Friday, December 15, 2006

Nutritional health: asthma


Asthma is a chronic disorder characterized by recurring attacks of airway obstruction. The breathing difficulty that results can range from mild wheezing to respiratory failure. The airway obstruction results from bronchospasms, increased secretion of mucous, and swelling of bronchial mucosa.


Asthma may result from sensitivity to specific external allergens or from other, nonallergenic factors. Asthma that is related to allergies is considered extrinsic, while asthma that does not seem to be related to allergies is called intrinsic asthma. Allergens that cause extrinsic asthma include pollen, animal dander, house dust or mould, kapok or feather pillows, food additives containing sulfites, and any other sensitizing substance.


There are various types of asthma which are differentiated by cause (such as allergy or exercise) and the degree of severity.

At Risk

About half of all patients with asthma are under age 10.

About one-third of all patients with asthma share the disease with at least one immediate family member.

Prevention and Management


The best prevention of asthma attacks is to identify and avoid the precipitating factors. People who have extrinsic (allergy-induced) asthma are advised to minimize their exposure to specific allergens.

Nutritional Influences:

There are a number of studies that indicate that determination of food sensitivities (even if none had been suspected), and avoiding the foods which test positive either reduced or eliminated symptoms in some people.,,, Of course, not all asthma is related to food sensitivities.

Diets rich in antioxidants may have a modulatory effect on bronchial reactivity.

Inclusion of oily fish in the diet may protect against asthma in childhood.

Vitamin B6 levels in the blood have been found to be lower in asthmatics than the non-asthmatics. Positive results have been reported when B6 supplements have been taken.

Vitamin B12 therapy has been used to successfully treat asthmatics, especially those who suffer attacks after eating foods containing sulfites.

Vitamin C levels in asthmatics are often lower than in non-asthmatics. Vitamin C may also be beneficial to those who experience asthma during exercise.

Magnesium levels are lower in one out of two asthmatics during an attack. People with asthma also have lower magnesium concentrations in their white blood cells between attacks. Treatments by inhalation or injection have proven beneficial in stopping asthmatic attacks and improving lung function. At this time, however, the effect of oral supplementation remains unexplored.

Selenium supplementation might be beneficial to patients with intrinsic asthma, which may be at risk of selenium deficiency.

Additional Information

Disclaimer: These websites, addresses and/or phone numbers are provided for information purposes only. USANA, Inc. makes no claim, actual or implied, regarding the content or validity of the information obtained from these outside sources.


Soutar A, Seaton A, Brown K. Bronchial reactivity and dietary antioxidants. Thorax 1997 Feb;52(2):166-70.
It has been postulated that dietary antioxidants may influence the expression of allergic diseases and asthma. To test this hypothesis a case-control study was performed, nested in a cross sectional study of a random sample of adults, to investigate the relationship between allergic disease and dietary antioxidants.

METHODS: The study was performed in rural general practices in Grampian, Scotland. A validated dietary questionnaire was used to measure food intake of cases, defined, firstly, as people with seasonal allergic-type symptoms and, secondly, those with bronchial hyperreactivity confirmed by methacholine challenge, and of controls without allergic symptoms or bronchial reactivity.

RESULTS: Cases with seasonal symptoms did not differ from controls except with respect to the presence of atopy and an increased risk of symptoms associated with the lowest intake of zinc. The lowest intakes of vitamin C and manganese were associated with more than fivefold increased risks of bronchial reactivity. Decreasing intakes of magnesium were also significantly associated with an increased risk of hyperreactivity.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence that diet may have a modulatory effect on bronchial reactivity, and is consistent with the hypothesis that the observed reduction in antioxidant intake in the British diet over the last 25 years has been a factor in the increase in the prevalence of asthma over this period.

1 Pelikan Z et al. Bronchial asthma due to food allergy. Paper presented at the XII International congress of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Washington, D.C., October 1985.
2 Lindahl O et al. Vegan diet regimen with reduced medication in the treatment of bronchial asthma. J Asthma 1985;22:45-55.
3 Hoj L et al. A double-blind controlled trial of elemental diet in severe, perennial asthma. Allergy 1981;36:257-62.
4 Woods R et al. Patients perceptions of food induced asthma. Aust N Z J Med 1996 Aug; 26(4):504-12.
5 Soutar A, Seaton A, Brown K. Bronchial reactivity and dietary antioxidants. Thorax 1997 Feb;52(2):166-70.
6 Hodge L et al. Consumption of oily fish and childhood risk. med J Aust 1996 Feb 5;164(3):137-40.
7 Delport R et al. Vitamin B6 nutritional status in asthma:the effect of theophyline therapy on plasma pyridoxal-51-phospaht and pyridoxal level. In J Vitam Nurt Res 1988;58(1):67-72, 1988
8 Simon RA et al. Sulfite-sensitive asthma. Res. Instit. of Scripps Clinic Scientific Report 1982-83;39:57-58.
9 Rozanov EM et al. [Vitamin PP and C allowances and their correction in the treatment of bronchial asthma patients.] Vopr Pittan 1987;(6):21-24.
10 Schachter EN, Schlesinge A. The attenuation of exercise-induced bronchospasm by ascorbic acid. Ann Allergy 1982;49:146-150.
11 Haury VG. Blood serum magnesium in bronchial asthma and its treatment by the administration of magnesium sulfate. J Lab Clin Med 1940;26:340-4.
12 Fantidis P, Ruiz Cacho J, Marin M, Madero Jarabo R, Solera J, Herrero E. Intracellular (polymorphonuclear) magnesium content in patients with brochial asthma between attacks. J R Soc Med 1995 Aug;88(8):441-5.
13 Rolla G et al. Magnesium attenuates methacholine-induced bronchoconstriction in asthmatic. Magnesium 1987;6(4):201-4.
14 Skobeloff EM et al. Intravenous magneium sulfate for the treatment of acute asthma in the emergency department. JAMA 1989;262(9):1210-13.
15 Werbach M. Healing Through Nutrition. New York: HarperCollins; 1993.
16 Kadrabova J et al. Selenium status is decreased n patients with intrinsic asthma. Biol Trace Elem Res 1996 Jun;52(3):241
17 Diseases. 2nd ed. Springhouse (PA):Springhouse Corporation; 1993. p 621.
18 Diseases. 2nd ed. Springhouse (PA):Springhouse Corporation; 1993. p 621.
19 Diseases. 2nd ed. Springhouse (PA):Springhouse Corporation; 1993. p 621.
20 Diseases. 2nd ed. Springhouse (PA):Springhouse Corporation; 1993. p 621.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Part IV of IV - Safety of Multivitamins and Antioxidants

Nutritional supplements have been widely used and highly valued by American consumers ever since vitamins were discovered and commercialized, beginning in the early decades of the 1900's. According to recent national health survey, as many as 78 million Americans adults use multivitamins on a regular basis.

Multivitamin/mineral supplements are an effective means of delivering adequate amounts of most essential nutrients to help people achieve recommended intakes. The great majority of dietary supplements, including multivitamins, are safe for regular use. Despite widespread usage, there have been no specific published reports of toxicity or adverse effects associated with the use of multivitamins.

A series of well-publicized clinical trials conducted in diseased patients utilizing relatively high doses of single nutrients or combinations of nutrients (such as vitamin E and/or beta-carotene), have yielded disappointing results. However, those trials were conducted in patients with serious illnesses (ie. cancer or cardiovascular disease) who were on multiple medications or who were current heavy smokers. The results of these trials should be placed in context and are not applicable to the generally healthy population.

Advanced levels of antioxidants are a common thread among nearly every population that is less prone to premature chronic degenerative disease. The Japanese have high levels of fruit, vegetables, green tea and soy as part of their traditional diet. Vegetarians have lower levels of heart disease and cancer, compared to the typical mixed diet, likely in part due to higher intakes of antioxidants. While high levels of single nutrients and foods may pose a risk of danger and toxicity, there is no known unsafe intake level of total antioxidants in normally healthy individuals.

Source: USANA Health Sciences

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nutritional health: anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, worry, uneasiness, or dread, especially of the future. A certain amount of anxiety is normal and stimulates the individual to purposeful action. Excess anxiety interferes with efficient functioning of the individual.

Diagnosed anxiety disorders are classified into five basic types: phobias, generalized anxiety disorders, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and posttraumatic stress disorder.


The causes of clinical anxiety range from drug withdrawal (some phobias) to alterations in the brain's biochemistry (panic disorders) to conflict (generalized anxiety disorder). Because of the complexity of the brain and a person's psychological make up, diagnoses and causes may overlap.


The severity of a person's anxiety can range from mild to very severe. Anxiety is a problem when the severity is inappropriate or when it interferes with normal daily functions.

At Risk

Drug abusers including alcoholics are susceptible to anxiety attacks especially during withdrawals. People with a wide variety of psychological or medical disturbances are at risk.

Prevention and Management


It is often important to address any psychological factors underlying anxiety.
Physicians often prescribe various medications to help control severe anxiety.

Nutritional Influences:

Anxiety may be associated with elevated blood lactate level and an increased lactate to pyruvate ratio. This ratio is increased by alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, and deficiencies in niacin, thiamine, or magnesium.
Avoiding or reducing consumption of alcohol6, caffeine7, and sugar 9 may reduce anxiety.
Vitamin B Complex: In an observational study, 7 of 12 agoraphobia (fear of open spaces) patients were deficient in the vitamin B complex.
Calcium: Several case reports suggest low calcium levels may be associated with an organic anxiety syndrome.
Inositol: Inositol may have a calming effect.
Magnesium: Deficiency is often associated with anxiety.

Additional Information

Disclaimer: These websites, addresses and/or phone numbers are provided for information purposes only. USANA, Inc. makes no claim, actual or implied, regarding the content or validity of the information obtained from these outside sources.


Rudin DO. The major psychoses and neuroses as omega-3 essential fatty acid deficiency syndrome: substrate pellagra. Biol Psychiatry 1981 Sep;16(9):837-50. Pellagra was once a major cause of three behaviorally different mental disorders-schizophreniform, manic-depressive-like, and phobic neurotic - plus drying dermatoses, autonomic neuropathies, tinnitus, and fatigue. In this preliminary study all three of the corresponding present-day mental diseases are found to exhibit, statistically, the same pellagraform physical disorders but to ameliorate not so much with vitamins as with supplements of a newly discovered trace omega-3 essential fatty acid (w3-EFA), which provides the substrate upon which niacin and other B vitamin holoenzymes act uniquely to form the prostaglandin 3 series tissue hormones regulating neurocircuits en block. Since present-day refining and food selection patterns, as well as pure corn diets, deplete both the B vitamins and W3-EFA, the existence of therapeutically cross-reacting homologous catalyst and substrate deficiency forms of pellagra are postulated, the first contributing to the B vitamin deficiency epidemics of 50-100 years ago, the second to the more recent endemic "Diseases of Western Civilization" which express in certain genetic subgroups as the major mental illnesses of today.


1 Tabers Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. 16th ed. Philadelphia:FA Davis Company; 1985. p 120.
2 Diseases. Springhouse (PA): Springhouse Corporation;1993. p 52-66.
3 Diseases. Springhouse (PA): Springhouse Corporation;1993. p 52.
4 Roelofs SM. Hyperventilation, anxiety, craving for alcohol: a sub acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Alcohol 1985;2(3):501-5.
5 Buist RA. Anxiety neurosis: The lactate connection. Int Clin Nutr Rev 1985;5(1):1-4.
6 Abbey LC. Agoraphobia. J Orthomol Psychiatry 1982;11:243-259.
7 Werbach M. Nutritional Influences on Mental Illness. Tarzana (CA):Third Line Press. p 52-53.
8 Pfeiffer C. Mental and Elemental Nutrients. New Canaan (CT):Keats Publishing Company; 1975.
9 Seelig MS et al. Latent tetany and anxiety, marginal Mg deficit and normocacemia. Dis Nerv Syst 1975;36:461-65.


Your grandmother knew that and now you do too ...

What is dietary fibre?

Your grandma probably called it roughage. And although she didn't know the scientific basis of fibre, she did know that it was important to include some of it in your diet every day. Well, dietary fibre is not a single food or substance. It is the non-digestible complex of carbohydrates that are found only in plant foods. Fibre itself contribute little to your calorific intake because the body cannot easily absorb it. That's why high fibre foods are low calorie foods.

Fibre can be classified into two categories according to physical characteristics and effects on the body. Fibre is either soluble or insoluble in water. Examples of soluble fibres are gum arabic and pectin found in apples, oranges, pears, peaches and grapes. Soluble fibre absorbs toxins in the large intestine and neutralises them. Insoluble fibre helps to maintain normal blood pressure levels and promotes a growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. I'll talk more about that in a moment. Insoluble fibre also acts like tiny scrub brushes that sweep out faecal residue from the large intestine. With this sweeping action, insoluble fibre aids digestion, elimination and promotes overall bowel regularity. Good examples of insoluble fibres are cellulose and lignin found in fruits, vegetables, dried beans, wheat bran, peas and corn.

There are several reasons why dietary fibre doesn't get the attention it deserves from the medical establishment. First recognition of its role in human physiology is relatively recent. Only in the late 1960s did research on fibre begin in earnest. Second there is still some disagreement on just what dietary fibre really is. Even the word fibre itself is not quite accurate reminding us as it does of long fibrules primarily of cellulose. Its true that the major portion of dietary fibre in foods is derived from plant cell walls, but there are many other substances in plant foods that are considered to be dietary fibre including polysaccharides and gums. While dietary fibre is not considered to be an essential nutrient by many medical authorities, that position may say as much about how far behind the times conventional medical is as it does about the value of fibre in the diet. After all one of the most important reasons why traditional diets such as the Asian diet and the Mediterranean diet were and still are so healthy is because they are high in fibre content.

With a better idea of what dietary fibre is, the next question is: what are the health benefits of consuming adequate amounts of it every day? As on-going clinical studies are showing, the physiological effects of a high fibre diet are many and they are very complex. The first and most obvious thing that fibre does is to increase the bulk of the gastro-intestinal waste forming larger, softer stools that move more quickly through the colon. Its easy to see how this would help to prevent constipation. Many studies indicate that it has a significant effect on moderating glucose levels in the blood. A third major health benefit is that fibre prevents reabsorption from the gut of toxins such as the enzymes in bile acid. The bulk of a high fibre meal causes you to feel satisfied when you eat a moderate-sized meal which helps you to avoid overeating. Also important in weight management is the point that fibre provides almost no calories. Finally, fibre from different sources includes a wide range of micro-nutrients helping you to achieve optimal micro-nutrition.

Fibre's benefits over the long-term are even more impressive and very significant for preventing degenerative disease largely as a result of its cleansing and detoxifying activity. A high fibre diet can significantly reduce the risk of several major degenerative diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and certain cancers. Both adequate amounts of total fibre consumed daily in a recommended ratio of soluble to insoluble fibre are important for promoting gastro-intestinal health. The human GI tract is subjected to enormous and continual stimulation and challenge by foreign antigens from food and ingested microbes. This system of organs must integrate the many complex interactions between your diet, external pathogens, and local immunological processes. There are lymphoid tissues, components of the immune system, all through the gut including the piers patches and lymph nodes in the intestines. There is increasing evidence that fibre especially the types of fibre called prebiotics can help to modulate immune system function.

With more and more studies showing the healthy benefits of a high fibre diet, more nutrition authorities are agreeing that we should include at least a minimal amount of fibre in our daily diet. The US Surgeon General and many professional organisations are recommending a diet containing 20 - 35 grams of fibre per day. I consider this amount to be less than optimal but then the average American diet barely includes half this amount with only about 11 grams per day.

You know, in my travels to underdeveloped parts of the world visiting primitive villages for the Childrens Hunger Fund, I've seen that generally the higher the fibre content in the diet the less need for hospitals, as long as the diets contain sufficient essential nutrients. In these cultures where people consume large amounts of unprocessed starch staples, there a few examples of degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. So rather than using guidelines like the RDA of 20 to 35 grams per day, you should simply include as much fibre as you can in your diet from a wide variety of sources and from both plant foods and fibre supplements.

There are still many nutrition authorities who say that consuming healthy amounts of both types of fibre is fairly easy if you are eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. However eating large enough portions of fruits and vegetables every day to achieve an optimal amount of fibre can be quite difficult especially in today's fast-paced society. That's why you need to consider a fibre supplement. The American Dietetic Association emphasises obtaining your fibre from a wide variety of sources not just a few fruits and vegetables. If you supplement with fibre, you should always look for a product that includes fibre from many different sources. You should also be sure that your fibre supplement provides the correct ratio of soluble to insoluble fibre. An ideal ratio is one unit of insoluble fibre to every two units of soluble fibre.

An effective formulation of dietary supplement also includes types of fibre called prebiotics. Basically they are food for the bacteria in your intestines. You know billions and billions of bacteria are living inside you. The human gastro-intestinal tract is inhabited by several species of beneficial bacteria and you couldn't stay healthy without them. In all the human body is home to more than 200 species of bacteria, but the normal flora of the intestine represents the largest populations. An estimated 10 14 bacteria, that's 1 followed by 14 zeros, are normally in the gastro-intestinal tract. That's as many or more individual organisms than cells in your whole body.

Prebiotics such as the fruit dough, oligosaccharides or FOS, and inulin pass undigested from the stomach into the lower intestine. Once in the lower intestine they nurture the growth of beneficial bacteria both by altering the pH of the environment and by providing food for them. Prebiotics have also been shown to improve the absorption of calcium and they help to balance lipid and cholesterol metabolism as well as aid in immune function of the gastro-intestinal tract.

A modern diet high in meats laced with antibiotics, alcohol and toxic substances in processed foods combined with the stress of contemporary society upsets the normal flora of the gastro-intestinal tract. Prebiotic fibre supplements can help to maintain a healthy environment for beneficial bacteria. As you can see, fibre is valuable for your health more for its function than its content and that's why it plays important roles in so many health conditions.

Since the sources of fibre are natural plant foods, determining your daily intake is not as straight-forward as reading the calorie content from labels on food packages. But if you make a list of each item that you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks then refer to a table of fibre content of foods, you can get a rough idea of how much you need to add to get the recommended amounts. The American Dietetic Association, Hopkins Technology and the American Council of Science and Health, all have websites that provide tables listing the dietary fibre content of common foods. If your diet has been severely deficient in fibre or if you are finding it difficult to consume as much fibre-rich food as you would like, you may not want to add a large dose of fibre to your daily routine suddenly. Instead increase your intake gradually to avoid discomfort. In any case, make sure you drink plenty of water along with your fibre supplement. For efficient functioning of the gastro-intestinal system and elimination of toxins as well as an enhanced immune function, you need to include fibre in your diet every day.

Your grandmother knew that and now you do too ...

Source: Transcript of Dr Myron Wentz, LifeMasters Audio October 2006

Nutritional health: Alzheimer's

General Description
Alzheimers disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder which primarily affects brain structures involved in memory processes and motor skills. Alzheimers disease is the most common form of dementia, which generally refers to a progressive decline in mental function, memory and acquired intellectual skills.(1)

Pathologically, the brain is reduced in size (atrophy), especially in the frontal occcipital and temporal regions. Histologically, it is characterized by thickening, conglutination, and distortion of the intracellular neurofibrils (neurofibrillary tangles) and by plaques composed of granular or filamentous masses, found predominately in the nerve cells of the cerebral cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus. (1)

Major clinical criteria for the clinical diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's include:
1) deficits in two or more areas of cognition;
2) progressive worsening of memory;
3) absence of other medical or psychological disorders that could account for memory impairment; and
4) clear consciousness despite memory impairment.

The exact cause of Alzheimers is unknown. The etiology is complex and may involve several genes and possible environmental factors.(2)
Chronic exposure to aluminum has been suggested as a possible causative agent in Alzheimers. However, clinical evidence for this link is inconclusive.(3)
Oxidative stress may play a role in the pathogenesis of neuron degeneration and death in Alzheimers (4,5) An increase in free radical production has been demonstrated in Alzheimers disease brain tissue.
In particular, iron has been shown to be a significant component of senile plaques in Alzheimers disease (6) and may contribute to the disease process by initiating lipid peroxidation, leading to membrane damage and ultimately cell death.(7)

At Risk
Alzheimer's disease is obviously related to age, - that is, the older you get the more likely you are to develop Alzheimer's disease or dementia. For instance, the prevalence of dementia is roughly 3% for individuals aged 65 to 74, whereas it is 18.7% for individuals between the ages of 75 and 84 and nearly 50% for those over age 85. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that genetic factors may play a part in some forms of AD.
Clinical manifestations of mental deterioration, memory loss, confusion, and disorientation may begin in late mid-life (>45 years old). Death usually results in about 5 to 10 years after diagnosis.

Prevention and Management

Nutrition influences:
Nutritional support is important in the treatment of Alzheimers.(2)
In patients with moderately severe impairment from Alzheimer's disease, treatment with alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) or selegiline slows the progression of disease.(8)
There is an association between Alzheimers and low serum cobalamin (vitamin B12) levels.(9)
Deficiency of choline, an important component of membrane phospholipids and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, may play a role in the etiology of Alzheimers(10)