Archive for the 'Nutrition' Category

08
Jul
15

How Coffee Affects Your Health


coffee-cup-200-300We seem to hear different things from the medical community every few years about either the positive or negative effect that coffee has on our health. So what is the most current information? Is coffee good or bad for your health? The answer, in short, is that it’s a little of both.

Too much coffee can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure, anxiety and upset stomach, in addition to its ability to become addictive. And don’t forget that added cream and sugar contribute to weight gain. For example, a 24-ounce Starbucks venti double chocolate chip frappucino contains a mind-boggling 520 calories!

Despite these drawbacks, moderate coffee consumption can actually have a protective effect, helping to reduce your risk of many problems, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, liver cancer, gallstones and Type 2 diabetes, to name a few. It can also lower the risk of stroke in women.

Current research has indicated that there is no increased risk of heart disease or cancer from moderate coffee drinking. The studies done earlier that reached that conclusion were flawed in that they did not take into consideration other lifestyle habits that went along with increased coffee drinking, such as smoking and lack of exercise, two major causes of these diseases. In fact, coffee has been shown to protect against many kinds of cancer.

A recent study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that there was a 25 percent reduction in cases of endometrial cancer in women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day. Scientists believe this may be due to the fact that coffee has the ability to lower concentrations of free estradiol and insulin, in addition to the cancer-fighting effect of coffee’s antioxidant phenols.

Even a few cups of coffee every day can cut men’s risk of developing prostate cancer by 30 percent, with those consuming six cups of coffee a day reducing their risk of a dangerous form of the cancer by a whopping 60 percent.

Coffee also reduces your risk of developing basal cell carcinoma by up to 20 percent, according to scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Another study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who drink coffee (four cups per day) have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than those who drink no coffee at all.

It is recommended that you get no more than 500-600 mg of caffeine intake per day, the equivalent of about 6 to 8 cups of brewed coffee. Obviously, the amount of caffeine in a cup of espresso will be more than that in the equivalent amount drip coffee.

The key point to keep in mind is to consume coffee in moderate amounts, especially if you are pregnant. But all in all, the benefits of coffee consumption far outweigh the risks for most people, so grab a café grande and drink up!

Nutrition is a very complex and our understanding of it is constantly evolving. If you have questions about your current nutrition or supplement plan, please ask. We are here to help!

20
Nov
13

What Are Food Cravings? Is Your Body Really Trying to Tell You Something?


SwisschiropracticFor some years, researchers had believed that having cravings for a particular type of food may be an indication that you are missing a particular nutrient in your diet. For example, if you crave red meat then you may have an iron deficiency, or if you crave ice cream you must need calcium. Studies have shown, however, that cravings have nothing to do with a nutritional deficiency, but are actually caused by chemical signals in the brain. Nutritionist Karen Ansel says, “If cravings were an indicator of nutritional deficiency, we’d all crave fruits and vegetables. The fact that we all want high carb, high fat comfort foods, along with the research, is a pretty good indicator that cravings aren’t related to deficiencies.” Yes–it’s really all in your head.

When you crave a food, the same reward centers in the brain that are responsible for drug and alcohol addiction are more active: the hippocampus (memory), the insula (emotion and perception) and the caudate (memory and learning). These areas are all very receptive to dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that are responsible for feeling relaxed and calm and which spur reward-driven learning. The reason you crave things such as ice cream, potato chips and chocolate is that these items are full of fat and/or sugar. Both fat and sugar are involved in an increased production of serotonin and other chemicals that make us feel good.

There is a large societal aspect to cravings as well. For instance, women in Japan tend to crave sushi and only 6 percent of Egyptian women say they crave chocolate. Approximately half of American women claim that their cravings for chocolate reach a peak just before their period. However, research has found no correlation between fluctuations in women’s hormones and cravings. In fact, postmenopausal women do not report a large reduction in cravings from their premenopausal levels.

Studies have found that the more people try to deny their cravings, the greater the craving they have for the forbidden food. Researchers suggest that it is better to give in to the craving in a controlled way rather than denying yourself altogether. Just be sure to restrict what you consume to a reasonable amount. If your dopamine receptors are constantly bombarded with high-fat and high-sugar foods (or drugs and alcohol), they shut down to prevent an overload. This makes your cravings even greater and you end up eating more in an attempt get the same reward, but you never really feel satisfied.

Exercise and distraction are two good ways to reduce food cravings. One study found that a morning workout can reduce your cravings for the whole day. Smelling a non-food item can also help. Keep a small vial of your favorite perfume with you when a craving comes on and take a whiff when the craving hits you. It will occupy the aroma receptors that are involved in food cravings.

 

07
Nov
13

What to Look for in a Fish Oil Supplement


fish-oil-supplements-200-300We see articles everywhere these days about the benefits of omega-3 for everything from improving cardiovascular health to warding off the risk of Alzheimer’s. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of our daily requirement of nutrients and something that the body does not produce on its own, so it must be absorbed from the foods we eat. If you do not eat foods that are sufficiently high in omega-3 (vegetarians and vegans fall into this category), then you should probably consider a fish oil supplement. But which one?

There are many brands and types of fish oil supplements available, but some are better than others. You want to be sure you are getting the best kind of omega-3 fatty acid in the supplement you take, without the risk of ingesting toxic mercury. First, let’s see what makes some omega-3s different from others.

There are basically three types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA, EPA and DHA.

ALA is a short-chain fatty acid that is commonly found in flaxseed and other plant sources such as some nuts. The body does not convert ALA to EPA and DHA very efficiently, so taking only a plant-based supplement may not provide you with enough EPA and DHA, depending on how much omega-6 you are getting in your diet (we will explain this below).

EPA is a long-chain fatty acid that is primarily found in fatty fish, with some found in eggs and a tiny amount in seaweed and has been found to reduce inflammation, blood clotting, cholesterol and high blood pressure.

DHA is found in the same sources and amounts as EPA, but its benefit is to be a critical component of cell membranes, the retina, testes and sperm.

The primary reason why some people do not get enough omega-3, particularly if they are vegetarian, has to do with the importance of the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in the diet. While omega-3 fatty acid reduces inflammation, omega-6 tends to promote inflammation. The typical American diet has from 14 to 26 times more omega-6 than omega-3, as it contains foods high in omega-6-rich vegetable oils, meat and processed food. Reducing your intake of omega-6 will help to keep your ratios at a healthier level.

The first thing you want to be sure of when looking to buy a fish oil supplement is that it does not contain hazardous metals. Most fish oil supplements are made from small oily fish, such as anchovies, herring and sardines, which do not accumulate the amount of toxins as that of larger fish like salmon and tuna. Nevertheless, you should be sure that the fish oil you buy states that it is molecularly distilled. While it tends to be more expensive than regularly purified fish oil, there are a few advantages.

Molecularly distilled fish oil is boiled under high vacuum conditions, which effectively removes all impurities, including mercury, PCB, Dioxins and other heavy metals, leaving only the omega-3 EPA and DHA. It is also more concentrated, so you get more omega-3 per capsule, and it is less prone to oxidation and rancidity, with less of a “fishy” smell.

DHA concentration is important too. Many fish oils do not have the DHA component in a high enough concentration to be effective without taking a ridiculous number of capsules every day. You should look for a supplement that has 200-300mg per capsule. And keep in mind that this recommendation is not per serving. Some products advertise themselves as having 400mg per serving, however, if you read the label, a serving is often considered three capsules.

If you are low in vitamin A or vitamin D, you may want to consider a molecularly distilled cod liver oil supplement, as it provides these two vitamins along with EPA and DHA. Just be aware that taking too much of either of these vitamins can be toxic, so at some point you may want to switch back to regular fish oil supplements.

 

04
Nov
13

Cleansing: What Does the Science Really Say?


preparation teaCleansing, sometimes also referred to as detoxification, has been all the rage in recent years among those interested in alternative medicine. The theory is that the body accumulates toxins from the environment in the form of pollution, processed foods and food additives (and even sometimes toxins created by the body itself), so a “body cleanse” or “detox” is necessary to rid ourselves of these harmful toxins. Those who promote detox programs have developed special diets along with a host of (often costly). Colon cleanses are another form of body detoxification that is popular in some alternative medicine circles. But scientific evidence shows that special cleansing regimes do not provide any additional health benefits, and in some cases may even be dangerous.

A noted epidemiologist from the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Frank Sacks, says of cleansing, “There is no basis in human biology that indicates we need fasting or any other detox formula to detoxify the body because we have our own internal organs and immune system that take care of excreting toxins.” Our bodies are expert at getting rid of unwanted substances.

Colon cleansing dates back to the days of ancient Egypt where it was thought that material in the intestines could poison the body. This theory became popular again in the late 19th century when the term “autointoxication” was coined, which led to resurgence in the use of enemas in perfectly healthy people. However, a study performed by Dr. Ranit Mishori and colleagues at Washington D.C.’s Georgetown University found that colon cleanses could actually be harmful for many people, causing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

First of all, there is no way by which toxins can be absorbed into the blood through the colon. Almost all nutrient absorption takes place in the small intestine, and any toxins that have been excreted by the liver and kidneys is efficiently expelled in the urine and feces. Meanwhile, injecting fluid into the colon in the form of an enema or colonic on a regular basis not only does not aid your body in clearing toxins, but it can remove beneficial bacteria, in addition to robbing your body of much-needed electrolytes. Also, regular colon cleanses can interfere with your body’s ability to create normal bowel movements, so you become dependent on enemas.

Most doctors agree that fasting or pursuing an extreme detox diet is detrimental to long-term health. The body starved of nutrients does not operate efficiently, and will go into conservation mode. This means that your metabolism will slow down and any of the water weight you lost in the initial days of the diet (very little of the weight lost in fasting is fat) will come back in the form of accumulated fat once you start eating again, as your body will be burning fewer calories.

There is no doubt that eating processed foods filled with chemical additives and preservatives is not good for health. But you don’t need to go on a special detox diet to improve your health. Simply drink plenty of water and substitute fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of fish and organic meat for the processed foods you are now eating. Your body will take care of getting rid of any toxins you may have ingested and you will be healthier without having to spend money for a special diet that makes you feel miserable and could even be harmful to your health.

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

09
Sep
13

Risks of Mixing Drugs with Herbal, Dietary and Energy Supplements


??????????????In the past several decades, the number of people taking herbal, dietary and energy supplements has increased exponentially. Whereas, prior to the late 1980s, most patients were unlikely to be supplementing with anything other than multivitamins, now a doctor must expect the majority of the population to have read about their condition on the Internet and be using whatever complementary remedies they think might help, with or without expert guidance. Once seen as natural and harmless, it is now clear that herbal supplements, dietary supplements and energy supplements can interact with conventional medications just as conventional medications can interact with each other.

It is important to note that many complementary medicines are quite safe to take alongside most forms of pharmaceutical drugs, and a cup of nettle or chamomile tea together with your morning pill of whatever form is not going to have any deleterious effect. However, a little awareness goes a long way and it is good to know of the more serious risks of mixing conventional drugs with supplementary remedies.

The risks of taking medications together, whether conventional or complementary, are threefold:

1. The action of the drug, or supplement, may be increased

2. The action of the drug, or supplement, may be reduced

3. The rate and degree at which the drug or supplement is absorbed or eliminated may be altered.

Medications are prescribed at a certain dose in order to achieve a specific effect, so increasing or reducing the effectiveness of a medicine is potentially risky, especially in the case of life sustaining treatments. Many conventional medicines are based on chemicals that are also found in plants, so herbal medicines taken for a particular disease may have the same action as a pharmaceutical taken for the same reason and can result in an effective overdose.

One example of this is aspirin, which was originally derived from plants and herbal anti-inflammatories containing salicylic acid, the active ingredient of aspirin. Such herbs include willow bark, meadowsweet and wintergreen.  Salicylic acid is toxic in large quantities, so these herbs should clearly be avoided if taking aspirin.

Other examples of interactions that increase the effect of medications include taking kelp with drugs for hypothyroidism and herbal diuretics such as dandelion, globe artichoke and celery seed with diuretic drugs. Niacin (vitamin B3), calcium and/or magnesium taken in combination with hypotensive pills can lead to a greater than expected drop in blood pressure. Except under expert guidance, the blood thinner Warfarin should never be taken with a medication that decreases blood clotting, whether conventional or complementary, due to the risk of hemorrhage. Supplements such as cayenne, garlic, feverfew, willow bark, St John’s wort and the drug aspirin all fall into this category. Hawthorn berries increase the action of digoxin on the heart, with potentially fatal effects, and the adaptogen herb Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus) also increases digoxin levels in the blood.

Examples of drug and supplement combinations that can decrease the effectiveness of either are taking supplements that stimulate the immune system such as zinc, Astragalus and Echinacea with corticosteroids intended to suppress the immune system, as they are working in opposite directions. Also, remedies with a hyperglycemic (blood sugar raising) action such as celery seed, Bupleurum, rosemary and Gotu kola can counteract the hypoglycemic (blood sugar reducing) work of diabetic drugs. High doses of vitamins A, C and K can all decrease the anticoagulant activity of Warfarin.

If the absorption or elimination of a drug or supplement is altered due to taking something else at the same time, its effectiveness may be at risk. The drug may either be absorbed too quickly or excreted before it has a chance to work. Diuretic remedies are particularly problematic, because of increased elimination, and herbs with this effect include juniper, dandelion, celery seed and licorice. These are certainly to be avoided when taking lithium. Grapefruit juice, while not really a supplement, is also a concern when taken with several drugs, such as hypotensives and the immunosuppressant Cyclosporine, since it reduces the breakdown of the medicine in the body.

Although a comprehensive treatment of the risk of mixing conventional medicines and nutritional and herbal supplements is well outside the intention of this short article, it is hoped that this article serves to communicate the potential problems that may arise and some of the more well-known bad combinations. You should always consult your doctor before taking any combination of drugs and supplements. For further information, there are a number of websites that may prove valuable in flagging most of the riskiest drug-herb-supplement interactions. These include Herb-Drug interactions at i-care.net (http://www.i-care.net/herbdrug.htm), the herb and supplement database at Medline, which includes known drug interactions (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/herb_All.html) and a paper on herb-drug interactions published in The Lancet (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10675182).

Dr. P. Dubois, CCSP, DC.

 

17
Aug
13

The Benefits of Potassium


As the third most common mineral in the body, potassium is responsible for supporting a wide range of bodily activities. Without ???????sufficient potassium, the heart, brain, kidneys and muscles would not function properly. However, the Western diet’s preponderance of processed foods has created a population with a growing risk of potassium deficiency.

Potassium is an electrolyte that is crucial to the body’s electrical circuitry so that proper signals are conducted to and from the brain and between cells. It works in conjunction with the minerals sodium, calcium, chloride and magnesium. Simply moving a muscle requires potassium. Potassium helps to regulate the heart, which is triggered by potassium to contract, squeezing blood through the body a hundred thousand times each day.

In addition to keeping our muscles and heart in good working condition, potassium is also responsible for healthy bone maintenance, protecting against osteoporosis, reducing high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and helping the kidneys to filter blood. It can also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and keeps the body’s water levels balanced.

The recommended daily intake of potassium is as follows:

Infants birth – 6 months: 400 mg/day

Infants 7 – 12 months: 700 mg/day

Children 1 -3 years: 3,000 mg/day

Children 4 – 8 years: 3,800 mg/day

Children 9 – 13 years: 4,500 mg/day

Adolescents and Adults 19 years and older: 4,700 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 5,100 mg/day

Most Americans are potassium deficient. “Relying on convenience and restaurant foods and not eating enough fruits and vegetables is why so many people don’t get enough potassium. Fresh and lightly processed foods, including dairy and meat, have the most potassium,” according to registered dietitian, Marla Heller.

An excess of sodium in the diet (which is common among Americans) can increase the amount of potassium you need. Others at risk of potassium deficiency (hypokalemia) are those who experience diarrhea, vomiting, malabsorption syndromes (such as Crohn’s disease) and excessive sweating. Alcoholics, smokers, drug users, athletes (or anyone who uses their muscles excessively), and those who use diuretics are also prone to hypokalemia. Symptoms include irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, irritability, chronic diarrhea, weakness and stomach problems.

Food sources abundant in potassium are meat, poultry, fish (cod, salmon, and flounder), dairy products, legumes and fruits and vegetables (particularly bananas, citrus, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes and green leafy vegetables such as Swiss chard). Cooking destroys potassium, so try to eat potassium-rich foods either raw or minimally cooked (lightly steamed or roasted).

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.

 

15
Aug
13

Pros and Cons of Drinking Fruit Juice


Look on any supermarket’s shelves these days and you’ll see a huge variety of fruit juices, far more than were ever seen in our parents’ day. Orange juice (or occasionally grapefruit, apple or tomato juice) was the juice that typically appeared on most American breakfast???????????? tables. Now, it is possible to get juices in all manner of combinations, including such exotic fruits as mango, guava, pomegranate, goji berry and more. And although many of these juices have a healthy serving of vitamins and minerals, they also may have their fair share of calories and sugar. So is fruit juice good for us or not? Following are some of the pros and cons of drinking fruit juice.

Pros:

Easy way to get fruit – One 4-ounce glass of fruit juice counts for one full serving of fruit, so if you are too rushed to eat an apple you can down some juice. While fruit juice does not contain the fiber that makes eating the whole fruit so healthy, it is still better than getting no fruit at all.

Good source of vitamins and antioxidants – One glass of orange or grapefruit juice can supply more than your daily requirement of vitamin C, boosting your immune system and providing you with free-radical-fighting antioxidants. It is also an excellent source of folic acid (which prevents birth defects and is good for heart health) and potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure).

Cons:

High in calories – Pam Birkenfeld, as pediatric nutritionist at New York’s Nassau University Medical Center says, “Parents tend to think that because fruit juice is fat-free and comes from nature, it’s OK. But what they often don’t realize is that it is a very concentrated source of calories that generally does not fill you up, just out.” There is an average of 140 calories in an 8-ounce glass of fruit juice. If you consume a few glasses each day, those calories can add up. In contrast, an orange has only about 60 calories.

High in sugar – Our increased consumption of sugar has been implicated as being a major contributor to the skyrocketing rates of obesity observed in the Western world. Studies have shown that children who are overweight drink 65 percent more sugary juices than children of normal weight. Some juices contain more sugar that sweetened soft drinks. Grape juice, for example, has 50 percent more sugar than Coca Cola.

Bad for your teeth – One study found an 84% reduction in the hardness of tooth enamel after drinking orange juice for just five days. Researchers believe other juices may have a similar effect, as their acidity is similar. Tooth decay and cavities in children as young as two or three years old have become commonplace, and dentists point to the increased intake of fruit juice as the cause. The combination of acid and sugar is the perfect storm for tooth decay. Experts advise that children drink fruit juice no more than once a day, and instead drink milk or water. If fruit juice is taken, it can be watered down to dilute the acid concentration.

By weighing these pros and cons you can decide for yourself how much juice you and your family should drink to get the benefits of drinking fruit juice while minimizing the drawbacks.

 

Dr Dubois, DC, CCSP

Pierre DuboisDr. Dubois, a Swiss physician, and a Triangle Certified Sport Chiropractor has over 20 years of experience in the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Amongst his patients, two world champions in martial arts (gold medalists in 2005 WMJA), one carrier of the Olympic flame in 2004, and numerous soccer players, swimmers and athletes of all levels who benefited from his chiropractic care.




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