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Why Am I Allergic to Meat?

May 21, 2019 - 9:00am
Summertime BBQ

This weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer for many in the northern hemisphere. With summer, we get more glorious sunshine, but also pesky bugs. Although most bugs are harmless and even beneficial to our natural world, some have become synonymous with debilitating diseases.

Familiar tick-borne illnesses, for example, include Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Babesiosis. And, as recently as 2009, a new one has been added to the ongoing list -- alpha-Gal red meat allergy. Coming to the scene with a rising number of cases, it is not yet considered a reportable disease and many details about its pathophysiology are still unknown. Also, this alpha-Gal red meat allergy is challenging the existing paradigm of food allergies.

Beet Your Way to Health

May 14, 2019 - 9:19am
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Red beetroot (Beta vulgaris rubra) has been gaining popularity as a functional food that has potential to prevent disease and promote health. Beets belong to the chenopod family along with other foods such as chard, spinach, and quinoa. They have been used throughout history as a treatment for numerous ailments, and still evoke an emotional response from people who either love them or have an intense dislike for them. According to research, beetroot is being considered in the treatment of pathologies related to oxidative stress, inflammation, detoxification, cognition, and endothelial function. The betalains are not only what give beets their red color but also function as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. Beets are a great source of fiber, folate, manganese, potassium, Vitamin C, and nitrates. Unlike nitrites found in processed meats which are not healthy, nitrates found in beets are responsible for the health promoting benefits they provide. When beets are consumed, oral microbiota reduce dietary nitrate (NO3-) to nitrite (NO2-) where some of it is reduced to Nitric Oxide (NO) in the stomach and absorbed into circulation. Interestingly, spitting out saliva or using oral anti-bacterial mouthwash reduced the nitrate-nitrite conversion.

By increasing beetroot consumption, the body has a natural means to increase in vivo NO availability which relaxes and widen blood vessels, supporting blood pressure regulation.

Managing Inflammation through Gut Microbiota

May 7, 2019 - 11:35am
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Many factors influence one’s health and whether or not something supports or opposes a healthy inflammatory response is critical. While factors that may increase inflammation such as age and hereditary are out of our control, physical activity, dietary choices, and chemical exposures are within our control. Because inflammation can be at the root cause of many diseases, ranging from cardiovascular to neurological to metabolic, it’s important to downregulate the inflammatory response when we can.

Neurological Benefits of Green Tea

April 30, 2019 - 8:09am
Neurological Benefits of Green Tea

Common knowledge tells us that green tea is a healthy beverage, but evidence suggests that it may in fact have more natural brain benefits than most people realize.

Aside from water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world. It’s consumed by two-thirds of the world’s population. And while black tea accounts for 78% of total tea production, green tea is the variety that may have particularly powerful brain benefits.

Regardless of variety, black, green, oolong, dark and white teas all come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. Black tea leaves are crushed after picking so they become oxidized. Green tea, on the other hand, is lightly steamed and carefully preserved to prevent oxidation. Both black tea and green tea contain the same beneficial flavonoids and free radical scavengers. However, green tea contains higher flavonoid levels.    

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?

April 23, 2019 - 6:56am
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During the past few decades we have been taught to be wary of the sun. For some reason, research that found sunburns to be linked to skin cancer morphed into warnings about any sun exposure. We are continually being told not to go out into the sun without SPF 99 sunblock and a UV ray-blocking shirt. The downside to this sun aversion, however, might be the reason for an estimated 40% of Americans who are vitamin D deficient. Also, worldwide, vitamin D deficiency exists is about 50% of the population. Wearing a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 reduces vitamin D synthesis in the skin by more than 95%.

D and K for Healthy Bones

April 17, 2019 - 6:40am
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We know a lot about vitamin D and bone health. Vitamin D is considered a “secosteroid hormone” essential for calcium absorption and bone mineralization, and is positively associated with bone mineral density (BMD). Without it, we cannot effectively absorb calcium, which we need to help maintain healthy teeth and bones. Also, in a recent study in Annals of Saudi Medicine, vitamin D levels were shown to directly impact BMD. Data was collected on 400 participants where 25OHD levels were taken as well as BMD measurements. What they found came as no surprise; adequate levels of vitamin D had a positive correlation on bone mass among all age groups. 

But what do we know about vitamin K? In addition to vitamin D, vitamin K is another bone-building vitamin. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin first identified in a study on blood coagulation by Carl Peter Henrik in Denmark. The letter “K” stands for “Koagulation’, a Danish term for coagulation. Vitamin K falls into two types: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is also known as phylloquinone or phytonadione, and vitamin K2, menaquinone. Different types of vitamin K vary in their biological activities. Vitamin K1 is mainly stored in the liver and plays a greater role in production of coagulation proteins, while vitamin K2 is distributed throughout the whole body. Most of our leafy greens are high in vitamin K and include kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, and spinach.

Abbreviated Topography of Major Landmarks in Our Knowledge of Vitamin D3, Cholecalciferol

April 9, 2019 - 7:35am
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The human nutrient vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is essential for life and—as is common with nutrients—plays important roles in many aspects of physiology, including the functioning of numerous cells and tissues in various organs and systems, including the immune system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system including the gut microbiome, the latter of which can be considered an extracorporeal metabolic organ with body-wide connections and impact.

Vitamin D’s Critical Role in Weight Management

April 2, 2019 - 9:04am
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When undergoing a weight management program, one of the first steps might be to check vitamin D levels. Oftentimes, people who need to lose weight simultaneously experience low energy, which may actually be a symptom of blood sugar dysregulation. And, according to some researchers, vitamin D may provide support for helping regulate blood sugars. 

The Impact and Benefits of Vitamin D

March 26, 2019 - 9:10am
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Vitamin D is regarded as one of the most important nutrients for our health. It regulates more than 2,000 of the 30,000 human genes and plays a significant role in immune function and physical performance. Vitamin D also helps the body absorb calcium, subsequently helping build bones and keep them strong and healthy.

Many people hear “vitamin D” and think of exposure to the sun. This is an accurate correlation, as vitamin D is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. However, if you live in non-equatorial latitudes, the sun may not be strong enough to produce vitamin D for about half of the year. In fact, as many as one billion people worldwide are estimated to be vitamin D-deficient. Sustained levels of vitamin D deficiency can result in brittle bones, bone pain, as well as muscle pain and weakness.

So, how does vitamin D impact normal body functioning? What’s the impact on those who rely on superior strength and muscle function, like professional athletes? What can be done to support healthy levels of vitamin D?

YOUR GUT AND YOUR SKIN ARE CONNECTED: INTRODUCING THE GUT-SKIN AXIS

March 12, 2019 - 1:02pm
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Have you ever wondered by pimples and constipation often come together, or why you break out after eating french fries? It could be because of the gut-skin axis, a concept at the center of an emerging, exciting area of research in Western Medicine. The gut-skin axis deals with the bidirectional relationship between the gut and the skin, two complex immune and neuroendocrine organs that are host to a varied community of microbes, as well as being related in purpose and function.

However, the gut-skin axis is not a new concept. Over 70 years have passed since dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury discovered a connection between mental health conditions and skin issues, and concluded that a gastrointestinal mechanism could be behind it. They hypothesized that emotional states might alter intestinal flora, cause intestinal permeability and create systemic inflammation.

Title: New Frontiers in Fish Oil - Part Two

March 5, 2019 - 8:30am
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This is part two of a two-part series on omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil. In part one, we explored the reasons to take fish oil.

Throughout evolution, humans have consumed diets heavy in fish—meeting their dietary need for not only omega-3, but specifically EPA and DHA. Western diets, however, have evolved to where fish consumption is at a staggering low. These physiologically-essential nutrients that were once readily available—and consumed often—have become a nutritional deficit for many. Thus, a supplemental dietary solution was needed. That solution is fish oil.

According to the National Institute of Health, fish oil is the most popular natural product used by adults in the United States. Annual sales clock in at about $1.2 billion—three times greater than glucosamine, the number two highest selling natural product. With the continued surge in fish oil’s popularity, it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on quality. Let’s look at the dilemma facing fish oil producers and what consumers need to know to choose the best quality fish oil for their dietary needs.

New Frontiers in Fish Oil - Part One

February 26, 2019 - 3:12pm
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This is part one of a two-part series on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil. Stay tuned for part two about how to incorporate fish oil into a regular diet.

From supporting cardiovascular health to promoting ideal body composition to optimizing inflammatory pathways, omega-3’s substantive impact on a wide variety of health issues has been well-documented. Here, we take a closer look at this versatile nutrient and its many applications.

Why Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Many research articles support the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids—primarily for their ability to act as the body’s natural protection. For those patients recovering from a heart attack, for example, omega-3 fatty acids aid in the healing process by helping with cardiac remodeling and enabling the heart to contract better. Omega-3 fatty acids also manage the fibrosis in the region and impact the reduction of biomarkers for inflammation. Further, according to the Journal of the American Medicine Association, omega-3 fatty acids also reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, as well.

Eat Your Thylakoids!

February 19, 2019 - 9:11am
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Most nutrition experts agree that we need to “eat more veggies” as part of a healthy diet.  Consuming more leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc) may, in fact, be one of the most important components for overall health and weight loss. In addition to containing a host of fibers, vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients, leafy greens also have structures called thylakoids, which have been shown to manage cravings and increase satiety. So, the next time you add a side-salad to your lunch, you may also be helping yourself avoid the munchies later on.

Thylakoids are the photosynthetic membranes of chloroplasts that are found in the leaves of green plants. They are appearing on the health and research scene as a promising functional ingredient that exhibits a lipase-inhibiting effect leading to a reduced appetite. Thylakoids include both proteins and lipids (mainly omega-3s), 50% of each. They also contain chlorophyll, antioxidants, carotenoids, and vitamin E.

5 Surprising Things that Hurt Your Microbiome

February 12, 2019 - 12:49pm
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The human gut contains trillions of bacteria – also referred to as the gut flora or microbiome – and these tiny unicellular organisms play an unfathomable role in overall health. For instance, a healthy gut flora has been shown to improve gut health, heart health, brain health, weight management and blood sugar regulation, among others.

Astragalus: The King of Herbs

February 6, 2019 - 10:22am
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Astragalus, also known as Milkvetch or huáng qí in Chinese, is an herb that has been used for hundreds of years, with its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. One of the few all-purpose herbs used, it is believed to support a wide array of biological functions.  

Despite the fact that Astragalus has over 2,000 species, only two are principally used in supplementsAstragalus mongholicus and Astragalus membranaceus. The main part of the plant utilized for medicinal purposes is its roots, which can be made into powders, capsules and liquid extracts.

Pharmacological research has shown that the extract of Astragalus membranaceus can be quite beneficial, as it increase telomerase activity, and has immunoregulatory, antihyperglycemic, hypolipidemic, diuretic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.