of disease and age-related decline, it’s no surprise that the supplement market continues to grow. However, unlike synthetic vitamins and factory-created “fortified” foods, the nutrients in organ meats are present in their organic form alongside a matrix of synergistic compounds. This is the optimal way nutrients should be consumed for safety and the most efficient use by the body.

The nutrients in organ meats are also those most commonly lacking in modern diets and critical for disease prevention and healthy aging.

Here are five key nutrients concentrated in organ meats and their biological roles (in brief):  

1.    Vitamin B12: This complex vitamin is vitally important for brain health, cancer prevention, heart health, mood, bone health and more. After the age of 60, the ability to absorb this nutrient declines, placing many people at risk for deficiency.

2.    Selenium: An antioxidant micronutrient with numerous roles in immune, thyroid and prostate health, cancer prevention and more. Modern farming methods have depleted this nutrient in the soil, causing levels in the food supply to drop dramatically and leaving many deficient.

3.    Choline: A vitamin-like compound essential for the health of cell membranes, nerves and neurotransmitters, brain health, heart health, liver health and cancer prevention (especially breast cancer). According to the Institute of Medicine, only 10 percent of Americans meet adequate choline intake levels: 425 mg/day for most women and 550 mg/day for men (and women who are breastfeeding).

4.    Vitamin A: A fat-soluble group of compounds essential for vision, immune health, growth and development, gene expression, cancer prevention and more. Taken in isolated form (supplements), vitamin A can be toxic. Organ meats, specifically liver, provide the best natural source of this disease-fighting nutrient.

5.    CoQ10: A fat-soluble antioxidant compound required for cellular energy production (ATP), heart health, brain health and more. (Note: While a recommended intake has not been established, you can see absolute amounts in the list below.)

Now take a look at how much you’ll get in these organ meats. The amounts represented are the absolute amounts per serving and how that amount compares on a percentage basis with the established RDA or RDI, assuming one has been established:

Lamb Kidney - 3 oz
Selenium - 186 mcg / 266%
Vitamin B12 - 67 mcg / 1,118%
Choline (data not available)

Beef Kidney - 3 oz
Selenium- 143 mcg / 204%
Vitamin B12 - 21 mcg / 353%
Choline - 436 mg

Chicken Liver - 1 oz
Vitamin A – 4,026 IU / 81%
Vitamin B12 - 5.9 mcg / 99%
Selenium - 24.7 mcg / 35%
Choline - 92 mg

Beef Liver - 1 oz
Vitamin A – 8,881 IU / 178%
Vitamin B12 - 19.8 mcg / 329%
Selenium - 10.1 mcg / 144%
Choline - 119 mg
CoQ10 – 1.1 mg

Lamb Liver - 1 oz
Vitamin A – 7,280 IU / 146%
Vitamin B12 - 24 mcg / 400%
Selenium - 32.5 mcg / 46%
Choline (data not available)

Beef Heart - 3 oz
Vitamin B12 - 9.2 mcg / 153%
Selenium - 33 mcg / 47%
Choline - 194 mg
CoQ10 – 96 mg

Lamb Sweetbreads - 3 oz
Vitamin B12 - 4.7 mcg / 78%
Selenium - 55 mcg / 79%
Choline (data not available)

As you can see, organ meats are a highly concentrated source of nutrition. It doesn’t take much to get major nutritional benefits!

How to Make Organ Meats Taste (Offaly) Good

If you’re serious about getting more of these superfoods in your diet, and preparing them in the best way, consider investing in the comprehensive cookbook by Fergus Henderson – The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating.

To broaden your palette and optimize your nutrition starting today, here are six simple (and sneaky) tips for including organ meats effortlessly and enjoyably in your everyday meals:

1.    Grind: Take frozen beef heart or chicken heart and carefully cut into chunks. Process using the grating blade on your food processor. Combine with grass-fed ground beef or bison for a nutrient-enhanced burger, meatloaf, chili, meatballs or Bolognese sauce.

2.    Puree: Add grass-fed beef liver, bison liver or chicken liver to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Just like with heart, you can add pureed liver to meatloaf, meatballs, chili or Bolognese sauce. If you’re new to the strong flavor of liver (or don’t particularly enjoy it), start with 25% liver and work your way up. Mild-flavored livers - including chicken, lamb and bison - can be used at 50% or even in a 1:1 ratio with great-tasting results. To make liver easily accessible for later use, scrape pureed liver into an ice cube mold (silicone works well for easy removal) and freeze. Once frozen, store portions in a zip-top bag or (better yet) an air-tight food saver bag. Then simply defrost the amount you need and add it to your recipe for a superfood boost.

3.    Fry: Everything tastes better fried. And when you fry the healthy way - using nutrient-rich, heat-stable tallow or duck fat – you’ll get rich, delicious flavor, and you’ll increase your absorption of lipid-soluble vitamin A, to boot. Simply dredge ½ inch pieces of liver (soaked and patted dry) or lamb sweetbreads in a flour mixture (try a combination of arrowroot and coconut flour for a grain-free crispy coating). Then fry in a heavy-bottomed skillet with ¼ inch of healthy fat until golden, about two minutes. Flip and cook another two minutes, just until cooked through.

4.    Marinate: While texture can be more of a challenge with organ meats, flavor can be greatly enhanced by marinating. Try Thai flavors (coconut aminos, fish sauce and ginger), Mediterranean (lemon, garlic and olive oil) or even Indian or Middle-Eastern.

5.    Soak: To make the taste of liver or kidney less pronounced, soak in 1 cup of coconut milk with 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for a few hours or overnight. If you are liver-averse, choosing mild-flavored liver (bison, lamb or chicken) and soaking can make a big difference in the palatability.

6.    Grill: As a muscle meat, heart can be grilled very much like your favorite lean cut of meat. Because it is very lean, be careful to not overcook. Liver can also be delicious when grilled and lends itself to a variety of flavorful marinades.

If you have tried eating organ meats before with no luck: Take heart. Your taste buds, like all of the other cells in your body – are constantly regenerating. This means you can actually acquire a taste for organ meats, and may even find that over time you begin to crave their unique flavors.

Be adventurous and don’t be afraid to experiment! By adding a variety of organ meats to your culinary repertoire you’ll boost your intake of health-promoting nutrients the same way our ancestors did – with traditional superfoods!

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Ed. Note: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product - Better Bread - a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.

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REFERENCES
1.    Davis, D. Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is The Evidence? Hort Science Vol 44 (1) 2009
2.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  Vitamin B12. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminB12/
3.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  Choline. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/choline/
4.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  Vitamin A. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminA/
5.    Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrient Information Center.  CoQ10.
http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/coq10/
6.    Rayman MP. The importance of selenium to human health. Lancet. 2000;356(9225):233-24
7.    USDA SR-21. Nutrient Data.
8.    Pinar Ercan, Sedef Nehir. Changes in content of coenzyme Q10 in beef muscle, beef liver and beef heart with cooking and in vitro digestion. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. Volume 24, Issue 8, December 2011, Pages 1136–1140
9.    Kamei et al., “The distribution and content of ubiquinone in foods,” Internat. J. Vit. Nutr. Res. 56 (1986) 57-63.
10.    Mattila, et al., “Coenzymes Q9 and Q10: contents in foods and dietary intake,” Journal of Food Composition and Analysis 14 (2001) 409-417.
11.    Ghirlanda, et al., "Evidence of plasma CoQ10-lowering effect of HMG-COA reductase inhibitors: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study," Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1993 Mar; 33(3):226-229.
12.    Sears, Al, MD, The Doctor's Heart Cure: Discover the Simple, Easy, Enjoyable and Above-All PROVEN Plan to Lose Weight and Achieve a Shock-Proof, Disease-Resistance Heart — with Delicious, Natural Foods and Just a Few Minutes of Exercise a Day, St. Paul: Dragon Door, 2004, 133-146.

Cardiologists Bungle Blood Pressure

By: Dr. Al Sears, MDdescribe the image

My old office manager J.F. was on beta-blockers for high blood pressure.

I put her on a treadmill once to give her a test and nothing happened.

She got extremely short of breath, but her heart couldn’t keep up. It was still at 80 bpm. She couldn’t challenge her heart and make it stronger because of the drug from her cardiologist.

How did this happen? Because no one has messed up modern medicine more than cardiologists.

They’re all about the methodology of using heart drugs and technology, but are opposed to the general concept of analyzing your health and how to improve it.

It’s a true but sad state of affairs that a cardiologist can’t tell you any more about how to improve the health of your heart than the average person you meet on the street. They know virtually nothing about it.

They know how to use drugs. But the drugs are not health enhancing. In fact, there are no categories of cardiac drugs that I don’t disagree with. One by one, I ruled all the drugs out.

For example, if you are getting treatment for high blood pressure, you might be on beta blockers. But think of what cardiologists are doing there.

They’re now giving you a drug that blocks the regulation of your heart, down-regulates your capacity to get your heart rate up, and suppresses your heart’s natural ionotropic capacity to beat more firmly.

Initially, beta-blockers sort of work to artificially bring down your blood pressure, and your heart will calm down, but now you can never get the benefit of exercise.

So over time, beta-blockers will turn your heart into a fat, lazy, incompetent water balloon. You already had high blood pressure to deal with, now you have a gross de-conditioning of your heart.

But there are other steps you can take to lower your blood pressure naturally. And when you do, your chance of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke go back to normal. It’s as if you never had high blood pressure in the first place.

Step 1 – Use Nature’s Own Blood Pressure “Prescription.” I’m talking about magnesium, your body’s natural blood vessel relaxer. I’ve used it in my practice with great results.

It helps balance potassium, sodium and calcium, which all affect blood pressure. There are many studies that show the more magnesium you get the lower your blood pressure will be.

Why take a drug when this overlooked mineral can have the same effect?

New research even finds that if you get enough magnesium you have a lower risk of dying from any cause. The study followed 4,203 people over ten years, and found that the rate of death from all causes was 10 times higher for people getting the least magnesium.(1) And the rate of death from heart problems was more than 50% higher for those with low magnesium.

You can get more magnesium by eating nuts, seeds, dairy products and dark green, leafy vegetables. But modern farming practices have depleted much of the mineral content in our soil, so there’s not much magnesium in vegetables any more.

Magnesium used to be in your drinking water but water with high mineral content – hard water – fell out of favor because most people don’t like the taste.

If you can’t get enough magnesium through food, you can take a supplement. I recommend between 600 and 1000 mg a day. Take it with vitamin B6. It will increase the amount of magnesium that accumulates in your cells.

Step 2 – Toss The Processed Salt. Salt itself isn’t bad. We naturally crave salty foods. In fact, when your blood is at its healthiest, it’s slightly salty.

Unfortunately, the salt you find in most foods today isn’t even close to what Mother Nature intended. It’s bleached and refined. When they’re done making it into the white stuff that goes into packaged foods and your salt shaker it’s like franken-salt, with residual chemicals from the processing.

Try to avoid the foods that have the most processed salt. Bottled salad dressing, cured meats (beef jerky, salami), processed cheese, salt-covered snack foods and pickled foods (like olives and dill pickles).

Instead, look for sea salt. It’s unrefined, and has all the minerals and co-factors nature meant salt to have, like potassium and magnesium.

Regular salt is almost pure sodium chloride. Natural sea salt has sodium chloride too, but also has over 50 other minerals (including magnesium) with all the co-factors and trace elements nature intended real salt to have.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD

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Resources:

1. Reffelmann T, Ittermann T, Dörr M, Völzke H, Reinthaler M, Petersmann A, Felix SB. “Low serum magnesium concentrations predict cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.” Atherosclerosis. 2011 Jun 12. Epub ahead of print.

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Cancer, Heart Disease and Telomeres

By: Dr Al Sears, MDElderly

Here’s a truth about cancer … you don’t get cancer because your aunt Mae or anyone else in your family had it.

The high rate of occurrence is indicative of how far from our natural environment we’ve strayed. Man-made chemicals, toxicants and pollutants, combined with the loss of nutrient protection from food, for example, make us more vulnerable.

But that also means that when you restore these natural protectors to your body, you have a good chance of avoiding cancer altogether.

Take one of my favorite natural metabolic regulators, nitric oxide. It’s an important signaling molecule in your cardiovascular system. It relaxes the lining in blood vessels allowing blood to flow freely. That reduces blood pressure. It also helps prevent your arteries from stiffening up which can lead to heart disease.

But here’s something I only recently discovered about nitric oxide (NO) myself. It can help maintain your telomeres. German scientists injected NO into a culture of blood cells. The NO increased the activity of telomerase, the enzyme that rebuilds telomeres. it extended the life of the blood cells.(1)

The same is true in the other direction. Block NO production and telomeres get shorter.(2)

That would be a huge benefit all by itself, because longer telomeres means less chance of cancer.

But nitric oxide is a powerful anti-cancer nutrient in other ways, too.

Lab studies link nitric oxide to an increase in the programmed death of tumor cells. It also lowers rates of cancer metastasis.(3) That means cancers are less likely to spread when you have enough NO.

You see, cancer cells with high levels of nitric oxide can’t metastasize. And deadly cells that do metastasize have low NO levels. For example one animal study showed when mice had high NO levels, cancer cells could not survive long enough to spread to the lungs.(4)

Plus, each molecule is very small and can penetrate deep into tissues and cells(5) that other nutrients can’t get to, making it nature’s perfect weapon against cancer cells.

That’s remarkable when you think about it … that nitric oxide can cure heart disease, lengthen telomeres and fight cancer. Let me show you my three steps to raising your levels of this ultra-powerful metabolic miracle molecule:

Step 1) The first thing I have my patients do is the right kind of exercise.

As I mentioned earlier, getting the kind of exertion our ancestors got will restore the natural cancer-protective environment in your body that kept our primal relatives virtually cancer-free.

A higher-intensity, short-duration workout, like my PACE program, is an easy way to get NO flowing throughout your blood. The short duration gives you a bigger challenge to your metabolism. This boosts NO levels by increasing an enzyme called NO synthase. Short bursts of exertion that challenge your current level of fitness for no more than 20 total minutes will boost your nitric oxide naturally.

Step 2) Look for foods rich in nitrates. But don’t confuse that with “sodium nitrate.” That’s a chemical salt used to preserve meats like bacon, ham and hot dogs. Sodium nitrate converts to “sodium nitrite” during the preserving process. You want to avoid that.

When you cook foods with sodium nitrite at high heat, cancer-causing substances called nitrosamines can form.

Natural nitrates in vegetables are a different matter. They’re found in leafy greens like arugula, lettuce, Swiss chard, basil, cilantro, and rhubarb.

One of my favorite sources is beets. When you eat a beet, the nitrates mix with your saliva and mouth bacteria to produce nitric oxide. Studies show drinking beet juice can raise NO levels and lower your blood pressure within 3 or 4 hours. The effects can last up to 24 hours.(6)

Step 3) There are also supplements that can increase nitric oxide production in your body.

The best one is the amino acid L-arginine. It converts to NO in your body. And you get the added benefit of having it raise telomerase levels, protecting you from cancer even more.

I recommend at least 500 mg a day. You can find it in capsules or powders. But make sure you get the L form and not the synthetic D,L form.

Also, niacin improves nitric oxide activity. Use 500 mg of sustained release niacin to boost nitric oxide activity.

To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD

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1. Vasa M, et. al. “Nitric Oxide Activates Telomerase and Delays Endothelial Cell Senescense.” Circulation Research. 2000; 540-542.
2. Scalera F, et. al. “Endogenous Nitric Oxide Synthesis Inhibitor Asymmertic Dimethyle L-Arginine Accelerates Endothelial Cell Senescence.” Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2004; 1816-1822.
3. Xie K et al, “Transfection with the inducible nitric oxide synthase gene suppresses tumorigenicity and abrogates metastasis by K-1735 murine melanoma cells.” J Exp Med. 1995;181(4):1333-43.
4. Dong Z, Staroselsky A, Qi X, Fidler I. “ Inverse correlation between expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase activity and production of metastasis in K-1735 murine melanoma cells.” Cancer Res. 1994: 54:789-793.
5.Robson T, Hirst D. “Targeting nitric oxide for cancer therapy.” JPP 2007;59: 3–13.
6. Webb. A. et al, “Acute Blood Pressure Lowering, Vasoprotective, and Antiplatelet Properties of Dietary Nitrate via Bioconversion to Nitrite.” Hypertension. 2008; 51: 784-790

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Is Your Probiotic Harming Your Health?

By: Kelley Herring, Healing GourmetProbiotic Yogurt

Probiotics have become one of the most widely-used nutritional supplements on the market. According to a recent report by Transparency Market Research, sales of probiotic ingredients, supplements and foods are estimated to reach $38 billion by 2018.

And while more and more people are turning to fermented foods and probiotics to improve digestive health, there’s something important you should know: Your probiotic could actually worsen your digestive symptoms and harm your health.

Research published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that 84 percent of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also suffer from harmful overgrowth of a specific type of gut bacteria.

This overgrowth – called SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) – is responsible for a host of digestive and systemic health symptoms including:

•    Bloating, belching and gas
•    Cramping, constipation and diarrhea
•    Headaches
•    Fatigue and fibromyalgia
•    Rashes and skin disorders
•    Irritability, unstable moods and depression
•    Asthma
•    Joint Pain

But what causes SIBO?

Risk Factors and Testing for SIBO

While our large intestine is teeming with bacteria – up to 100 billion per teaspoon of fluid – the small shouldn’t contain much at all.

But stress, infections (including H. pylori and food poisoning) and even a simple irritation of the gut lining from food intolerances or allergies can cause functional changes that lead to an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine.

Over time, displaced bacteria in the small intestine multiply. And if you are taking probiotic supplements or foods, your SIBO can worsen – compounding digestive distress and contributing to an array of seemingly unrelated health issues.

Unfortunately, diagnosing SIBO can be a challenge. It is often overlooked by conventional practitioners or misdiagnosed as another digestive ailment.

The good news is that there’s a simple, non-invasive test that can help. Considered the “gold standard” in diagnosing SIBO, the Breath Test (or lactulose breath test) involves drinking a sugar-rich solution and then measuring hydrogen gases and methane produced by bacteria.
Once you are tested and have been diagnosed with SIBO, you can begin the healing process.

Natural Treatments for SIBO

While SIBO must often be treated with antibiotics (including Metronidazole and Rifraximin), many people find relief with a combination of diet and natural remedies.
What kind of diet is best for SIBO?

Not surprisingly, the best diet to effectively treat SIBO is very similar to the diet enjoyed by our ancestors – rich in healthy native fats and gut-healing gelatin and free from simple sugars and grains. It is also low in fruit and starchy vegetables. This restricts the fermentable food sources for the bacteria. The protocol set forth in the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (or SCD) is ideal for this.

While starving the bacteria is a step in the right direction, complete relief and healing from SIBO also typically requires some “heavy artillery” to kill off the colonies that are residing in the small intestine.

As mentioned earlier, antibiotics can certainly play this role, and are effective at doing so. The downside is that antibiotics also kill the healthy bacteria in the large intestine, which can promote an overgrowth of yeast (Candida) leading to an assortment of unpleasant or harmful side effects.

Luckily, natural, non-prescription alternatives do exist: Cinnamon, olive leaf, peppermint oil, echinacea, garlic, wormwood, goldenseal, grapefruit seed extract (GSE), ginger, cat’s claw, oregano oil and barberry have all been shown to effectively help treat SIBO.

With this being said, it is very important to work with a skilled clinician to create a healing protocol that is right for you. These substances are potent and can be harmful if used in improper amounts or for a prolonged period of time.

Achieving Digestive Health: More Isn’t Always Better

As a flood of new probiotic supplements and foods become available, remember this important point…

More is not always better.

Achieving optimal health is about finding your body’s natural state of balance. If you think you may have SIBO, default to the native diet enjoyed by our ancestors and work with a natural-minded practitioner to help fine-tune your diet and get your digestion back in balance naturally.

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ED NOTE: Kelley Herring is author of more than a dozen books on nutrition and natural healing. She is also the co-founder of Wellness Bakeries, which has just released their newest product - Better Bread - a 100% Paleo bread mix you can whip up in 5 minutes flat.

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REFERENCES
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8.    Pimentel M, Chow EJ, Lin HC. Eradication of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Dec;95(12):3503-6
9.    de Boissieu D, Chaussain M, Badoual J, Raymond J, Dupont C. Small-bowel bacterial overgrowth in children with chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, or both. J Pediatr. 1996 Feb;128(2):203-7.
10.    Musumeci R, Speciale A, Costanzo R, Annino A, Ragusa S, Rapisarda A, Pappalardo MS, Iauk L. Berberis aetnensis C. Presl. extracts: antimicrobial properties and interaction with ciprofloxacin. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2003 Jul;22(1):48-53.
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