Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Inflammation can be harmful to the body‏

Inflammation of your arteries appears to be the key in both the development of heart disease and diabetes. Researchers at the Women’s Hospital in Boston evaluated the blood samples of over 32,000 nurses for inflammatory products. They found that those nurses that had the greatest amount of inflammation in their bodies had a 5 times greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. It was felt that inflammation of the blood vessels causes constriction and thickening of the artery wall. This makes it more difficult for insulin to pass through the vessel wall and get to the cell where it is needed to transport glucose into the cell. This leads to insulin resistance and the Metabolic Syndrome. Inflammation is also known to increase the risk of heart disease. This may help explain why 80% of our diabetics die from a cardiovascular disease.

This is just another study that shows the danger of too much inflammation in our body. Inflammation is at the root of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and host of other degenerative diseases. What most physicians and researchers do not appreciate is the fact that oxidative stress is what causes the inflammation in the first place. In my book, What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know about Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You, I detail how these excessive free radicals can cause this inflammation and lead to all of these chronic degenerative diseases. The use of healthy lifestyles that includes a healthy diet, modest exercise, and cellular nutrition can eliminate or significantly decrease all the causes of the harmful inflammation within the body.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids‏

These Swiss investigators reviewed 97 randomized, controlled clinical trials, which involved over 275,000 subjects. They looked at comparing the reduction in cardiovascular deaths between individuals who were taking the lipid lowering drugs called statins, those who consumed higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids, and a controlled group or placebo group. The statin group reduced cardiovascular deaths by 22%, while the omega-3 fatty acid group decreased cardiovascular disease by 32%. Statin drugs reduced overall mortality by 13%; however, the omega-3 fatty acid group reduced overall mortality by 23%. These were significant findings and brought up the fact that supplementing your diet with high-quality omega-3 fatty acids from pharmaceutical-grade filtered fish oil was more effective than the expensive statin drugs when it came to cardiovascular death and overall mortality.

Now statin drugs have been shown to decrease inflammation and part of their clinical effectiveness is due to this aspect of these drugs. So researchers are not sure if it is the lowering of cholesterol or the anti-inflammatory aspect of these drugs that provide their health benefits. However, omega-3 fats are the building blocks of the body’s natural anti-inflammatories. In fact, supplemental intake of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA found in filtered fish oil has been shown to significantly decrease inflammation throughout the body, including our arteries. They also do not have the adverse side effects that the statin drugs have.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oxidized LDL

Dr. Tsimikas and associates reported this study in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding the relationship of oxidation of phospholipids and LDL cholesterol to the development of coronary artery disease. When there are excessive free radicals, for whatever reason, they can easily oxidize or modify LDL cholesterol and phospholipids, primarily Lp(a) lipoprotein. These oxidized lipids have been found to significantly increase inflammation in our arteries and lead to accelerated atherosclerosis or hardening of our arteries. Individuals who had high levels of these oxidized lipids had a significantly greater risk of coronary artery disease. They concluded that the proinflamatory quality of the oxidized LDL cholesterol may be the unifying link between lipid accumulation and inflammation in the vessel wall. Therefore, LDL cholesterol is not the “bad” cholesterol, but instead the oxidized LDL cholesterol.

This study again is pointing out that coronary artery disease is not a disease of cholesterol, but instead, is an inflammatory disease of the arteries. Native or unchanged LDL cholesterol and phospholipids are not the problem. The trouble begins when these highly sensitive lipids are exposed to excessive free radicals, which can easily and quickly oxidize them. These oxidized lipids now create a low-grade inflammatory response in the fine, single layer of our arteries. It is this inflammatory response that causes the damage to our arteries and leads to hardening of our arteries, which can eventual cause a heart attack.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vitamin E and respiratory tract infections‏

With cold and flu season approaching, nutrition plays an important role in helping prevent or reduce the incidence and severity of seasonal illness. Research shows that a good multivitamin and extra vitamin E can reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections, especially in the elderly.

Respiratory illnesses, including the common cold, can be debilitating and lead to complications and death in the elderly. A study published in the August 18, 2004, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found vitamin E to be protective against upper respiratory infections.

Four hundred fifty-one individuals aged 65 and older at 33 long-term care facilities completed a course of 200 IU of vitamin E per day or a placebo from April 1998 to August 2001. In addition, all of the subjects received a multivitamin that provided 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance for essential vitamins and minerals. The incidence of lower respiratory infections, such as acute bronchitis and pneumonia, and upper respiratory tract infections, including cold, influenza, sore throat, middle ear infection and sinusitis, was documented over the course of the trial.

The subjects who received vitamin E acquired fewer respiratory tract infections than those who did not receive the vitamin. Participants who received the vitamin experienced a 20 percent decreased risk of acquiring the common cold, which accounted for 84 percent of the upper respiratory infections reported. In addition, participants taking vitamin E had fewer colds per person. Although vitamin E showed no significant effect on lower respiratory tract infections, the protective effect of vitamin E supplementation on upper respiratory tract infections observed in this group merits further investigation and suggests important implications for the well-being of the elderly.

Source: Vitamin E and Respiratory Tract Infections in Elderly Nursing Home Residents , Meydani et al, JAMA. 2004;292:828-836

Monday, December 15, 2008

Anti-cancer properties of vitamin E and C‏

Vitamin C has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in both animal and human studies. There are other studies which show that vitamin C at lower doses can actually stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Linus Pauling has shown that the use of 10 gms of sodium ascorbate can prolong and improve the quality of life in cancer patients. Other researchers have disputed these studies; however, they used straight ascorbic acid. There has been no significant toxicity related to these higher doses of vitamin C except for occasional GI upset. Medical studies are now showing us that calcium ascorbates are actually safer and more effective in patients with cancer. This allows me to recommend higher quality vitamin C at a lower dose in my cancer patients. However, there is still a concern of using vitamin C alone in cancer patients. This is why I always use vitamin C along with a complete and balanced nutritional supplement.
There have been several studies that have shown that vitamin E used in supplementation will inhibit the growth and increase the cell death of various cancers. Research studies are showing that d alpha-tochopherol succinate (natural vitamin E) is the most potent form of vitamin E in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and causing increased cell death of these cancer cells. The higher antioxidant and biological effect of this natural form of vitamin E has also
been demonstrated in several different studies.

Source: Dr. Strand Health Nuggets (newsletter@Bionutrition.org)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

What if you already have cancer‏?

Many oncologists believe that you have cancer that you should not be taking nutritional supplements. This is a theoretical concern that these supplements may improve the antioxidant defense system of the cancer cells. Since their chemo and radiation therapy uses free radicals and oxidative stress in an attempt to destroy these cells, they do have a concern. However, when you look at the medical research that studied patients who took high-quality, complete and balanced nutritional supplements while receiving their chemo or radiation therapy, the patients did better than those who did not take supplements.
Dr. Kedar Prashad, a radiation therapist from the University of Colorado Medical School, actually reviewed over 90 of these studies. He found that those patients who took nutritional supplements while taking either their chemo or radiation therapy not only tolerated their treatments better, but also responded to them better. He concluded that antioxidant supplements improved the normal cells antioxidant defense system; however, they made the cancer cells more vulnerable to cell death. This is win-win situation for cancer patients. In fact, this has led some major cancer treatment centers like the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, OK and Chicago, IL to give all of their cancer patients antioxidant supplements while receiving their treatments.

Source: Dr. Strand Health Nuggets (newsletter@Bionutrition.org)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Multivitamins and healthy immune function

Adequate nutrient intakes are required for the immune system to function efficiently. A good multivitamin can enhance the immune system by supporting the body's natural defenses on both a structural and cellular level.
A recent article published in the British Journal of Nutrition summarizes the roles of select vitamins and trace elements in immune function.

Adequate intakes of micronutrients are required for the immune system to function efficiently. Micronutrient deficiency suppresses immunity by affecting antibody responses, leading to imbalances in the immune system. This situation increases susceptibility to infections, which increases disease and death risk. In addition, infections aggravate micronutrient deficiencies by reducing nutrient intake, increasing losses, and interfering with utilization by altering metabolic pathways. Inadequate intakes of micronutrients are common in people with eating disorders, smokers (active and passive), individuals with chronic alcohol abuse, certain diseases, during pregnancy and lactation, and in the elderly.

Micronutrients contribute to the body's natural defenses on three levels by supporting physical barriers (skin/mucosa), cellular immunity, and antibody production. Vitamins A, C, E, and the mineral zinc assist in enhancing the skin barrier function. Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folic acid, and the minerals iron, zinc, copper and selenium work synergistically to support the protective activities of the immune cells. Finally, all these micronutrients, with the exception of vitamin C and iron, are essential for the production of antibodies.

Overall, inadequate intake and status of these vitamins and minerals may lead to a suppressed immune system, which increases the risk of infections and aggravates malnutrition. Therefore, supplementation with a multivitamin that includes these micronutrients can support the body's natural defense system by enhancing all three levels of immunity.

Source: Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses, Maggini et al, British Journal of Nutrition 2007 Oct; 98 Suppl 1:S29-35.