Author Archives: Dr. Chaney

Is Soy A Health Food?

It seems that people everywhere are forming their opinion about soy and soy products. While some people find it to be beneficial, others have a completely different outlook about it. It’s earned the reputation of being beneficial to your health by helping to lower cholesterol, being an excellent source of protein, and even protecting against certain medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer. It can even help women experience a decrease in symptoms associated with menopause. Is it really a good thing, or not?   Soy was once listed as being a health food, but in today’s society it’s earned a spot in the US Department of Agriculture as being an industrial product as opposed to a food. Take a closer look at the history of soy, along with the negative effects that it can have on the human body.   The History of Soy   Soy has been around for 5,000 years, having originated in China. It’s used in a number of Chinese cuisine items, such as tofu and edamame beans. The Chinese also use it in their medicines at times. It is also used in a number of processed foods and dairy products. Soy is huge in areas such as the US, Brazil, China, India, and Argentina.   According to lipid specialist and nutritionist Mary Enig, PhD, “The reason there’s so much soy in America is because the soy industry started to plant soy to extract the oil from it and soy oil becme a very large industry.”   What Makes Soy Foods Unhealthy?   Soy comes in two forms; fermented and unfermented. In addition, there are two subgroups: genetically modified (GM) and organic. The GM version shouldn’t be consumed for any reason, as it contains numerous hazards that are harmful to both animals and humans. This is from crosswind factors that contaminate it and turn it into something else.   Unfermented soy is what you find in foods nowadays. You find it in tofu, veggie burgers, soy powder, sausages, soy infant food, soy milk, and so much more. But why is this so unhealthy for our bodies?   Soy and the Impact on Your Health   Soy has been linked to a number of negative aspects. One of the biggest trends seen is with allergies. This can start as early as the infant or toddler years, and it’s being seen in adults nowadays as well. While the symptoms with it are typically mild, some cases are more severe. This means that these allergic reactions can go past the typical rash or hives. They can include wheezing; lightheadedness; swelling of lips, face, or tongue; and even trouble breathing.   In addition, some studies have shown soy products might just be a contributing factor to certain types of cancer. This might include breast cancer, ovarian, or even uterine. Some of the potentially harmful chemicals that are found in soy include isoflavones, which happen to be similar to estrogen. This can lead to an abnormal development of estrogen, as well as cells that respond to certain types of cancer.   “Though studies on the harmful effects of soy isoflavones in people have been limited and inconclusive, there’s strong evidence from animal studies that genistein alters reproduction and embryonic development,” states Retha Newbold of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.   Gout is another area for concern when it comes to soy. Gout is a medical condition that is similar to arthritis but it is caused from the formation of acid crystals in the joints such as the toes, knees, elbows, and shoulders. It can be extremely painful, and patients have even reported an excruciating amount of pain in their big toes. This type of condition is triggered when a sufferer eats foods containing soy or purines, since the body turns these purines into acid.   Soy and the Effects on the Thyroid   While it’s an issue that is long from being solved, a number of studies show that soy can have a negative impact on the thyroid. For those who suffer with thyroid disease, this is something that can be toxic.   According to M. Messina from Loma Linda University, “despite the possible benefits, concerns have been expressed that soy may be contraindicated for some subsets of the population. One concern is that soy may adversely affect thyroid function and interfere with the absorption of synthetic thyroid hormone.”   If you are someone who suffers with a low thyroid issue, you might find that you will benefit from cutting soy out of your diet. Foods that contain soy can actually reduce the amount of thyroid hormones that are released in the body to help speed up your thyroid. It’s seen that people who suffer with low thyroid function can withstand about one cup a day of soy and that’s about it before they start seeing negative signs. If you have any questions at all, you might want to get contact your doctor.   Soy is found in foods that are considered goitrogens. Some of the foods include: Grains Foods that promote goiter formation Vegetables   The FDA raised a lot of concern over evidence that suggests that soy can slow down the function of the thyroid in some people. There are also some cases where certain foods that contain soy can actually lead to thyroid disease. With this in mind, more and more people are avoiding soy.   Is Overconsumption an Issue?   When it comes to soy, having too much of it can have negative repercussions. While some soy is not harmful for the diet, a number of people eat too much of it, and this can lead to health concerns over time.   Overall, soy has been studied in a number of ways. Quite a few people are allergic to it and therefore find themselves looking at every label when they go grocery shopping. While there can be good aspects so eating the right kind of soy, it can ultimately be a bad thing … Continue reading


Vitamin D and Your Health

Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is an important part of your daily dietary intake and  supplement regimen. In fact, it serves a variety of different functions in the human body. The good news is that there are some foods can help you to get the Vitamin D you need. The important thing is to get some Vitamin D in your diet and take supplements to give your body what it needs. Getting the proper amount without supplements is difficult because people simply don’t get enough sunlight. However, if you follow healthy nutritional guidelines and take quality supplements, you should be able to ensure that you remain healthy and well.   Vitamin D comes in several different forms. The two most important to human beings include Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, and Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol. Vitamin D2 is mainly synthesized by plant matter, while Vitamin D3 is mainly synthesized by humans when they are exposed to sunlight.   The Function of Vitamin D   “Clinical studies have suggested a preventative effect of Vitamin D on a broad range of disorders. Furthermore, preclinical research has advanced the field by elucidating mechanisms underlying the preventative effects of Vitamin D.” – Joan M. Lappe, PhD (Creighton University, Omaha, NE)   Vitamin D serves many functions in the human body. Its main purpose is to help maintain a normal level of calcium and phosphorus in the blood stream. It also helps to promote strong, healthy bones by aiding calcium absorption. This can help to increase bone density and decrease the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Studies have also shown that it helps to protect from high blood pressure, certain types of cancer and even a few autoimmune diseases. According to the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, Joan M. Lappe noted:   “An inverse association between cancer mortality rates and regional solar UV-B radiation exposure has been found for cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, ovary, prostate, stomach, bladder, esophagus, kidney, lung, gall bladder, thyroid, rectum, pancreas and uterus, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.”   Many aspects of our diets have been shown to increase our risk of certain types of cancer, but with new studies showing that Vitamin D can actually reduce these risks, it makes perfect sense to include Vitamin D in our daily nutritional plans. By ensuring that we get enough exposure to sunlight, we can also boost these Vitamin D levels and naturally reduce the risk of these serious types of cancer.   Vitamin D Deficiency Risks   Without a diet filled with proper nutrients, the body is at risk of nutrient deficiencies. This is true for both children and adults. As stated by the National Institute of Health:   “In children, vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, a disease characterized by a failure of bone tissue to properly mineralize, resulting in soft bones and skeletal deformities.”   Rickets can definitely be a serious concern, but since it is not seen very often it is more common for adults to be concerned about their Vitamin D levels. The National Institute of Health stated:   “In adults, vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteomalacia, resulting in weak bones. Symptoms of bone pain and muscle weakness can indicate inadequate vitamin D levels, but such symptoms can be subtle and go undetected in the initial stages.”   Osteomalacia is usually caused from a lack of Vitamin D in the diet; however, a few other things can cause this illness as well. These include cancer, hereditary disorders, kidney failure, liver disease, phosphate depletion and certain side effects from medication. The symptoms of osteomalacia include frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness and bone pain. The best way to test for osteomalacia is through a bone biopsy or bone density test.   Good Sources of Vitamin D   Possibly one of the best ways to get vitamin D is from sunlight. The body actually manufactures Vitamin D from cholesterol through a process that is directly triggered from exposure to sunlight. The problem is that some people don’t make enough Vitamin D from sunlight alone. For this reason, it is important to learn more about dietary sources of Vitamin D.   Here are a few foods that will give you added Vitamin D: Cod liver oil Swordfish Salmon Tuna Sardines   Eating foods that are high in Vitamin D can definitely help to ensure that you are eating a diet that is nutritionally balanced. Since very few foods actually offer Vitamin D, some people find it necessary to take a daily Vitamin D supplement. Before beginning a Vitamin D supplement, it is a good idea to have your Vitamin D levels checked. This will help you to avoid getting too much Vitamin D, which can lead to other health concerns.   What Can Happen If You Get Too Much Vitamin D?   It is definitely possible to have too much of a good thing. When there is too much Vitamin D in the body, it is known as Vitamin D toxicity. According to the National Institute of Health:   “Vitamin D toxicity can cause non-specific symptoms such as anorexia, weight loss, polyuria, and heart arrhythmias. More seriously, it can also raise blood levels of calcium which leads to vascular and tissue calcification, with subsequent damage to the heart, blood vessels and kidneys.”   A common misconception about Vitamin D toxicity is that it can be caused by too much exposure to the sun. This is not the case at all. The most common cause of Vitamin D toxicity is through the misuse of Vitamin D supplements. Taking Vitamin D supplements is a great way to boost your Vitamin D levels; however it is very important to take them as directed. This is why it is so important to have your Vitamin D levels checked every so often to avoid toxic levels.   Healthy Recommendations   To promote overall health and wellness, try to get enough sunlight so that your body can synthesize Vitamin D … Continue reading


Are You Still on a Low Fat/No Fat Diet?

Several fad diets have poured into the media over the past few years. It seems that when one new fad diet fades out, another one is coming in right behind it. One of the more recent popular diets was the low fat/no fat diet. A common belief is if you consume fat then you will gain weight and get fat. This is far from the truth. If you are still on this type of diet, then you could be doing irreparable damage to your body, as several health risks have been associated with low fat/no fat diets. Take a closer look at why fat is important, and you will soon see that you need to choose a different diet!   Health Risks Involved with a Low Fat/No Fat Diet   While most people are aware that too much of the “wrong” fat in your diet can lead to a whole slew of problems, the same is true for those that don’t get enough fat. Later, we will take a closer look at why fat is important, but first take a look at the health risks concerning a low fat/no fat diet.   Studies have shown that people that don’t have enough essential fatty acids in their diet are at a higher risk of developing breast, colon and prostate cancers. When you don’t get enough fat in your diet, your “good” cholesterol levels will decrease. HDL levels need to remain high in order to decrease the risk of heart disease.   Your mood and behavior can also be affected by your low fat/no fat diet. Healthy fats help to promote balanced mental health. Not getting enough fat can lead to a deficiency of omega-3s, which can aggravate ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders and schizophrenia.   People that cut fat out of their diet are usually making up for it with other nutrients. A low fat/no fat diet can lead to an imbalance of essential nutrients.   Most foods that claim to be low-fat or fat-free tend to have added sugars to ensure that they are still tasty. Studies have shown that people who eat low-fat and fat-free foods are likely to eat much more than those that eat a diet full of healthy fats.   As you can see, low fat/no fat diets are a lot risker than people realize. Now, let’s take a look at the reasons that fat is so important.   Why Fat is Important   Fat is very important for the human body. According the American Dietary Guidelines, at least 20 to 35 percent of the calories in your daily diet should come from fat. We see clinically that this is the minimum amount that you should have in your diet.   Fat is the source of essential fatty acids, or EFAs. According to Wahida Karmally PhD, RD, a professor of nutrition at Columbia University, “your body is incapable of producing the EFAs, known as linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid, so it must derive them from food.”   EFAs are important for a variety of different reasons, but they are most important when it comes to brain function. According to CY Chang from the Department of Neurology at Chi-Mei Medical Center in Taiwan, “The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. We’ve learned in recent years that fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform.”   Fat also helps aid in the absorption of vitamins, especially vitamins A, D, E and K (which are known as the fat-soluble vitamins). These are very important vitamins, as they help to aid in bodily functions including growth and development, immunity, repairing of cells, and blood clotting. If you don’t get enough fat in your body, you could put yourself at risk for a vitamin deficiency.   Fat is important for other reasons as well. Karmally states that “fat is also necessary for maintaining healthy skin, and it plays a central role in promoting proper eyesight and brain development in babies and children.”   This goes to show that fat is not only essential for adults, but also for babies and children.   Another reason that fat is so important is because it is the preferred fuel for the body. A common misconception is that carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body, when in fact fat actually powers the body better.   Healthy Fats vs. Unhealthy Fats   You have probably gone your entire life hearing about how bad fat is for your body, but that could not be further from the truth. The key is to recognize the healthy fats. Sure, certain kinds of fats should be avoided, but on the same token some are absolutely essential.   Man-made saturated fats should be avoided (partially hydrogenated oils or trans fatty acids) since they are toxic and harmful to the body. They can prove to be harmful to your diet. Trans- fats occur naturally in some types of food, but more often than not they are synthetic fats. This type of fat has been proven to raise cholesterol and put you at a higher risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes.   One type of fat that should be consumed in limited quality, depending on the source, is saturated fat. Saturated fats are fats that come from animal sources, some plants and seeds and man-made. Beneficial sources of saturated fat include cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil, grass fed beef and butter from grass fed cows.   Now, let’s take a look at other types of fats. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are your omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. These fats are found in plant-based foods and certain types of oil. Great sources of omega 9 fats are olive oil, macadamia nut oil and chicken and turkey fat. Healthy omega 6 oils include black currant oil, borage oil and primrose oil. Then there are omega 3’s, which most of us have heard of. These fats … Continue reading


Should I Buy Organic Food?

Many health conscious people understand the importance of making dietary changes to improve their overall health and wellness. Over the past few decades, the popularity of organic foods has risen dramatically. Today, the organic movement has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. This is due largely in part to the perception that organic foods are healthier than traditionally grown foods. Is that truly the case?   Take a closer look at the differences between organic foods and traditionally grown foods, and you can see for yourself why people are turning to organic foods. Also, learn more about the benefits that come along with eating organic foods. Before you agree to pay the extra money for organics, you will want to know why you are paying more. Learning more about organic foods and how they affect your overall health and wellness will help you to see that they are worth every additional cent that you pay.   The Difference Between Organic Foods and Traditionally Grown Foods   The USDA defines organic foods as “food produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation.”   Some of these terms may be a bit unsettling, especially for people who are not accustomed to buying organic foods. The fact is, most traditionally grown foods use unnatural fertilizers. You may not have known that some foods are even made with “sewage sludge.” This does not sound too appetizing, does it?   Only foods that are grown in organic fields that use no agricultural chemicals can be considered organic. Organic farmers use traditional methods of farming, including composting, mechanical cultivation and crop rotation.   Organic foods are also generally more expensive than traditionally grown foods. This is because organic farming requires much more work and is less productive. So, why do some farmers still grow organic foods? The answer is simple—many health-conscious people are willing to pay extra for the health benefits that organic foods provide to their family.   Another way that organic foods differ from traditionally grown foods is their taste. Organic foods offer a richer taste because they are not tainted with harsh chemicals that can take away from the natural flavor of the food. So, for better tasting, healthier foods, you should choose organic foods whenever you can—even if it means spending a bit more for them.   Are They Really Better for You?   A whole slew of studies have been conducted to determine whether or not organic foods are actually better than traditionally grown foods. One of the most commonly referenced studies came from several scientists from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In the study, they concluded that most of the nutrients included in both organic foods and traditionally grown foods, such as calcium, iron and vitamin C, were not always different.   So, does that mean that the organic foods are not better for you? Absolutely not! When you take a closer look, you will find that there is much more to organic food than simply vitamins and minerals. According to HealthStatus, a directory of health related articles online, “the main reason for the increased popularity of organic food comes from the fear people have of chemical pesticides and fertilizers used to grow food in conventional fields.”   Any health professional will tell you that chemicals that are being used to grow foods these days can have very harmful effects on the human body. Some of these pesticides and chemicals will remain on the foods long after they have been washed or peeled. So, if you think that you are safe by simply washing your foods, think again.   Here are some of the common health problems associated with certain chemicals and pesticides used in non-organic foods:   Dizziness Headaches Abdominal discomfort Nausea Vomiting Neurological issues Respiratory problems Skin problems Memory loss Cancer Birth defects Depression   This is not even a comprehensive list of problems that can arise from certain traditionally grown foods. There are many more possible health concerns to consider as well.   The Benefits of Organic Foods   Organic foods prove to have a variety of benefits. According to W. J. Crinnion, of the Environmental Medicine Program at Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona, “organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients, lower levels of pesticides, and may provide health benefits for the consumer.”   The fact that organic foods contain higher levels of certain nutrients speaks for itself. The human body requires a certain amount of nutrients for overall health and wellness. Getting the proper amount of nutrients each day can be challenging, but with organic foods it makes it a bit easier.   As seen above, the pesticides used in non-organic foods can prove to be quite detrimental to human health. Eliminating these pesticides from your diet by consuming organic foods can really help to reduce your risk of certain health issues.   Another big benefit is the fact that organic foods are naturally higher in antioxidant phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, and carotenoids. While these terms may be a foreign language to most consumers, they are very important to human health.   Should All Foods Purchased Be Organic?   Whenever you have the opportunity, you will want to make sure that you choose organic foods. Fortunately, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established a program for helping consumers remain informed about organic foods. For foods to be labeled as organic, they must meet strict requirements set forth by the government. These requirements regulate not only the way that the foods are grown, but also the ways that they are handled and processed.   Most people that produce organic foods will have the USDA Organic label. While this label is notrequired, it is used quite frequently because the producers want people to recognize their foods asbeing compliant with the USDA standards.   Sources:   http://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/2012/02/20/is-organic-food-really-better-for-you/ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organic-food/NU00255 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20359265


Lowering Cholesterol – Drugs vs Naturally

The safety of cholesterol drugs has definitely been all over the media over the past few years. Physicians are rather quick to prescribe these cholesterol lowering medications, but just how safe are they? There have been conflicting reports, some stating that cholesterol drugs are extremely safe and others saying that they are extremely risky. Before you even consider taking cholesterol drugs, you will want to take a closer look at their effectiveness and the risks involved with them.   Once you are well informed about the risks associated with cholesterol drugs, you might decide that they are not your best option. While this may be the case, high cholesterol levels are not healthy either. If you choose not to take cholesterol drugs, you will need to come up with another way to lower your cholesterol levels and ensure your overall health and wellness.   Do They Reduce Morbidity and Mortality Rates?   First, consider the overall effectiveness of cholesterol drugs. If you take medications for certain ailments, you will want to be fairly certain that they are going to actually help you. Here, we will discuss determinations found in two different studies regarding the effectiveness of cholesterol drugs. Chances are you will find the results to be quite alarming.   A study was done to determine the correlation between cholesterol medications and reduced morbidity and mortality rates. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, “based on aggregate data on 65,229 men and women from 11 studies, yielding approximately 244,000 person-years of follow-up and 2,793 deaths, we observed that statin therapy for an average period of 3.7 years had no benefit on all-cause mortality in a high-risk primary prevention population.”   For a medication that has many side effects and risks involved, this determination does not prove to be very promising for patients that are currently taking, or considering taking, cholesterol medication. Most people want to see studies that prove that there is a very high success rate in improving mortality and morbidity rates when taking certain medications, instead of seeing that there is really no benefit whatsoever.   Another study that was included in the 2010 British Medical Journal had even more alarming news. It states that “for every heart attack allegedly prevented by cholesterol-lowering drugs, two people suffer liver damage, kidney failure, cataracts, or extreme muscle weakness as a direct result of taking the drugs.”   From this study, you can see that cholesterol drugs actually caused more harm than good in patients. It is safe to say that you might want to weigh the pros and cons of cholesterol drugs before you fill that prescription. After all, the side effects may not be worth the “chance” that you may have success lowering your cholesterol levels.   What are the Side Effects?   A variety of side effects come along with cholesterol medications. Most of the common side effects are not considered to be too serious, but a few more rare side effects can be quite serious.   The majority of the side effects experienced by cholesterol medications include headache, flushed skin, insomnia, muscle pain or weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, bloating, constipation and skin rash. Many people have reported muscle cramping disappearing once their doctor took them off their cholesterol medication. While these side effects are common of many medications, you must look at the more serious side effects before you determine if cholesterol medications are right for you.   Most people are unaware that some cholesterol medications warn of potential mental confusion, memory loss, nerve damage, anemia, sexual dysfunction, cataracts, elevated blood sugar and even type-2 diabetes. One of mechanisms interfered with by many of these medications is fat metabolism. Your brain is about 70% fat, all your nerves are coated with fat and each and every cell in the body contains a phospholipid membrane (fat membrane). So you can see how this interruption in fat metabolism can cause damage to many vital functions. Another thing to consider is the fact that these medications can often interact with other medications to cause other side effects.   Now, let us take a closer look at the more serious side effects associated with cholesterol medications.   These include: Myositis – muscle inflammation, at a higher degree of severity. Elevated Creatine Kinase – elevated amounts of the muscle enzyme CPK, which can lead to pain, weakness and inflammation of the muscles. Rhabdomyolysis – another type of muscle inflammation that can lead to severe damage to the body, especially the kidneys. Arthritis – inflammation of the joints, which can be very painful. Hepatotoxicity – liver damage that is induced by chemicals. Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas. Lyell’s Syndrome – also known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, and is a dermatological issue that is rare but life threatening. The epidermis and the dermis begin to detach from each other.     According to research done by the University of Balogna in Italy, Muscari and Puddu wrote:“Factors predisposing to adverse effects are age, female sex, renal insufficiency, electrolyte disturbances, infections and trauma. Complications chiefly concern the hepatic function, skeletal muscles and peripheral nerves.” This means that certain people are more likely to experience these adverse effects of cholesterol lowering medications.   Alternatives to Cholesterol Drugs   Whether or not you choose to take cholesterol drugs, you will still need to make a few lifestyle changes to ensure longevity of life. The best ways to lower your cholesterol levels include losing weight, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising and quitting smoking. Here are several dietary changes that can be helpful in lowering your cholesterol: Eat healthier fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats Avoid trans fats Limit grain intake Eat lots of fruits and veggies Add wild fish to your diet, especially heart-healthy fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids Limit your alcohol intake Eat free-range chicken and eggs   Several natural products that have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. After discussing it with your physician, you might want to … Continue reading


Should You Avoid Genetically Engineered Foods?

The safety of cholesterol drugs has definitely been all over the media over the past few years. Physicians are rather quick to prescribe these cholesterol lowering medications, but just how safe are they? There have been conflicting reports, some stating that cholesterol drugs are extremely safe and others saying that they are extremely risky. Before you even consider taking cholesterol drugs, you will want to take a closer look at their effectiveness and the risks involved with them.   Once you are well informed about the risks associated with cholesterol drugs, you might decide that they are not your best option. While this may be the case, high cholesterol levels are not healthy either. If you choose not to take cholesterol drugs, you will need to come up with another way to lower your cholesterol levels and ensure your overall health and wellness.   Do They Reduce Morbidity and Mortality Rates?   First, consider the overall effectiveness of cholesterol drugs. If you take medications for certain ailments, you will want to be fairly certain that they are going to actually help you. Here, we will discuss determinations found in two different studies regarding the effectiveness of cholesterol drugs. Chances are you will find the results to be quite alarming.   A study was done to determine the correlation between cholesterol medications and reduced morbidity and mortality rates. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, “based on aggregate data on 65,229 men and women from 11 studies, yielding approximately 244,000 person-years of follow-up and 2,793 deaths, we observed that statin therapy for an average period of 3.7 years had no benefit on all-cause mortality in a high-risk primary prevention population.”   For a medication that has many side effects and risks involved, this determination does not prove to be very promising for patients that are currently taking, or considering taking, cholesterol medication. Most people want to see studies that prove that there is a very high success rate in improving mortality and morbidity rates when taking certain medications, instead of seeing that there is really no benefit whatsoever.   Another study that was included in the 2010 British Medical Journal had even more alarming news. It states that “for every heart attack allegedly prevented by cholesterol-lowering drugs, two people suffer liver damage, kidney failure, cataracts, or extreme muscle weakness as a direct result of taking the drugs.”   From this study, you can see that cholesterol drugs actually caused more harm than good in patients.  It is safe to say that you might want to weigh the pros and cons of cholesterol drugs before you fill that prescription. After all, the side effects may not be worth the “chance” that you may have success lowering your cholesterol levels.   What are the Side Effects?   A variety of side effects come along with cholesterol medications. Most of the common side effects are not considered to be too serious, but a few more rare side effects can be quite serious.   The majority of the side effects experienced by cholesterol medications include headache, flushed skin, insomnia, muscle pain or weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, bloating, constipation and skin rash. Many people have reported muscle cramping disappearing once their doctor took them off their cholesterol medication. While these side effects are common of many medications, you must look at the more serious side effects before you determine if cholesterol medications are right for you.   Most people are unaware that some cholesterol medications warn of potential mental confusion, memory loss, nerve damage, anemia, sexual dysfunction, cataracts, elevated blood sugar and even type-2 diabetes. One of mechanisms interfered with by many of these medications is fat metabolism. Your brain is about 70% fat, all your nerves are coated with fat and each and every cell in the body contains a phospholipid membrane (fat membrane). So you can see how this interruption in fat metabolism can cause damage to many vital functions. Another thing to consider is the fact that these medications can often interact with other medications to cause other side effects.   Now, let us take a closer look at the more serious side effects associated with cholesterol medications.   These include: Myositis – muscle inflammation, at a higher degree of severity. Elevated Creatine Kinase – elevated amounts of the muscle enzyme CPK, which can lead to pain, weakness and inflammation of the muscles. Rhabdomyolysis – another type of muscle inflammation that can lead to severe damage to the body, especially the kidneys. Arthritis – inflammation of the joints, which can be very painful. Hepatotoxicity – liver damage that is induced by chemicals. Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas. Lyell’s Syndrome – also known as toxic epidermal necrolysis, and is a dermatological issue that is rare but life threatening. The epidermis and the dermis begin to detach from each other.   According to research done by the University of Balogna in Italy, Muscari and Puddu wrote:   “Factors predisposing to adverse effects are age, female sex, renal insufficiency, electrolyte disturbances, infections and trauma. Complications chiefly concern the hepatic function, skeletal muscles and peripheral nerves.”   This means that certain people are more likely to experience these adverse effects of cholesterol lowering medications.   Alternatives to Cholesterol Drugs   Whether or not you choose to take cholesterol drugs, you will still need to make a few lifestyle changes to ensure longevity of life. The best ways to lower your cholesterol levels include losing weight, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising and quitting smoking. Here are several dietary changes that can be helpful in lowering your cholesterol:   Eat healthier fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats Avoid trans fats Limit grain intake Eat lots of fruits and veggies Add wild fish to your diet, especially heart-healthy fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids Limit your alcohol intake Eat free-range chicken and eggs   Several natural products that have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. After discussing it with your physician, you … Continue reading


Is Dairy Really Good For You?

According to the USDA food pyramid, it is important to get three servings of dairy each day; however, more recent studies show that this may not be in the best interest of overall health and wellness. According to Doctor Mark Hyman, “Some of the ‘experts’ who helped create the pyramid actually work for the dairy industry, which makes the US Department of agriculture’s recommendations reflect industry interests, not science or our best interests.”   This fact may alarm some people—especially those who try to be conscious of their health and nutrition. For years, people have followed the guidelines that were set forth by the USDA, all the while believing that these guidelines were designed for their health. The truth is that there is much speculation regarding the true amounts of milk and dairy that is needed by the body. Also in question is whether dairy is actually good for the body. Take a closer look to learn more.   The Shocking Truth   There are six truths about dairy that may be quite alarming to some people. These are based on the findings of Dr. Willett, from the Harvard School of Health. Milk actually does not reduce the number of bone fractures, and can in fact increase your risk. Studies show that the less dairy consumed can actually result in better bones. Calcium has proven to not be as protective as it was once thought to be for the bones. Calcium has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer. Dairy products simply don’t have as much calcium as people think. Some people are unable to process and digest dairy products.   Dairy can also lead to a variety of other health issues, including allergies, sinus irritation, ear infection, diabetes, constipation, and anemia. Another thing to consider is the effects of both pasteurization and homogenization.   The Effects of Pasteurization   Pasteurization is a technique that is used to help sterilize raw foods. High levels of heat are used to help destroy the bacteria within the milk to help make it more sterile. It not only helps to make it more sterile, but it also helps to give it a longer shelf life.   The process of pasteurization actually destroys some of the important vitamins and minerals that are included in raw milk. These essential vitamins and minerals that are lost can help to reduce allergies, cancer, and even lactose intolerance.   The Effects of Homogenization   Homogenization of milk is very common. It helps to increase the physical stability, and also reduces the fat droplet size. This keeps the milk from separating and rising. It was once thought that homogenized milk is better digestible than milk that has been untreated, but is that really the case?   Researchers have determined that the fat globules increase the ability of homogenized milk to result in allergic reactions. This is just one of the concerns that come along with the homogenization of milk. Due to the high heat required for homogenization, it can also result in altered color and flavor. It can also alter the nutritional value of the milk.   The Importance of Calcium and Vitamin D   Calcium and Vitamin D are very important for the human body. According to the National Institute of Health, “Calcium is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly and for blood to clot. Inadequate calcium significantly contributes to the development of osteoporosis.”   If you want to know how much calcium should be included in your daily dietary intake, it will depend greatly on your age. The National Institute of Health recommends the following amounts:   Infants 0 to 6 months – 200 mg/day Infants 6 to 12 months – 260 mg/day 1 to 3 years old – 700 mg/day 4 to 8 years old – 1000 mg/day 9 to 18 years old – 1300 mg/day 19 to 50 years old – 1000 mg/day 51 to 70 year old males – 1000 mg/day 51 to 70 year old females – 1200 mg/day 70 years old+ – 1200 mg/day   In order to actually absorb the calcium taken in by the body, vitamin D is required. If you don’t have enough of this vitamin in your body, then you won’t get the calcium absorption that is necessary for overall health. There are simply not very many foods that contain vitamin D naturally.   The National Institute of Health recommends the following amounts of Vitamin D:   0 to 12 months – 400 IU 1 to 70 years – 600 IU 70 years old+ – 800 IU These are minimum recommendations and not therapeutic recommendations. Vitamin D is one of the most common deficiencies seen in our patients. Most patients need therapeutic doses to optimize their levels.   It is clear that food sources themselves do not always offer the amount of calcium and vitamin D that the body needs in a day. It is often necessary to take calcium and vitamin D supplements in order to get the recommended daily amount each day.   How Much Calcium and Vitamin D is Really Found in Milk?   Everyone has heard that milk does the body good, and that it is calcium rich. Is this really true? When you take a look at the actual amounts of calcium found in a single cup of whole milk, 246 mg, this might not mean too much to you. However, if you compare this amount with other foods, you might be surprised to find out that milk and dairy products are not the best source of calcium. For example 8 medium sardines contain about 370 mg of calcium.   Now, take a look at the amounts of vitamin D in milk. In one cup of whole milk, there are approximately 124 IUs per serving. Now, compare it to other foods, such as one tablespoon of cod liver oil, which has 1360 IUs per serving. With that in mind, it would seem that there are much … Continue reading


Promoting Good Gut Health

Having a healthy gut is very important to your overall health. The good news is that you can do a variety of things to ensure healthy digestion. Most people are unaware of the fact that digestive issues can lead to many other health concerns. Most physicians have grown to understand these concerns and want to pass this knowledge on to their patients.   Dr. Mark Hyman stated, “Most of us (including most doctors) do not recognize or know that digestive problems wreak havoc in the entire body, leading to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, rashes, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, autism, dementia, cancer, and more.” That is a lengthy list of concerns that can be directly related to an unhealthy gut. You may not see how these health concerns can relate to your gut, but studies have shown a direct correlation. As you can see, digestive health is something that should be taken very seriously. When it comes to your overall health and wellness, you can never underestimate the importance of taking care of every part of your body—including your gut. So, what exactly is gut health? Gut health is more than just healthy digestion and absorption of food. Take a closer look to see exactly what all it entails. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that there are things that you can do to help ensure your overall gut health.   Bacteria in Your Gut – Good or Bad?   Most people see bacteria as a hazard to the body. After all some bacteria can do a wide array of damage. Bacteria is actually not as bad as people think it is, or at least the right types of bacteria isn’t. Some people aren’t aware of the amount of bacteria in a person’s gut—both healthy and unhealthy. You will want to have the perfect balance of bacteria to ensure a healthy gut. After all, if you have too many bad bacteria or not enough good bacteria, your health could be at risk. Bad bacteria include various parasites and forms of yeast. Good bacteria include lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, among many others. Bad bacteria, known as pathogenic bacteria, are very harmful to the gut. They work to fight against the good bacteria and try to take over the gut and use up space and food that are needed by the good bacteria. These harmful bacteria can cause a lot of problems with digestion, including bloating, constipation, and gas. Generally, they come from certain foods that you eat.   Hyman writes, “There are bugs in your gut that form a diverse and interdependent ecosystem like a rainforest. In fact, there are 500 species and three pounds of bacteria in your gut which form a HUGE chemical factory that helps you digest your food, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, and produce vitamins and other healing compounds that keep your gut and your body healthy.”   So, how do you go about creating a healthy ecosystem for your gut? The key lies in probiotics.   The Benefits of Probiotics   Now that you are aware of the need for good bacteria in your gut, how can you go about ensuring that you have enough? Taking probiotics can be a great way to promote healthy bacteria in your gut. There are some foods that are naturally probiotic, but most people find that probiotic supplements are the best way to ensure that they get enough.   According to Harvard Health, “Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women.” Probiotics have a variety of benefits for the human body. They have been shown to help treat diarrhea in infants and children, especially when the diarrhea was induced by an antibiotic. They have also been shown to help treat people who suffer from Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.   Probiotics are considered safe, as they are already found in the digestive system. The problem is that sometimes there are not enough in the digestive system. This is especially true after a round of antibiotics. Anytime you take antibiotics, it is important to counteract them with probiotics to ensure that the healthy bacteria in your gut are not wiped out. How it Relates to Your Immune System Health   The truth is that your gut and your immune system go hand in hand. In fact, 80 percent of the immune system is found in the gastrointestinal tract. As Hyman stated, “The health of your gut determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens, and microbes are kept out.”   Keeping out harmful toxins, allergens, and microbes is essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system. Since the majority of your immune system is in the digestive tract, it makes perfect sense to focus on your gut health in order to improve your immunity.   Healthy Foods to Eat   If you want to promote good gut health, you will want to adopt some healthy nutritional habits. You should start by including foods that will help to remove the bad bacteria from your gut. Then, you will want to choose foods that help to promote the growth of good bacteria. Finally, you want to make sure that you can repopulate your gut with good bacteria after they have been depleted.   Here are a few common herbs that are used to help remove bad bacteria and yeast: Berberine sulfate, which helps to stimulate the immune system for self-cleansing. Oregano extract, which helps to get rid of unwanted bacteria that could be harmful. Pau d’Arco, which helps to get rid of candida yeast.   Here are a few common foods that can help to support growth and repopulation of good bacteria: Raw yogurt, sour cream and cottage cheese that contain live and active cultures Apples Sauerkraut Miso   Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/is-your-digestive-system_b_313247.html http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0905c.shtml http://www.drphelts.com/blog/2011/11/17/a-healthy-gut-enhances-your-immune-system/


Should You Avoid Artificial Sweeteners?

With more and more people attempting to eliminate sugar from their diets in an effort to lose weight and become healthier, artificial sweeteners are becoming increasingly popular. The problem is that most people are unaware of the negative effects of artificial sweeteners. While they are typically calorie free and may seem like the better alternative to sugar, there is little to no truth to this concept whatsoever.   So, what are artificial sweeteners? They are basically sugar substitutes that are synthetically manufactured using herbs and sometimes even sugar itself. Typically they are much sweeter than regular sugar. According to the FDA, there are five approved artificial sweeteners. These include acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, saccharin and sucralose. They are most commonly known as Equal, Sweet’N Low and Splenda, and are commonly found in blue, pink and yellow packets.   Artificial sweeteners are found in many different foods and beverages that claim to be “diet” or “sugar free.” This includes various drinks, gum, candies, juices and even frozen treats. People don’t want the added sugar in their diet, but they don’t want to nix the sweets altogether. This is why they turn to artificial sweeteners in the first place. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why artificial sweeteners should be avoided.   Negative Effects on the Body   Various types of artificial sweeteners can have adverse effects on the human body. Take a look at each of the five approved artificial sweeteners and the health risks involved with them.   Acesulfame Potassium is an artificial sweetener that lacks any type of long-term study or testing. While it has not been tested as much as some of the other sweeteners, it still contains methylene chloride, which is a known carcinogen.   According to MedicineNet, “Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects kidney effects, visual disturbances and cancer in humans.”   Aspartame is one of the more common artificial sweeteners, and it is also the one with the most controversy. In 1998, H. J. Roberts, MD, described what is now known as “aspartame disease.”   As noted by MedicineNet, “Some of these symptoms include headache, dizziness, change in mood, vomiting or nausea, abdominal pain and cramps, change in vision, diarrhea, seizures/ convulsions, memory loss, and fatigue.” Other symptoms may include: “ fibromyalgia symptoms, spasms, shooting pains, numbness in your legs, cramps, tinnitus, joint pain, unexplainable depression, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, blurred vision, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus and various cancers.”   Neotame is very similar to aspartame, which means that it can cause similar effects. Much like Acesulfame Potassium, this sweetener lacks long-term studies and testing.   Saccharin is an artificial sweetener that was once listed on the National Toxicology Program’s list of potential carcinogens. It has since been removed from the list, but that does not mean that it is safe. In 1997, the Center for the Science in Public Interest wrote, “it would be highly imprudent for the NTP to delist saccharin. Doing so would give the public a false sense of security, remove any incentive for further testing and result in greater exposure to this probably carcinogen in tens of millions of people, including children (indeed, fetuses).” Other common effects of saccharin include allergic reactions. These reactions can lead to headache, difficulty breathing, skin rash and upset stomach.   Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is marketed to be just like sugar. This is a far stretch from the truth. To understand this, you have to learn how sucralose is made. Sucralose is basically made by treating sugar with chlorine. That’s right—chlorine—a carcinogen that is included in many pesticides and household cleaning agents. In fact, sucralose was discovered by accident when trying to develop a new insecticide. Some common negative effects of this product include gastrointestinal problems, skin irritation, wheezing, cough, chest pains, mood swings, anger, itchy eyes and many others.   When you take a look at all of the negative effects of these artificial sweeteners, it makes you want to eliminate them from your diet entirely!   Addictive Qualities   Artificial sweeteners have actually been proven to have addictive qualities. Holly Strawbridge, an Executive Editor at Harvard Medical School, concluded that “Animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be addictive. In studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine and oral saccharin, most chose saccharin.”   With that being said, it may be more difficult to ditch the artificial sweeteners than you thought it would be. Many people find themselves experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they abruptly discontinue the use of artificial sweeteners in their diet.   Another thing to consider is the studies that show artificial sweeteners likely make you gain weight. The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that the artificial sweeteners are intensely sweet. They leave you craving more sweets. This is why so many people that drink diet sodas tend to crave sweets more often. Therefore, what you could be viewing as helpful to your overall health and wellness could actually be harmful.   What Sweeteners are Safe?   Sugar is not all that bad in and of itself. In fact, Dr. Ludwig, a weight loss specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, states that “Sugar-containing foods in their natural form, whole fruit, for example, tendto be highly nutritious—nutrient-dense, high in fiber, and low in glycemic load. On the other hand, refined, concentrated sugar consumed in large amounts rapidly increases blood glucose and insulin levels, increases triglycerides, inflammatory mediators and oxygen radicals, and with them, the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses.”   The best sugars are the ones that are found naturally in the foods that we eat. When you choose to sweeten your foods with sweeteners, you should definitely avoid artificial sweeteners. Try using nutritive sweeteners, such as stevia and honey. These sweeteners are definitely the better option when compared to non-nutritive sweeteners and artificial sweeteners, but they should still be used in moderation.   … Continue reading


Are Your Hormones Balanced?

Hormone balance is a lot more important than many people think. When a person’s hormones are imbalanced, it can affect every aspect of life in both men and women. The three main hormones that should be kept in balance include estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. If you have low levels of these important hormones, it can lead to a variety of different health concerns. Keeping balanced hormones can definitely play an important role in your overall health and wellness.   Take a look at the effects of menopause in women and andropause in men. Then, consider the ways that you can counteract the chances of hormonal imbalances due to these bodily changes that occur later in life. After all, menopause and adropause can have serious effects on the body. They can, in a sense, affect the overall health and well being of both men and women.   Menopause in Women   Upon the start of menopause, women are likely to experience hormone imbalances. This is due largely in part to the fact that women produce less estrogen during this period of their lives. Women most often experience menopause between the ages 45 and 55. When a woman’s hormone levels become imbalanced, it is likely that the body systems will be affected as well. During menopause, if a hormonal imbalance occurs, quite a few symptoms may come along with it.   These include:   Hot flashes Irritability Night sweats Fatigue Decreased sex drive Intimate dryness Depression   Menopause is almost always characterized by cessation of the menstrual cycle. Before many of the hormonal changes become apparent, the menstrual cycle may become irregular. This gives women the chance to recognize what is happening with their bodies. They are then able to make necessary lifestyle changes in an effort to combat hormonal imbalances that so often occur in women that are going through menopause, or are postmenopausal.   Now that we have looked at what happens to women later in life, what happens to men? Do they experience similar hormonal changes? How does this affect their overall health and well being?   Andropause in Men   Women experience menopause, and often men experience andropause. This is basically the male version of menopause. While menopause happens typically between ages 45 and 55, andropause happens typically between ages 40 and 55. Menopause is marked by the disappearance of the menstrual cycle, which makes it very easy to recognize. Andropause is much more difficult to recognize because there is no definite sign of it.   One thing that is common between both menopause and andropause is that they both cause hormone imbalances. In women, the affected hormone is estrogen. In men, the affected hormone is testosterone. These hormonal changes can have a variety of effects on men.   These effects include:   Mood changes Decreased sex drive Lower energy levels Decreased physical agility   Testosterone is the hormone that helps to maintain a man’s bone density, fat distribution, muscle mass and strength, red blood cell count, libido, and sperm count. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Testosterone peaks during adolescence and early adulthood. As you get older, your testosterone level gradually declines—typically about one percent a year after age 30.”   With testosterone levels on a steady decline, it is very important to manage hormonal balance to ensure that there is not a deficiency or an imbalance. The best way to ensure testosterone balance is for a man to have his testosterone levels checked from time to time, and also focus on ways that he can naturally regulate his levels.   Balancing Your Hormones   The effects of hormone imbalances in both men and women are easy to recognize. If you are between the ages of 40 and 55 and recognize any of the signs of symptoms, you will want to make sure that you are aware of the things that can be done to balance your hormone levels. There are quite a few ways to balance these levels out.   One of the common treatments to balance out testosterone levels is testosterone therapy. The problem with testosterone therapy is that this testosterone is likely to be converted into estrogen. This conversion will make the hormone problems worse. Testosterone therapy can also lead to several health concerns.   These include:   Sleep apnea Polycythemia Acne Skin conditions Benign prostatic hyperplasia Enlarged breasts Limited sperm production Testicle shrinkage   Women undergoing menopause may also consider hormone therapy. When women undergo hormone replacement therapy, they take medications to replace the hormones that are not naturally created by their bodies anymore. These hormones help them to battle hot flashes and other symptoms that come along with menopause.   According to the Mayo Clinic, “Use of hormone therapy changed abruptly when a large clinical trial found that the treatment actually posed more health risks than benefits for one type of hormone therapy, particularly when given to older postmenopausal women. As a concern about health hazards attributed to hormone therapy grew, doctors became less likely to prescribe it.”   These risks for women include:   Heart disease Stroke Blood clots Breast cancer   These are some pretty serious concerns to be aware of, and it may lead you to look into natural options for achieving hormone imbalance.   The good news is that if you keep up a healthy way of life and a healthy diet, you will likely be able to avoid hormonal imbalances. Making dietary changes can really be of help. There are foods, beverages and products that contain chemicals that will interact with the way that your hormones are supposed to work. These foods are usually considered bad because they have added chemicals that can affect your hormones and initiate hormonal imbalances.   Other dietary measures that can be taken include adding omega-3 EFAs to your diet. These are very important, and they help to ensure that you are getting the most out of your diet. Another thing to consider is eating organic foods instead of genetically modified foods. … Continue reading