Lactobacillus acidophilus, probiotic for a healthy gut

Lactobacillus acidophilus. Photo bPhoto by Doc. RNDr. Josef Reischig, CSc.

Photo by Doc. RNDr. Josef Reischig, CSc.

Probiotics are “good bacteria” which inhabit healthy humans in a similar way to humans inhabiting the Earth. On our skin, in all our orifices (mouth, nose etc) and especially in our gut there are hundreds of probiotics living out their lives and helping us to stay healthy. Without them our health starts to break down, so it’s true to say that we have a symbiotic relationship.

Antibiotics are indiscriminate. They kill all bacteria (except resistant strains) including probiotics, so after finishing a course of antibiotics it’s wise to replenish the ones in your gut, which are essential for digestion and many other functions we’re only just beginning to understand. For example, it’s recently been discovered that mental health is linked to the flora in the gut – including probiotics.

Probiotics are often recommended for improving digestion and normalising bowel health, reducing intestinal irritation, improving lactose tolerance and for the treatment of halitosis and bacterial vaginosis.

They can be obtained from foods such as kefir, kimchi, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh and yogurt. There are also various supplements available.

Although often present in commercial yogurt, the quantities found are generally very low unless it’s labelled specifically as “live acidophilus yogurt”. Another good way to get sufficient acidophilus for positive health benefits is to add lots of fermented vegetables to your diet or you may prefer to take an over the counter supplement.

Many practitioners recommend taking “prebiotics” along with probiotics. Some probiotic supplements include prebiotics in their formulation. Prebiotics is the medical name for soluble fibre. The most well known of these are fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin. They are found in asparagus, bananas, barley, beans, garlic, honey, onions, tomatoes, wheat and many other foods, also in breast milk.

There are many different probiotics which are helpful specifically for the gut, but the majority are Lactobacillus species. The most well known is Lactobacillus acidophilus, considered by many to be the best probiotic for human health, and in fact many of the others are now regarded as varieties of L. acidophilus (sometimes called just acidophilus), even though they are called by different names.

Lactobacillus acidophilus was discovered in the early years of the 20th century by a pediatrician called Dr Ernst Moro, who also discovered the pathogen E. coli (Escherichia coli).

Acidophilus is naturally found in the intestines, mouth and the female genitals. In the gut it produces lactase (the enzyme required for the digestion of lactose in milk products) and vitamin K. It also produces hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid and the natural antibiotics acidophilin, acidolin and lactocidin, so it is helpful for suppressing pathogens, and it also aids absorption of vitamins and minerals. It’s been found to boost the immune system, in particular against E. coli.

The strength of probiotic supplements is usually expressed in colony forming units (CFUs). Adults should take 1-2 billion CFUs a day unless advised to take more (up to 15 billion CFUs) by their doctor. Do not use oral supplements for vaginal use; there are vaginal probiotic suppositories designed for this purpose.

Use specific childrens’ probiotic products for kids, and follow the dosage instructions on the label.


Research has shown that L. acidophilus is beneficial for:

  • preventing candidiasis (Candida, yeast infection, thrush)
  • as a daily dose to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • to suppress growth of Helicobacter pylori (formerly called Campylobacter pylori) – gastroduodenal disease, peptic ulcers
  • to reduce fecal enzymes in the colon which could otherwise convert procarcinogens to carcinogens
  • to reduce symptoms of antibiotic-induced diarrhea and diarrhea caused by rotavirus
  • to help prevent leaky gut syndrome
  • may lower blood cholesterol
  • as a topical treatment for vaginal thrush (yeast infection)
  • as a topical treatment for bacterial vaginosis (BV) (some doctors may prescribe oral probiotics for this purpose)

Contra-indications and warnings

Lactobacillus acidophilus is generally regarded as safe. However, it should be avoided for children with short-bowel syndrome.

Some people should take medical advice before supplementing with acidophilus, including:

  • Patients with abnormal heart valves
  • Newborns and infants (0 to 1 year)
  • People with weakened immune systems (including those on chemotherapy or taking immunosuppressants)
  • Patients taking sulfasalazine, azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone) and corticosteroids (glucocorticoids)

If you take more than 1 to 2 billion CFUs of L. acidophilus daily you may suffer from wind/gas, upset stomach and/or diarrhea. Reduce the dosage if affected.

If you decide to take L. acidophilus in the form of supplements you should store them in the refrigerator unless the label says there’s no need.

 


Zinc health benefits: The Sex Mineral

foods_high_in_zinc

Some zinc-rich foods

Zinc is a dull grey metallic mineral which nobody would consider attractive, but despite its drab appearance, zinc is actually the sexiest mineral ever.

It is intimately involved in every aspect of reproduction including the production of testosterone. Low levels of this most important hormone are usually associated with zinc deficiency; remove the deficiency, and testosterone levels go back up to normal.

Just one ejaculation can contain up to 5mg of zinc, which shows you how important it is.

Zinc is also vital for fertility in both sexes, is involved in the production of DNA and cell division, and promotes normal development of the fetus. A zinc deficiency during pregnancy can cause congenital abnormalities at birth.

Zinc overview

Zinc is an essential trace mineral that acts as a catalyst in over 100 enzyme reactions in the body and is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and involved in:

  • cell division
  • building and strengthening bones
  • production of DNA
  • production of hemoglobin
  • production of testosterone
  • correcting hormonal imbalance
  • as a catalyst in hundreds of enzymatic processes
  • insulin activity
  • function of adrenals, pituitary, ovaries and testes
  • maintaining healthy liver function
  • mental alertness
  • activation of T-cells (immune system)
  • healing wounds
  • attacking infected cells
  • attacking cancerous cells
  • decreasing risk of age-related chronic disease including AMD/ARMD
  • fertility in both sexes
  • preventing pneumonia

Zinc is vital for the function of many hormones, including insulin. It is also important for the promotion of normal growth in children, both mentally and physically (in the womb as well as after birth).

Zinc uses

Zinc is used for:

  • fighting free radical damage
  • improving athletic performance
  • slowing the ageing process
  • cold remedies
  • high blood pressure
  • depression
  • tinnitis
  • head injuries
  • diarrhea (but see note on dosage)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • peptic ulcers
  • reduction or loss of taste
  • anorexia nervosa
  • reducing damage to the heart
  • AMD/ARMD
  • night blindness
  • asthma
  • pneumonia
  • type 2 diabetes
  • AIDS
  • psoriasis, eczema and acne
  • erectile dysfunction
  • osteoporosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hansen’s disease
  • ADHD
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • sickle cell anemia and many other inherited disorders

Zinc requirement

You need to get enough zinc every day, because although the body contains 2-3g at any one time, this is mostly bound up in the liver, kidneys, skin, muscles and bones. The available zinc is therefore insufficient to last for more than a few hours.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11mg for men, 8mg for women, 2mg for babies up to 6 months, 3mg for infants up to 3 years, 5mg up to age 8 and 8mg to age 13. During pregnancy and lactation, the requirement increases to 12mg a day. Some conditions may indicate a requirement for a higher dosage than listed here.

Note on dosage: The maximum adult dose is 40mg a day. Taking more than this can cause lowered availability of copper and iron and may lead to diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

Phytate/phytic acid (found in vegetables and many vegetarian protein sources) can reduce zinc absorption, but can be partially removed by soaking and/or sprouting beans, grains and seeds, or eating grain products which rise during preparation (eg. wholemeal bread).

Zinc sources

foods_high_in_zinc2

Zinc sources for meat eaters

Zinc sources for vegetarians

Zinc sources for vegetarians

Only about 20 percent of the zinc in food can be absorbed on average, although zinc in animal/fish sources is more easily absorbed because of high cysteine levels, which are not found in vegetables and fruit. Zinc is often removed unintentionally during the course of processing and refining. eg. 83% of zinc in brown rice is lost in the process of being polished and turned into white rice.

The highest sources of zinc are usually claimed to be animal/fish based, but in fact cashews and pumpkin seeds are also pretty good sources.

The richest source is oysters, which have almost 5 times the content of the next highest, dried brewers yeast (this is undoubtedly the reason for oysters’ reputation as an aphrodisiac in men). As it’s easier to eat 20-25g of oysters than 100g brewer’s yeast, this makes oysters a particularly valuable source, but it’s unlikely you can eat them every day – you’d get heartily sick of them after a while, for a start.

Please refer to the chart below for more information on sources. It includes both vegetarian/vegan sources and others suitable for meat-eaters.

zinc-content2

Click for larger image

There’s a wide range of products rich in zinc in my online store.

Zinc supplements

Available zinc from supplements varies. 100mg of each of the following yields the amount of zinc shown:

  • zinc amino acid chelate – 19mg
  • zinc gluconate – 13mg
  • zinc orotate – 17mg
  • zinc sulphate – 22.7mg

Some cold remedies which are sold contain zinc, in particular lozenges.

I offer a choice of zinc supplements in my online store.

Zinc deficiency

Deficiency can be caused by phytic acid in grains, legumes (beas, peas and lentils) and vegetables, a high fibre diet, EDTA (used in food processing), large quantities of TVP in the diet, and breastfeeding in infants over 6 months (there is sufficient zinc in breast milk for the first 6 months of life).

Possible symptoms of deficiency include: slow growth and development in children, eczema, frequent colds and other infections, regular stomach problems, slow recovery from exercise, obesity, leaky gut, slow mental processes, post-natal depression, white spots on the nails, consistent diarrhea, chronic fatigue, poor vision esp. slow dark adaptation, lack of concentration, slow healing wounds/bruises, infertility in both sexes, thinning hair, lack of sexual drive or erectile dysfunction in men, lost sense of taste and/or smell, and poor appetite. You don’t need to have all the symptoms to suspect zinc deficiency.

There is also evidence linking zinc deficiency to various types of cancer, including leukemia, prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and skin cancer.

Possible causes of deficiency are a vegan or vegetarian diet, a low protein diet, pregnancy, endurance sport, alcoholism, sickle cell disease, gastrointestinal disease, over-consumption of iron supplements, some diuretics, and eating disorders.

Research into the effects of zinc

1. Studies have shown that men who are deficient in zinc have lower testosterone levels and that supplementation restores testosterone levels to normal.

2. There have been several studies on the effect of zinc supplementation on Age-related macular degeneration (AMD/ARMD).

A study in the Netherlands found a reduced risk of AMD when the diet contained high levels of zinc with beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E.

A study in 2007 found no effect on AMD from supplementation with zinc on its own, but the AREDS study found that supplementation with 500mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 15mg beta carotene, 2mg copper and 80mg zinc significantly reduced serious deterioration in existing AMD patients. Without the zinc, there was no effect found. They also found that zinc without the antioxidant vitamins reduced deterioration in “subjects at higher risk, but not in the total population”.

A follow-up to AREDS found that 25mg zinc worked just as well as the 80mg administered in the original study. As excess intake is associated with genito-urinary problems, it is helpful that the reduced dose has been shown to be effective.

3. Research has found that children with ADHD tend to have lower levels of zinc than other children. A study of 400 children with ADHD found that they showed improved behaviour and were less impulsive and hyperactive when they were given 150mg a day of zinc sulphate (which would yield about 34mg zinc).

Zinc and medication

Taking zinc at the same time as antibiotics or penicillamine (a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis) reduces the effect of both the medication and the zinc. Leave at least 2 hours between taking zinc and either of these medications.

Some prescribed diuretics may cause zinc deficiency. Talk to your doctor about monitoring your zinc status whilst taking these.


Take Control of your Health

take-control

Take Control

I’ve had to retire a couple of suppliers recently. Regular visitors will have noticed a huge drop in the number of items available in the store, but I’ve been busily adding stuff from my new supplier, which is why I’ve been so quiet lately.

I’ve always said that, barring accidents, your health is under your own control. The whole point of Frann’s Alt.Health is to give you the tools to achieve that. So obviously, it’s important to have a wide range of options available, because we’re not all the same. Some of us have intolerances, some of us follow vegetarian, vegan or other special diets, and so on.

It’s not always easy to get what you need, especially if you live in a rural area or are housebound. It’s true that you can get almost anything you want online, but it’s way easier if you can find it all in one place (you save on postage for a start), and that’s why it’s my aim to provide a one-stop shop for your health needs here at Frann’s Alt.Health.

If you haven’t visited for a while, why not pop over and see what’s new? Taking control of your health is so important.

 


Creatine health benefits: natural power boost for body and brain

CNP Pro Creatine Powder

CNP Creatine is a popular brand

What is Creatine?

Creatine is a natural substance discovered in 1832, which is used by the body to make adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is then used to provide energy for the muscles and brain.Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everyone – up to 30% of users find no benefit. So far as I know, there’s no way to find out whether it will be helpful for you without trying it for yourself.

It’s also not a magic pill, you need to do the work for it to have any effect, and you need a healthy diet as well so as to get all your other nutrients. Junk food ain’t going to cut it.

Everybody has creatine in their body, mostly stored in the skeletal muscles. Some of this is created by the body, the rest is obtained from food. The foods with the highest levels of creatine are muscle meat and fish. Unsurprisingly, studies have found that vegetarians generally have much lower creatine levels.

Who is Creatine for?

Creatine is used by both professional and amateur athletes to help build muscle. A study shows that short term use can increase maximum power and performance by 5-15%. It is not on the list of IOC or NCAA banned substances.But it’s not just great for building muscle. An Italian study found significant improvements in other types of athletic performance, from sprinting to jumping.It also reduces muscle and cell damage and inflammation after exercise and enhances bone regeneration. Another benefit of using creatine is that it buffers lactic acid build up, so you can do a bit more before you have to stop.

Creatine improves brain power

A double blind study by two Australian universities in 2006 found a significant increase in brain power in volunteers given 5g creatine a day for 6 weeks.

How does creatine work?

Creatine seems to work best for high intensity workouts or intense mental activity. It won’t do much for yoga enthusiasts or anyone else who follows a slower type of exercise regime.

How to use creatine

Creatine does cause some water retention in the first week or two of use, but in the longer term it will start to stimulate protein synthesis. It’s important to take plenty of water with your creatine supplement, as otherwise you may find that you end up dehydrated.

For the same reason, though it may seem counterintuitive, you should take creatine immediately after your workout, not before, to avoid bloating or muscle cramps.

In the past, “loading” (by taking 20g a day) was advised for five days, but many experts now say there’s no evidence this is beneficial and recommend a dose of 3-5g a day.

If you’re vegetarian, you should go for the higher dose, but if you’re a meat-eater who already eats a lot of meat and fish (which contain creatine), the lower dose should be all you need. The body can’t store a lot at a time, so any excess will just be wasted.

Research suggests that creatine taken along with carbohydrates improves uptake. This will also help to avoid bloating. Add a protein source like a protein bar for best results.If you’re taking it in powder form, it’s very important to make sure that it’s properly dissolved before taking it. Mix it with fruit juice (without artificial sweeteners) to provide the carbs that help it work. Mix well: if you can still see powder floating around or you can feel it on your tongue, it needs to be mixed for longer.

Creatine is hydroscopic, so if it’s not properly dissolved, it will suck water from the parts of your body that need it.

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is also helpful in addition to creatine, because it enhances muscle phosphocreatine.

Creatine side effects

Although there are some myths associating creatine with kidney disease, cancer and other problems, there have been many studies to check this out, and none of them found any evidence of this. Several studies have concluded that 5-20g creatine is safe for daily use. However, as with all supplements, it’s best to consult your doctor before starting to take creatine.

Which type of creatine is the best?

There are many types of creatine available, however the one on which almost all research has been carried out is creatine monohydrate, so this is the type I recommend.

Creatine as a treatment

Research published in 2009 concluded that creatine and CoQ-10 taken together may be useful in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease and Huntingdon’s disease.

A 2007 study found an 8.5% increase in muscle strength in muscular dystrophy patients who took a creatine supplement.

Three South Korean university studies found that creatine combined with antidepressant medication doubled the speed of recovery from depression.

Contra-indications

Creatine is not suitable for anyone under the age of 18, or during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It should not be used by anyone who has kidney disease, liver disease or diabetes or in combination with diuretics, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, caffeine, ephedra, paracetamol (acetaminophen), cimetidine (Tagamet), probenicid, insulin or other medication which affects blood sugar levels.

Where to get creatine

I have a range of creatine supplements in my online store, but they do tend to sell out fast, so if you see something you want is in stock, it’s best to order while it’s available.


What is 5-HTP and why should I be taking it?

5-HTP

5-HTP molecular structure

5-hydroxy­tryptophan or hydroxy L-tryptophan, to give it its full name, is an amino acid which is produced by the metabolism of tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in dairy, meat, potatoes and some other vegetables. It is not readily available from food.

5-HTP is probably better than tryptophan as a supplement, because it eliminates one of the steps in serotonin production and has fewer side effects. However, if you suffer from digestive problems like heartburn, nausea or diarrhea, or you start having vivid dreams or nightmares, it is best to discontinue use.

In conjunction with vitamin B6, 5-HTP is important for the production of serotonin (the “happiness vitamin”, although it’s not actually a vitamin), and melatonin – an important chemical in the sleep/wake control mechanism.

It is sold as a food supplement and used as an antidepressant, sleep aid and appetite suppressant, uses which are supported by research. It’s also sometimes taken by users of MDMA (ecstasy) in an attempt to replenish serotonin levels, which are depleted by MDMA.

Research has shown that 5-HTP supplementation:

  • improves symptoms of depression at a dose of 150-3000mg a day
  • helps reduce appetite/calorie intake and increase weight loss in obese people
  • reduces sleep problems associated with age and Alzheimer’s disease
  • improves fibromyalgia symptoms including pain, anxiety, fatigue and morning stiffness at a dose of 100mg 3 times a day
  • may reduce migraines in some affected adults
  • reduces shaking in Parkinson’s disease at a maximum dose of 150mg per day together with regular medication
  • improves schizophrenia symptoms in some patients when taken at a dose of 800-6000mg per day along with carbidopa
  • reduces withdrawal symptoms in recovering alcoholics
  • reduces insomnia and withdrawal symptoms in recovering heroin addicts at a dose of 200mg per day
5-HTP is not suitable for use by anyone who is taking prescribed medication for depression, specifically monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and SSRIs including fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Not suitable for use without medical advice in combination with carbidopa (Lodosyn), dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM), meperidine (Demerol), pentazocine (Talwin) or tramadol (Ultram).

I offer 5-HTP in 100mg and 200mg capsules in my online shop.


Vitamin B Health Benefits: The Complex Vitamin

Vitamin B

Vitamin B

Strictly speaking, vitamin B isn’t a vitamin at all. It’s a complex (or group) of vitamins.

Vitamin B complex is a mixture of various B vitamins that tend to occur together in food. It consists of 8 distinct vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), nicotinic acid (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9) and cobalamin (B12), all of which are true vitamins. Some compounds on sale include choline (Bp) and inositol (B8), but because these can be synthesized by a healthy undamaged body, they are not regarded as ‘true’ vitamins.

PABA (B10), pangamic acid (B15), orotic acid (B13), laetrile (B17) and possibly adenine (formerly called vitamin B4) are also found alongside the rest of the B complex vitamins in food, but are no longer regarded as true vitamins.

Other nutrients have been given a vitamin B label in the past, including DMG (B16); many other “B-vitamins” appear to be arbitrarily assigned, possibly for marketing purposes, as the same label is applied to different substances in different places, and vice versa.

The best sources of B vitamins are whole unprocessed foods, as processing usually removes much of the content of B vitamins. For meat eaters, liver, meat and fish are good sources. Vegetarian sources include brewer’s yeast, yeast extract, wheatgerm, wheat bran, whole grains, peas, beans, lentils, bananas and kombucha. Beer itself is not a good source, because alcohol inhibits absorption of most B vitamins and if taken to excess can lead to deficiencies.

Details of individual B vitamins

The essentials

B1 thiamine is a coenzyme required for the conversion of glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Easily lost in food preparation so best sourced from foods eaten raw such as wheatgerm and nuts. Also found in yeast, yeast extract, brown rice, pork, soya flour, liver and wholemeal bread.

B2 riboflavin aka lactoflavin or vitamin G. It is a coenzyme required for the conversion of protein, fats and sugars into energy. It is necessary to repair and maintain mucous membranes and other tissues of the body. It also converts tryptophane into B3. Destroyed by exposure to light. Best food sources (highest first) are calves’ liver, venison, mushrooms, yoghurt, soybeans. milk and spinach.

B3 nicotinic acid aka niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide, vitamin PP or PP factor. It is a coenzyme for the reactions involved in producing ATP, and produces energy from sugar, fat and protein. It is necessary to maintain healthy skin, nerves, brain, tongue and digestive system. Best sources are yeast, wheat bran, nuts, pig’s liver, chicken, soya flour, meat and fatty fish.

B5 pantothenic acid is a coenzyme in: energy production; production of anti-stress hormones; fat metabolism; antibody formation; maintenance of healthy nerves; and detoxifying drugs. Very easily destroyed, even by freezing. Best sources are yeast, pig’s liver, pig’s kidney, nuts, wheat bran, wheatgerm, soya flour, eggs, poultry, meats, wholegrains and legumes (beans, peas etc).

B6 pyridoxine is a coenzyme in amino acid metabolism. It is necessary for substances used by the brain and for transmitting nerve impulses. Best sources are yeast, wheat bran, wheatgerm, oats, pig’s liver, soya flour, bananas, wholewheat, nuts, meats, fatty fish and brown rice.

B7 biotin is a coenzyme in energy production. Required for the maintenance of healthy skin, hair, sweat glands, nerves, bone marrow and sex glands. Best sources are yeast, pig’s kidney, pig’s liver, eggs, whole grains, wheat bran, wheatgerm, wholemeal bread, sweetcorn/corn, fish and meats.

B9 folic acid aka vitamin Bc, vitamin M, pteroyl glutamic acid, PGA or folacin. Required for: metabolism of RNA and DNA in proteiin synthesis; blood formation; transmission of the genetic code. Improves resistance to infection particularly in newborn babies and infants. Prevents spina bifida if taken in the first 2 weeks of pregnancy. Destroyed by light and air. Best sources are yeast, soya flour, wheatgerm, wheat bran, nuts, pig’s liver, leafy greens, whole grains, legumes (beans, peas etc.), pig’s kidney, wholemeal bread and citrus fruits.

B12 cobalamin is a coenzyme for synthesis of DNA. Required to maintain the myelin sheath of nerves. Deficiency results in pernicious anemia. Not everyone can absorb vitamin B12, as they are lacking a protein called intrinsic factor. These people require regular injections of B12 to prevent deficiency. Vegans, alcoholics, heavy smokers, pregnant people, old people and people suffering from sprue or intestinal parasites are likely to be deficient. Best sources are pig’s liver, pig’s kidney, fatty fish, pork, beef, lamb, white fish, eggs and cheese. There is no vegan source of vitamin B12. It used to be thought that algae was a good source, but unfortunately recent research has found this it is not bio-available, so unless someone discovers a way to unlock it, it is of no value as a source.

The others

Most of these are produced naturally in a healthy body, however this will only take place if the necessary factors are present.

B4 adenine is used in the production of ATP, NAD, FAD, DNA and RNA. Required for protein synthesis. It is synthesized in the liver, but the best food sources are yeast, whole grains, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis, spirulina, kelp, leafy greens, honey, cayenne pepper and berries.

B8 inositol is the agent which makes fat soluble. It also controls cholesterol levels in the blood, maintains healthy hair and helps prevent anxiety. It is produced in the body by breaking down glucose, but the best food sources are beef heart, wheatgerm, liver, brown rice, cereals, beef steak, citrus fruits, nuts, molasses, legumes (peas, beans etc), leafy greens, wholemeal bread and soya flour.

B10 PABA aka para-aminobenzoic acid, vitamin Bx, vitamin H and anti-grey hair factor. It is an amino acid which forms part of folic acid. It is used in the synthesis of protein and in red blood cell production, helps with the utilisation of pantothenic acid and may help to prevent skin cancer. It is produced in the intestines by friendly bacteria, but the best food sources are liver, eggs, molasses, yeast and wheatgerm.

B13 orotic acid aka whey factor. It is required for the metabolism of RNA and DNA and  is important for the development of the central nervous system. It is produced in the intestines, but the best food sources are liquid whey and root vegetables.

B15 pangamic acid stimulates the carriage of oxygen in the blood from the lungs to the muscles and vital organs and is involved in the production of amino acids such as methionine, and of ATP. It may be prescribed for heart disease, atherosclerosis, bronchial asthma and diabetes. It is made in the body by combining dimethyl glycine (DMG) and gluconic acid. It is very unstable and breaks down in cooking, so the best food sources are consumed raw, including oat flakes, wheatgerm, apricot kernels and wheat bran.

B16 DMG aka dimethyl glycine. It supports nerve function and neurotransmitter production. Supplemental DMG boosts mental efficiency and energy levels, enhances immune system function, regulates blood cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, aids utilization of oxygen in the body, helps normalize blood pressure, maintains blood sugar levels and helps prevent epileptic seizures. It is a byproduct of choline metabolism and other biochemical processes in the body but it breaks down quickly. The best dietary sources are beans, liver, meat, seeds and grains but these only contain small amounts.

B17 laetrile aka amygdalin. Helps to kill cancer cells by producing organic cyanide. Usually administered by injection for this purpose, to avoid toxicity. Best food sources are the kernels of fruits, including apricot, peach, cherries and plums, apple, pear and lime pips and some berries.

Bp choline aka amanatinine or lipotropic factor. It is needed for the transportation of fat from the liver to other parts of the body, for memory, muscle control and many other vital functions. It helps to keep the liver clear of fatty build-up. Choline deficiency may lead to liver disease, atherosclerosis, muscle damage and neurological disorders. It is produced in the liver, but the best food sources are beef heart, egg yolk, liver, beef steak, wheatgerm, yeast, cereals, nuts, legumes (beans, peas etc), citrus fruits, wholemeal bread and leafy greens.

I offer a number of B-vitamin supplements in my online shop, all of which are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.


Red wine extract (Resveratrol) health benefits: helps prevent serious disease

redwine

There’s not enough resveratrol in a glass of wine to make a real difference, sadly

Red wine extract (or resveratrol) helps prevent breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

For many years, doctors have wondered why France has such a low incidence of heart disease, despite the high saturated fat content of the French diet. But now, after two years of research across Europe, it appears that we have found out. As many suspected, the high levels of wine consumption in France provided the clue.

Researchers in Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and the UK worked together on a project codenamed Paradox, researching the health benefits of red wine extract. Their findings are nothing less than astonishing.

Although sometimes called “red wine extract”, resveratrol, the substance used for this study (and from which red wine extract supplements are produced) is in fact extracted from a by-product of the wine making process: the skins and seeds left over after the grape juice has been extracted for use in making wine, known as pomace. This is rich in antioxidants, particularly tannins, polyphenols, catechin and resveratrol.

Having researched its properties, the scientists developed a method for creating an extract which could easily be packaged and transported – without losing its beneficial properties in the process.

The Paradox research project ended five years ago, and in the period since then, numerous studies have confirmed the findings, and in some cases extended them. For example a Canadian research project discovered that resveratrol helped to prevent blood cells from sticking together, explaining at least partly how it protects against heart disease.

Another study by MJ Burkitt and others shows that resveratrol scavenges free radicals in a different way to other antioxidants, which seems to be particularly important in preventing oxidative stress leading to Alzheimer’s disease.

A study in China found that resveratrol performed better in cases of spinal injury even than prednisone (a steroid) when injected, by inhibiting enzymes that can cause further damage.

Antioxidants are known to be important in reducing cell damage, because of their role in destroying free radicals. They are helpful to the immune system, reducing the risks of many different types cancer as well as diseases of the cardiovascular system, and also preventing many age-related degenerative disorders of the eyes and nervous system.

It now appears that a broad spectrum of anti-oxidants provides much better protection, because different anti-oxidants work in different ways to scavenge different types of damaging free radicals from the blood stream.

For example, polyphenols have been shown to prevent cancers of the skin, breast, oesaphagus, lung, pancreas, stomach and liver. Other chemicals found naturally in Red Wine Extract help to boost the immune system and fight tumours. As already mentioned resveratrol helps to prevent heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and it is also being proposed as a treatment for cancer.

So it’s good news for those like me, who prefer not to drink wine. We can use red wine extract to fight for our health, and carry on drinking what we prefer.

Of course, red wine isn’t the only health-giving substance allegedly consumed in large quantities by the French. There’s also garlic, but that’s another story.

I offer resveratrol 500mg capsules in my online shop.


Protein content of foods

Protein-rich foods

Protein-rich foods by Smastronardo – Own work

This list of foods is not complete, but shows protein content of foods which I currently have at my fingertips. I hope to update this with further information soon.

 

Percentage protein (or g per 100g)

Meat

Lean Beef Chuck, roast 49
Chicken Breast, roast 30
Chicken Leg (meat), roast 26
Duck, roast 19
Lean Lamb, roast 23
Lean Pork, roast 28
Turkey Breast, roast 29
Turkey Leg, roast 28
Turkey Bacon 30
Veal, braised 35

Fish

Cod, baked 21.4
Fishcake 10.5
Haddock, fried 21.4
Herring, grilled 20.4
Mackerel, fried 21.5
Mussels 17.2
Plaice, fried in batter 15.8
Prawns 8.6
Salmon, tinned 20.3
Sardines, tinned 23.7
Scampi 12.2
Tuna, tinned 22.8

Vegetables

Asparagus 3.4
Baked beans, tinned 5.1
Broad beans, cooked 4.1
Butter beans, cooked 7.1
French beans, cooked 0.8
Runner beans, cooked 1.9
Broccoli, cooked 3.3
Red cabbage, raw 1.7
Old carrots 0.8
Carrots, cooked 0.8
Carrots, raw 0.8
Cauliflower, raw 1.9
Cauliflower, cooked 1.9
Celery, raw 0.9
Cucumber, skin on 0.6
Leeks, cooked 1.8
Lentils, cooked 7.6
Lettuce 1.0
Mushrooms, fried 2.2
Onions, fried 1.8
Parsley 5.2
Peas, cooked 5.0
Dried peas, cooked 8.3
Sweet peppers, raw 0.9
Potatoes, french fried (chips) 3.8
Old potatoes, cooked 1.4
Old potatoes cooked in skins 2.1
Radishes 1.0
Spinach, cooked 5.1
Spring greens, cooked 1.7
Swede, cooked 0.9
Sweetcorn, tinned 2.9
Tomatoes, fresh 0.9
Turnips, cooked 0.7
Watercress 2.9

Dairy products

Butter 0.4
Cheese, Blue Vein 23.0
Cheese, Camembert 22.8
Cheese, Cheddar 26.0
Cheese, cottage 13.6
Cheese, Edam 24.4
Cheese, Parmesan 35.1
Cheese, Stilton 25.6
Cream, double 1.5
Cream, single 2.4
Eggs 12.3
Eggs, scrambled 10.5
Egg white 9.0
Milk, dried skimmed 36.4
Milk, whole 3.3
Yoghurt, natural 5.0

Cereals and cereal products

Flour, wholewheat 13.2
Muesli 12.9
Oats, raw 12.4
Oats, porridge 1.4
Pasta, cooked 4.3
White rice, boiled 2.2
Brown rice 2.6
Soya flour, low fat 45.3
Shredded Wheat 10.6
Wheat bran 14.1
Wheat germ 26.5

Baked goods and puddings

Bread, brown with wheatgerm 9.7
Bread, white 7.8
Bread, wholewheat 8.8
Bread and butter pudding 6.1
Cake, rich fruit (eg. Christmas cake) 3.7
Cake, sponge 6.4
Crispbread, rye 9.4
Crispbread, low carb wheat 45.3
Doughnut 6.0
Egg custard 5.8
Fruit pie 2.0
Jelly (jello) 1.4
Pancakes 6.1
Pastry, shortcrust 6.9
Rice pudding 3.4
Scones 7.5
Yorkshire pudding 6.8

 

 


How Antioxidants Affect Your Health

antioxidant-rich

A selection of antioxidant-rich foods. Add some fish and/or shellfish to obtain the extremely important mineral, selenium.

The main antioxidant nutrients are Vitamins A, C and E and selenium. Antioxidants have been shown to have a protective effect against cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Taming the free radicals

As you go about your daily life, your body produces free radicals from the oxygen in your bloodstream, and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol causes a build up of fat in the arteries (this process is called atherosclerosis). Antioxidants deactivate these free radicals and thus help protect against heart disease as well as some cancers.

beta-carotene on its own has been shown to increase the likelihood of death by lung cancer in smokers.However, the most recent research shows that taking beta-carotene in combination with the other antioxidants is helpful, reducing lung cancer risk by 16% (Wright ME, Mayne ST, et al. Am J Epidemiol 2004 Jul 1;160(1):68-76.)>

Fighting the Big C

Studies have shown that diets high in antioxidants (eg. the Mediterranean diet with its high proportion of fruit and vegetables) have a protective effect against many forms of cancer, as well as heart disease. However, in spite of extensive studies, there is some dispute whether antioxidant supplements have the same results.

It’s possible that to work effectively, antioxidants require other co-factors, present naturally in the foods that contain them, and that this is why antioxidant-rich diets may work better in some cases than supplements. In any event, it seems that the standard advice about eating a balanced diet that contains a high proportion of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts holds true here as well.

Rare exception

The one exception (about which there is little dispute concerning supplementation) is Selenium, an essential trace mineral which is an important part of the antioxidant enzymes that protect cells from the harmful effects of free radicals. Several studies show that people with low intake levels of selenium have an increased risk of heart complaints and cancer.

Unfortunately, Selenium is quite difficult to get from most food, certainly in the UK, as this is mostly produced in areas with very low soil concentrations. You can obtain useful quantities from fish, shellfish and some brazil nuts, but if you don’t eat these foods very often, a supplement may be a good idea, especially if you are in one of the groups at risk.

I offer Selenium ACE tablets in my online shop.


How women can stay healthy however busy they are

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I’m sure we’d all like to look as healthy as this

Women’s health usually doesn’t just affect one person. Many women are involved in running families. A healthy woman looking after family health has more chance of success.

Women live on average 5½ years longer than men. Considering the strains of childbirth and so on, this can become a problem. After all, the extra years are at the end of your life, when you may be suffering from all the problems of old age.

Healthy woman

Women’s health affects the whole family, and of course, it’s not just your old age you should be thinking about. For a woman, health is a priority at many times in her life, from pregnancy to menopause. Because they have the capability of bearing children, women’s bodies have special needs.

Women lose blood regularly every month from puberty until the change of life, so many suffer from anemia, especially if they are amongst the 22% who suffer from heavy periods (menorrhagia). You can avoid anemia by eating more of certain foods, or by adding iron to your supplements (if you regularly take a good quality multivitamin and mineral combination such as the one recommended at the end of this post, there should be enough iron in this).

I offer a range of iron supplements in my online shop.

Babies take it out of you

Women planning a pregnancy should ensure they are getting an adequate diet, and may need to supplement this as well. Pregnancy often leads to a shortage of nutrient availability, particularly folate, which is so important that many doctors routinely prescribe a supplement as soon as pregnancy has been confirmed.


Many people report difficulties with their teeth when pregnant, and although doctors deny that calcium can be taken from the teeth by the developing infant, it is not unusual for someone whose teeth have always been healthy to find that they start to have dental problems. This is why (at the time of writing) pregnant people are entitled to free NHS dental treatment in the UK.

Going through changes

Around the menopause, many changes in women’s bodies take place as a consequence of the changes in hormone levels, leading to many and varied symptoms, the most serious of which is osteoporosis (bone loss), which makes bones brittle and increases fractures. Women who have made sure to keep their nutrition levels high during their lives are at a lower risk of menopausal problems. There are herbal remedies which can be used instead of HRT (which is often prescribed for this) if you prefer.

I offer a selection of products for the menopause in my online shop.

Getting on a bit

Arthritis is not limited to old age but you don’t necessarily just have to put up with it. Studies have shown that omega-3 fish oils, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory remedies are the most important “alternative” treatments for most types of arthritis.

Note that recent research has found that the body is unable to absorb omega-3 from vegetable sources. Make sure that any omega-3 supplements you purchase are sourced from fish. Check the label carefully, as many unscrupulous manufacturers will not mention the source of their oils on the face of the label, but it will be stated in the small print.

Many of the problems formerly associated with old age are the result of long term dietary deficiencies and a lack of adequate exercise. While some of these may be treatable in later life, it is better to try to ensure that you take in the full nutritional spectrum regularly, throughout your life, as well as taking regular exercise, before you reach old age.

I recommend Quest Super Once A Day Multivitamin and Mineral Tablets to keep your nutrient levels high, even on days when you don’t have time to think. If you don’t eat fish regularly, a good high dose fish oil supplement will keep your brain working well and help lubricate your joints as you age, as well.