Blogs on various topics
April is Cancer month and the biggest factor in fighting cancer today is health education.
It was reported in the 2009 Canadian Cancer Statistics Report that each week 3,300 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer and 1,450 die of the disease. Even more disturbing is the fact that cancer rates continue to rise among teens and young adults in Canada, particularly among young women, aged 15 to 29, with new diagnoses increasing by about 1.4 per cent a year.
Today, researchers think most cancers may be related to lifestyle and environment – what you eat and drink, whether you smoke, and where you work and play.
An interesting study was recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Researches studied subjects with colon cancer and measured how much exercise they got before and after their diagnosis. Results show that those who were more physically active both before and after their diagnosis had much better outcomes.
Engaging in 150 minutes of physical activity per week reduced the risk of mortality by 42% Those who did not participate in regular exercise had an increased risk of mortality by a factor of 1.36.
The good news is that you can improve your health by taking control of things in your daily life such as exercising. Of all cancers, 60 to 80 percent are preventable and about 50 percent are curable. Most cancers are lifestyle-related, so it’s important to include daily physical activity, a healthy diet that includes adequate amounts of fruits, vegetable and fiber and limiting consumption of alcohol.
Campbell PT et al. (2013) Associations of recreational physical activity and leisure time spent sitting with colorectal cancer survival. J Clin Oncol 31(7):876-85
A recent study has found that 75% of us feel frazzled in the run up to Christmas. This boosts levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which puts us at risk of illness and weight gain (just what we need on top of the extra calories!). To help, NutriChem has put together a few ideas on how you can enjoy a stress-free festive season!
Stress, which sometimes seems an inevitable part of daily life, is also a source of wear and tear on both body and mind. Stress is rooted in basic survival instincts known as the "fight or flight" response, which triggers chemicals in the brain and body, designed to help us manage a threatening situation.
Almost everyone is familiar with the physical symptoms of intense stress: racing heart, sweaty palms, and “butterflies” in the pit of your stomach. But it is also possible to experience low-grade, ongoing stress without those immediate symptoms. The chemicals that the body produces are the same however, and negatively affect the body at the cellular level.
Long-term stress, anxiety and depression have been linked with an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, some research suggests that long-term stress stimulates the growth of the proteins that might cause Alzheimer's and that can lead to memory loss.
The impact of stress on people's brain health is also affected by other negative lifestyle behaviours. Overeating, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are among the informal stress management approaches people use, but all of them increase the risk of damage to the brain in the form of a stroke.
Beat Stress for Brain Health
It is possible to reduce stress and improve brain health with 20 minutes of relaxation a day.
Recommended relaxation techniques:
Progressive muscle relaxation – a technique by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles
Biofeedback – a way to measure the body’s physiological responses, and a tool to learn to control them
There are other lifestyle choices that have a two-fold effect on brain health. They're both good for the brain and can help reduce stress levels:
Be physically active at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and drink enough water
Limit alcohol consumption
Get enough sleep 7to 8 hours a night
If relaxation techniques and lifestyle changes do not help reduce stress in your life, talk to a medical professional about counseling and recommended treatment plans.
1. Training the brain to stress less http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/18/health/train-brain-stress-enayati/index.html
2. Biofeedback and stress relief. Biofeedback: How it works, What it does, How to use it! http://stress.about.com/od/programsandpractices/a/biofeedback.htm
3. Roles of stress in dementia investigated http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18577326
Current headlines on arsenic-laced rice products are not the result of breakfast cereals and baby foods being soaked in poison at the factory. Rather, various natural and man-made processes can cause the toxic element to accumulate in rice grains as they grow.
Recent findings show that this poisonous element is present in more than 60 popular rice products, including crisped rice cereal, baby food and packaged rice.
How does arsenic, get into rice in the first place?
Chinese have the longest average lifespan in the world, and research suggests that the cultural significance of green tea consumption is a factor in that claim.
Researchers found Chinese women who drank green tea at least 3 times a week were 14% less likely to develop colon, stomach and esophageal cancers. No one can say whether green tea, itself, is the reason though. Many green-tea lovers are often more health-conscious in general. The study did account for the samples lifestyle habits. None of the women smoked or drank alcohol regularly. And researchers did collect diet assessments, exercise habits and medical history. Even with those things factored in, women’s tea habits remained linked to their cancer risks.
Green tea Profile
Green tea contains certain antioxidant chemicals - particularly a compound known as EGCG, or epigallocatechin gallate - that may ward off the body-cell damage that can lead to cancer and other diseases. Green tea contains relatively little caffeine compared to coffee – but 10 cups a day can still total 500 mg of the stimulant.
Green tea also contains small amounts of vitamin K, which means it could interfere with drugs that prevent blood clotting, like warfarin. Since many older people are on multiple medications, it's best for them to talk with their physician or health care provider before using green tea as a health stimulant.
Why don't other Chinese teas have similar health-giving properties? Green, oolong, and black teas all come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. What differentiates between green tea is the way it is processed. Green tea leaves are steamed, which prevents the EGCG compound from being oxidized. By contrast, black and oolong tea leaves are made from fermented leaves, which results in the EGCG being converted into other compounds that are not nearly as effective in preventing and fighting various diseases.
If you want to start drinking green tea, it's considered safe in moderate amounts. But the tea and its extracts do contain caffeine, which some people may need to avoid. You can also consume EGCG in supplement form, usually in a capsule form. Always consult with your health care provider before you start any supplement program.
It is estimated that adults on average spend 50% to 60% of their day in sedentary behaviour, whether it’s at work, watching T.V. or sitting in a car. People who sit for prolonged periods may face a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses. Even adults who meet the physical activity guidelines risk compromising their health by sitting for prolonged periods.
Food addiction is no laughing matter
According to new research that brings together psychology, physiology and nutrition, food addiction may be a real disease. Good evidence suggests refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, added fat and salt, and caffeine are addictive substances. For people who are addicted to refined foods, just saying no to the bag of Oreos isn’t just difficult – it’s impossible!
Testosterone is a unique hormone and is the principal sex hormone in humans. Responsible for sexual desire and function, muscle building, densification of bones, and hair growth, testosterone is an important hormone for both men and women. Compared to females, males produce about 10 times the amount of testosterone, but females are far more sensitive to its effects. Though testosterone is largely responsible for those traits and characteristics that are consider “masculine” i.e. physical strength, body hair, and dominance – both sexes require it for proper sexual function and physical development.
Testosterone is derived from cholesterol under the influence of luteinizing hormone (LH) produced by the pituitary gland. It affects many metabolic activities such as production of blood cells in the bone marrow, bone formation, cholesterol metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, liver function and prostate gland growth. It also affects mood.
Impact of Low Testosterone
Most parts of the body need testosterone to function optimally. Without enough active or bioavailable testosterone, many changes can occur.
The term ‘andropause’ is associated with low bioavailable testosterone levels. Every man experiences a decline of bioavailable testosterone but some men’s levels dip lower than others. And when this happens these men can experience andropausal symptoms. It is estimated that 30% of men in their 50s will have testosterone levels low enough to cause symptoms.
Typical symptoms of low testosterone levels include:
- Excessive fatigue
- Reduced interest in sex
- Emotional, psychological and behavioural changes
- Decreased muscle mass
- Loss of muscle strength
- Increased body fat
- Weak bones/back pain osteoporosis
- Sleep disturbances
Low serum concentrations of testosterone can also be associated with a higher mortality rate in men. New evidence suggests that as men age their testosterone levels diminish. Clinical findings suggest that there is an association between low testosterone levels and an increase risk of cardiovascular disease.
Testosterone is important and even vital if you want to build (and keep) strong bones and muscles and maintain a healthy, active life and live long and well into old age. How do you make sure you’re making enough? As you age, testosterone decreases so it’s important for your body to keep levels within the normal ranges.
Recommendations to Maintain or Increase Testosterone
- Weight loss: When you reduce your belly weight, this may increase your testosterone levels.
- Supplementing with vitamin D, zinc and magnesium to help increase testosterone (speak to your pharmacist, naturopath or other health care professional for recommended dosages for your specific needs)
- Resistance training is a potent stimulator of testosterone production
In order to get testosterone, you have to produce it. Make sure you check your levels annually with your family physician. And if you have any questions regarding testosterone you can always ask our pharmacists at NutriChem!
Grossmann, Mathis. Low Testosterone in Men with Type 2 Diabetes: Significance and Treatment. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011, June 6
Neek, L., Gaeini, A., Choobineh, S. Effect of Zinc and Selenium Supplementation on Serum Testosterone and Plasma Lactate in Cyclist After an Exhaustive Exercise Bout
Wikipedia: Testosterone Site Accessed Oct 11, 2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testosterone
You don’t need a college education to know that diet, exercise and sleep are three of the most crucial things that can dramatically impact and when properly addressed improve both physical and emotional health.
Most people struggle with sustaining long-term change in these areas. There are some important steps that you can take to dramatically increase the chance you of sticking to your goals, whether it’s going to gym, eating better or taking your supplements routinely.
Remember margarine? It was advertised as healthier than butter several years ago. Though many have since caught on to that lie, the myth still continues. Margarine is as healthy as melted plastic. But it sure is cheap to produce! That was then, this is now. Could canola oil's health claims compare with margarine's fraud?
Fall is here, the weather is changing, and many of us are sniffing, wheezing, and succumbing to feverish chills. Even though, doctors are saying that getting the flu shot is the best way to avoiding having to suffer flu symptoms, many people are turning to local health-stores for a natural remedy, oil of oregano, to help ward off potential viruses.
Studies have shown that oil of oregano is a highly potent purifier that provides many benefits for human health. It is a natural substance that is extracted from wild oregano plants. But what makes it so potent in its healing powers?
Chemistry of Oregano Oil
Oregano oil contains four main groups of chemicals that contribute to its potent healing powers:
1. Phenols, such as carvacrol and thymol, act as antiseptics and antioxidants
2. Terpenes, which include pinene and terpinene, exhibit antiseptic, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties
3. Linalool and bonreol are two long-chain alcohols found in oregano oil, which add to the antiviral and antiseptic qualities
4. Esters, potent antifungal agents
Although there is a combined effect of the many significant compounds found in oregano oil, its effectiveness is mostly attributed to the phenol carvacrol. Research on this particular phenol showed that it is one of the most potent antibiotics known to science . Testing done at Georgetown University, found that carvacrol was more effective than penicillin, streptomycin and even vancomycin (considered to be the strongest of all antibiotics).
What are the Benefits of Oil of Oregano?
The ancient Greeks were one of the first people to recognize this oil for its health benefits and medicinal qualities. It is known as a potent antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic oil that can reduce pain and inflammation and effectively fight off infections.
Specific Uses of Oil of Oregano
· Skin Infections: can be applied directly onto the skin to treat itches, skin infections, and irritated gums. Dilute it first with olive oil or cocont oil since it’s a very potent substance.
· Digestive Problems: the high concentrations of thymol and carvacrol have been shown to calm upset stomachs and aid digestion.
· Sinus Congestion: a brilliant remedy and is the number one recommendation by Kent MacLeod for any sinus congestion.
· Colds and Sore Throats: an excellent early defense mechanism when you feel a cold or sore throat coming on. Ask our nurse Shelagh!
Side Effects & Cautions When Using Oil of Oregano
While oil of oregano has many benefits, there are a few possible side effects:
It may reduce the body's ability to absorb iron. So it’s recommended that the oil be taken at least 2 hours before or after consuming iron supplements or iron-rich foods. Getting your iron level checked with regular use of oregano oil is advised.
Pregnant women should avoid this oil since it can stimulate blood flow in the uterus, which can weaken the lining that surrounds the fetus in the womb
People that have allergies to thyme, basil, mint, or sage may be sensitive to oil of oregano as well, since they are in the same family of plants
Oil of oregano can be purchased as either a liquid or as capsules/tablets. In both forms, it is important that the carvacrol concentration is at least 70%. Talk to our health counselors and nutritionist to make sure oil of oregano is right for you and your health conditions.
1.) Balch,J. & Balch P. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 2nd Ed. ,Avery Publishing Group. NY 1997
2.) Oil of Oregano Health Benefits http://www.homeremediesweb.com/oil_of_oregano_health_benefits.php
3.) Oil of Oregano: Cureing Herbx http://curingherbs.com/wild_oregano_oil.htm
If you’re experiencing night sweats or hot flashes at night you may want to take a look at what you’re eating before bed. Although the main trigger of night sweats is a change in hormones, eating certain foods such as carbohydrates may contribute to the nightly sweating.
Acid reflux, commonly referred to as heartburn, is a common digestive complaint. Acid reflux involves digestive juice splashing out of the stomach and into the esophagus, where it causes irritation, inflammation and pain. In general, acidic, and fatty foods that lead to bloating trigger acid reflux, whereas alkaline foods that are easily digested tend to soothe the symptoms of heartburn.
If you're looking for a heart-healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet might be right for you. The Mediterranean diet incorporates the basics of healthy eating - plus a splash of flavourful olive oil and perhaps a glass of red wine among other components characterizing the traditional cooking style of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.
Most healthy diets include fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains, and limit unhealthy fats. While these parts of a healthy diet remain tried-and-true, subtle variations or differences in proportions of certain foods may make a difference in your risk of heart disease.
Here are some questions we are commonly asked about supplement usage.
Q: Does it truly matter if I take my supplements regularly?
A: Our body does not take vacations. It is busy at work for us day in and day out without a moment’s break. Whether we are walking, running, sitting, sleeping, our body is actively repairing, replenishing and rebuilding our cells, tissues, bones, and organs. The battle to protect us against bacteria, viruses, allergens and free radicals is never ending. This is why we encourage consistent, daily use of nutritional supplements, so that your body has an ample supply of nutrients it needs to keep your body functioning at its highest capacity.
Q: Does it matter if I take my supplements all at once or is it important to take them at different times during the day?
A: Ideally, it is best to take your supplements at divided dosages. Try to follow the usage instructions provided for each product on its label. Read the tips for taking your supplements and find a solution that works best for you.
Q: Sometimes my stomach gets upset when I take my supplements. What can I do to avoid this?
A: If you experience discomfort from taking your supplements, you may want to decrease the dosage and gradually introduce it to your body to it’s recommended dosage or to where you feel most comfortable taking it. Make sure that you are taking the supplement properly. If you are unsure how to take them please contact the Patient Support Coordinator 613-288-1989 to help guide you.
Q: Is it okay to take my supplements right before bed?
A: If your supplements cause you to burp or experience discomfort, taking them before going to bed may actually be a good solution for you. However, some supplements have an energizing effect, so make sure that by taking your supplements late at night does not disrupt your sleep.
Q: There are so many pills! How can I remember to take them all?
A: It can be difficult remembering to take your supplements, but planning ahead and searching for a system that works for you are the keys to success. Here are a few ideas that may work for you:
· Set your watch, phone or computer alarm to remind you each day
· Associate taking your supplements with another habit that you already have. Place your supplements by your toothbrush or coffee maker so that you will be reminded to take them in the morning
· Use a pill box daily to help you keep track of your daily use
Q: How long to I have to take these vitamins?
A: Supplementation provides your body the essential vitamins and minerals that you may be missing due to food processing, soil depletion and today’s general lifestyle. It is recommended to continue using vitamins on a regular basis in order to achieve optimal level of health and bridge any nutritional gaps in your body.
Two hours and 30 minutes: It makes up less than 2% of the total minutes in a week. It’s one-third of the typical workday. It’s even 44 minutes shorter than the movie Titanic.
Two hours and 30 minutes also happens to be the recommended amount of time adults should spend being physically active each week. Yet, it has been reported that few of us are meeting that goal – and it’s doing serious damage to our health.
Imagine this: a fruit that tastes great and actually helps us prevent obesity-related diabetes and cardiovascular disease. That’s what researchers at Texas AgriLife say they have found in peaches, plums and nectarines.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a major topic in health news, covering everything from potential cures to possible ways of preventing the disease in the first place. With an estimated 500,00 cases of Alzheimer’s in Canada, this news coverage is keenly read, not just by those whose lives have been affected by the disease, but also people worried that they might develop the disease in their later years.
In Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form of senile dementia, abnormal deterioration occurs in the areas of the brain that coordinate memory and cognition. The risk of AD rises dramatically in old age. As our population ages rapidly, the number of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is set to grow quickly.
What is AD?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It is characterized as a physical disease of the brain, resulting in the death of brain cells.
In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain is littered with clumps of abnormal protein fragments that clog the brain and damage or kill certain nerve cells. The defining symptoms of Alzheimer’s is impairment of memory and reasoning powers, but it may be accompanied by loss of the ability to communicate, loss of physical capabilities, anxiety, delusions, depression, and inappropriate destructive behaviours.
A large amount of media coverage is devoted to new developments in the scientific understanding of Alzheimer’s, what may cause it, what we can do to avoid it, new tests to spot early signs of the disease and potential new treatments.
Research has revealed links between nutrition and AD. For example a connection with a buildup of the mineral aluminum was first hypothesized in the 1960s. Since then, researchers have claimed only a casual relationship between the two factors, and therefore no public health recommendations can be made.
However, new research presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, shows the administration of a prescription-only medical food has been linked to memory improvement in mild Alzheimer patients.
This yogurt-like drink contains various nutrients that help improve memory in early AD. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, choline, uridine, selenium, folic acid and vitamins B6, B12, C and E. This memory cocktail, called Souvenaid, appears to stimulate growth of new synapses and is expected to make the consumer market first in Europe later this year and then be made available in North America in 2013.
Supplements that help improve memory
Supplementing is always a good idea to help boost essential nutrients in the body, especially if they have been shown to be beneficial in improving memory and cognition.
The following supplements are recommended to help improve memory:
Antioxidants: free radicals may attack brain tissue, damaging DNA cell membrane and proteins. A diet low in fruit, vegetables and antioxidants can worsen this effect. Add some vitamins C, and E, CoQ10, Acai berry, or other potent antioxidants to help boost your free radical defense.
Omega-3 fish oil: a typical Western diet contributes too many omega-6 fats compared to omega-3s; maintaining a ratio of 4:1 is important for mental health. Liquid fish oils are usually more concentrated compared to capsules and actually taste great nowadays!
Phosphatidylserine: important phospholipids needed for the support and maintenance of mental performance and memory function. Low level of phosphatidylserine in the brain have been associated with impaired mental function and depression, especially in the elderly.
Based on the ingredients within Souvenaid, medical foods may help affect the course of AD. Healthy fats, antioxidants and B vitamins are constantly being studied in order to understand how they affect brain development and maintenance.
However, if you are looking for a solution that can help reduce your risk of developing AD, the best advice based on current evidence is following a healthy lifestyle, with a proper supplement regimen, ideally not just in old age.
Alzheimer’s Society: Aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease http://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=99
Medical food linked to memory improvement in mild Alzheimer’s http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/767960_print