April 22nd, 2014

Fish Oils Prevent Brain Atrophy Due to Aging

fish-oilcapsule-15570_640Introduction

A key goal to boosting brain function and fighting degenerative brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease is to bathe the brain in “super nutrition.” Numerous studies have shown that brain function is directly related to nutritional status. High nutritional status equals higher mental function and a reduced risk for disorders of the brain related to aging.

Particularly important are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil supplements. Studies have shown that the EPA+DHA content in cell membranes in the brain directly influences brain chemistry through the manufacture of important brain compounds; transmission of the nerve impulse; uptake of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters; and binding of neurotransmitters to their receptor sites.

Suffice it to say a lack of EPA+DHA leads to impaired brain function and plays a major role in attention deficit disorder, depression, and other psychological disturbances. EPA+DHA supplementation has been shown to improve these very same conditions. In addition, a new study has confirmed that importance of a higher dietary intake of EPA+DHA prevents the brain atrophy associated with aging and reduced mental function.

Background Data:

It is a well-established fact that a higher intake of EPA+DHA is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality. What is less well known is that studies have also shown a significant protective effect against dementia. In the famous Framingham trial, when plasma levels of DHA were assessed it was found that the participants in the top quartile had 37% lower risk of Alzheimer disease (AD) and 47% lower risk for all-causes of dementia.

Several other studies have shown that EPA+DHA improved subclinical markers of risk for dementia. Specifically higher intakes of EPA+DHA were associated with improved brain MRI and tests for mental performance.

New Data:

The latest study utilized data from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. The level of EPA+DHA in red blood cells (RBCs) along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) the total brain volume, as well as the volume of the brain area associated with dementia, and AD were assessed in 1,111 postmenopausal women at baseline and after 8 years.

The results provide striking evidence of the importance of EPA+DHA in fighting against the ravaging effects of aging in the brain. Accelerated aging in the brain is associated with significant atrophy (shrinkage) of the total volume of the brain as well as in the hippocampus – the key area linked to dysfunction in dementia and AD.

A greater level of EPA+DHA in RBCs was associated with a 2.1 cm3 larger total brain volume and a 50 mm3 larger hippocampal volume.

The author’s concluded:
“A higher omega-3 index was correlated with larger total normal brain volume and hippocampal volume in postmenopausal women measured 8 years later. While normal aging results in overall brain atrophy, lower omega-3 index may signal increased risk of hippocampal atrophy.”

Most experts recommend a daily dosage of 1,000 mg EPA+DHA for general health and dosages of 3,000 EPA+DHA for therapeutic purposes.

Commentary:

This study again stresses the importance of actually measuring the level of EPA+DHA in the blood. This simple blood test can predict your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, carries with it more significance than cholesterol measurements in determining your risk of having a heart attack or stroke, and can also predict your risk of many forms of cancer, as well as most other chronic degenerative diseases. This valuable test also provides critical information in monitoring and dealing with such health conditions as autism, attention deficit disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and over 60 other serious illnesses.

I strongly recommend getting a complete assessment of the levels of the various important fatty acids in your blood by getting a test done known as the Omega Blood Test. In addition to determining the actual percentages of all of the individual fatty acids in our blood, this test also provides a critical assessment of the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

The Omega Blood Test is a very simple test being sold directly to consumers online and through many health food stores. Your test kit contains everything you need in collecting a small amount of blood from a simple skin prick of a finger that is placed on a special filter paper and sent to the lab. Your complete results are available online as well as being sent directly to you. The results come complete with an interpretation and recommendations.

Because of my passion and belief in the importance of this test, a special offer is being made to subscribers of my newsletter. When you go to MyOmegaBloodTest and order a test kit simply enter the code DOCTORMURRAY and you will receive $50 off the regular retail price of $150. That is quite a savings! Please feel free to pass this savings opportunity on to your friends and family. It is a great deal and more importantly it provides a valuable tool in assessing your health.

Reference:

Pottala JV1, Yaffe K, Robinson JG, et al. Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes: WHIMS-MRI study. Neurology. 2014 Feb 4;82(5):435-42.

April 21st, 2014

Osteo Advice

Why collagen may be more important for bones than calcium

Bones are made up of dynamic living tissue that requires a wide range of nutrients—not just minerals such as calcium—to maintain optimum health.

While minerals tend to get all of the attention when it comes to bones, decreased collagen content is also an important factor in osteoporosis and low bone density.

Collagen is to our bones what two-by-fours are to the frame of a house. It’s the compound that provides the framework upon which mineralization occurs. As our collagen levels decline with age, this becomes a problem. Because if you don’t have enough collagen, it doesn’t matter how much calcium you take, the mineral won’t be bound within the bone.

With that in mind, it’s clear that we need to include strategies for improving the collagen matrix along with traditional mineral supplementation in any bone health regimen. The Downside of Drugs

One problem with bisphosphonate drugs used to treat and prevent osteoporosis (e.g., Boniva, Fosamax, and Actonel) is that they don’t improve bone quality. Sure, they can increase bone density. But because they don’t address issues with the organic collagen matrix, they can actually make bones brittle.

High-quality bone is strong and resilient, much like bamboo. In contrast, bone that’s pumped up on bisphosphonates is more like chalk—dense, but very brittle. People who are on bisphosphonates need to focus on improving their collagen matrixes to help fix the problems that these drugs produce. Increasing the collagen content of the bone leads to greater strength and flexibility, thereby increasing resistance to fractures.

Significant Supplements

To help improve the collagen matrix and promote bone health, the following key nutrients—along with 800—1,000 mg per day of calcium—are recommended:

  • Silica: A highly bioavailable from of silica (ch-OSA or Choline Stabilized Orthosilicic Acid, the ingredient in BioSil) has shown impressive clinical results in improving bone health and bone mineral density. In a double-blind study of post-menopausal women with low bone density, BioSil was able to increase both the collagen content of bone (by 22 percent) and bone density (by 2 percent) within the first year of use. The recommended dosage is 6—10 mg per day.
  • Vitamins K1 and K2 impact osteocalcin, a protein that anchors calcium molecules within the bone. Vitamin K is required to convert inactive osteocalcin to its active form, so a lack of it in the diet is a major risk factor for osteoporosis, even among those with a high calcium intake. The best food sources of vitamin K include spinach, swiss chard, kale, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and green beans. A typical supplement dosage for vitamin K is 100 mcg daily.
  • Vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid help convert the amino acid methionine to cysteine. Any deficiency in these vitamins can lead to an increase in homocysteine levels, which has been implicated in various conditions, including osteoporosis. When shopping for B vitamins, look for a formula that contains the methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12 for optimal absorption.
  • Vitamin D3 supplementation is associated with increased bone density, and studies that combine vitamin D with calcium have produced considerably better results than either nutrient alone. Most experts recommend daily doses of at least 2,000 IU of D3.
  • Magnesium. Research has shown that women with osteoporosis have lower bone magnesium content and other indicators of magnesium deficiency than those without osteoporosis. A dosage
    of 250—500 mg daily is generally recommended.
April 17th, 2014

Honeydew Melons

honeydew-melonAs a member of the curbitaceae family, honeydew melons are a relative of cucumbers and squash. It is thought that honeydews originated in Persia. Honeydew melon is present in Egyptian hieroglyphics dating as far back as 2,400 B.C.E., and was a prized as a food. Later cultivated by the Romans, honeydew were introduced to Europe during the rise of the Roman Empire. They did not gain popularity, however, until becoming a trend in the French royal court during the 15th century. Columbus carried honeydew melon seeds with him to America, as did Spanish explorers settling California. Today, most of America’s honeydew is still grown in California.

Nutritional Highlights:

  • Honeydew melon is only 60 calories per cup, and is composed of about 90% water.
  • It is a good source of vitamin C and has potassium content comparable to that of a banana, with fewer calories.
  • Honeydew is also a source of B vitamins thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, as well as the trace mineral copper.

 

Health Benefits:

  • The combination of its high water content and potassium levels make honeydew melon effective at maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
  • As honeydew contains both vitamin C and copper, they promote healthy skin by aiding collagen production and tissue repair.

Honeydew’s sweet and mild flavor allows it to be combined with almost any other fruit. Mix it with pineapple, banana, kiwi, and berries for a yummy fruit salad. For a more savory application, toss diced honeydew with lemon, watercress, lime, cilantro and jicama for a Mexican inspired dish. For a refreshing breakfast, use half a honeydew as an edible bowl for yogurt or even cottage cheese. For more preparation tips, check out a copy of my “Encyclopedia of Healing Facts”.

 

 

April 15th, 2014

Low Vitamin D3 Levels Linked to 13% of All Causes of Death in the USA

Introduction:

A huge and growing amount of research has shown that vitamin D deficiency is very common, and with some studies showing at least 50% of the North American general population having low blood levels of vitamin D. This finding is thought to play a major role in the development in many of the chronic degenerative diseases. In fact, vitamin D deficiency may be the most common medical condition in the world, and vitamin D supplementation may be the most cost effective strategy in improving health, reducing disease, and living longer.

Those deficient in vitamin D have twice the rate of death and double the risk for many diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

Background Information:
Vitamin D3 is actually more of a “prohormone” than a vitamin. Humans can produce vitamin D3 by the reaction of a chemical in our skin in response to sunlight.

 

Some Risk Factors for Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • Insufficient exposure to sunlight – working and playing indoors, covering up with clothes or sunscreen when outside, residing at a high latitude.
  • Aging – seniors are at greater risk due to lack of mobility and skin that is less responsive to ultraviolet light.
  • Darker skin – high incidence of vitamin D deficiency and its associated conditions in Blacks is widely documented. Blacks are at greatest risk of vitamin D deficiency due to higher skin melanin content.
  • Obesity – fat-soluble vitamin D gets trapped in fat tissue, preventing its utilization by the body.

New Data:
A new study published in the British medical journal BMJ analyzed data on more than a million people to determine relationship between disease and blood levels of vitamin D. The data included evidence from double-blind trials — the gold standard in scientific research — that assessed whether taking vitamin D daily was beneficial.

Conducted by a team of scientists at Harvard, Oxford and other major universities this study provides further persuasive evidence that vitamin D3 protects against major diseases. Adults with lower levels of the vitamin in their systems had a 35% increased risk of death from heart disease, 14% greater likelihood of death from cancer, and a greater mortality risk overall. In analyzing the double-blind studies, middle-aged and older adults who took D3 had an 11% reduction in mortality from all causes, compared to adults who did not. The benefits were found only with D3, and they found no benefit in people taking the D2 form of the vitamin.

The researchers estimated that roughly 13% of all deaths in the United States could be attributed to low vitamin D levels.

Commentary:
The human genome contains more than 2,700 binding sites for active D3; these binding sites are located near genes that are involved in virtually every known major disease of humans.

If you want to know for certain if you are getting enough D3, get the blood test for 25-hydroxyvitamin D . The acceptable level is between 50 and 80 ng/ml because at levels below 50 ng/ml the body uses up vitamin D as fast as you can make it, or take it. Many doctors are now routinely checking vitamin D status in their patients.

To insure optimal vitamin D status without testing, recently most health experts, myself included, are advocating daily dosages of 2,000 to 5,000 IU, even in healthy adults. The research definitely supports this higher dosage level.

While vitamin D3 conceivably has the potential to cause toxicity, the reality is that dosages in the range of 2,000 to 5,000 IU per day are now recognized as being extremely safe levels. That dosage of 5,000 IU may seem like a huge amount, but keep in mind that the skin produces approximately 10,000 IU of vitamin D in response to 20–30 minutes of summer sun exposure. So, 5,000 IU is really a nominal amount of vitamin D. Just to put this amount into perspective, you would need to drink 50 glasses of milk in order to obtain 5,000 IU.

Reference:
Chowdhury R1, Kunutsor S, Vitezova A, et al. Vitamin D and risk of cause specific death: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational cohort and randomised intervention studies. BMJ. 2014 Apr 1;348:g1903.

April 15th, 2014

7 Questions To Ask Yourself Every Day For A Better Life

Happiness_3You will be amazed at how powerful questions can be in your life. Let’s look at the following example: an individual is met with a particular challenge or problem, such as getting passed over for a promotion at work. He can ask a number of questions when in this situation. Questions many people may ask in this circumstance include: “Why does this always happen to me?” Or, “Why am I always so stupid?”

Does the person who asks these questions get answers? Do the answers build self-esteem? Does the problem keep reappearing?

A higher-quality question would be, “This is a very interesting situation, what do I need to learn so that it never happens again?” Or, how about “What can I do to make this situation better?”

Whatever the question, your mind will come up with an answer. That’s why asking better questions can have such an amazing impact on your life.

When the mind is searching for answers to powerful, transformative questions, it’s reprogramming your subconscious into believing you have an abundance of energy. Unless there is a physiological reason for the fatigue, such as anemia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or some serious disease, it won’t take long before your subconscious mirrors the energy you’ve generated.

If you want more energy, excitement or happiness in your life, simply ask yourself the following questions on a consistent basis:

1. What am I most happy about in my life right now? Why does that make me happy? How does that make me feel?

2. What am I most excited about in my life right now? Why does that make me excited? How does that make me feel?

3. What am I most grateful about in my life right now? Why does that make me grateful? How does that make me feel?

4. What am I enjoying most about my life right now? What about that do I enjoy? How does that make me feel?

5. What am I committed to in my life right now? Why am I committed to that? How does that make me feel?

6. Who do I love? Who loves me? How does that make me feel?

7. What must I do today to achieve my long-term goal? Why is it important for me to achieve my long-term goal? How does it make me feel to know that I am making steps to achieve my long-term goal?

Regardless of the situation, asking better questions is bound to improve your attitude. If you want to have a better life, simply ask better questions. It sounds simple, because it is.

April 14th, 2014

Fire Extinguishers

Natural approaches to whole body inflammation

Inflammation occurs as a reaction to injury or infection. It’s characterized by pain, redness, swelling, and sometimes loss of function. It’s actually part of our natural defense against invading organisms. During inflammation, white blood cells rush to the area to destroy harmful microorganisms and dead cells, thus preventing the spread of irritation and permitting tissue to repair itself.

But sometimes inflammation can produce harmful effects, and that’s a problem. Chronic low-level inflammation plays a central role in many diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and osteoporosis.

When you scrape your knee, it’s easy to see and feel the inflammatory response. But chronic, low-level inflammation, known as “silent inflammation,” is stealthier. To determine the extent of the problem, physicians can measure blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). For this reason, I recommend adding a CRP test to your yearly physical. It’s actually a stronger predictor of heart attack than cholesterol levels.

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Diet plays a definite role in triggering the inflammatory response. Studies have shown that CRP levels tend to be higher in people with high-glycemic diets. Conversely, a diet that’s rich in fiber and low in refined carbohydrates is associated with lower CRP levels.

In general, diet rich in fruits and vegetables has the greatest benefit. It’s also important to avoid refined or simple sugars, which increase the glycemic load linked to inflammatory response.

Fight Fire with Supplements

Vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium, and flavonoid-rich extracts—such as grape seed or pine bark extract (Pycnogenol)—are the most important antioxidants for fighting inflammation. Supplementation with fish oil products that provide a combined dosage of 3 grams EPA+DHA daily has also proved to be effective in reducing inflammation and producing positive changes in numerous trials.

Preparations of proteolytic enzymes—including chymotrypsin, trypsin, bromelain, papain, fungal proteases, and Serratia peptidase—have been shown to be useful in a wide range of inflammatory situations. Look for products that contain a combination, and follow label instructions. You can also find Serratia peptidase as a stand-alone product for inflammation.

MicroLactin, a special milk protein, is gaining recognition as a natural treatment for joint inflammation (see sidebar on p. 28). During the inflammatory response, the “junctions” between cells that line the joint spaces increase, which allows white blood cells to enter the joint. Once inside, these cells cause more inflammation and ultimately more joint damage. By tightening up these cellular junctions, MicroLactin prevents the migration of white blood cells into joint spaces. This mechanism of action is similar to that of drugs such as prednisone, but without side effects.

Whole-Body Approach

Reducing whole-body inflammation—especially in severe cases—requires a truly comprehensive approach. The examples given above are just a few of the possibilities. A consultation with a nutrition-oriented physician can help map out the best possible course of treatment for you. To find a naturopathic doctor in your area, visit naturopathic.org for a referral.

The Science of MicroLactin
MicroLactin is made through a unique process whereby a small, low-molecular-weight fraction of milk is super-concentrated so that it can be delivered in convenient dosages. Two independently conducted clinical trials have confirmed that it is highly effective at improving joint function in cases of inflammation. In a double-blind study, MicroLactin showed a significantly better treatment effect in improving joint health versus placebo than did glucosamine. In fact, this treatment effect, which measured the overall improvement in joint function scores over a period of six weeks, was 60 percent greater for MicroLactin than for glucosamine. The typical dosage for MicroLactin is 2 grams twice daily for the first 7—10 days, followed by a maintenance dose of 2 grams once daily thereafter.