Renown Health Products: Natural Health News Report

Science May Be On The Verge Of Curing AIDS!

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“London Patient in Remission” Second HIV patient in remission, after being treated with stem cell therapy offering hope that this miraculous treatment may lead to a permanent cure to AIDS.

It’s both a miracle and the result of accelerating technologies, Physicians referring to a “London Patient” a man with HIV has become the second person in the world who has been cured of the virus since the global AIDS epidemic began decades ago.

A new approach of transplanting stem cells from a donor with a specific profile that is believed to make them immune to getting HIV to those with the HIV infection appears to have made history. The “London Patient” has been declared HIV free three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from an HIV-resistant donor and about a year and a half after coming off antiretroviral drugs.

This fantastic accomplishment according to researchers from around the world could mean that humanity is on the verge of developing a cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

During a Reuter’s interview with Ravindra Gupta, an HIV biologist who helped treat the man insisted that the patient is “in remission” but cautioned that it’s…

“Too early to say he’s cured.”

The “London Patient” is choosing to remain anonymous for now. The reference to his location is similar to the first known case of a cured HIV-positive patient Timothy Brown, an American man, who was known as “The Berlin Patient.”  The first person ever to get a stem cell bone marrow transplant for leukemia treatment in Germany more than a dozen years ago. That transplant to date has also appeared to wipe out any trace to his HIV infection.

The Brown case lead to many tests in which scientists tried for 12 years to copy the result with other HIV-positive cancer patients but were unsuccessful. The “London patient,” who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is the first adult to be cleared of HIV since Brown.

HIV remains a serious epidemic in the United States and around the world. It’s estimated that there are about 39,000 new HIV diagnoses in the United States in 2017 and that approximately 37 million people worldwide who are currently living with HIV. An estimated 35 million had died of AIDS since early 1980 were when the disease became an epidemic.

Scientists who have studied the London patient will be publishing a full report this week in the journal Nature. A presentation is also planned in Seattle at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, taking place this week.

Bone marrow, stem cell base transplants, as an HIV therapy, can have some harsh side effects but scientists believe it may be possible to treat patients with similar HIV-resistant immune cells; making the treatment easier on patients as well as more cost-effective. Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at University Medical Center Utrecht during an interview with the New York Times, said….

“This will inspire people that cure is not a dream. It’s reachable.”

Nightmarish Drug-Resistant Fungal Infections Threaten To Become Pandemic

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As many as 41% of those infected with this deadly fungal infection in one recent outbreak in a Spanish hospital died within 30 days of being diagnosed. People who contract these drug-resistant diseases typically die soon after contracting them because of their untreatable nature.

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs – germs that evolve so quickly that existing treatment protocols can’t keep up and an estimated 23,000 Americans die from them every year. The danger of one of these superbugs becoming so resistant to antibiotics, so contagious and lethal that the danger of them of their becoming a worldwide pandemic that’s capable of killing millions, tens of millions, even as many as a hundred million people grows every day.

If that wasn’t enough of a potential nightmare, medical experts are now warning a similar nightmare is starting to grow with deadly drug-resistant fungal infections. Right now a deadly, drug-resistant fungus called Candida auris is spreading around the globe and is so dangerous it's being described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that it’s being called an "urgent threat."

This drug-resistant fungus called Candida auris was first discovered in 2009 and was found in the ear discharge of a patient. The fungus is now spreading around the world and has been reported in the US, Colombia, India, South Korea and now threatens to become a pandemic according to the CDC.

The first reported cases of Candida auris in the United States was reported by the CDC in August 2016. By May 2017, a total of 77 cases were reported in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Oklahoma. After looking at people in contact with those first 77 cases, the CDC determined that the quick-spreading fungus had infected 45 more.

Now the deadly fungus is reaching a point where it could become an epidemic. The CDC reported in February 2019; there are 587 confirmed cases of Candida auris in the United States alone.

As is the case with this kind of antibiotic-resistant illness, people who have weakened immune systems are especially at risk for infection!

People who contract who are in the hospital already are suffering from a severe illness, according to the CDC. C. auris outbreaks are now one of the biggest health risks for hospitals and healthcare centers worldwide.

In the UK, an intensive care unit was forced to shut down after the hospital discovered 72 people there were infected with C. auris.

In Spain, a hospital found that 372 patients had the fungus. 41% of those infected Spanish hospital patients affected died within 30 days of being diagnosed.

The implications and risk with C. auris have healthcare experts alarmed and warning the numbers of those infected could grow geometrically because the fungal infection as of yet, can't be contained with existing drug treatments.

The danger of C. auris is best illustrated by the fact the fungus can survive on surfaces like walls and furniture for literally weeks, even more than a month, according to the CDC.

People are infected by drug-resistant diseases typically die soon after contracting them because of their untreatable nature. While it’s true that most fungal and bacterial infections can be stopped using drugs, it’s also true that drug-resistant fungi and bacteria have a genetic ability to evolve so quickly that the treatment that works for one patient, may not work for another. While at the same time this ability to change rapidly so also helps it survive and spread at an alarming rate.

Making the danger even greater, these drug-resistant diseases and fungus are extremely difficult for physicians to diagnosis. Often carriers infect others even before they know they’re infected!

The CDC is now saying 1 in 10 people the agency screened for superbugs carried a drug-resistant disease without even knowing it.

People who have C. auris rarely realize they are infected until they are very sick. The CDC reports people that are infected usually report…

Fever and chills that don't go away following over the counter and physician-prescribed drug treatment and until the symptoms of the fungus get so bad sufferers don’t usually get diagnosed until they are hospitalized and are tested for fungus through a lab test.

Some experts believe pesticides, and over the use of antibiotic drugs are creating these superbugs and sooner or later will cause the worst pandemic in human history, capable of killing millions of people.

Physicians and researchers insist they don’t know what is causing the rapid rise of these drug-resistant illnesses. One of the scariest aspects of this drug-resistant fungus is that there are different strains of C. auris in different parts of the world, which means this fungus didn't come from a single origin. They are being created around the globe at the same time.

Many physicians and researchers suspect heavy use of pesticides and other antifungal treatments caused C. auris to pop up in a variety of locations around the same time….

Researchers in 2013 reported another drug-resistant fungus called Aspergillus and noted that the fungus existed in places where a pesticide that had been used to target and kill that specific fungus was used.

As pesticides, antifungals, and antibiotics continue to be heavily used on crops and in livestock, it's possible that the fungi and bacteria they're targeting adapt and evolve in spite of the treatments to kill them.

The CDC is urging people to use soap and hand sanitizer before and after touching any patients, and reporting cases to public health departments immediately when they are detected.


Treating Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases by Manipulating Immune Cells

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Scientists have discovered a new drug that modulates the cell's defenses of the body and can stop the autoimmunity and stimulate the body to kill cancer cells.

New research has shown that T cells play a fundamental role in the fight against cancer. T cells are part of the defense cells of the body that are responsible for destroying potentially harmful agents for our bodies, such as bacteria, viruses, and even malignant cells.

 A new study reveals that a molecule called tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) regulates the growth of T cells in the immune system.

The study was led by researchers from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (IMBA) in Vienna and by scientists at Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusetts. The results of this research were recently published by the journal Nature.

"A fascinating feature of our discovery is that a system that was previously known only for its importance in neurobiology can also play a key role in T cell biology," says co-senior author Josef M. Penninger, the scientific and founding director of IMBA.

Cancer and autoimmunity

These findings can lead to a wide variety of therapeutic applications such as the control of autoimmune diseases (asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, allergies, etc.) and even trigger an immune response against cancer.

Harnessing the body's own healing mechanisms to fight disease is a rapidly growing field in medical research.

Recently, two scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for 2018 after developing an approach to cancer therapy that stimulates the inherent ability of the immune system to destroy tumor cells.

These discoveries have revolutionized anticancer therapy, as it allows us to take advantage of the activity of our immune system to selectively destroy neoplastic cells and avoid the use of drugs that destroy both healthy cells and cancer cells.

Cancer is a disease that affects millions of people around the world and has a significant impact on society. The National Cancer Institute estimates that by 2018, doctors will diagnose more than 1,735,350 new cases of cancer and that 609,640 people will die of the disease in the United States.

Many diseases can originate due to the inadequate activity of the immune system. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases which arise due to an overactive immune system that causes the body's defense cells to attack healthy tissues.

Among the most frequent autoimmune diseases are rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, type I diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative rectocolitis).

A report from the National Institute of Health (NIH) published in 2005 estimated that up to 23.5 million people in the US suffer from an autoimmune disease. However, the NIH figures only take into account 24 autoimmune diseases. Therefore there is an underreporting of these diseases.

BH4 Blockers

In this new study, it was evidenced that the reduction of BH4 severely limits the proliferation of T cells in humans. Apparently, T cells require BH4 to regulate iron intracellular concentrations and energy production. These findings are consistent with previous research linking iron deficiency with alterations of the immune system.

The research team found that the increase in BH4 in mice with cancer caused the proliferation of T cells and the reduction of tumors. Apparently, BH4 exerts this effect by suppressing the activity of a molecule called kynurenine that inhibits the action of T cells on malignant tumors.

The researchers used some blockers of BH4 mice with autoimmune diseases. These drugs stopped the autoaggressive activity of the T cells, stopped the allergic inflammation and prevented the T cells from causing autoimmune attacks in the intestine and the brain.

Steam treatment reduces enlarged prostate

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The prostate is an exclusive gland of the male genitourinary apparatus, formed by muscle and glandular tissue and weighing approximately 20 grams. It is located in front of the rectum, surrounds the bladder and urethra, and participates in the production of the seminal fluid, along with the periurethral glands and the seminal vesicles.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an entity characterized by an increase in glandular size and by the presence of an obstructive and irritative component that causes lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) and alterations in the quality of life of patients. It mainly affects men over 50 years of age. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a very common entity worldwide, is the main reason for urological consultation in men. BPH is one of the most frequent benign tumors in direct relationship with age. In the US, the prevalence is 8% between 31 and 40 years and over 80% in those over 80 years. The prevalence in Europe presents a range of 14% in subjects of 40 years of age to 30-40% from 60 years.

The consultation for symptoms secondary to BPH is very frequent in outpatient practice. Obstructive symptoms include difficulty in initiating urination, decreased strength and caliber of the voiding stream, post-void dribbling, and incomplete voiding. Irritative symptoms include urgency, urinary frequency, and nocturia. It is worth noting that dysuria or burning during urination is also considered an irritative symptom, but patients with BPH rarely complain of dysuria, except when they have an overactive urinary tract infection.

The treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia is aimed at reducing urinary symptoms and improving the quality of life of the patient. Will come conditioned by the clinic, comorbidities and the patient's expectations. The three available therapeutic options are watchful waiting, medical treatment, and surgical treatment, and the therapeutic decision will be conditioned, in addition to the above aspects, by the effectiveness and safety of the treatment, by the best cost-effectiveness ratio, and by the patient’s preferences.

Surgical treatment is the method that offers a better response for symptoms but carries a higher risk of complications. Transurethral resection of the prostate was until recently the most effective therapeutic option for those patients who do not respond favorably, or who do not accept pharmacological therapy.

Current procedures used to reduce the size of the prostate, while effective, can lead to highly feared side effects such as loss of sexual function, bleeding, and incontinence, and patients must stay in the hospital for days after the surgery.

If you are one of the millions of men who are not satisfied with your current treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (such as medication or surgery), water vapor therapy, called Rezūm, is a new, safe and effective option designed to transform your experience regarding the treatment of BPH.

A study conducted in British patients showed that this procedure reduced the size of the prostate by 36%, these results are similar to those obtained with other treatments, but the detestable side effects mentioned above are avoided.

Rezūm uses the natural energy stored in the water vapor. It is a safe and effective procedure, available for the treatment of symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. During each treatment, the sterile water vapor is released into the enlarged prostate tissue. When the steam turns into water, all the stored energy is released, which causes the death of the cells. Over time, your body's immune system removes the dead cells, reducing the size of the prostate. With the removal of the prostatic tissue, the urethra is unclogged, reducing the symptoms of BPH. Most patients begin to experience relief of symptoms in only two weeks, and maximum benefits are reached within three months.

Before the procedure, your doctor may ask you to stop using anticoagulants a few days or a week before the procedure. The procedure is completed in just a few minutes; however, keep in mind that the total duration of the consultation with your doctor will be approximately 2 hours. After the procedure, your doctor will prescribe analgesics and antibiotics orally for 3 to 5 days. The doctor may recommend the use of a urethral catheter for a few days to facilitate urination during the recovery process.

What can I do to prevent kidney stones?

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Kidney stones are one of the most common disorders worldwide, approximately 10% of the population has suffered at least one occasion of kidney stones at some time in their lives. Men suffer from kidney stones more often than women. Children can also develop kidney stones; this may be due to genetic factors, low birth weight, intravenous feeding, and deformities or abnormal anatomy of the urinary tract. However, children are also at risk of developing kidney stones if they do not drink enough fluids or eat foods with high salt content.

Kidney stones are crystallized masses that form in the kidney. The development of the stones depends on the chemicals found in the urine. Certain substances can accelerate the formation of stones, while others prevent the formation of these.

Most stones are composed of calcium oxalate, but others can be made up of uric acid, phosphate, and other chemicals. These start being small and get bigger over time. The stones can remain in the kidney or can move through the ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder). Stones can also form in the bladder or urethra (the tube that carries urine to the outside of the body).

Risk factors for developing kidney stones

        Family history of kidney stones

        Having previously undergone a kidney stone

        Obesity (a BMI greater than 30)

        Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative rectocolitis)

        Patients undergoing bariatric surgery, since the body absorbs less calcium after gastric bypass procedures

Below are some recommendations to prevent the formation of kidney stones:

Drink enough fluids throughout the day: Insufficient fluid intake contributes to the formation of stones. If you do not drink enough water, the urine will have less fluid and a higher concentration of chemicals that form the stones. That's why drinking more water may help prevent the combination of those chemicals that make up the stones. This recommendation is especially important during the summer when kidney stones are more likely to develop due to dehydration.

It is recommended that adults consume one ounce of liquid daily for every two pounds of body weight. For example, a 200-pound man should drink 100 ounces of fluid per day. We must bear in mind that not all liquids are beneficial, coffee, iced tea, and many soft drinks contain caffeine, which can cause dehydration if consumed in excess. The soda contributes to the accumulation of calcium oxalate, so it is better to avoid consuming it. The reduction of intake of sugary soft drinks significantly decreases the risk of suffering a lithiasis recurrence. Particularly in the reduction of those drinks acidified with phosphoric acid. The consumption of alcoholic beverages also increases the risk of kidney stones.

Decrease your salt intake: High salt intake negatively affects the composition of urine as it increases the excretion of calcium and decreases urinary citrate, favoring the formation of sodium urate crystals. Adults with hypertension or a history of kidney stones should limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.

Avoid foods rich in oxalate: The union of oxalate with calcium in the urine is one of the most important stages in the formation of kidney stones, therefore by decreasing the intake of oxalate-rich foods reduces the formation of kidney stones.  Among the foods with the highest oxalate content are spinach, rhubarb, sweet potato, beet, chocolate, kale, and peanuts.

In addition, excessive consumption of animal proteins such as beef, cheese, eggs, pork contributes to the crystallization of uric acid. Establishing a vegetarian diet at least twice a week allows replacing part of the animal protein with beans, dried peas, and lentils, which are high protein and low oxalate foods.

Monitor added sugars: Added sugars, especially in the form of corn syrup with high fructose content, contribute to the crystallization of uric acid. The natural sugars in fruits are perfectly fine for daily consumption.

Avoid vitamin C supplements: The consumption of more than 500 mg per day of vitamin C predisposes to the formation of greater amounts of oxalate.

Do not be afraid of calcium: contrary to what many people believe, the restriction in calcium intake may increase the risk of stone formation. Calcium binds to oxalate in the intestine; its deficiency causes it to increase oxalate absorption and with it an increase in urinary excretion, thus favoring the formation of kidney stones. Therefore, it is recommended to ingest approximately 1000 to 1200mg of calcium per day.

Baking Soda Could be a Solution for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Stop Autoimmune Responses!

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An inexpensive, household product found in most kitchens can promote an anti-inflammatory environment that could be a treatment to a life-changing autoimmune disease.

Baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) has become a very popular product due to its multiple uses, ranging from household cleaning to dental care and more. Also, the usefulness of bicarbonate in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was recently demonstrated.

Maintaining a balanced pH is essential for the proper functioning of the organism; an excessively alkaline or excessively acidic environment leads to a wide range of physical disorders.

Sodium bicarbonate allows alkalizing an acidic environment in the organism. Several types of scientific research corroborate that our organism works in a better way in a slightly alkaline environment. However, it is important to take into account that any of the extremes (acid-alkaline) can be harmful to health.

In September of this year, the Journal of Immunology published a study, which concluded that drinking water mixed with sodium bicarbonate reduces the chances of developing diseases such as RA and lupus.

During this study, the researchers orally administered a mixture of bicarbonate and water to two populations in the study that included healthy men and rats. After 15 days of treatment, the scientists showed that the cells of the immune system (macrophages) began to play an anti-inflammatory function.

Researchers concluded that sodium bicarbonate acted as a natural stimulant of the anti-inflammatory response of macrophages. Many diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from these anti-inflammatory properties.

How sodium bicarbonate works

Baking soda stops the autoimmune response, in which the body's defense cells attack their own tissues.

After the administration of sodium bicarbonate, the researchers noticed a decrease in autoimmune activity and an increase in anti-inflammatory activity in the stomach, spleen, kidneys and peripheral blood.

This effect is partly due to a change in the regulation of T cells and increased activity of cytokines and anti-inflammatory cells.

This combination of processes reduces the immune response and could help prevent the immune system from attacking its own tissues.

Cheap solution

Sodium bicarbonate could be an economical, safe, and effective way to relieve the symptoms associated with RA and other autoimmune diseases, but it is essential that you consult with your doctor before starting any therapeutic regimen.

It is important to mention that people at risk of alkalosis (ph <7.35) do not benefit from the intake of sodium bicarbonate, even their consumption can be harmful.

"Baking soda is a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease," said Paul O'Connor, director of the physiology graduate program at Augusta University in Georgia, and lead author of the study.

That's not all that has been shown to do, either.

Sodium bicarbonate has also been used to treat acid reflux. Some research even recommends the intake of sodium bicarbonate as a method to prevent certain forms of cancer.

Michelle Neilly, a health coach at Integrative Nutrition in Pennsylvania, said: "While there is no miracle cure-all fix out there, some home remedies like baking soda could help patients with RA."

Inflammation Can Ensure a Long and Healthy Life

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For several years inflammation has been considered a harmful process involved in the development of a large number of pathologies that compromise the quality of life of people such as arthritis, diabetes, atherosclerosis, asthma, and even Alzheimer's disease. However, inflammation is a natural process of the body that is put on the skin to protect the body; therefore there is much confusion around the idea of whether the inflammation is good or bad. Below we will clarify certain aspects regarding inflammation, what it is, how it manifests itself and how it is affecting you.

What is inflammation?

The immune system is the defense system of the body, which is made up of a set of organs and cells responsible for defending the body from any potentially harmful situation. The immune system is also able to eliminate cells that no longer work or function poorly. If a tumor cell is detected, the immune system induces its apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Inflammation is a process triggered by the immune system to protect and repair tissues from any injury caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, etc. When there is a tissue injury, for example, a wound, the immune system activates a set of mechanisms that lead to inflammation and subsequent healing of the injured tissue.

When does it happen?

When the organism identifies damage or a foreign agent, the inflammatory process is initiated, which begins with the migration of white blood cells to the affected area, these cells are responsible for destroying microorganisms and limiting tissue damage. Subsequently, the synthesis of collagen and other proteins necessary for the repair of injured tissues occurs, this process is carried out by connective tissue cells called fibroblasts. Inflammation is a necessary process, without it we would be defenseless against viruses and bacteria and could never be cured.

When is it not good?

Although inflammation is an important part of the body's defense mechanisms, when there is an imbalance in its regulation, it can cause great damage to the organism. Like everything in life, it is necessary that there is a balance between the proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory elements.

What causes harmful inflammation?

The reality is that many of the habits of modern life are capable of triggering a chronic and uncontrolled inflammatory process that compromises the health of the individual. Stress, poor diet, smoking, and not getting enough sleep are the main factors that lead to this situation.

How can I avoid 'bad' inflammation?

Several studies have shown that trans fats increase oxidative stress and the production of free radicals, which promotes an inflammatory environment in the body. In addition, the excess in the consumption of simple carbohydrates and processed sugars considerably raise the levels of pro-inflammatory hormones such as insulin. The additives and preservatives present in some foods are capable of altering the intestinal microbiome, which profoundly influences the immune system. If you want to avoid inflammation, we recommend you stay away from this type of food and start a healthy diet.

What foods fight inflammation?

It is recommended to maintain a diet with high fiber content as it displaces unwanted foods and allows the elimination of toxins. The healthy fats present in olive oil, avocado, and nuts are a great ally. Also, it is also recommended to incorporate more protein of vegetable origin into the diet and increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.

What else can I do?

Sleeping well not only reduces inflammation, but it also improves your cardiovascular health, decreases depression, and balances your immune system.

Eliminate stress is essential to combat inflammation; we recommend doing yoga, meditation or take aromatic baths three times a week.

Exercise is another powerful anti-inflammatory, especially when practiced regularly. It has been proven that aerobic exercise can reduce insulin and cholesterol levels, which reduces inflammation and increases blood flow to the tissues.


Biogen Kills Late-Stage Trial Of Its Alzheimer’s Drug

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Biotech giant Biogen (
BIIB) took a nose-dive last month after the company announced that it would be pulling the plug on the late-stage trial of its Alzheimer’s drug, Aducanumab.

Biogen was in partnership with a Japanese pharmaceutical company, Eisai, on its Alzheimer’s drug candidate, Aducanumab, but both companies agreed to discontinue the phase 3 trial after an independent data-monitoring committee concluded that the drug would NOT “meet their primary endpoint.”

This is a catastrophic blow for Biogen who was hoping this Alzheimer’s drug, Aducanumab, would become the blockbuster profit center of its drug pipeline. Wall Street analysts had bet big on Biogen’s progress in its attempt to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The hunt for drug treatment for Alzheimer’s has become one of the holy grails of bioscience. Finding a reliable drug to target the beta-amyloid protein, the main component of the amyloid plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer patients, has the potential of being a multi-billion a year product. Biogen is only one of many major pharmaceuticals to have tried and failed in attempting to tackle this human health scourge.

Jefferies Financial Group Inc. (JEF) said in its latest note to clients…


“This was a clear part of the potential downside risk and consistent with our HOLD rating thesis. We think the base business is worth $225-$250 w/o any pipeline. However, on a trading basis, we think the stock could trade down as low as $200-$230 with the removal of the program from the valuation,”

“They will have to now be overly-aggressive on M&A due to desperation.”

Meanwhile, Citi bank analysts released an update warning this Biogen failure will be a setback that will have adverse ripple effects across the bigger biotech space

 “With Aducanumab removed as the major pipeline catalysts, large-cap biotech’s ability to grow will remain in question.”

Sweet Fix, How Much Sugar Is OK?

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The signs of an addictive substance include bingeing, craving, tolerance, withdrawal, cross-sensitization, cross-tolerance, cross-dependence, reward and opioid effects.

And that’s why a recent article in the British Journal of Medicine concluded that sugar is addictive.

If you have a sweet tooth, this probably is not news. But it has been a contested topic in food and medical science for some time. No one gets the D.T.’s if they skip a candy bar. But they may get a headache, feel tired, or suffer distractive urges to run out and get their fix.

They may even hide their stash.

Lately, sugar “purges” are a celebrity trend. Do we need to copy that? Is craving sugar really an addiction that will wreck your health?

Time to take it easy… For people who are not diabetic or pre-diabetic, a little sugar is harmless. We evolved to seek out sweet tastes because it goes along with fruits and vegetables that are ripe and therefore at peak nutrition.

Wanting something sweet is not the real issue. The problem is that we no longer get a little sugar each day. We eat a lot of it. The average American devours 94 grams of sugar a day. That is the equivalent of 23.5 teaspoons of sugar. 

It’s so far beyond our basic needs that coming into line may seem like punishment to sugar lovers.

The American Heart Association recommends an added sugar intake of 6 tsp or less per day for women, 9 tsp for men. That’s 24 grams for women, 36 grams for men.

Or to put that another way, a  teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams, so the AHA recommendation comes to 1 1/2 tsp for women and 2 ¼ for men. You probably had that much before noon.

Even if you never put sugar in your coffee, eat Count Chocula for breakfast, or grab a donut on the way to the office,  you are probably busting the AHA limit every day.

Some sources are obvious. If that fruit-enriched yogurt includes jam on the bottom to stir in, it’s a sugar bomb. One serving of Dannon strawberry yogurt contains 15 grams of sugar, almost four teaspoonfuls. This is fairly mild among flavored yogurts.  Yoplait’s chocolate almond contains 22 grams of sugar. Fage split cup honey has 29 grams of added sugar.

Even if you stick to the AHA guidance, sugar intake is a tricky subject. Tracking only your added sugar can be misleading if you gravitate to naturally sweet foods. Bananas and grapes pack a wallop, but they also contain fiber, which ameliorates potential sugar spikes. In addition, the sugar in fruit is primarily fructose, which does not stimulate insulin production as glucose does.

But fruit juices are a special problem. Apple juice is nearly as sweet as a cola drink. Grape juice is sweeter than a Coke.

If you want to keep your added sugar under control, you can spot these culprits easily. It shouldn’t be a surprise that most granola is not health food, it is healthy food with sugar added, usually honey.  Blueberry muffins and Pop Tarts don’t really fool anyone. But some foods do.

A few of the most common sugar culprits may surprise you.

Ketchup with those fries will cost you. One ounce of ketchup is worth 1 ½ tsp of sugar.

A bowl of corn flakes is worth a teaspoon of sugar… before you sprinkle any on top.

At lunch, a Big Mac will give you 8 grams, or 2 teaspoons of sugar.  Or maybe you could choose a half-cup of pulled pork on a potato roll—we’re talking a small sandwich. Count that for 26 grams of added sugar, almost 6 teaspoons.  If you’re eating that pulled pork in a restaurant, though, it’s probably going to come in at twice that much.

Added sugar appears everywhere—peanut butter, barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, any drink that is not labeled 0-calorie, canned fruit, bread, canned soup, frozen dinners, chocolate sauce, lunch meats, and baked beans, to name a few.

Cooking everything for yourself would solve a lot of this issue, but we don’t always have time to do that. We can take small steps, though.

For example, if you have a thing for “sweet tea” as they say in the south, make your own.  You can even reduce the sugar slowly over time. It will certainly be better than a big, 16-ounce, glass of Arizona tea with 48 grams of sugar!

Anything you bake from scratch can be trimmed, too. Most cakes, quick bread, and muffins taste perfectly fine, maybe even better, with the sugar reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.

And just for the record, if you are tracking your sugar, it all counts. Despite its golden aura, honey is sugar. So are agave, corn syrup, maple syrup, and molasses.

Before you eat prepared food, read the label. Then keep track. You can also compare brands thanks to nutrition labels. For instance, most commercial bread contains far more sugar than necessary to make the yeast rise, but some brands are lower than others. Typically, rye bread has much less sugar, so if you enjoy it, that’s a great choice.

Bottom line: if it’s prepared food, read the label, even if you think it’s not a sweet. You might be surprised how much sugar is lurking.

Beet Juice to Jump Higher and Bike Longer

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News from Sweden by way of England: a glass of beet juice could help you work out longer and feel better.  It can make those fast-twitch muscles more powerful, too.

Somewhere in the world, there must be six people besides me who are thinking, “Wow! Beet juice! Hooray, I’ll take two glasses!”

My husband jibes me for ordering from restaurant menus based on the side dishes. Pork or venison tonight? I’ll take the one that comes with beets, please.

This beet-juice research should be in the “news you can use “category, but for one problem. Much to my surprise, most people hate beets. Ranker puts them third on the list of most disliked vegetables. Evidently, people would far rather eat parsnips and okra. Amazing.

The Swedish research happened in 2007 based on a comparison of triathletes and endurance cyclists who took either sodium nitrate or table salt before a workout. In 2009, researchers in England found the effect puzzling enough to run their own experiments. Instead of a chemical, they used beet juice because beets are naturally high in sodium nitrate. Beet juice was a winner. Cyclists who imbibed could pedal longer before reaching exhaustion. Their systolic blood pressure dropped 6 points. And their oxygen demand fell an impressive 19%.

Even with this proof, there was no worldwide breakout of beet-juice drinks crowding your grocery store. Beet juice never reached the dizzy heights of pomegranate juice.

 I suspect a cadre of beet haters suppressed it. The glory of beets stayed buried for a long time, though there are many elite and serious athletes who do swear by it.

 Then in 2018, Andrew Jones and team at the University of Exeter in England published an extensive review on dietary nitrates and physical performance in the Annual Review of Nutrition.  Beets were the main focus because they are an abundant natural source of sodium nitrate.

Sodium nitrate is one of those chemicals we have all been warned to avoid. It was supposed to be the devil in processed meats, a carcinogen.   It is now believed that the cancer risk exists, but was overstated.

Apart from that, we need sodium nitrate, and it is common in the foods we eat—especially spinach, arugula, chard, and beets. One reason to seek out the chemical is that it is involved in producing nitric oxide (NO) which our bodies must have. NO helps keep blood vessels dilated, helps regulate glucose and calcium, and plays a role in reenergizing mitochondria and muscle contraction.

Beets boost NO and have more benefits than the first Swedish research team realized. They focused on elite endurance athletes. More recent research suggests the benefits to that group can be iffy, but the rest of us may benefit a lot. Beets seem to have an even greater ability to support fast-twitch muscles. That’s useful for sudden bursts of activity, such as sprints or sports that require explosive movements, like soccer. Or jumping.

The most exciting thing about the work being done on beet juice and nitrates is that they may particularly help older people overcome exercise intolerance. The inability to exercise hard and long is not just a “use it or lose it” matter.  It’s caused by low NO levels in the body as we age along with less capacity to turn natural arginine into useful nitrates.

A couple of glasses of beet juice could help. And if drinking beet juice doesn’t appeal, eating one cup of spinach or beets should have the same effect.

How to Think Your Way to Better Sex

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Sex issues can be complicated, but they’re not uncommon. It takes a doctor’s help to overcome obstacles such as medicines that put the kibosh on the libido.  It might take a financial counselor or a budget to solve money worries that cause fizzle where there should be sizzle.

But two of the most common issues are problems you can take care of yourself. They are all about attitude.

The first one is sometimes called “performance anxiety.” I prefer to say it straight up—it’s embarrassment.

Worrying about your ability to perform is actually a case of worrying about whether you are OK, whether you measure up. And let’s face it, we all want to be heroes with our beloved partners.

The odd thing about this anxiety is that members of the opposite sex are not usually as disturbed as their partners worry they may be. 

For instance, it is extremely common for women to become less moist as they grow older, especially after menopause. A lubricant is a simple, easy answer, yet many women hesitate to introduce the idea.

A woman who does suggest she needs help, even though her pleasure and interest is as high as ever, could be surprised to find her partner is more than happy to oblige. Most men have no aversion whatsoever experimenting with different creams, gels, or lubricants to find one that both partners like. It can even add new sizzle to the dynamic.

Not to stereotype anyone, but telling your man, “honey, would you mind browsing the sex store for me?” is like asking your dog if he would care to have a raw steak.

From the opposite side of the bed, men can worry about ED even when they don’t have it.  With age, the penis gets less hard when engorged. It can thus be shorter or have less girth. The constant urge may also calm down into a more occasional urge in maturity. Women are not as put off by these natural changes as their men fear. Even sex with softness is real sex to them if the spirit is willing.

Plus, the solution to less stamina and hardness might be as simple as more foreplay something most women who love their men would never veto.

The second overwhelming mental block to good sex has to do with embarrassment, too. It’s about your body image.  Parts that should be firm, flop. Parts that should be flat, grow round, and parts that should be round, grow flat. You may have noticed the word “should” in all those sentences. The “should” applies to your ideal teen and 20-something self. After that, give yourself a little leeway.

Ideally, for our overall health as well as our sexual health, we would exercise and control our weight. But if we slide, the fix takes time. You can’t lose 20 pounds overnight without surgery. And even then, it’s a daunting task.

You can fix your attitude faster. If your partner is not criticizing you or shunning you, then cut yourself some slack. Sexy is not a size; it’s an attitude.

Baby Powder Replacements You’ll Love

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Johnson & Johnson is facing class action lawsuits for its iconic baby powder.

This only happened because baby powder is the rare infant product we never want to give up. What’s in the talc, sometimes a taint of asbestos, is wrong. But it is the long-term exposure that implicates baby powder in diseases like ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. 

We’re addicted. Grown men sprinkle it in their sneakers and underwear. Women prize it for a million reasons from keeping thighs from chafing, to freshening hair between shampoos, to setting makeup. Moms learn to sprinkle it on their kids’ feet at the beach to brush off sand more effectively.  It can even calm squeaky floorboards. It’s a fine dry pet shampoo, too.

You probably already know that you can use baking powder or corn starch for many of those things, but it’s not completely satisfying, is it?

Because… the smell. There are people who hate baby powder smell. But for many of us, it has a strong association with that after-bath feeling of being clean.

As it turns out, “baby powder smell” is so popular, one company has blended an essential oil with the fragrance. It’s called Young Living's Gentle Baby Essential Oil Blend. If you don’t see it wherever you usually shop for essential oils, there’s always Amazon. I checked. They have it.

If you’d like to experiment with your own blend, the probable fragrance notes are vanilla, rose, honeysuckle, jasmine, geranium, and lavender. Then again, some claim that violet essential oil is exactly the thing.

The next step is getting the smell into a nice powder.

If you are completely addicted to talc, you can carry on. It is possible to buy odor-free talcum powder that is also asbestos free. This, too, can be ordered online, but you may also find it at a well-stocked aromatherapy store or wherever candle-making and soap-making supplies are sold.

Just a word, here, though. Some of the health effects that are associated with baby powder are related to breathing in particulates. If you choose to continue with talc, sprinkle without undue exuberance and avoid breathing deeply until it settles. Also, it is not a good idea to use this in the perineal area if you are a woman because of the suspected link to ovarian cancer.

If you want to avoid talc, your best bet depends on the feel you like and the purpose you have in mind.

Baking soda—great for controlling odor. Perfect for smelly dogs and shoes, controlling rashes, and absorbing moisture.  The downside is that it doesn’t have the silky luxurious feel of powder, but it is safe and natural. You can get some smoothness by mixing baking soda with a softer substance like arrowroot or rice powder.

Cornstarch—this has the exquisite feel many prize for a powder that helps prevent chafing where the body rubs, such as inner thighs. Cornstarch is the main ingredient in the most popular and highly rated J&J alternatives Burt’s Bees Dusting Powder.  It’s ideal for soothing itchy spots including bug bites, and it’s a champ at absorbing moisture. It’s naturally fragrance-free. If cornstarch has a downside, it is that it is so light and airy it can be messy to control in a shaker. For a deodorant, cornstarch needs a little help, blend with baking soda.

Rice Powder— an alternative many people don’t think of immediately. Our grandmothers may have known it as a face powder. It has several unusual properties. For instance, it is something of a sunscreen. Not as effective as the dedicated product, but it can be mixed into a paste and used on the skin to give some sun protection. Over time, however, this practice can also whiten skin, which is admired in some parts of the world, but not where bold suntans are the ideal. An oil and rice powder paste can also lighten under-eye circles. As a face powder, it’s a little coarse, so needs blending with cornstarch.

Arrowroot Powder—This is even silkier than cornstarch. You can also buy it knowing that arrowroot is never genetically modified, corn products usually are. Arrowroot deodorizes and absorbs moisture and oils well.

The final step—getting the smell and the powder together—is easy. You can’t just pout the oils on top because you would create a paste. So pour several drops of the oils or your favorite perfume on a few cotton balls. Put them in the bottom of a glass container you can close tightly. Pour your powder blend on top, screw down the lid, and shake. Fill the jar only half full so there’s plenty of room for shaking action. Let your new powder mix sit for a few days and you’ll have the scent and feel you want, without unhealthy consequences.

Aspirin, Who Should Take It, Who Should Not

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Aspirin is one of the most prescribed drugs by physicians since it was synthesized in 1890. Aspirin is used in a wide variety of situations due to its broad pharmacological properties.

This drug is an anti-inflammatory; therefore it helps relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Due to its antiplatelet properties (prevents the formation of thrombi) it is administered in patients who have suffered a heart attack, stroke, or after undergoing cardiovascular surgeries such as stent placement or catheterization. Aspirin also works as an analgesic and antipyretic, and some studies have linked the use of aspirin with a lower chance of developing colon cancer.

However, despite its numerous qualities, recent clinical trials such as ARRIVE, ASCEND, and ASPREE suggest that the consumption of aspirin could have important adverse effects.

The trials mentioned above evaluated the administration of aspirin at low doses (100mg per day) in patients without known cardiovascular disease, with the aim of determining whether the daily intake of aspirin provides any benefit in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

The ARRIVE trial concluded that the daily administration of aspirin did not provide any benefit in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. However, it led to an increased risk of stroke.

In the ASPREE trial, aspirin was administered daily to patients over 70 years of age for 5 years. The study showed that aspirin does not prolong the life of patients compared to placebo; on the contrary, it increases the risk of death from cancer.

In the ASCEND study, it was observed that aspirin decreased the rate of ischemic cerebrovascular events in patients with diabetes, however, the incidence of bleeding increased.

It is clear that the indiscriminate use of aspirin can lead to a wide variety of adverse effects. However, we should not demonize this drug, which can be very useful when used correctly. Below are some tips, based on recognized scientific studies, about who should take aspirin and who should not.

If you had a heart attack or had cardiovascular surgery such as stenting, daily aspirin use will help prevent a new heart attack.

If you are over 70 years old and do not suffer from any cardiovascular disease, do not consume aspirin on a daily basis since consuming this drug preventively does not prolong your life expectancy.

If you have diabetes mellitus but have not suffered from an ischemic event (heart attack or ischemic stroke), taking aspirin will increase the risk of bleeding.

Aspirin should not be administered to children. In the 70s, a presentation of aspirin for children was commercialized, which caused a rare but deadly disease called Reye's syndrome.

If you have had cardiovascular surgery, your doctor may advise you to use aspirin in combination with an anticoagulant such as Plavix, to prevent an ischemic event.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, interfere with the effects of aspirin, To avoid this situation, take your aspirin at least 30 minutes before taking an NSAID, or take your aspirin at least six hours after taking an NSAID.

It is important to emphasize that the adverse effects of aspirin mentioned above occur with the daily and prolonged use of the drug, aspirin is entirely safe for adults in the treatment of fever or other ailments.


Reducing Anxiety through a Simple Tapping Exercise

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Sometimes there’s a solution beyond taking drugs to help resolve anxiety. In some cases, a simple exercise can solve a serious problem. All you need is proper advice and instructions.

Tapping is a technique that helps fight stress, anxiety and contributes to focus mentally on those feelings that are positive and to discard everything that prevents you from continuing with a full life.

This practice consists of tapping the fingers on precise parts of the body to release the stagnant emotions. Tapping is based on the premise that all problems, whether physical, economic, emotional, etc., are rooted in an energy imbalance within the person who suffers. The purpose of Tapping is to eliminate this imbalance, by stimulating certain points of the body. Like acupuncture, this technique acts on the energy points of the body.

Experts in meditation say that when stimulating energy points signals are emitted to the brain that reduces emotional tension and allows relaxation. As soon as this happens, the anxiety is immediately reduced, allowing you to move forward more calmly.

This technique of emotional liberation has gained great popularity in recent years given the collective awareness of the importance of personal and spiritual care. One of the main advantages of Tapping is that it can be carried out in any place since it is a discrete method that does not require the use of force to achieve the desired effect.

It has been proven that Tapping can alleviate a wide variety of negative afflictions, such as chronic pain, emotional problems, addictions, phobias, post-traumatic stress, and even physical illnesses.

How is the tapping done?

The first step to practice Tapping is to identify the problem you want to address. It can be a general situation that produces anxiety or a specific concern.

After assessing from 1 to 10 the level of anxiety felt, the person begins to hit with the tips of the fingers at certain points of the body, while saying positive statements about themselves.

What points must be hit?

The tapping points coincide with points of beginning or end of acupuncture meridians, and they are the following:

        0: The side of the hand, between the base of the little finger and the wrist.

        1: The top of the head.

        2: The inner end of the eyebrow.

        3: The lateral of the eye.

        4: The bone under the eye.

        5: Between the nose and the upper lip.

        6: The point between the chin and the lower lip.

        7: The tip of the inner end of the clavicle.

        8: About four fingers below the armpit.

        9: The inner angle of the nail of the thumb.

        10: The inner angle of the nail of the index finger.

        11: The inner angle of the nail of the middle finger.

        12: The inner corner of the fingernail.

The points from 0 to 8 are the basic points of tapping and are always used. In contrast, the finger points (from 9 to 12) are optional. In principle, they are not used, but if you see that with the basic points you do not get good results, you can add them.

Do not worry too much about the accuracy of the points, hitting the area is enough. You just have to hit the points on one side of the body.

A tapping sequence to relieve stress.

Tap each point about seven times and repeat the following sentences out loud.

Point 0: "Even though I feel overwhelmed and afraid, I accept who I am and how I feel." Repeat it three times.

Continue touching on the other points with adjacent phrases:

Point 1: I know I can move through this

Point 2: I know that I have the inner strength

Point 3: I choose to believe that I will overcome this

Point 4: I know I can find my power inside

Point 5: I think this is my trip now

Point 6: I know I can go through this

Point 7: And to feel good about me again

Point 8: I choose to believe in my inner strength


Eating Healthy with Farm-Raised Fish

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Unless you’re vegan, you should eat fish twice a week for good health.

It’s what the American Heart Association recommends.  Ditto researchers at the NIH/National Institute for Arthritis.  The US Department of Agriculture agrees. So do thousands of doctors and dieticians.

This is one of the rare bits of diet advice that is almost universally accepted. The reason is omega-3 fatty acids. They abound in cold-water fish like tuna, cod, mackerel, mahi-mahi, salmon, pollack, and anchovies.

Studies have shown that regularly eating these kinds of fish can lower heart disease and stroke risk because of the omega-3 content. The habit may also improve arthritis, supply critical growth hormones to developing children, and ward off cognitive declines.

But if the benefit of eating cold-water fish is ingesting plentiful omega-3 fatty acids, so is the problem.

Here’s how: Numerous foods contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Both are polyunsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs. Omega-6’s are more concentrated in grains, seeds, nuts, beef, and vegetables like avocados and soybeans, including tofu. Most cooking oils are high in it—one exception being olive oil, which is monounsaturated and full of omega-9’s. Only a few oils are rich in omega-3. These include canola, walnut, and fish oils like that wonderful-tasting (not!) cod liver oil. 

The issue is balance. The ideal diet for humans is a ratio somewhere between 1:1 or 4:1 of omega-6 to omega-3.

Our caveman forefathers were probably right at the 1:1 ratio. Some primitive societies get closer to the 4:1 range.

But today’s ratio is about 20:1 for most developed countries. That’s badly out of balance and invites numerous health problems. It is not simply a matter of too little omega-3; it’s also a case of too much omega-6. The two PUFAs have opposing effects in the body.

For instance, omega-3 is anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory. Omega-3 helps control weight. Omega-6 helps to gain it.

Gaining weight was an important biological edge in cave times where getting food was chancy from day to day. It’s not a good thing for us, where grocery stores, food trucks, and restaurants beckon us with constant temptation to eat and eat again. For most of us, gaining weight is the easiest thing in the world.

Eating more fish and less beef, lamb, and pork is a good way to bring your diet back into balance. Unfortunately, if you are choosing farm-raised fish, you may not be getting the omega-3 content you thought you were.

That’s because many fish farming operations feed their fish on grain products. And those fish will grow up to be high in omega 3 just like the grains that make up their diet, and low in omega 6.

The easiest way to make sure the fish you eat are as healthy as you hoped is to opt for wild-caught fish when you can. In the wild, cold water fish feed on other fish and algae. But you don’t have to make every serving of fish wild caught. There are responsible farming operations.

Farm-raised fish have become an environmental necessity, and it can be done right. It’s not all bad. Catching some species in the wild even means a lot of fuel burned to get to the fishing grounds and back for small hauls. In other causes, overfishing has meant that farm raising can be good for the species’ survival. In Norway, extensive cod farming has decreased the waste in this fish which loses some of its delicate appeal if frozen.

Good farming operations are careful to avoid using any pesticide-treated food stock, antibiotics, or unnatural foods like grains. It can be hard to know where supermarket fish originates, and how the owners work, however.

If you shop at an independent fish market, your purveyor can probably guide you right. Strike up a relationship, and try to shop when it’s not during peak hours. Friday afternoon is not the time to tie up the fishmonger for a long, philosophical chat. Nor will he want to guide you away from any choice when there’s a whole line of other customers standing around to hear every word.

Talking to your “fish guy” is not an option for everyone, alas. So if you are on your own, here are some general rules.

Sockeye salmon are never farmed, so you can buy knowing they will be wild caught.

Farmed fish that are usually responsibly raised, meaning no pesticide or antibiotics, no mercury concentrations, and proper sanitation and environmental impact include:

·         Barramundi farmed in the US and Australia

·         Bass farmed in the US

·         Catfish from the US

·         Char (Atlantic)

·         Farmed mussels--worldwide

·         Farmed oysters--worldwide

·         Farmed Pacific rainbow trout

·         Farmed sturgeon from the US and Canada

·         Farmed tilapia from Canada, Ecuador, and the US

Move More, Live Better for Longer

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We’re all so healthy now compared to 100 years ago. An American born today has a life expectancy of 78. Before 1900 it was only 47.

The reason our grandparents had shorter lives was not, as many propose, mainly owing because of childbirth and childhood diseases. More than half of adult deaths in 1900 could be laid to pneumonia, tuberculosis, and intestinal infections. Accidental deaths occurred twice as often as they do now.

We can thank modern medicine and science for this change. We know how to avoid flu, get over pneumonia, and set a broken leg. Cholera hardly exists. Even kidney failure, another disease that plagued our grandparents, is treatable now.

With so many extra years added to our lifespans, the new challenge is reaching beyond thinking about our lifespan to the idea of a long “healthspan.” None of us wants an extra 20 years of pain, debility and mental confusion if we can avoid them.

Will those years be good ones? Will you be active, useful, mentally vital and engaged with life all the way to the end?

Medicine can give you a long lifespan; you have to give yourself a long healthspan.

 At a minimum that includes eating healthily, treating depression if it shadows you, avoiding stupid risks like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, building a network of friends and family, not smoking, and learning to deal with stress.

And exercise.

If you ever suspected that Americans were couch potatoes, the World Health Organization has the proof. In the US, 40% of adults fail to get minimal sufficient exercise every week. The Germans are even worse, at 42%.

On a global scale, the relationship of exercise to life expectancy isn’t simple. Poor countries like Uganda and Lesotho rank high for exercise, but healthcare and high HIV/AIDS rates devastate the population. China, which has a very active population also has world-class pollution that is presumed to knock three years of life off its people.

But overall, there is a positive relationship among developed nations between more exercise and longer lives. In Europe, the countries with the fewest couch potatoes—Sweden, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, and Spain—have one to two years longer life expectancies than less active countries like Ireland, the UK, and Germany. Canadians with high rates of physical activity also have four more years of life expectancy than their US neighbors.

Those trends are complicated, as mentioned. But there’s plentiful research on individuals and the effects of exercise. More is better, as long as you are not trying to out-achieve super athletes.

When the WHO looked at the problem of inactivity, it also set guidelines for how much exercise is needed to keep people healthier. It’s actually a modest prescription. If you walk a dog and convince him to quit smelling the bushes and hup hup, you’re halfway there. All it takes for a start is a little more than 20 minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity, a little resistance work, and some balancing exercises to help prevent falls.

Herewith, the guidelines:

150 minutes or more per week in moderate-intensity aerobic activity

That could include brisk walking at 4 mph, swimming, heavy cleaning, biking 10-12 mph, mowing the lawn with a power mower, volleyball, gardening, badminton, tennis doubles, or any similar effort)

Do all aerobic activity performed in bouts of 10 minutes or longer

Seek to increase this to 300 minutes a week for even more benefits

Balance exercises

Do these at least 3 days a week

You can keep it simple, like standing on one foot or heel-to-toe walking

Muscle strengthening

Do resistance exercises 2 or more days a week       

You can use resistance bands, weights, or body weight

If you don’t know what to do, find a trainer or class to get started

MSG Myths and Facts

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These days almost every Chinese restaurant has a notice somewhere on the menu proclaiming it does not use MSG.  

Millions of people believe they are allergic to MSG, monosodium glutamate. Probably ten times as many believe it’s a harmful substance that ranks right up there with Red Dye #4 and propyl paraben.  

So a Chinese restaurant goer, we’ll call him Charley, is happy to know he is safe at his favorite MSG-free restaurant.

But perhaps not as safe as he thought Charley was a little hungry before going to dinner, so he grabbed a few cheesy goldfish crackers at home. At the restaurant, he started with a fried wonton app and dunked them in a dipping sauce. His wife chose the egg drop soup. When it came to the mains, Charley ordered chicken in garlic sauce, extra spicy; his wife went for the sweet and sour pork.  Both douse their rice with the tableside soy sauce.

Between them, Charley and his wife have just eaten at least seven different items with MSG in them—the goldfish, the soy sauce, probably the cream cheese, the dipping sauce, the tomatoes in the sweet and sour, the chicken broth used in cooking, and the mushrooms in the Szechuan dish.

Charley leaves happily, and he doesn’t get the headache he swears he always gets when he eats MSG.

MSG danger ranks right up there with the number of words Eskimos have for snow as one of the most often repeated and misinformed myths we all know. MSG goes by many names on packages, MSG, monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast, glutamic acid, soy protein, yeast food, gelatin, and whey protein to name a few. Several stabilizers and thickeners like carrageenan, guar gum, and pectin often have MSG. Most Americans eat it several times a week if not daily.

It’s not some crazy thing invented in a test tube. It’s not a preservative that creates Frankenfoods that never rot.

In fact, MSG is all the rage these days as the fifth flavor—sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Umami is glutamate. Parmesan cheese is a rich source of umami and MSG. Roquefort and cheddar are sources, too. Know what else is rich in glutamate? Green tea.

Fear of MSG originated with a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968  that  linked it to “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” It was not established in a clinical trial or widely reported. It began with one person assuming an association between one ingredient in his dinner rather than a dozen other things. But the idea of Chinese Restaurant Syndrome was picked up and broadly repeated despite the lack of any human trials to back it up. Today numerous health blogs include MSG on their dangerous foods to avoid lists.

Is it dangerous? For a lot of people? For a few?

Eventually, scientists did perform research on the topic, but trial after trial failed to establish the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome as legitimate. The World Health Organization investigated the matter twice, in 1971 and 1987, and found no risk at normal consumption rates.

Nonetheless, there are hardly any foods that do not cause allergies in some people. So it’s more than likely that at least some people are affected by MSG.  

But it remains stubbornly unproven.

In 2016, yet one more attempt to get to the facts of the matter resulted in a meta-analysis on the topic. Yoko Obayashi and Yoichi Nagamura looked through the Medline and FTSA databases for all the human trials they could find.  It’s a wide net, FTSA abstracts more than 2,200 journals; Medline more than 5,600. If there was confirmed evidence, they were bound to find it. They were interested in papers written in English, of studies carried out in clinical trials on humans, that reported the incidence of headaches, and had a good statistical analysis or the data needed for one. They found ten papers that met their criteria.

There were five studies that gave MSG with food. Three of these were properly blinded (the researchers and the subjects didn’t know which food had the MSG and which didn’t). Two of these studies, however, used MSG in such high concentrations that some people might have detected it by taste. Even so, none of these studies found ANY proof of MSG causing headaches. Some of these studies also measured clinical data like blood pressure and pulse rate—also no proof.

In seven other studies that administered MSG given without food, researchers did find a few reports of headaches following MSG ingestion.  But once again, in the studies where subjects reported headaches, it happened with doses that were much higher than anyone would use in regular cooking. The subjects could easily tell which broth had the MSG and react according to their pre-set bias.

These adverse reactions occurred when the MSG was giving in a drink or broth at a concentration of 2% or higher. At a concentration of 1.2%, its flavor is detectable.

The usual concentration in food is much lower, 0.2% to 0.8%.

The bottom line—most people who believe they are allergic to MSG probably aren’t. But some few people could be. If you have a can of Accent or Sazon at home, don’t sprinkle it in the soup you feed to your guests unless you know it’s OK with them.

But to say MSG is bad for you is like saying shrimp are bad for you because someone somewhere is allergic to it. Lots of people are allergic to shrimp, but there’s no hysteria about it. Restaurants don’t post signs about it.  

The use of MSG was encouraged at one time to help people cut back on salt as a seasoning. It has about one-third as much sodium as table salt and sea salt. And if sodium is an issue for you, especially if you have high blood pressure, then a little MSG could do you some good if it helps you cut back on salt.

And if you are allergic to MSG, skip it in all forms, including the parmesan and the goldfish crackers. 


Oatmeal Revised – Still a Premium Source of Fiber

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Oatmeal is one of those love/hate breakfast foods. The warm, full stomach that some people enjoy looks like a bowl of slimy glop to others.

I understand. Regular, boiled-in-the-pan oatmeal really is a gray, gelatinous pile of glop with lumps in it. If you’re fine with that and content with the usual brown sugar, nuts, and banana trimmings, bless you. You are doing yourself a lot of good. You are a saint.

You’re eating smart, too. Women should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, men 38 grams. One cup of oatmeal for breakfast will give you 8 grams of fiber. An average “bowl” of oatmeal is bigger than that for most people, however. It should bring you 12-16 grams of fiber.

The usual trimmings help. A medium banana adds another 3 grams. Or a half cup of blueberries is worth a little less than 2 grams of fiber. A few walnuts would add another gram.

If you prefer to go in the fruit and nuts direction, though, consider dates. A half cup is worth almost 6 grams of fiber.

Brown sugar provides no fiber, nor does milk, but they complete the traditional breakfast oatmeal offering. Which works fine for people who like oatmeal.

Now for the rest of us. There are other ways to eat oats, and you might succeed in taking a more savory approach. I don’t run well when I start my day with sweets, so I found a way to make that work for me. While I never liked oatmeal, grits with salt, pepper, and butter are in my wheelhouse. That seemed like a possibility worth trying for oats—sans butter. Success! Good quality oatmeal, cooked thick, and served with salt and pepper tastes just fine. It’s not glop. Add a scoop of fat-free cottage cheese on the side, and you have a protein bomb, too.

Other ideas I’ve found palatable for an oatmeal avoider… You can also stir in a large handful of spinach leaves toward the end of cooking. Siracha works well to liven oats if you can stand a hot, hot breakfast. This concoction goes well with avocado slices on top. Some people tell me that crumbled bacon and a soft poached egg are delicious, but this is supposed to be a health blog, so we’ll just pretend that bacon never happens, OK?

Another interesting way to add oatmeal to your daily regime is to make a batch and pour it into a pie pan or baking dish to set, let it chill until firm. Now it can be sliced and sautéed in very light oil. Sprinkle with any flavorings you like—chili works—or you can top it with yogurt, nuts, whatever hits your imagination.

I hope one of those ideas works for you. And if not, there’s always quinoa.


Seeing Better Prevents Falls, Especially If You’re 50+

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The older we get, the more likely we are to fall. There is a bona fide public health problem in that issue.

But it is not these things:

·         25% of people over age 65 fall at least once a year

·         40% of hospital admissions for people over 65 are linked to injuries from a fall

·         8% of people age 70+ who show up in emergency rooms after falling will die from their injuries

·         If you exclude traffic accidents, falls are responsible for 80% of disabilities caused by an unintentional injury among patients age 50 or older

Those are all horrible stats. The public health issue is that most falls are avoidable, and we’re not doing enough to help people avoid them.

The injuries and fatalities visited on the elderly don’t have to happen to people just because they have celebrated more birthdays. Better balance and better vision are two things that could radically improve those awful statistics.

Falling is a risk of walking upright for all of us. There’s no age limit on tripping over a loose manhole cover. Anyone can slide when they step on an unexpected patch of ice.  I once owned a pair of shoes that turned into ice skates every time I got to a wheelchair ramp at the end of a sidewalk. A toy on the stairs can undo anyone.  

But while these mishaps can lead to severe injuries to people of any age, younger people are more likely to recover their balance in time to avoid splatting. A reasonable amount of muscle tone and good stability are all it takes. A healthy 80-year old can stumble, regain footing and go on without falling just like a teenager can.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t retain the strength or agility we enjoyed at age 16 when we’re 30 or 40 and certainly not when we’re 50+.  

In addition to recovering our balance under duress, we could often avoid falling if we see the risk in time. That’s why cataracts are strongly implicated in falling and being injured. Surgery to improve eyesight prevents accidents. In one British study, 97 patients who were scheduled for surgery on their cataracts were followed for three months before and three months after the operation to see if it made a difference.

Among the patients in the survey, 31 had fallen before surgery. In the months after surgery, only six of the fallers had another fall. And one of those was related to dizziness caused by medication. Among the patients who were not fallers before surgery, they were just as stable afterward. The study clearly showed that the risk factor for falling was not the patients’ ages—nobody got younger—it was their vision.

In the past, it was a common belief that if you had cataracts, you should wait for them to “ripen” before undergoing surgery. Some people still believe that, but it is no longer what doctors recommend.

The new thinking is about function. When your performance is affected, it’s time to take care of the problem. If you find your field of vision is fuzzy, if you don't see everyday things as sharply as you should even with glasses, then it’s time.

As Effective Antibiotics Fail, This Research Could Help

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Germs cheat.  They’ve always been cheats, and they’re getting better at it.

Like all cheaters, they have an advantage in working outside the law. Bacteria don’t have to go through FDA approval to put a new variety out in the world. But the antibiotics that we develop to fight them have to play by strict rules. Even vabomere, a combination antibiotic released in 2017 took 8 years to get through FDA’s “expedited” approval process. One of the components in the combo was an already-approved antibiotic, the other was just an enabler to make it work better.

This mismatch between the wily and the lawful is becoming a frightening problem.

Penicillin was invented in 1928 and the first resistant staph germs didn’t show up until 1940. Penicillin-resistant pneumonia came along in 1965. In its early days, not many people got penicillin, which probably gave it a longer lead before resistant bacteria caught up.

But tetracycline was introduced in 1950, and a resistant form of shigella appeared in 1959. The record for fast retaliation was a near-simultaneous volley and return. In 1996, the FDA approved a new antibiotic, levofloxacin. A resistant strain of pneumonia arose the same year.

The problem of antibiotic resistance is so acute that, in 2017, the World Health Organization warned that we could run out of antibiotics.

We’ve all been taught the basic mechanics of the problem. It’s why our doctors and dentists warn us to take every last pill in our prescription. You get a strep throat or a urinary tract infection. Antibiotics begin to kill off the bacteria that cause your illness. The weakest ones go first.  Then, if you stop too soon, the strongest survive and multiply. In a few generations, those stronger iterations become antibiotic resistant.

There isn’t much science can do about that situation. At best, doctors can hit the pause button before prescribing antibiotics for minor ailments. Patients can be more careful to take their meds as directed.

Beyond that, the basic answer has been the medical equivalent of “throw a bigger rock.” If penicillin fails, move on to erythromycin. If that fails, proceed to methicillin…

The alternative would be to discover what is happening to make antibiotics more resistant. The “stronger germs live to multiply” explanation.  

Researchers are working feverishly to get ahead of bacteria, but as noted, germs cheat. Although several new antibiotics are in development, there has not been a whole new class of antibiotics since 1980.  If the approval process is not expedited, it can take decades of work to get a new antibiotic to market. Germs work faster.

But physicists at McMaster University in Canada have taken images that reveal what is going on micro-level. The images capture the cell processes at a resolution as fine as 1-millionth of a hair. What they discovered is how resistant bacteria hold off antibiotics. The usual process is that an antibiotic attacks bacterial cell walls, punching holes in them. The cell then dies. But the resistant bacteria behave as if they are armored. Their walls are more rigid and harder to penetrate.

As lead researcher Andree Khondker put it, “it’s like going from cutting Jello to cutting through rock.” In addition, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria had less intense negative charges on their surface. That made them harder for antibiotic molecules to find and less sticky.

The beauty of this kind of research is that it could lead the way to developing a mechanism that would apply to all bacteria.

That’s still a long ways away. But this kind of research is apt to be followed avidly. The antibiotic problem gets more urgent every day.

Resveratrol + Exercise Renews Youth in Muscles

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The usual definition of “sarcopenia” is muscle loss related to aging. That’s grossly misleading because sarcopenia starts when we’re still officially young, sometime in our 30s.

People who do not exercise strenuously lose about 3% to 5% of their muscle mass every decade from age 30 onward. Those who do exercise also lose muscle mass, but somewhat less than that.

Sarcopenia is one of the reasons we tend to gain weight with age. Then, if we do gain a bit of weight, sarcopenia also makes it harder to shed those pounds. Less muscle mass means a lower calorie burn.

For instance, a six-foot male who weighed 180 in his youth (age 30) and was slightly active, could maintain that weight on 2500 calories per day. Now advance him to age 60 and a weight that has crept upward at just 1% a year. Now he weighs 242 pounds. Getting back to his youthful 180-pound weight would require dropping his intake to 2100 calories to lose weight slowly, over 18 months. If he wanted a “fast” loss, he could drop down to 1600 calories and make his goal weight in 8 months. That would more or less take a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs out of the diet.  

Most dieters want something faster than that, however. If this man wanted to shed his 62 pounds in 90 days with diet alone, he would need to cut his calories to less than 1,000 per day!

Women usually start at a lower weight, with less muscle mass, which means fewer allowable calories to begin with. Thus the effects of time and slow weight gain accrue even more bitterly. A 5’5” young woman weighing 120 pounds who is slightly active can maintain her weight on 1900 calories. But at age 60, after gaining 1% per year and becoming inactive, this woman would be at 161 pounds. Getting back to her earlier weight without exercise would limit her to only 1,017 calories per day for rapid weight loss or 1,350 to bring it down slowly in just under a year. A “rapid” 2-lb a week loss without adding heavy exercise is out of the question if she wants to maintain her health because the calorie allowance would be too low. 

This is why recent research on resveratrol alongside exercise is so encouraging. It can turn back the clock on your muscles. And that could speed up weight loss—just as if you were young again.

In an experiment at the University of West Virginia, researchers divided 12 men and 18 women into groups that undertook exercise alone or exercise combined with 500 mg per day of resveratrol.

The resveratrol did not lower their cardiovascular risk any more than exercise alone did, but it greatly enhanced their physical condition. The group that took resveratrol alongside exercise saw significant increases in their muscle fiber area, a boost in their maximal oxygen consumption, and an improvement in mitochondrial structure and density.

That last item is important for weight loss. The mitochondria in our cells control cell respiration and energy production. So an increase in well-formed mitochondria translates into better energy—a potentially higher metabolism—that essentially pushes the aging clock in the muscle cells backward.

Should you want to try this at home, the team at WVU had the exercise groups do moderate aerobic and resistance training that they felt was consistent with what a person age 65-80 (as their subjects were) could do on their own.

Walking Is Good for You, And This Makes It Better

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Few activities have as much to say for themselves as walking does. It’s suitable for anyone age 2 to 100. You can meditate and gain peace while ambling around, or you can socialize and laugh while you walk with friends. Beyond suitable shoes, you don’t need elaborate gear or training.

Even that’s a minimal requirement if you are fairly healthy with good balance. I confess to regular five-mile hikes in flip flops, although it’s usually sturdy sandals. That said, sneaker-style walking shoes are probably a better choice. Do as I say, and all that…

If you live in a neighborhood like mine, walking can seem a little undemanding for physical activity. Where I live, riding a bike requires the purchase of skin-tight neon spandex clothes. Golf, beyond clubs, requires pastels and a different kind of clothes. Yoga, it seems simply cannot be done in cargo shorts and a snug tee shirt for modesty while doing shoulder stands.

Sometimes, I wonder what my mother was thinking, letting me grow up wearing the same kind of shorts and tops for working in the garden, biking, horseback riding, sailing, camping, and playing softball.

So if you feel walking doesn’t offer nearly enough shopping potential, I am glad to tell you that you can buy something special for your next walk to make it better—a set of Nordic poles.

The difference between regular walking and pole walking comes down to muscle engagement. According to Dr. Klaus Schwanbeck, regular walking uses 45% of the muscles in your body, almost all in the lower body. Pole walking uses 90% and engages the upper body as well. He claims that this also increases cardiovascular benefits by 22% compared to regular walking and burns 46% more calories.

 The increase in calories burned is incentive enough for many of us, but for people who are recovering from back surgery or anyone prone to lower back pain, walking with a pair of Nordic poles is more comfortable as well. Poles help you offload weight from your lower body—the hips, knees, and lower back—and transfers it to the upper body. That not only eases pain in the lower body but also increases the beneficial exercise in the upper body.

One older woman claims Nordic pole walking went beyond the known benefits to core and abdominal muscles and helped erase back fat and upper arm flab.

Anecdotes like this are encouraging, but we also have research confirming the benefits. Researchers at the University of Montreal recruited 128 walkers age 60 and older. Half undertook a 12-week program of Nordic pole walking. The rest served as a control group. The pole walkers gained significant strength in legs and arms. Those in the control group who did not exercise showed a measured loss in grip strength and walking speed after 12 weeks. That’s not so surprising, but the Nordic pole walkers also showed some improvement in cognitive function.

Another group of researchers put pole walkers on a treadmill then used electromyography to see what was happening in the muscles. When they raised the angle of the treadmill, the regular walkers and the pole walkers used their muscles alike. But when they sped it up, the pole walkers experienced more activation in the external oblique (EO) and rectus abdominus (RA) muscles.

The EO runs along your side and waistline from just below the ribcage to the top of the pelvis. The RA is the muscle that gives superfit young men and women washboard abs.

There’s another subtle benefit that’s worth mentioning, too. Walking with a cane might be a good idea for many older people and anyone of any age with hip, knee, ankle or foot problems that might interfere with their stability. But a cane looks “old,” and hence a lot of people refuse to adopt the habit even if it would be a good idea. Walking with TWO canes, called Nordic poles, however, looks pretty darn sexy.

So young or old, in need of support or not, there’s a lot to be said for taking up pole walking.

Helping Your Hair Survive Shampoo and Sunlight

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California blondes. That’s all I need to say for you to get a picture of a nearly-mythical, natural, golden beauty with shiny, sun-streaked, beach-waved hair, a person who glows with good health. There’s a mythically gorgeous male surfer dude counterpart as well. Brazilian blondes of the female variety are all that Californians are, with perfect makeup.   

Mythic is the operative word here. We already know that unfettered time in the sun is bad for your skin. Scientists in Brazil just proved it’s not good for your hair, either. It doesn’t matter whether that hair is still a natural color or already gray. Sunlight causes morphological (structural) changes.

The outer part of the hair shaft, the cuticle, is where most of the damage happens. When the cuticle’s structure changes, the result is hair that is rough, dull, frizzy and rife with split ends.

Sun alone is damaging, but lots of men and women spritz their locks with salt to encourage waviness or lemon juice to lighten them. In the short run, these home-style treatments work. In the longer run, they can do so much damage the only solution is a shave to the scalp and starting over.   

So if you omit the salt and lemon juice abuse, then a nice gentle shampoo and conditioner after sunning restores your hair to glory, right?

Actually, shampoos tend to make the sun problem worse.

In an experiment to find out how sun and shampoo impact hair health, the Brazilian researchers literally split hairs. They kept half of each hair as a control then tested what happened with the other half. Some hairs got irradiation (light) from mercury lamps that mimicked sunlight. Some got light followed by hand washing. And some were only washed.

And the verdict? Sun does more damage than shampooing.  It causes fracturing and cavities in the hair shaft and cell lifting on the cuticle. But the combination of light and suds was the worst.

The interesting thing, however, is that while mainstream scientists have spent some time investigating what damages hair, they don’t report any cures. Published research on how to fix the damage is nearly nonexistent.  That work is done at cosmetic companies, and the likes of L’Oreal and Estee Lauder aren’t about to share their formulas.  

So what can you do to protect your hair in the sun? You can hardly smear it with a gob of zinc oxide. But some skin products are suitable for hair. Clarins makes a sun care spray-on oil that claims to work from head to toe. Opinions vary on whether it’s nice or gross on hair, however. Those who have very fine hair seem to object. Those with thicker, wavy hair love it. People with fine or colored hair seem to prefer Drybar’s Hot Toddy product. That one also includes protection from chlorine if you are a pool person.

It may take some trial and error to find a sunscreen for your hair that you like, but for most of us, it takes some experimentation to find a sunscreen that feels good on our skin, too, and this is no different. If you spend time in the sun and still want to have healthy looking hair, the search is worth it.

The alternative, if you hate hair products, of course, is to keep your hair covered with a hat or scarf. If that’s your option, you are in luck because you have thousands of variations to choose from.  Any hat will physically block at least some sunlight, but some hats and scarves are made with sunscreen-infused fibers for extra protection.

If you are fortunate enough to have a good head of hair, give it some protection.

Why Your Food Should Mostly Be Processed

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A French study in the news this week warns that the risk of early death increases by 14% for every 10% increase in ultra-processed foods in your diet.

According to reports, Americans are devouring 61% of their diet as processed foods, followed closely by Canadians at 62% and the Brits at 63%. So, if the new study is right, we’ve just saddled ourselves with an 84% increase in the risk for an early death because of how we eat. That’s quite a feat considering that American lifespans have been increasing for two decades. 

Getting at the truth about food processing and health is complicated. It’s not surprising reporters pounce on the latest titillating research announcement and pass it along as a series of bad generalizations.

They’re not the only ones. Michael Pollan, who has done great work on nutrition education, has also been guilty of oversimplifying. A few of his rules that need rethinking…

Don’t eat food with more than five ingredients: Well, goodbye tossed salad. Au revoir ratatouille.

Don’t eat anything a third-grader can’t pronounce: So if the package promises Agaricus bisporus, put it back. But if it says mushrooms, keep it. Disregard the fact that they’re the same. Pronunciation is all.

Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize: That’s it for you, tofu. Grammy didn’t do sushi, chia seeds or quinoa, either. Fortunately, given my vast food knowledge today, my grandchildren will be able to partake of them all in the future.

Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot: That might take sauerkraut out of the diet. I’ve never seen rotten sauerkraut, and I’ve forgotten a lot of things in my refrigerator over the years.

My personal favorite Pollan rule is “buy your snacks at the farmer’s market.” Yippee! Have you been to a farmer’s market lately? I adore pecan pie.

A CNN story on the same French research illustrated the embargo on processed food with a picture of sausage patties. And smack in the middle of that, on the same page, it ran a photo of bread for an article touting the health benefits of fiber.

Let’s see how they stack up with regards to processing—

Fresh sausage: kill hog, grind up, add salt and spices like sage, cook in a pan over moderate heat.

Fresh bread: thresh wheat, clean, moisten and condition for 24 hours, grind, bleach (if you want white bread), grist with other wheat to get the right gluten levels, enrich with niacin, thiamine, and folate. Harvest barley, soak to partially germinate the seeds, dry, heat, grind. (Malted barley flour is in every brand of all-purpose, bread, whole wheat, and plain white flours.) Combine the finished wheat flour with sugar, yeast, salt, and milk. Knead for a long time, let rise, punch down, let rise again, shape, bake in the oven.

I’m inclined to believe bread is healthier in general than sausage, but to call it “less processed” is a prodigious feat of food delusion.

And by the way, though whole wheat flour is healthier, it is not a bit less processed.

When I looked up “overly processed foods”  for some examples and a good definition, I found that included chicken nuggets. OK. That’s probably fair.

But this all reminds me of the brouhaha over eating carbs—perpetrated by people who somehow don’t realize celery and lettuce are pure carbs. Did you know that washing food is technically considered “processing?” I highly recommend it nonetheless.

Altogether, the public advice on processed foods is a royal mess. The fact that we humans largely don’t die off before our 30th birthday is closely linked to processing our food. Fire kills bugs. Salt delays rot. Acid preserves produce so we can keep eating through the winter. So does canning, something my grannies both did. Numerous studies have established that frozen vegetables often have more intact nutrients than much of the “fresh” produce in grocery stores do after a long trip from field to processor, to warehouse, to distribution center, to local store.

Processed food includes canned tomatoes, black beans, and tuna. It also includes orange-dyed, banana-flavored marshmallow peanuts. This category is too vague to make any sense at all. 

No matter which scientific studies capture headlines, the secret to eating healthy will not come down to such an ambiguous concept as “processed” food.

Instead, we need to look at food content. Salt is good within limits. Keep the daily dose under control. Fat is fine, as long as there’s not too much fat in your diet.

In contrast, additives with known problems, like sodium nitrate and BHT, are best avoided.

And who says more processing is always worse? It takes months of “processing” and many steps to create a delicious bleu cheese and hardly anything beyond a knife and fork to turn an avocado into guacamole. But I’m apt to put a mere schmear of bleu cheese on my crackers and gobble the guac on fried tortilla chips by the spoonful. So I ask you, which one is healthier?

False categories don’t help us. Eat lots of veggies, and I don’t care if you cook and puree them even though that is double-processing. Enjoy some fruit every day. Oatmeal to start the day is nice, even if it is a “breakfast cereal” and breakfast cereals seem to be on all the lists of taboo processed foods. Have a bit of cheese, but remember to keep the portion small—not because it’s processed, but because it is calorie dense, high in saturated fats and cholesterol with only modest nutritional value.  Limit sugar, control salt and watch the fat. Of course, a pickle is less nutritious than a fresh cucumber, but a fresh cuke’s no powerhouse, either, since it’s mostly water.

We’re all searching for the best food for health. The answer is not to avoid “processed” foods in general. Avoid too much frying, excessive salting, and prodigious amounts of sugar. Pretty simple.

Prevent Bloating, Gas, and Stomach Pain—This Is What Most Doctors Miss

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When you feel like you’ve been pumped full of air and just want to sit on the couch and groan, who cares how you got that way? Relief is the first order of business. We suggested several tactics that work in the previous article.

Now, we’ll look at how to prevent bloat, gas, and associated stomach pains. There are a lot of tactics that may help you. So let’s run through them and end up with the one doctors are most likely to miss. It’s the one most likely to solve the problem if none of the more conventional answers work.

What you’re doing wrong to cause bloating and pain can be pretty obvious when you’ve gone to a chili cook-off and sampled everything on offer. In other cases, the reason you get bloated can be surprising. And even when you think you know what it is, the culprit may be hidden.

A case in point is the food additive inulin. It’s perfectly safe and is naturally contained in onions, wheat, bananas, artichokes, asparagus, and many other fruits and vegetables. It’s often added to prepared foods to increase fiber content. In that case, it was probably derived from chicory root. But here’s the thing…. Say, you think wheat bothers you, so you buy gluten-free bread. That’s smart. However, some of them also contain inulin, which could be another thing that bothers your digestion. In fact, if wheat is a problem, inulin may very well be an issue, too.

There are a host of small things that can cause bloat. Stop doing them; problem solved for many people. For instance, chewing gum.  Or drinking through a straw. Also soft drinks and carbonated beverages. These all cause you to swallow air.

Do you talk a lot when you eat? Eat on the run and bolt your food down? That will do it for many people because those habits also cause you to swallow air. Air in the gut is gas, and the effect is bloat. Slow down. Put your sandwich down, or your fork on the plate, swallow first, then talk.

Another tactic you may try is dividing your intake into smaller meals. This isn’t for some mythical “natural way to eat” or “key to weight loss” reason. Here’s why that can really help a lot of people who suffer frequent rounds of bloat and gas: As with irritable bowel syndrome, there is some evidence that the misery of bloating is actually a sensitivity to your own digestive processes. It is believed that some of us simply feel what is going on in our stomach and colons more acutely than most people do.  

Sugar can be a culprit in bloating and gas as well. But don’t think honey is an automatic pass, or that sugar-free candies are the perfect solution because they all contain different kinds of sugar (fructose in honey; mannitol, xylitol, etc. in candies) that cause problems of their own for many people.

After these simple causes have been eliminated, your next step is to see whether there is an allergy or food sensitivity involved. Now you are in for some work, and unfortunately, you may have to take the lead here and do a lot of problem-solving yourself. But there is a place to get help

If you have persistent bloating and gas, have tried everything above, and have already had a clean colonoscopy, your doctor is very likely to check out on you. Even good doctors. He/she will say something like, “try cutting out dairy, a lot of people have trouble with that.” Or “wheat could be the problem.” But there’s something else that really could be at issue besides wheat and dairy.

It took me two years and several doctors before anyone said, “FODMAP.” The acronym stands for fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are all forms of sugar alcohol, and they are present in almost all foods.

If you are desperate and willing to do a bit of work, a FODMAP investigation is absolutely worth trying. In the time it takes to investigate what is bothering you, a low FODMAP diet won’t do you any harm. Even if it takes many weeks.

Basically, you go on a very strict low-FODMAP diet to clear the system. Only after you are reliably free of any gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, borborygmi ( that’s fancy for “stomach rumbling”) do you proceed. At that point, you begin to test a few foods to find out what you react to.

It’s important that in each test, or “challenge” you only look at one kind of FODMAP at a time. For instance, to see if the problem is sorbitol, which is one of the polyols, you will introduce high-sorbitol foods like blackberries and avocados. Nothing else in the FODMAP universe. This is not the time to slide in a bite of pizza.

Food sensitivities can be so puzzling; it’s critical to test only one thing at a time.

Ideally, you can work with a dietician, but even many dieticians aren’t very well trained in this procedure, so check credentials.

Medical schools are notorious for not doing a very good job in nutrition training. On top of that the first paper published on FODMAPs was in 2005, so most textbooks say nothing about it.

Let me give you a bit of encouragement if all the normal treatments like eating slower or avoiding dairy fail to help.  The process of a thorough FODMAP evaluation will take weeks, but when you are tired of hurting, you’ll try anything. And it is completely worth the effort. In fact, if you find one thing that you can say for certain causes a problem, keep going. Most people with FODMAP issues react to more than one category of sugar alcohols and you may be very surprised by what you find.

I was shocked. Truly.

 For me, dairy products –the most common intolerance—are no trouble at all. Despite four different doctors suggesting that.  Wheat is, which I already knew,  but my FODMAP tests showed me that wheat wasn’t the main problem.  

The big surprise was that fruit was making me feel lousy. Yes, fruit.

I used to eat fruit every day, striving for three servings or more, but always getting at least two.  It turns out that polyols and fructose are my weak spots. It was the daily apple and the frequent peaches and cherries that were getting me down. I never realized they were an issue because they were always in my diet. I also discovered that honey is a trigger for trouble. In fact, once I cleared myself of symptoms and tested honey, I discovered it causes a reaction almost instantly for me.

If you want to do this, I highly recommend buying the book “The IBS Elimination Diet and Cookbook: The Proven Low-FODMAP Plan for Eating Well and Feeling Great,” by Patsy Catsos. It will explain everything and walk you through the whole program. See if you can find a dietician also.  And good luck.

How to Make Bloat Go Away Fast

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Bloat isn’t fat, thank goodness, it’s only gas. So it passes. Literally.

But it may be even more miserable when it’s around. Sometimes it comes with a stomach ache. Sometimes you just feel like a Macy’s parade balloon that was accidentally filled with cement. If you’ve been lounging in sweats or yoga wear for a few days, zipping up regular pants can be alarming.

For the most part, time alone will take care of it—that’s how millions of us cope with Thanksgiving every year. The problem is, Thanksgiving gluttony aside, you may keep on doing whatever it was that caused the problem in the first place.

Want to get rid of bloat fast? Antacids can help, particularly old-fashioned Alka-Seltzer when you want immediate relief from the gas and have a stomach ache.

Even more old fashioned, you can add a bit of lemon juice to a teaspoon of baking soda in a bit of room-temperature water. Many sources suggest a glass of water, but frankly, this remedy is not delicious. Dissolve the lemon and soda in as little water as you can tolerate then follow up with nice clear water to wash the nasty out of your mouth. Lots of water, because water is also good for bloat.

Or you can go extreme. A rather scary farm wife once dosed me with a heaping tablespoon of straight baking soda. In the mouth, as is, no water. It was as nasty as you might expect, but immediately relieving. But warning, the gas comes up as belching, so definitely try this at home, but never in public.

Less urgent, but far more pleasant, some teas do a nice job. The best choices are ginger tea, peppermint tea, rosemary tea, and turmeric tea. Peppermint is most likely to work fastest to relieve the feeling of pressure, but ginger is especially good for any feeling of nausea. Try whichever one sounds best and experiment to find one you like. If you are simply feeling a little sick from too much rich food, even a cup of hot black tea seems to help. Provided you like tea.

Although dairy foods and milk, in particular, can be the source of many people’s stomach woes, buttermilk is good for bloat. Some people with lactose intolerance can handle buttermilk as it is low in lactose. If you can, then Ayurvedic medicine has a remedy for you:  ¼ teaspoon of cumin and ¼ teaspoon of asafetida (should you have it around) in a glass of buttermilk. Blend well and drink. Asafetida alone is also good for bloat, too. It’s a garlicky-oniony substitute that is a staple in Indian cookery. The “fetida” in the name is related to the smell, which goes away with cooking.

Now that we’ve covered what to do when in trouble, how about preventing bloating? That’s the subject of the next article.

Vitamins, Minerals, Antioxidants That Help You Lose Weight

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Ever since Alice wandered into Wonderland and partook of the cake that made her grow bigger and the elixir that made her shrink, we’ve given food and drink almost magical status. Thousands of grandmothers have promised their balky offspring that eating carrots would ensure good eyesight and fish, being brain food, would make them smart.  

A good deal of research has actually gone into looking for food magic, as well. More specifically, it’s investigated whether different micronutrients can help us take control of our weight, Type 2 diabetes, or metabolic syndrome.

Many different vitamins, antioxidants, polyphenols, minerals, and anti-inflammatories do have a relationship to weight control that is much stronger than mere coincidence. Sometimes it seems that obesity itself leads to a vitamin or nutritional deficit. Other times, the order appears to be reversed, where it’s the deficit that may lead to obesity.

Before going down the list of what works, however, we’d like to put guilt and shame behind us. Almost everyone who is overweight is well aware of it. Most people who decide to do something about it make that decision many times. Even research on the matter has shown that trying a score of different exercise plans and eating patterns is the norm. So is finding out that (a) most diets don’t work, or (b) they worked but only while doing something so difficult or restrictive it’s impossible to maintain it as a lifestyle, (c) you can’t exercise pounds away without changing your diet, too, and (d) the weight usually comes back, anyway.

Failure doesn’t have to happen though. There are a lot of success stories and yours might start with a little vitamin support.

Here’s a rundown on what science has to say:

Vitamin C—is a powerful antioxidant. That’s important because if you are overweight, you are also very likely to have or to develop high cholesterol, which antioxidants help manage. Also, a diet that is strong in antioxidant-rich foods can help speed up metabolism and decrease inflammation. Both of those actions support your weight loss goals.

So Vitamin C doesn’t cause you to lose weight, but it helps manage the side effects of being overweight and supports the things that do help you lose. For instance, people with adequate levels of vitamin C oxidize 30% more fat during exercise than people with low levels[1]. 

Vitamin C also decreases the risk of diabetes and helps in controlling blood pressure. It’s best to get Vitamin C from your food rather than from supplementation if possible.  In addition to citrus fruit, guava, bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes and kale are rich in vitamin C.

Vitamin E—Another antioxidant, vitamin E works in tandem with vitamin C. Everything above applies. It’s useful for controlling blood pressure…and it’s also better to acquire it from the diet if possible. Get it from sunflower seeds, spinach, avocados, almonds, butternut squash, kiwi, trout and shrimp.

Coenzyme Q10—Alas, despite claims, the proof that CoQ10 controls weight is not good. It has shown benefits for blood pressure and glycemic control, though. It’s also good for the heart among many other benefits. It just won’t make you skinny. This nutrient will probably need to come from a supplement if you are older since it’s hard to eat enough oil, seeds, and cold-water fish to bring levels up if they are seriously depleted. And even though it may not make you shed pounds, this micronutrient is getting a serious study for potential benefits in slowing Alzheimer’s, reducing migraines, and easing muscle pains.

Zinc—Taken as supplements or with adequate food zinc can improve blood lipid profiles—in other words, cholesterol and triglycerides. It seems to be especially beneficial for people who are obese or diabetic.

Cinnamon—Natural cinnamon varies widely in chemistry, which makes studies on its effects hard to compare. The region where it was grown, the amount of rain it got, the specific variety can all affect its strength. That said, it has been shown to improve fasting blood glucose levels, counter oxidative stress and may reduce fat. Cinnamon is a polyphenol. Other foods in this class include apples, cranberries, red beans, almonds and peanuts, but they have not been as widely studied for weight control yet.

Green tea—This may be the winner on the list. Green tea has shown that it can increase thermogenesis and fat oxidation. Thermogenesis is heat production and when it happens it burns calories.

Green coffee & chlorogenic acid—Though it doesn’t sound savory, chlorogenic acid is a component of green coffee, plums, peaches and dates. More studies are needed, but this shows promise for helping to lose weight. The fruits also contain ferulic acid, which is an antioxidant. Beware, however, that dates are high in sugar and thus a high-calorie snack.

Green coffee may be a champ, but studies so far have been small or lacked control groups. This looks very promising, so we will continue to monitor this situation and let you know if any new studies shed further light.

Lycopene—No help with weight loss, but it does help with glucose tolerance. Lycopene is found in guava, papaya, watermelon, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes. But we already knew potatoes were not a weight loss food, didn’t we?

Antioxidants—Antioxidants do play a supporting role in weight loss. They help control low-grade inflammation which is associated with obesity and diabetes.

[1] C.S. Johnston, Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2005 Jun 24(3), pages 158-65

Let Us Praise Sleep and Get More of It

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Not too long ago, we ran an article on the problem of blue light and poor quality sleep.

Recently, the Washington Post made sleep a front-page topic-- “Wake Up to a Health Crisis: We Need More Sleep.” Subhead, “Brain researchers warn that our lack of shut-eye may be making us sick.”

Sleep, it seems, is a hot topic with the brain research community now. As it should be.

A few highlights from the WaPo story illustrate how important good sleep is at every age. We’ll quote directly:

·         Preschoolers who skip naps are worse at a memory game than those who snooze

·         Poor sleep may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s

·         Even a single night of sleep deprivation boosts brain levels of the proteins that form toxic clumps in Alzheimer’s patients

·         All-nighters push anxiety to clinical levels

·         Even modest sleep reductions are linked to increased feelings of social isolation and loneliness

·         Adults over 50 with lots of insomnia were more likely to fall[1]

That’s the gist of the news from the Post. The question as always is how to get that sleep.

The first step, of course, is to go to bed. That may be the hardest one when there’s a late game running into overtime or a movie you want to watch to the end, a party that’s too much fun to leave. 

But assuming you have put your body into bed in a timely manner, comfort comes next. For most people, a cool bedroom helps. And banish the TV if you have the least trouble with sleep quantity or quality.

Then there’s the mattress. Good ones are expensive so we tend to hang on to them longer than we should. Stop it.  

There’s one other thing that matters more than you might think, as well—your pillow.

Every few years there seems to be a pillow fad. Once it was memory foam, which every woman of a certain age soon came to realize made hot flashes worse. A couple of years ago, it was a type of shredded foam that was “better than down.”

Speaking of down, and feathers, that may or may not be a good idea. Some of us clog up at night on a bed of chicken feathers, which is what the cheaper feather-foam pillows use. Hotels for instance.

Size and fluffiness count, too. If you sleep on your back all night a very soft or flat pillow will be good for your neck and not push your head out of position. But if you’re a side sleeper, you need a nice tall, firm pillow to fill in between shoulder and head and keep you aligned well.

Earlier today, I looked all over the Internet for pillow suggestions. You can buy foam, feathers, down, polyester, and latex. I’d suggest the choice is one of those personal things.

But nowhere did I see anyone recommend my own favorite—buckwheat.

 Yeah, that’s strange, I know. But if no other pillow ever seems to be just right, you hate hot pillows, you like your neck supported, and you want your pillow to stay in place, give it some thought. You can’t get one at your local mattress store, but they are available at

Be warned, however, buckwheat pillows are hard as rocks. Not suitable for pillow fights. You could probably be arrested for throwing one of those babies around. And while hardness sounds like a bad idea, it’s actually comfortable… as if someone’s hands were propping your head in perfect position and keeping it there all night. With a buckwheat pillow, you actually push it into the shape you like and it stays there.

The other good thing about them is that you can push them to be thick enough for side sleeping, flat enough for back sleeping, and curved enough for stomach sleeping. The bad thing for some people, however, is that a fresh new buckwheat pillow will make a bit of sound as you shift. But if nothing else seems just right, it’s worth a try.

You may get so addicted you start taking it on trips with you.

[1]  Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Washington Post, page 1. Jan 24, 2019.

Those Expensive Eggs Might Be Worth It—If You Have the Right Ones

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A lot of factors come into play when you push a shopping cart around the grocery store. First of all—will your family eat it? If no one is ever going to take even one bite of those excellent canned sardines, it doesn’t matter how much calcium, selenium, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids they have.

Then there’s quality. Blind comparisons at Serious Eats have established that Betty Crocker Instant Mashed Potatoes are markedly superior to Hungry Jack. So they say.

There’s also the question of whether you want to avoid GMO ingredients. And flavor preferences. I am personally certain that Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce is the only way to go. In fact, I am so certain of that, that I have never bought or tasted a competing brand. How’s that for objectivity?

But when it comes to ingredients that seem much the same from brand to brand—like eggs—is it worthwhile to pay more?

Honestly, the thought of chickens crowded in cages so small they can’t turn around is more than enough to keep me away from the brands known for their animal cruelty.  I’m not even going to mention some of the worst abuses because they are stomach turning. Let’s just say that for me there are reasons to avoid the cheapest eggs.

That doesn’t automatically mean the most expensive eggs are the best, however. I’ve tried top-dollar, cage-free, organic, small-farm eggs that turned out to be old and unworthy.  Organic foods protect you from exposure to pesticides, herbicides and growth hormones. They do not protect you from E. coli or other bacteria. That’s up to careful handling.

But what about those very pricey eggs that claim to have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids?

This is a case where, if your budget has room, paying up is a good idea. For your health, a diet that is close to a 1:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids is best.

We don’t usually get that without making some effort because our diet is now tilted toward rich omega-6 foods and low in omega-3s. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average for Americans is about 4 ounces per week. Not enough.  The “average” also hides the fact that most of that consumption comes from just a portion of us. Only 10% of Americans get two or more servings of fish per week.

But they do eat a lot of things fried in vegetable oils, meats, and grains. Only canola oil or fish oils are high in omega-3.

Eggs that claim to be high in omega-3 fatty acids were raised to purposely achieve that. The hens were fed diets that include omega-3 sources like flaxseed or fish oil.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Different brands of omega-3 enriched eggs have different levels in the final product.  Research done by Nutrition Advance revealed these levels of omega 3 for different egg brands:

Organic Valley                   225 mg omega-3 per large egg

Christopher                        660 mg

4 Grain                               150 mg

Sauder’s Eggs                    325 mg

Eggland’s                           115 mg

Fresh & Easy                     160 mg

Gold Circle Farms             150 mg

Smart Balance                   192 mg

Now, you know that missives like this on health topics sometimes carry a caution: “This is not medical advice. This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.”

Good thing. Because I just realized I was buying the wrong brand. Hope we all learned something useful today. Yours in good health—Lynn.

Hands Hurt? Bring on the Frankincense

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Arthritis gets to most people sooner or later. Usually later. But “hand arthritis” can come very early.  

It’s a stress-related woe, and there’s no lower age limit on busy hands.

Believe me, I know. I will never forget the winter I decided to knit sweaters for four boys.   With a Christmas deadline, it was a nonstop venture, and my hands screamed.  Those were young hands. Finger exercises, stretching and ibuprofen was all I could do at the time. Because I didn’t know there was a better answer. 

That’s not surprising. Just try googling “hand stress arthritis” and you won’t get a lot of help—instead, your search engine will lead you into numerous blind alleys, and you’ll end up with articles on rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

This kind of pain isn’t osteoarthritis, bursitis or rheumatism. It disappears within a day or two when you stop overworking a joint and comes back when resuming your abuse.   For some people, ”hand stress” may be carpal tunnel syndrome that lands in the fingers instead of the more usual wrist area. But again, this is a pain that—unlike carpal tunnel—goes away if you stop doing whatever caused it.

That’s an obvious treatment: end the abuse. But what if you have an activity that you really, really need to pursue?

“Hand stress arthritis” doesn’t seem to be a medical condition that gets any attention. It doesn’t matter a lot, though, because if you’ve felt it, you know it’s definitely something real.  Stretching the fingers like a concert pianist warming up may help.

So does boswellia. At long last, the Italian journal, Edison Minerva Medica, reported on an experiment with young subjects who had this kind of pain. The researchers divided them into two groups. One got the standard medical treatment, basically physical therapy. The other got a boswellia supplement.

After two weeks the pain decreased significantly for the patients who got boswellia. Swelling was reduced more as well and their hands functioned better than the control group. Some of the control group had to resort to pain medications because the therapy alone was not enough, but none of the subjects who got boswellia needed any pain medication.

Boswellia, or boswellia serrata, to give the supplement its full name, is the plant that also yields the famous resin beloved of wise men—frankincense.

Finding this study was an interesting addition to what we already know about boswellia. At Renown Health, it is included in Isoprex, our solution for joint health.  It’s part of a formula that puts the brakes on a reaction called the “membrane attack complex” or MAC.

Most people think that the pain from arthritis is a simple mechanical problem. There’s nothing to cushion the cartilage between joints once the synovial fluid has been destroyed. But cartilage doesn’t have nerve cells. It’s the swelling and irritation in the muscles and tissues around the joint that cause the pain and set off a MAC attack. 

I still don’t have arthritis—knock on wood—but the next time I decide to knit four sweaters in six weeks, I know just what to do. Meanwhile, I can see why Isoprex gets such rave reviews from people with chronic problems. Boswellia is good stuff. 

Remembering Pain Makes It Worse. Now, Guess Who Remembers It Best

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Men and woman are so different that John Gray became a rock star among self-help authors when he wrote a book with the catchy title, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.” It resonated with those of us from both persuasions.

In the musical, My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins wants to know “Why Can't A Woman Be More Like a Man?” I can promise you that some women might reverse that question. But the French just wisely shrug their shoulders and say, “Viva la difference.” I can agree to that.

Men and women walk differently, talk differently, and now science has established that they tend to remember pain differently, too.

This applies, by the way, not only to male humans but male mice as well.

It matters because research has established that the memory of earlier pain plays a role in chronic pain. Male mice and humans clearly remember painful experiences very clearly. Take them back to the location where it happened and they will react with signs of stress and discomfort.

The researchers at McGill University and University of Toronto Mississauga are experts on pain, but this came as a surprise to them. At first, they noticed the difference between male and female mice, which they had not expected. When they tested humans, they found the same division.

One of the researchers opined that “because it is well known that women are both more sensitive to pain than men and that they are also generally more stressed out," they were gobsmacked by the results.

Naturally, the scientist who offered that opinion was a man. Would Human Resources please ask him to stop by for some sensitivity training?

In humans, the test consisted of strapping patients into a blood pressure cuff and blowing it up to be very tight. With the cuff in place, they were then asked to exercise their arms for 20 minutes and rate the pain.

That hurt so much that only 7 of the 80 people in the test rated the pain at lower than 50 on a 100-point scale.

Men and women both felt the pain acutely, the difference came the next day. Researchers either took the subjects back to the same room the next day or to a different one. When they returned to the same room, men rated the pain even worse the next day. That did not happen to men who were sent to a different room or to women in the test group. 

It suggests that the memory of pain may make chronic pain worse, especially for men.

At this point, you may be connecting some obvious dots. It is commonly said that women tend to forget the pain of childbirth. Some believe there might be an evolutionary reason for this difference in pain perception.

Alas, scientists have looked at that question before and consider it something of a myth.

Karolinska Institute studies found that about half of women do forget the level of pain, but only when conditions are right. It was only the women who felt they had a caring staff and good support and who viewed their experience as positive at the time of giving birth who were more likely to forget the pain over the years.

So, despite gender differences, we humans all don't like to be hurt once, and we really, really hurt when old pains take another jab. The difference between us may be that women tend to give more weight to the emotional elements and men to the physical.

Someone should test that. It could be one of those Mars-Venus things.


Oh No, Canada... Chocolate's Not Health Food?

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It stands to reason that some foods are good for you—salads, spinach, carrots, that kind of thing.  But it's even better when your favorite pleasures turn out to be advisable. 

Millions of Brits are surely glad to know that their tea is full of antioxidants. Count me among those who are pleased to note that a glass of red wine is good for cholesterol and the heart.

Then there's chocolate. For millions, the news that chocolate was full of flavanols that might lower cholesterol and reduce blood pressure was the best news since Adam and Even figured out where babies came from.

That doesn't mean a Snickers bar, of course. The health claims are reserved for dark chocolate with high cocoa content and cocoa powder.

The claims are probably overblown. Two years ago, a search and metanalysis of the Cochrane database turned up 40 pilot studies on chocolate and health. The improvements in blood pressure were there—but they were small.

Cochrane's is a database of all the studies it can find around the world on natural health supplements and therapies. It's massive and there's no better source anywhere. But even a search through Cochrane's couldn't come up with good randomized, controlled studies that linked chocolate to a reduction in heart attacks or strokes.

Then a few days ago, an article published in Trends in Food Science and Technology piled on. Scientists at the University of Manitoba reviewed 17 studies on chocolate that were conducted over the past 20 years to investigate whether cocoa flavanols lowered blood pressure.

This is not going to make chocoholics happy. The evidence was “inconsistent” and “conflicting.” Nine of the 17 studies showed a small decrease in blood pressure. Eight studies did not.

The bottom line in all this is that there is no scientific evidence to justify an “authorized health claim” for chocolate in either the US or Canada, where the latest bad results came in.

Then again, your friends probably don't know about the cachet of an “authorized health claim.”

To gain that status, the claims must be backed by strong scientific evidence and then approved by FDA after a thorough review. It's not easy. FDA has approved only 12 such claims since 1990. But those claims are valuable because food and supplement makers can point to them in marketing and on product labels. An example of this kind of claim is “Adequate calcium and vitamin D as part of a healthful diet, along with physical activity, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.”

Canada says chocolate isn't worthy of a claim like that yet, and it doesn't appear that one will be coming anytime soon.

But if you love chocolate, there is other good news from England. Professor Alyn Morice at the University of Hull says chocolate is better than codeine for suppressing a cough. It coats the throat and soothes. He should know, Professor Morice is the head of Respiratory Medicine at Hull Medical school and an international authority on treating coughs.

The catch is that he bases his opinion on research on a sticky cough medicine with cocoa in the ingredients. Sipping a warm cup of cocoa won't keep the throat coated and do the same.

How To Tai Chi When You Can't Find a Teacher

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As the morning starts, the day goes.

If I had my preference, I'd always sleep in a bedroom with an east-facing window and wake to the morning light. My husband prefers the blinds drawn and nailed shut, fully-darkened approach to sleeping. Fortunately, our dog, Sally, is on the job to tell me when the sun is up.

It's not that I am actually a morning person. Just try talking to me and you'll soon give up. But I like a slow, calm start. Coffee, toast, reading, prayer. Walk the dog.

Then tai chi. Walking the dog is not always a calm thing. There are squirrels out there. Sometimes iguanas. People to say hello to. But tai chi puts me back into balance and gets the day going right.

A few years ago, for probably the third time, I signed up for classes—and what a difference a truly accomplished teacher made. It wasn't just the sequence of moves, it was the breathing, the exact tension in the hands, where my balance was... all revealed with kindness and encouragement.

Tai chi instructors at that level are rare and hard to find in most of the country. At best, you may find a yoga or taekwondo instructor who has learned the moves and added classes. The exercise itself is so valuable, even that will be a plus for you.

But if you have no instructor, then what? As I learned after spending my own money, most videos aren't very helpful. Books—some of them quite beautiful—are hard to follow because they can't show the flow of changes as they happen.

There's also the question of pacing. If you're like me, you will probably move too fast. The best benefits come from slow transitions from one position to another.

Now that I've brought up all those negatives, I will tell you where I found the best source ever for tackling tai chi when you can't find an instructor. It's a video that explains every move extremely clearly. So if you have to practice alone, this is the one video I would recommend for a complete beginner or even someone who wants to review his or her form:

Yang Tai Chi for Beginners Part 1, DVD from YMAA Publication Center

The instructor is Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming.

This is available from Amazon, and cheap! Only $8.99. I keep it on my Kindle Fire for use.

If you are already doing tai chi, you will know why I recommend taking it up. If you've just thought about it, here's why starting a tai chi practice is a wonderful gift to give yourself.

What you get from tai chi

                     It's a moving meditation

                     It's excellent for developing and preserving functional balance

                     It has been proven to help people with back pain

                     It is suitable for the fit and the not-fit because of its gentle, slow movements

                     Nonetheless, it is real exercise

                     It improves blood and lymph circulation

                     In one randomized, controlled trial, tai chi was as effective as physical therapy for people with knee osteoarthritis

                     It improves posture, which may also reduce neck pain

                     It lowers blood pressure

                     It helps with depression

                     It helps cognition, making decisions and other mental tasks

                     In one study on 400 people already showing signs of dementia, tai chi slowed the disease

And if you're lucky like me, it also makes the dog bark. That's a lot of benefit and entertainment to start the day.

It Doesn't Plug In or Use a Fan, But This Air Purifier is GMO

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Quite a few savvy environmentalists are against genetically modified (GMO) plants for any reason.

There are definitely real concerns. But would you consider a GMO version of ivy that cleans chloroform and benzenes out of the air better than a HEPA filter? What if your baby was breathing that stuff in? If you have city water or an attached garage, the baby is definitely getting a dose of both.

Household air is usually more tainted than the air in offices and schools. Toxic substances off-gas from fabrics, furniture, cookware, and cooking. Chlorinated water means your home has chloroform in the air. A lawn mower or car in the garage contributes benzenes. Particle board furniture and wrinkle-free fabrics pile on with formaldehyde. A fireplace or poorly adjusted gas burner on your stove adds carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide.

You have probably heard that houseplants are good for indoor air. They do take out the carbon dioxide and add oxygen. But they aren't very efficient at fighting the other pollutants. It takes about 20 houseplants to clear the formaldehyde found in a typical living room.

I'm not sure how anyone got the brilliant idea, “hmm rabbit plus ivy might work.” But it does. When Professor Stuart Strand at the University of Washington tried introducing the P450 2e1 gene from a rabbit into the common houseplant known as pothos or devil's ivy, he had a winner. In mammals, that gene produces an enzyme that helps break down chemicals. In an ivy plant, it's extremely effective at clearing the air.

Strand and team tested the modified ivy in a container to measure how well it worked. Compared to a regular plant, or no plant at all, the GMO ivy was a star. It broke down 75% of benzene within 8 days. It was even better at making formaldehyde go away. Within 6 days, the pollutant was barely detectable.

The work looks like it has a lot of potential, but no one knows yet how well these plants might work in a regular room or how many it would take to clear the air.  

That's not the only concern. GMO plants have a habit of escaping their designated slots. A type of GMO bent grass intended for golf courses has escaped its bounds to clog irrigation systems in Oregon. GMO canola plants from Canada have invaded the Dakotas. Because canola can hybridize easily with other plants, it can become an invasive weed that farmers cannot control, thanks to its built-in resistance to RoundUp.

A Harvard study has concluded beyond any reasonable doubt that RoundUp-ready plants have played a big role in the loss of wild bees.

Most botanists saw that potential trouble coming, but other adverse effects are more shocking surprises.

Who foresaw that GMO crops would lead to more suicides in India? But they have, according to the country's Agricultural Ministry. Farming is hard there. It depends on adequate rain during the monsoon season. But Monsanto's GMO seeds require twice as much water. In years when monsoon rains are a little light, crops fail. Worse, the expensive seeds are often not even capable of resisting pests. They were developed for Western nemesis, not for Indian boll-worms.

We are careful about product sources at Renown Health. It's the reason all our products are made in the US, where we can be sure we know the quality and integrity of anything we use. We do not use GMO plant sources.

As a natural health company, we take the environment seriously. It's where we source everything from feverfew to grape skin extracts to mango seed butter. We think that as a person who uses natural healing products, that's important to you, too.

So, much as we like the idea of formaldehyde-eating ivy plants, we're not hanging any around the office.

Copy an Athlete, Knees Need Help to Stay Strong

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I'm not sure what capabilities the guys in IT have. They may know what websites I visit, but truly, the stopover at Larry Brown Sports was work-related.  I was looking for new developments in knee care. 

That led to an item about New York Giants wide receiver Jawill Davis. He's out for the rest of the 2018-2019 season, placed on injured reserve.

Davis sustained a knee injury, which is not unusual among football players, but in this case no action on the field was involved. Davis was either dancing, or just plain horsing around, in the locker room when he slightly dislocated his knee.

Admittedly, Davis only played in four games for the Giants through the end of December. He's not a superstar. Still, even the least noticed athlete who makes it to any pro sport is well-conditioned, strong, and flexible. You wouldn't expect dancing to do them in.

Davis now has the distinction of owning the most embarrassing injury in sports for 2018. Larry Brown Sports Weird Injuries also lists such runners up as Kansas City pitcher Mike Moustakas who hurt his back picking up one of his kids. Or there was St. Louis pitcher Luke Weaver who missed a start after he cut his finger taking the aluminum foil off a food tray.

Pitcher Aaron Sanchez of the Toronto Blue Jays may win the prize for hiding the truth longest. He had a finger injury that kept him out of the game for two months. The reason was too embarrassing to share, he said. Probably what everyone was imagining was so bad, he finally 'fessed up that he caught his finger in his suitcase as it was falling off the bed.

But back to knees. They're really vulnerable. Even for athletes. Larry Brown Sports also reported that “On the eve of Opening Day, [Kansas City] Royals catcher Salvador Perez tore his MCL while carrying luggage, and is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks of action.” That's the medial collateral ligament, which runs along the inside of the knee.

If this can happen to healthy 20-somethings, should the rest of us just conclude our knees are dead dodos, bound to be injured sooner or later?

Despite weird injuries like those suffered by Davis and Perez, when you consider the extreme physical challenges professional athletes face, they don't have nearly as many knee injuries as you'd expect. There's a lesson in that. Athletes prepare for it.

If your knees are healthy now, dance with abandon, your knees can take it if you take care of them. If your knees already hurt, see your trainer or physical therapist for help and get ready to dance, even if you have to go gently.

Squeezing Charmin', Pinching Baby Cheeks, Hugging Puppies... Just Normal Cute Aggression

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Did you ever wonder why all those women were squeezing rolls of toilet paper in those absurd Charmin' ads from years ago? It wasn't the TP, no matter what Mr. Whipple said when he told them to stop. It must have been the baby on the wrapper.

The term for that impulse is cute aggression, and it's a real thing.

Proctor & Gamble made a fortune on the phenomenon of cute aggression before it was even known to science. If you're over 30, you probably remember the ads where crazy housewives were pulling packages of Charmin' toilet paper off the shelf to squeeze them. Out comes grocery manager “Mr. Whipple” to make them stop. Of course, after he sends them all away, he squeezes the Charmin' in secret.

The ads ran from 1965 to 1989, 504 of them. Proctor & Gamble brought Mr. Whipple out of retirement briefly in 1999 after the company took the cute baby picture off the label and switched to the cute Charmin' bears. The ad campaign made Dick Wilson, the actor who played Mr. Whipple, one of the most recognized characters of all time. Silly, yes. But it worked because it touched a deep human urge.

In 2012, Yale scientists, Rebecca Dyer and Oriana Aragon, investigated the urge to squeeze, bite, or show aggression toward adorably cute baby animals and human babies (but not toilet paper). They originated the term “cute aggression”.

You've seen it or done it.  People pinch baby cheeks, which doesn't seem like a very loving gesture when you think about it. We pretend to growl at puppies, another not so friendly gesture.

You've surely heard someone say tell a baby, “I just want to bite your little toes off; I could eat you right up!” Or coo toward a puppy, “Oooh, I could squeeze you to death.” And they may be telling the literal truth if they say, “Oooh, I can't stand it!”

In 2015, neuroscientist Anna Brooks told a reporter that cute aggression is probably a natural mechanism to dial down feeling too good around cuteness.

People who are helplessly flooded with excessive levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine aren't functioning at their logical best. They could spend so much emotional energy feeling the love that they forget to do their chores, like change diapers and feed the baby.

Just recently, new research upheld that theory and added some details to the mystery of why some of us want to kill, maim, bite and squeeze cute things. As part of the testing, they asked participants to rate their response to cute and non-cute animals and babies then evaluate their reactions. They were asked about the statements “I can't stand it,” “I can't handle it” along with reactions of wanting to hold it and protect it.

This is what is most interesting: The higher the “I can't stand it” rating participants gave each picture, the more the reward centers in their brains lit up, and the more cute aggression they reported.

That strongly suggests that the early theory that cute aggression is a reaction to being emotionally overwhelmed.

It should be noted if you are shaking your head that all of us don't experience a high degree of cute aggression. I, for one, have never felt the urge to pinch baby cheeks or bite toes. OK, belly bubbles, yes, who could resist that? But my daughters give me pretty high marks for mothering, despite declining to eat them all up as infants.

And some people in the recent research group said they only felt the cute aggression urge toward animals and not toward babies. But I must admit, I've never squeezed a puppy, either, and I love dogs of all sizes and kinds. I do, however, force Squeaky, the tiny cat, to endure kitty kisses on her head. Sorry Squeaks, Mother Nature made me do it.

At any rate, the next time you hear someone threatening to squeeze a baby to death, it's probably all fine. Very much fine.



 Katherine K.M. Stavropoulos and Laura A. Albo. “It’s so Cute I Could Crush It!”: Understanding Neural Mechanisms of Cute Aggression. Front. Behav. Neurosci., 04 December 2018.


Ignoring Your Internal Clock Is Risky

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There's a new way to lower your risk of diabetes: If you're a night owl, tell the boss you'll be in late. That's just one of the benefits of living in sync with your natural internal clock. Some of us are early birds, some are night owls, and it's risky to change.

It's obvious that all of us humans don't have our body clocks in sync because of some internal force.  In my own family, my brother was literally up with the birds. I suspect he's the one who told the rooster to get a move on it. As an adult, he liked to head into work at 4 a.m. to beat the traffic.  I pull the blanket over my head and hold out as long as possible. We both had the same childhood schedules, the same breakfast, school, and bedtime routines. But we have remained different all our lives.

Society hasn't made it easy for us to accommodate our different clocks, however.  Ever since Benjamin Franklin observed that early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, night owls have borne a slightly unsavory reputation. School hours favor people like my brother.  Ditto most workplaces. Nightclubs are for night owls. So are parties, concerts, and most baseball games.

Whichever style you are, you now have science to make your case that you should follow your own clock. A Harvard study almost says it all in the title: “Mismatch of Sleep and Work Timing and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes.” The only word missing word is “causes,” but the report hints as much.

Harvard found that late chronotypes, or night owls, had higher rates of diabetes after several years of shift work that ran counter their natural schedule. Early birds were slightly affected by a mismatch, but not as much.

The work world is catching on. In Germany, a Thyssenkrupp steel factory put its morning people on the day shift and gave its night owls the evening shift. As a result, everyone got extra sleep, about an hour's worth per day on average.

“They got 16 percent more sleep, almost a full night’s length over the course of the week. That is enormous,”  Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, told the New York Times. 

Dr. Roenneberg believes that inefficiencies caused by workers laboring out of sync with their own clocks may cost society about 1% of GDP.

As the New York Times put it, “if you rely on an alarm clock to wake you up, you're out of sync with your own body”.

And your body will fight back.

The Rude Truth: Constipation Isn't Funny

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Isn't it just a little weird? Sixty-second commercials for ED run on family television channels.

But we don't talk about constipation--a problem that is so common almost everyone suffers it occasionally.

Chronic constipation affects 15% to 20% of Americans—42 million people according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institute of Health.

That should give you a clue that those dry runs in the bathroom are not just uncomfortable and embarrassing. It's serious enough for the government to study.

Most of the time, constipation has innocent causes: too little exercise, the wrong food, not enough water, a medication that binds you up, pregnancy, and just plain bad habits like resisting the urge when it's not convenient to go.

It can be a sign something more serious is wrong. You should see your doctor if you have blood in your stools, excessive pain, unexplained weight loss or this is new and unusual for you.  But for the rest of us, constipation is usually a problem we can solve ourselves.

Constipation really isn't funny. It's miserable. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do. Here is some of the best and most respected advice, with a little extra insight.

1.                  Hydrate—Why this matters: not what you probably think. As we get older, our bodies hold water. Also, our thirst signals become less reliable as we age. So drink plentifully whether you feel thirsty or not. You may not be as well hydrated as you think you are. You don't have to glug down a quart of pure water at a time to stay healthy. Multiple small additions of beverages that you like throughout the day are ideal. It will make all your systems function better. Proper hydration benefits your skin, blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism. And helps soften stools, too.

2.                  Move—exercise helps speed up your digestive system and supports the muscles involved in pushing food through your system. Your colon is a muscle. Although doctors often advise constipated patients to exercise more, there is surprisingly little actual research on the topic.

However, a study on psychiatric patients in South Korea proved there was a strong reason to start exercising for better digestion. The constipated men who did both aerobic and strength exercises cut their colon transit time by almost half. That's ideal. The control group (no exercise regime) had no improvement at all.

3.      Increase fiber, perhaps—I'd be willing to bet you are not getting enough fiber. A study reported in The Journal of Nutrition claims that only 3% of Americans are on target. But if you want to do better, be careful with foods that have added fiber. Xanthum and inulin, which are added to foods to increase fiber content, for instance, can cause a gastric disturbance in people who are sensitive to them. Instead, increase your “herbivore” foods. Add a banana to your day. Grab a bowl of oatmeal, snack on raisins, love your lentils, or put some quinoa in your daily diet. If you work this right, you can decree your oatmeal cookies a necessary health food. Especially if you use applesauce or banana instead of sugar as a sweetener.

4.      This Is The Big One. FEED YOUR GUT RIGHT—Your colon muscles can weaken gradually, but the most critical element in digesting food, the bacteria in your gut, can go wrong overnight.  A round of antibiotics, stress, infections, drugs, surgery, changes in your diet, moving, travel, being around new plants and animals, there are dozens of reasons why your gut microbes can suddenly die off or change to a less favorable mix. It matters.

Feeding your gut is one of the most important and easiest measures you can take. Yes, it can solve a lot of problems, including constipation. A healthy microbiome—the community of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that normally live in our bodies – is the center of our health. According to Scientific American, there are 10 times more bacteria in your body than there are human cells. The right mix is critical.

Renown Health Products' Prosentials is designed to encourage the right microbiome in your digestive system.

It's radically different from anything you'll see in the drugstore. We have selected seven different microbes that support digestive health by a number of different means.

                     Strain #1 prevents harmful pathogens from entering your bloodstream

                     Strain #2 promotes lactose intolerance, a very common problem

                     Strain #3 gets past the stomach to prevent loose stools—AND CONSTIPATION!

                     Strain #4 promotes regularity and overall immune system strength

                     Strain #5 encourages your gut to produce lactase again, to naturally aid in digesting dairy  products (including things like whey found in cookies and protein bars)

                     Strain #6 seeks out and destroys toxins and helps maintain the correct pH in your gut

But the star of the show—Strain #7—is Saccharomyces boulardii... It's a powerful agent in restoring a healthy balance of gut bacteria. And this is the missing ingredient you won't find in cheap, grocery store products.

See what Prosentials can do for you. You have our 100% guarantee as always.

Here's to your health!

Science Revises Its Brain Training Message Again

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In science, nothing is ever final. Brain training is still under investigation.

Several studies between 2010 and 2013 reported to our joy that doing crossword puzzles might delay mental aging and preserve memory and cognitive function. Maybe even hold back the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

That proved less than gospel. Next came “scientific brain training” exercises.

Companies like Luminosity attracted thousands of paying subscribers who did daily exercises. And then the doubters came. Luminosity ended up paying a $2 million fine for false advertising. Later, a large-scale study showed that games of the sort online training companies were touting didn't work.

Still, the feeling remains that “use it or lose it” must have some truth to it. We all had classmates who weren't mental giants in high school, didn't get any sharper as they aged, and seemed old before their time.

We also know people who stay interested and interesting all their lives. The proverbial grandmother who is sharp as a tack, the elderly professor who misses nothing...

Our instincts may have a basis. A new paper in the British Journal of Medicine explains why people who don't work their brains overly hard seem to go downhill faster while the curious and mentally active remain alert much longer.

Playing problem-solving games and learning new things help people stay mentally sharp longer. In effect, they are a sort of insurance policy on mental acuity. In the words of the study's lead researcher, Dr. Roger Staff:

"These results indicate that engagement in problem-solving does not protect an individual from decline, but imparts a higher starting point from which decline is observed and offsets the point at which impairment becomes significant."

No doubt, there will be more scientific research on this topic ahead. But for now, your instincts are right. Using your brain is good for your brain.

In fact, there are activities that have proved even better than solving crosswords or Sudoku puzzles. 

Try learning another language. In a group of Alzheimer's patients, scientist Ellen Bialystok at the University of York found that those who were bilingual experienced the onset of Alzheimer's about four years later than patients who never learned a second language. Another study on 648 patients in India found that learning a second language delayed Alzheimer's by 4.5 years. 

The patients in these studies had been bilingual since childhood. But Thomas Bak, who led the Indian study, thinks that learning a second language later in life may have the same benefits. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden found that learning a language when older actually led to brain improvements. They took MRI's that proved it.

And if crosswords, Sudoku, and a second language aren't your thing—try music.

Because the other activity that is especially good for brain health is learning a musical instrument. If you always saw yourself as a rock guitar star, or sedately strumming a heavenly harp, you have a good excuse to get started.

Baby, It's Cold Outside, Get Your Immunity in Gear

The 1944 classic winter song, “Baby It's Cold Outside,” has stirred plenty of controversies lately.

The thing is, whether you choose to stay in where it's warm or venture out, you need your immune system in crack shape during the winter months.

But are you really more likely to get a cold in winter? Doctors usually say this is a myth. You don't come down with a cold because you got cold.  Except that in a roundabout way, you do.

The viruses that cause colds multiply faster at somewhat lower temperatures. In winter, as you inhale colder air outdoors, it temporarily reduces the temperature in your nose, which encourages the viruses to multiply more rapidly and infect you more easily.

Another study that confirms we're prone to more colds in winter comes from a different angle. It turns out that your genes change seasonally. In winter, our DNA dials up the activity in our genes that control inflammation. Thus we are more likely to respond to germs around us with swelling, mucus, achiness, low-grade fever, and other signs of inflammation at work to fight off cold germs.

This is an interesting reaction that seems to apply no matter where you live... with some local variations. That's what makes it even more likely that our bodies prepare to get more colds when it's cold outside. The scientists collected data on about 1,000 people distributed across six countries: the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, Iceland, and the Gambia, in West Africa. 

People's immune systems and inflammatory processes revved up during the winter in the countries that had cold winters. But the Gambia is hot all year. In the Gambia, DNA dialed up the inflammatory readiness in the summer rainy season when mosquitoes abound. 

You can increase your immunity by simply not doing the things that lower it. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise moderately.

The other good thing you can do for yourself is to try Isoprex this winter. Inflammation to fight germs is a good thing—until the system goes into overdrive and fails to turn off. Then it causes havoc throughout the body. One way that shows up in middle age and later is in the pain of arthritis. It can also mean a stuffier nose and more fever than your body really needs to fight a cold.

Isoprex supports the body to keep the right balance—allowing your genes to do what they should, then helping them remember to shut off.

Your cold could thank you. If you even get one.

Healthy sperm is declining everywhere -- except in NYC

If you're thinking about starting (or expanding) your family and would like an excuse to go to a taping of "The Dr. Oz. Show," come to NYC and you might get a two-fer. It seems that sperm counts everywhere (researchers also looked at Los Angeles; Palo Alto, California; Houston; Boston; and Indianapolis -- the Brit publication Daily Mail reports the same holds true in Europe) are plummeting, except in the Big Apple. The reason for decline in the West? Exposure to chemicals and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. 

But why is NYC exempt? As Dr. Peter Schlegel -- president-elect of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and New York resident -- said: "The exceptionalism of New York sperm donors is intriguing, but maybe not so surprising. New Yorkers tend to be physically active [walking culture] and our water system provides some of the cleanest and highest quality water in the U.S." He also added that NYC has the best pizza and the best bagels, both of which could owe their superiority to the water, too. In Boston, while total sperm count didn't decline, there were declines in categories such as average concentration and total motile sperm.

So men, to keep your swimming-sperm count up to speed (that's the motile count), get in your 10,000 steps a day (New Yorkers do it regularly), stay away from pesticides and processed foods, and bring your bride to "The Dr. Oz Show." Then stop for a slice and a whole-wheat bagel with lox, too. You'll be glad you did.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

These 70-Year-Olds Have Muscles and Lungs Like 20-Year-Olds—Here's Their Secret

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Scientists have found a group of people in their 70s who have muscles and aerobic capacities that would be the envy of healthy 20-somethings. In fact, when they compared them to a group of 20-year-olds, they were just as strong.

The simple anti-aging elixir they used was one we can all access—regular exercise. The catch is that these super-fit 70-year-olds kept it up for five decades.

To find these fitness superstars, researchers at Ball State University went looking for senior men and women who had begun exercising vigorously in the 1970s when jogging and fitness were a big trend. They located 28 people who began exercising in the 1970s and continued to work out at a high level every day for the next five decades. 

When researchers brought them into the lab to test muscles and aerobic capacity, the older crew had muscle strength as good as the youngsters. Their aerobic capacity was slightly lower but still impressive. Compared to a control group of people their own age who had not been as active, however. The high exercisers were fitness heroes. They had 40% greater lung capacity compared to their inactive peers.

Five decades of steady, strong exercise is a difficult prescription for those of us who already let a few decades go by. But there is hope.

Even starting exercise later in life does pay off.  Strength training is effective in keeping youthful muscle mass and balance to any age.

Your aerobic condition benefits from exercise as well, but it seems to need a bit more help. That's where nutrition comes in.

Adding natural life-enhancing herbs such as baikal skullcap to your daily routine could be your smartest move to keep up easy breathing. This herb derived from a flowering perennial that has been widely used in traditional medicine in Korea and China. It is used for upper respiratory tract infections, allergic rhinitis, and bronchial diseases.

Baikal skullcap is not easy to find. It doesn't even make the list of 100 most popular medicinal herbs, but it is an important ingredient in Renown Health's Isoprex.

The oral health-blood pressure connection

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After undergoing periodontal surgery, comedian and television personality Whoopi Goldberg returned to her seat on "The View" and admitted to the public that, despite her excellent dental insurance, she's never taken care of her teeth and is paying the price. "Your mouth is connected to your entire system," she told viewers. "If you do not take care of your mouth, then you are not taking care of your body, and it will kill you."

Mountains of research show that poor oral health increases your risk for many maladies, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and head and neck cancers. And now, new research has emerged that shows that good dental care (brushing and flossing your teeth daily and getting regular checkups) could prevent or help reduce high blood pressure.

The study published in the journal Hypertension found that people with healthier gums and little tooth decay have lower blood pressure. It also revealed that folks taking high blood pressure medications get more benefit from the meds if their gums are healthy. Specifically, patients being treated for high blood pressure who have inflamed gums are 20 percent less likely to have their blood pressure in a healthy range than patients with no signs of periodontal disease.

So, if you have periodontal disease, have your blood pressure monitored regularly, and get to your periodontist pronto! If you have high blood pressure, remember that maintaining good dental hygiene is as important for protecting your heart as eating fiber regularly or increasing your steps from 8,000 to 12,000 daily. 

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

The itch-scratch-itch cycle

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In "The Itchy & Scratchy Show," a cartoon featured on "The Simpsons," Itchy (Dan Castellaneta), a blue mouse, repeatedly kills Scratchy (Harry Shearer), a black cat. It's an endless cycle of torment. Creator Matt Groening really got that itchy and scratchy thing right. Just ask anyone who's ever had chronic dry skin, eczema or mosquito or fire ant bites. You gotta scratch, but the scratching just causes more itching!

Now there's proof: A study out of the Center for the Study of Itch (we kid you not!) at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified how scratching damages the top layer of your skin and causes signaling proteins (inflammatory cytokines, for example) to be released. They activate the skin's itch-sensory neurons, which in turn produce signals that trigger inflammation and cause more scratching. In short, your skin barrier, your immune system and your peripheral nervous system all gang up on you.

What works to break the cycle? The American Academy of Dermatology recommends you apply a cold, wet cloth or an ice pack to itchy areas for 5-10 minutes. Moisturize with a cream free of additives and fragrances. Apply topical anesthetics with pramoxine and cooling agents such as menthol or calamine.

For itchiness that just won't stop, the itch researchers say a drug called nalfurafine hydrochloride may be the answer. It targets certain opioid receptors on spinal cord neurons. The drug is already approved in Japan to alleviate itching in dialysis patients and folks with severe liver disease. Ahh! Relief.  

   (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Seeing Orange Could Keep Insomniacs From Seeing Blue and Maybe Trim the Waist As Well

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Light comes into the eye, hits the retina, and you see. The concept is pretty simple when it comes to vision. Lights on, you can see. Lights off, you're literally in the dark.

But a few cells in the retina aren't involved in seeing. They interpret prolonged light as a time to tell the brain, “wake up,” which they do by generating a protein called melanopsin.

It takes just 10 minutes of prolonged light exposure for the melanopsin-producing cells to start the process. Melanopsin signals your brain that it's daytime. The brain, in turn, signals your pituitary gland to stop producing melatonin.

You probably know something about the hormone melatonin from the makes you sleepy. Melatonin in a bottle is widely recommended for jet lag and insomnia.

We've long known what melatonin does and how to use it to encourage sleep. But until recent work at Salk Institute, the exact mechanics of the melanopsin-melatonin process has been unclear.

Like many other cells in your body, the cells in the retina can be “down-regulated,” or turned off by other chemicals called arrestins.

But the Salk Professor, Satchin Panda, found that the expected arrestin process doesn't work as expected with the melanopsin cells in the retina.

There are two varieties of arrestins involved, it seems. One of them follows the normal pattern to shut down activity. But the surprise that Professor Panda and his team at Salk found was that the other arrestin didn't behave as it “should” on the melanopsin cells. Instead of shutting down melanopsin production, the arrestin made it increase. Increased melanopsin causes wakefulness because it suppresses melatonin. 

OK, that's enough of a science lesson for today. This is what matters...

It's two things, actually. The new findings at Salk finally explain how your computer is keeping you awake, and, further, they could eventually lead to effective treatments for migraines, insomnia, jet lag and circadian disorders that may also play a role in obesity, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive problems.

The research results, which were just published in the Nov. 27 issue of Cell Reports, explains why using computers, cell phones, and television after dark are especially bad for your sleep, much worse than simply reading an exciting mystery under normal lamplight. 

All these electronics emit large doses of blue light, and your melanopsin cells are especially sensitive to that color. They interpret light from the blue end of the spectrum as if it is full, blazing daylight.

You know what happens next. When it's daytime to your eyes, your brain will get a wake-up call and you will lie in bed praying for sleep.

If you are not likely to turn off the television and walk away from your computer or cell phone after dark, however, you have defenses.

The hands-down best one is to get glasses with blue-blocker lenses.

In fact, you don't need to spend $50 (nonprescription) or $300 (prescription) for help. Consumer Reports tested three brands of nonprescription blue-blocking glasses. The winner was the basic orange safety glasses. Cost $8. Go to a Home Depot near you.

The nice thing about the big orange safety glasses is that you are also protected from flying debris, should that happen around your house. Say champagne corks on New Years' Eve? But on a typical evening, they give your surroundings a lovely calming glow. It's like seeing the world by firelight. 

It's a cheap fix, and it actually works.

An article published in the European Journal of Neuroscience (December 2018) found that on workdays,a decrease in evening blue light exposure led to an advance in melatonin and sleep onset.”  Even for “late chronotypes,” which most of us call night owls, “controlling light exposure at home can be effective in advancing melatonin secretion and sleep.” The researchers used plain safety goggles and room darkening shades to test reactions. The safety goggles worked best.

Naturally, computers aren't the only thing that keeps people awake at night. Avoiding late-night screaming crowds at a sports arena, overdoing the Christmas punch, and resisting a snack of jalapeno poppers right before bedtime is also advisable if you want a gentle night's sleep.

But if your lifestyle doesn't include meditation before bedtime and dinner before sunset—or turning off the computer early—some sporty orange safety goggles are definitely worth the price.

Talking truthfully to your doc -- not easy, but essential

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Comedian Rodney Dangerfield loved to complain about his physician, Dr. Vinnie Boombatz, whose careless instructions often left Dangerfield in worse condition. "He told me to run five miles a day for eight weeks," Dangerfield gripes. "I called him up and I said 'Doc, I'm 70 miles from my house!'"

Dangerfield isn't the only patient who has suffered from miscommunication with a physician ... and the miscommunication goes both ways.

From Doc to Patient: A survey published in JAMA finds more than a third of patients fail to tell their doctor if they disagree with treatment recommendations or don't understand them. That puts your health in jeopardy, and it's a major cause of hospital readmission!

 From Patient to Doc: The study also found that 80 percent of people have lied to their doctors in ways that could affect their health and medical treatment. The top reason? To avoid being judged.

What to Do: When your doc suggests treatment, make SURE you understand. Demand clear explanations. And if you have a bad feeling about something, express it! 

Now, when it comes to being honest with your doc: Your health history and lifestyle habits can be hard to discuss openly, especially if you've made poor choices, such as smoking, not exercising or drinking excessively. But you need to get that info to your doc (ask him or her not to put it in the electronic record), so appropriate care can be offered! Most docs are not judgmental; they just want to help you get and stay healthy. Trust us, we know these doctors exist!

   (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Hungry Mice Live Longer, Hungry People Might, Too

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Can you starve your way to a long life and great health? According to several studies on calorie restriction in mice, possibly so.

Obviously, that's a plan that can go too far. Anorexia kills. And the consequences are dire even among the cured. Canadian researchers have calculated that girls who were anorexic at age 15 and recovered would cut 25 years off their life span.

But for those of us well above the anorexic level, what about all those studies that show calorie-restricted (CR) diets are linked to living longer? 

It's a pertinent question because roughly 40% of Americans are obese. And, 70% of us are at least a little overweight. People whose weights are “normal” on height-weight charts are actually a minority.

There are plenty of logical reasons for us to shed pounds. Obesity is highly correlated with some kinds of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, knee and back pains, asthma, sleep apnea...

Yet, Americans keep getting heavier. And those of us who do shed a few pounds almost always regain them.

Except for those who believe in CR. The CR advantage probably comes down to attitude:

                     Why diet to lose weight: Eat less to gradually get skinny because if you're fat you might get sick from one of many possible things (some of which could happen to you whether you diet or not) some day in the future.

                     Why CR: Eat less so you will live longer. Getting thin is a nice bonus.

CR can be approached in many ways. Some people just cut calories by a significant amount every day. That can range from 10% less than your normal intake to 30% less. Others choose to eat regularly for 5 days a week and fast or drastically reduce their calories on the other two.  Yet others fast on a different schedule.

The CR idea is so widely touted and has been “proven” so many times:

                     Nematodes (worms) lived longer when their calories were restricted and they were receiving resveratrol at the same time.

                     Another experiment on yeast and flies also showed they lived longer on restricted calories, again results were best when the subjects were fed resveratrol.

                     A new experiment just showed that mice also lived longer when fed only once a day, presumably because that meant they fasted longer as well as receiving fewer calories overall.

Over the years, CR experiments have focused on mice, flies, worms, and fungi because their short lifespans make it easy to follow subjects through whole generations.

We don't know nearly as much about the effect on humans. There has never been an experiment where researchers began restricting the calories of dozens of children, kept them on restriction for the rest of their lives, and followed them all the way from cradle to grave. There never will be. 

The best we have are some correlations. Based on data from 900,000 western European and North American adults body mass is strongly associated with lifespan. Among the morbidly obese, half died by age 70. Among the lean, less than a quarter had died by age 70.

There have also been some short-term experiments. Valter Longo at USC had subjects cut their calories in half five days per month. After three months, they managed to lower their triglycerides, cholesterol, and body mass. Their blood glucose levels improved, too.

That seemed promising. Alas, the diet wasn't popular. A fourth of the subjects dropped out of the experiment before the three-month mark. The odds that millions of us would use this approach for our entire lives, as Longo suggests we should, are somewhere between dismal and impossible.

Now the good news... Everything we know about CR so far doesn't suggest you should go that route if you don't want to. While the disadvantages of obesity are real, the advantages of CR are still in question.

Let's start with the obvious. You are not a mouse.

Murine—mouse—studies are significant and very helpful, but they're limited. It's one thing to test the chemistry and physiology of a drug on mice with their similar biology. It's quite another to use mice to test lifestyle choices when their lives differ so greatly from ours.

Those long-living mice existed in a highly protected environment with no predators, food shortages, crummy bosses, bills due... you get the idea. So far there are no perfectly controlled studies that prove any one of us will live longer with a CR lifestyle. All we know for sure is that being obese is not good.

Second, there is definite support for the importance of resveratrol in life extension, and it seems especially helpful when cutting calories.

And finally, newer research with primates and studies on human data sets expand the story. Longevity may have a better relationship to maintaining muscle mass than it does to maintaining the waist you had when you were 18 years old and in your physical prime.

Merry Sugarness to All

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Tell the truth. How many cookies have you had so far? That includes the broken pieces.

And, we know you have stoically resisted the fruitcake, but what about the gift box of Aunt Bessie's double-dark-chocolate homemade fudge? You couldn't hurt her feelings, could you?

It's the holiday season. We're surrounded by seasonal sweets at the office, at home, and at every party.

They're good, too. Only the Grinch would use this occasion to insist that sugar is bad for you and you should give it all up.

That would be unnatural.

The sweet taste exists in nature for a reason. It's not just your imagination or a regrettable character weakness—Mother Nature is tempting you. “Biochemistry,”a college textbook by Jeremy Berg et al. that has been around so long it's now in its 8th edition, makes quick work of that point:

Five primary tastes are perceived: bitter, sweet, sour, salty, and umami (the taste of glutamate from the Japanese word for “deliciousness”). These five tastes serve to classify compounds into potentially nutritive and beneficial (sweet, salty, umami) or potentially harmful or toxic (bitter, sour).”

See? Mother Nature is on your side if you would rather have a brownie instead of seconds on kale.

So, have a little sugar. Not too much. Sugar adds calories, and we are never in favor of packing on extra pounds if you can avoid it. Needless to say, if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes, extreme self-discipline is needed.

But a little extra, occasional, sugar won't kill you. In fact, this time of year, sugary treats tend to come with one of life's greatest gifts—the company of friends and family. The smile of a friend and a cookie is a fair trade for sitting home alone. Especially during these short, dark days of the year when many of us feel more depressed than usual.

Still, you will no doubt encounter well-meaning people who make a point of letting you know they wouldn't indulge—because sugar's just bad for you always, forever, period, amen.

One of the favorite arguments by the sugar police is that sugar feeds cancer.

Well, it's time to tackle that myth. The sugar police are stretching the truth a bit.

Excess sugar does lead to obesity. And obesity is definitely implicated in some kinds of cancer. 

But there is no direct link from eating sugar to getting cancer. Or growing cancer. Just as there is no direct link from pumping gas into the tanks of hearses cause a prevalence of caskets inside.

In fact, you can hardly avoid ingesting sugar if you eat a normal diet. It is abundant in healthy fruit like apples. Milk has it. So do carrots, peas, corn, wheat, and potatoes.

The modern problem is not sugar, it's excessive added sugar. And even then, the sugar-cancer link has been rejected in one high-quality study after another. What you have is a case of guilt by association.

A researcher named Otto Warburger first suggested that sugar caused cancer in 1924 because cancer cells use sugar (glucose) in a different way from regular cells. He got the science wrong, but the myth lives on.

The fact is, all the cells in your body use glucose—not just cancer cells. Your survival depends on it. 

Because they grow so much faster, however, cancer cells are real glucose hogs. Unfortunately, you can't starve your cancer cells by cutting all the sugar out of your diet. There's no way to tell those strawberries to head to your good cells and not your cancer cells.

That's the realm of science, and it may be possible with some drugs in the future.

Oncologists at Brunel  University in London have found a link between glucose and cancer cells that might be the answer. Cancer cells overproduce a protein named PARP 14. The protein allows cancer cells to grab enormous amounts of glucose from the system to fuel their rapid growth. The interesting thing with PARP14 is that it allows cancer cells to use glucose in a different manner than normal cells do. The scientists are looking for ways to block PARP14 production. In turn, that would prevent cancer cells from using the body's glucose stores while healthy cells could still access it.

Success along those lines is still years down the road.

In the meantime, a moderate amount of sugar is OK. Celebrate the season. Enjoy a cookie or two—but not dozens.

There's always New Year's Day for new resolutions. And in addition to cutting back on sugar, you could vow to eat more blueberries.

Because there is one thing that sugar is notorious for—dry skin. A rush of sugar causes an insulin spike, which causes inflammation, which leads to redness, dryness, and wrinkles through the process of glycation. Hence the blueberries...

Blueberries are chock full of vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonoids that are good for your skin. Your face will love you for it.

And while you're at it, treat yourself to a nice face cream, too.

How to microwave your dinner safely

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According to some accounts, in 1953 C.A. Swanson & Sons had over 500,000 pounds of unsold turkey after Thanksgiving. One employee suggested they cook the leftovers, along with some favorite side dishes, package the meals in compartmented aluminum trays and freeze them. That was the first TV dinner.

The impulse to pull something pre-made out of the freezer, heat it up and eat it while watching a favorite show is now a way of life for millions. And these days microwave technology can make it happen very quickly (Netflix and chili, anyone?). But there are potential dangers in the foods' plastic containers and in under-heated foods.

Dr. Oz did his own investigation at the Good Housekeeping test lab (watch it at; search for "microwave dinners") and discovered that the plastic packaging stayed intact if the food was zapped when frozen, but if the food was thawed then microwaved, the plastic melted! That's toxic. Also, even intact plastics contain potentially harmful chemicals, especially hormone-disrupting BPA/BPS. But thankfully, the microwaved meals the show had tested by an independent lab didn't have BPA in the food.

Another risk from microwaving frozen precooked meals or uncooked foods: Uneven heating creates hot and cold spots, leaving you exposed to disease-causing bacteria (if they happen to be lurking there) and raising your risk of food poisoning.

The bottom line: Don't microwave in plastic. Transfer the foods to glass. For precooked foods, use a meat thermometer to make sure all areas are at least 140 F. For cooking raw foods, follow your microwave's safety guidelines.

   (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Your Star Supplement Deserves a Brilliant Supporting Cast

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For safety and efficiency, nature designed the human body to be complex. Your vitamins and supplements need to respect that wisdom, too.

Think about it... Your feet can't drag your body down the road all by themselves. They need the help of your spine to balance your body overhead, bones to support it, and a brain to decide where to head. 

Your fingers may add a pinch of salt to your french fries, but your kidneys moderate it goes from your stomach to your bloodstream or gets washed out.

Yet we often talk about our vitamins and supplements as if each one was a standalone... Vitamin C is the one that is good for colds. Iron is the mineral that enriches the blood. Calcium is the one that supports healthy bones. And ashwagandha is terrific for anxiety. Or so we believe.

The truth is, vitamins and supplements need an entourage to work their best. Your body is complex and anything that goes into balancing or healing it needs to be well thought out. 

The term “entourage effect” was invented by Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, who is the world's leading cannabis researcher. It refers to compounds that have a better or different effect when they work together. There's no reason the hemp and cannabis people should have that term all to themselves, though. Because it's true for vitamins, minerals, and herbals, too. 

You have probably noticed a particular case of this in the past few years. Has your doctor checked your Vitamin D level? Vitamin D affects your energy level, but that's not why your physician makes this a routine check.

He's concerned about your bone density. Studies have shown that no matter how much calcium you ingest, it won't do the job of building bone unless your vitamin D levels are sufficient. Calcium is a star player for bone mass density, but it needs Vitamin D in its entourage.

As we said, the human body is a complex and marvelous instrument. We remember that at Renown Health Products.

If you look at the label on any Renown Health product, you will never, ever find that we have sent you a single-ingredient product.  We believe every star deserves an entourage. Our work always recognizes that all the herbals, minerals, and vitamins you take need support to support one another work their best.

Cerbrexum: Goodbye to 'Brain Fog' Forever! SHOP NOW

This is a far different prospect than the shotgun approach taken by makers of daily multiple vitamins. Multivitamins throw every known vitamin at your body in hopes that anything you lack is supplied and anything you don't need won't hurt you.

Multivitamins spectacularly fail to target dosages for specific uses. Vitamin C is a good example...

You may need 75 mg of vitamin C if you are a  typical adult woman, 90 mg if you are an adult male. But a nursing mom needs closer to 120 mg, and a smoker needs 110 to 125 mg of Vitamin C. People with macular degeneration responded positively to 500 mg doses in one study. 

And to complicate matters even more, people with iron overload, a disease called hematochromatosis, should not supplement with Vitamin C at all!

You will notice that Renown Health doesn't sell multivitamins. We offer you well-crafted products that are laser-targeted on specific health goals.   

For instance, our Cerbrexum has 2000 IU of vitamin D3 because it's intended to aid in mental alertness. That calls for high levels. The vitamin D3 in the formula is also supported by ashwagandha, an herb that is sometimes called Indian ginseng. It has a long tradition in Ayurvedic practice for memory and concentration.

But here's the magic of entourage thinking... The Cerbrexum formula also includes Bioperine.  It not only opens capillaries, good for the brain, it also enhances the action of vitamins and supplements like curcumin. And, of course, curcumin is part of Cerebrexum —which is found in the turmeric root powder in the formula. Curcumin is important in Chinese medicine and recent research has shown it aids cognitive function. All the ingredients focus on a clear mission... and there are no “kitchen sink” extras that you don't need.

In contrast, Renown Health's  Isoprex also has Vitamin D3, but much less of it—500 IU. That is exactly what is appropriate to support the calcium in this product. Other Renown Health products don't include D3 at all because as wonderful as vitamin D may be, it's not on mission in those other formulas.

The next time you are standing at the pharmacy looking at rows of B vitamins (was it 7 or 8 that's good for shiny hair?), Vitamin K (no! Not with Warfarin!), Milk Thistle (but not if you are allergic to ragweed), Licorice Root (wait, that raises blood pressure, doesn't it?) and fifty other choices you will probably feel like you need an expert to choose the right combination of bottles.

We couldn't agree more!  Trust us.

When men have body image problems -- and they do!

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When Chris Pratt went from the pudgy (up to 300 pounds!) funny guy Andy Dwyer in "Parks & Recreation" to the ripped space scoundrel Peter Quill in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy," fans wondered how he transformed himself. He says: "There wasn't any trick or secret. You cannot do it in a month. It takes a year -- or a lifetime -- of consistency, every day."

 He did it right; he's maintaining a healthy weight and good nutritional habits. But a new study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that many men who get into weight loss and muscle building become trapped in a cycle of obsessive exercise, hyper food regulation and distorted body image, and develop what's called bigorexia or muscle dysmorphia. 

The researchers looked at data from the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) on 2,460 males ages 18 to 32. A third of the men had been on a diet in the past year. Not so they could run faster or improve their health, but to "look better." They also were more likely to binge drink and be depressed. 

 How many guys are affected? A study in Military Medicine found that in a group of 1,150 new enlistees 13 percent of males had body dysmorphic disorder and 12.7 percent had MD.

Signs of MD include extreme exercise routines, being convinced that your body isn't lean enough or muscular enough and using supplements excessively. Overcoming MD requires a commitment to change, ongoing talk therapy, medical support and patience. That's something to build on!


                  (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

                   Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


Is Your Immune System Trying to Kill You? Rare Disease Might Solve the Pain in Your Knees

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If your immune system doesn't cure you, it could kill you. More likely it will make you hurt all over. 


Inflammation that refuses to turn off is the real reason behind the pain of arthritis. It's an immune response gone awry. Now the proof piles up that inflammation and misdirected immunity also lead to burning pains in the feet, deafness, loss of muscle control, poor night vision, eventual blindness and cataracts caused by a rare disease known as PHARC. 


The disease is so rare, most doctors don't know about it. But research on it may bring pain relief to the millions of us that don't have it.


Scientists at Scripps Research Institute have linked PHARC to the lack of a specific protein, ABHD12. Until this research, scientists were not sure what that the ABHD12 protein was for. Now they know it acts as a brake on the immune system to keep it from being overactive, and that's the discovery that could lead to help for millions of us with everyday afflictions like migraines and arthritis.


Eventually, researchers hope their discoveries could help them develop drugs to target ABHD12, which most people have, in order to treat cancer and chronic viral diseases.


Benjamin Cravatt, the head researcher says, “it is now known that the immune system plays a big role in many brain diseases including neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. There have also been hints of immune involvement in developmental brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.” 


No drug to tame the release of the ABHD12 protein exists yet. But if it did, its action would likely mimic several natural healing agents that control inflammation such as bromelain, oregano, and baikal skullcap. These natural sources subdue pain by acting directly on the body to regulate inflammatory proteins.


Three Super-Healthy New Things You Can Do with that Orange in Your Fruit Bowl

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Some plants were born to be superstars. Lately, hemp and cannabis have been hogging the news, but it's time to honor the orange. Besides delicious fruit and everyone's favorite breakfast juice, oranges have dozens of uses.


Here are three of our favorites you may be overlooking.


1. Make Orange Vinegar for the Freshest House In Town


Orange-scented cleaning products seem to have replaced lemon. The smell is great, but the chemicals in commercial products aren't always something you really should be spreading all over the house.


There's a natural alternative that does the trick just as well. It's so cheap it's almost free, too. Make an orange-scented vinegar solution for cleaning. Save those orange peels until you can fill a glass container with a lid. Stuff them in, and cover with white vinegar. Now seal the lid and send the bottle to storage for two weeks to a month. A dark corner of the cupboard is fine. To use the solution, strain out all the orange peels.


You can put ¼ cup to ½ cup of your new vinegar essence in water for a great all-purpose cleaner. And once you've strained out the orange peels, they make great garbage disposal deodorizer-cleaners, too.


By the way, if you like something a little more complex, add some sprigs of rosemary, cedar, or pine to spike your orange scent. You'll love how the house smells. But warning, it could make you hungry!


2. Work Out Your Arthritis Kinks


There are drugs and natural remedies to treat the pain of arthritis. But even with those in your medicine cabinet for pain or swelling, a little self-management can go a long way to keeping your fingers and hands functioning smoothly.


These routines will leave you feeling more like you had a massage than a workout. You can do them with a tennis ball, but an orange is even friendlier to hurting hands.


The easiest one is the big squeeze. Palm the orange and wrap your fingers around it evenly. Now squeeze gently if you are really sore. Hold each squeeze to the count of 5 then release. Repeat 10 times. On your good days, you can squeeze with all your might to build hand strength.


Now try the claw pinch. Put all your fingers together and place your clustered fingertips down on the top of the orange. Put the tip of your thumb below. Pinch the orange as if trying to dent it. Gently if needed. Hard if you can.  Hold each pinch 5 seconds and do 10 of them altogether.


Next come the solo finger presses... Put your thumb under the orange and place just your index fingertip on top, opposite your thumb. Keep the other fingers relaxed, they'll have to wait for their turn Now squeeze your thumb and index finger together for 5 seconds. When your index finger is done, move on to your middle finger and thumb. When that's done, do a press with your thumb and ring finger. Finish up with a thumb and pinky face off, and you've completed the first series. Try to reach 10 series of finger presses, 15 if you're feeling spunky.


Finish your routine with the unbender, because all you need after this squeezing is a good stretch.  Put the orange in the palm of one hand. Place the index finger of your other hand on top of the orange. Keep your finger straight, and use the orange to push your finger back as far as you can comfortably move it.


People usually do this last exercise by pushing on the fingers of one hand with the other, but it's easier to overdo it that way. The orange keeps it gentle.


3. Eat Them


Not exactly a new use, you say. Maybe so, but we're going to add an orange twist. Eat the peel.


Orange peels are rich in nutrients. Gram for gram, the peel of an orange contains about twice as much vitamin C as the fruit. Orange peels also include the B-complex vitamins riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, and folate along with Vitamin A.


Needless to say, but we'll say it anyway—only eat the peels of organic oranges. And wash them first.


Oranges are powerful. In addition to all those vitamins, they are a natural source for diosmin, a flavone with a strong pharmaceutical demand, especially for achy legs.

Food choices today could affect your great-grandchildren

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When Joe Coleman pitched for the Philly Athletics, Baltimore Oriels and Detroit Tigers from 1942 to 1955, he could only hope his baseball talent would be passed on to the next generations of his family. Well, it was! Son Joe Coleman pitched for 15 seasons from 1965 to 1979 -- a two-time 20-game winner -- and today his grandson Casey Coleman is with the Cubs Triple A team in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sometimes it's talent that's passed down, and sometimes, unfortunately, it's health challenges such as obesity and addiction. A new study published in Translational Psychiatry explains how choices made during pregnancy and breastfeeding affect the health of future generations.

Swiss researchers fed healthy female mice a high-fat diet during pregnancy and while nursing. The repercussions showed up in three generations of their offspring (those generations didn't eat excess fat, and neither did their mates). They had changes in their brain's dopamine-powered reward system that predisposed them to "develop obesity and addictive-like behaviors ..."

Seems your choices today may force your next three generations to battle obesity, addictions and the health problems associated with those conditions.

So how much and what kind of fats should you eat everyday to protect your health and the health of future generations? Stick with fats in nuts, oils like extra virgin olive oil and animal proteins like salmon. Then, on a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, aim for 20 to 35 percent of calories (400 to 700 calories or 33 to 78 grams) from those good-for-you fats. That's good pitching and good hitting!

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Safe sex for folks over 65

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In 1970, when Stephen Stills recorded "Love the One You're With," it became a rallying cry for the hippy "free love" movement (more myth than fact, but the lyric helped sell a lot of records).

Well, if that's your era, and today you're still sexually active, you're still part of a very, should we say, robust movement, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging. More than 1,000 people ages 65 to 80 were polled: Nearly three-quarters said they had a romantic partner, and 54 percent of them were sexually active.

They claim that they're not shy about it, either: 62 percent said if they were having problems with their sexual health, they would talk to their primary care provider. Unfortunately, only 17 percent had. That's a gap that's putting many older folks at risk.

Sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high among the elderly. From 2007 to 2012, the incidence of syphilis among seniors increased by 52 percent; chlamydia increased by 32 percent. And, according to AARP, every year since then has seen about a 20 percent jump in the incidence of STDs.

The reason? Divorce rates are up, while erectile dysfunction medications are easily available, and docs don't spend enough time talking with seniors about safe sex.

Well, it's time to get proactive. Ask your partner(s) about their sexual health, and get tested yourself. Medicare now offers free STD screenings for seniors. And use condoms -- many seniors don't. Keep it safe to love the one you're with.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Is your antiperspirant putting you at risk for dementia?

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"Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things," comedian George Carlin once said. But staying cool, calm and collected isn't always easy. That may be why as many as 90 percent of Americans use deodorants and antiperspirants regularly, spending $18 billion a year in pursuit of pristine pits.

Ironically, though many of you worry about schvitzing (only 2 percent of you don't get smelly from sweat in your pits, groin, hands or feet), you also may sweat over the safety of the stuff you're applying under your arms. One ingredient in antiperspirants (not deodorants), aluminum chlorohydrate, is often targeted as dangerous. It stops you from perspiring by reacting with your sweat and creating gel plugs in your sweat glands' ducts, shutting them off.

Since the 1960s, when some poorly designed studies made people scared of aluminum (even in frying pans), it's been rumored that it could contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. But a 2001 study examined aluminum levels in urine of people who used antiperspirant daily and found that only 0.012 percent of aluminum from these products was absorbed through the skin. That's just about 2.5 percent of the aluminum you'll absorb over the same time period from food. And a larger review of research, published last year, concluded that there's not enough evidence to show that regular use of deodorants and antiperspirants increases your risk for dementia.

So that's one less thing to sweat over. Now where's that sweaty dog?

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Eating to tamp down inflammation

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When you have a kitchen fire, you might grab a fire extinguisher, but you wouldn't crank up Spotify. Well, maybe the day's coming when you would. Students from George Mason University have invented a deep bass sonic blaster that uses sound waves to put out fires. The technology knocks out flames in small, confined spaces.

It would be great if that kind of gizmo could sing away chronic inflammation in your cells!

Inflammation is a result of your body's immune response when it's called on to heal a wound or defeat a virus. It's why your sprained ankle swells or you form a scab. And after your immune warrior cells win their war, inflammation fades away.

But what if the immune system can't win the war, because your body is under attack from chronically elevated blood sugar, a constant flow of stress hormones or going-nowhere belly fat? Then inflammation persists and becomes as damaging to your organs, cells and sex life as California's 300,000-acre Mendocino Complex fire and as hard to put out.

In Dr. Mike's upcoming book, "What to Eat When," you can discover effective ways to tame the flame. Here are a few:

1. Don't eat flame-throwing, sugar-added or processed foods, especially at night. Inflammation increases while you're at rest.

2. Eat a plant-centered diet with lean animal proteins (no red meat). Get prebiotic fiber from 100 percent whole grains and produce.

3. Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Walking counts, but getting hot and sweaty cools off inflammation more quickly.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Eating whole grains can prevent Type 2 diabetes

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In the NFL and college football, a "prevent defense" often is used late in the game to prevent a long pass completion from an offensive squad that needs to score a touchdown with time running out on the clock. But if it's not carried out correctly (as many pundits have said), the only thing it prevents is your team from winning.

The same is true with your own "prevent defense" against Type 2 diabetes. Execute it correctly, and you'll defeat that disease. Mess it up, and you'll have to contend with the complications that come from chronic elevation of blood glucose levels.

Now, you know 10,000 steps a day, ditching added sugars and syrups, highly processed foods and red meats (especially processed red meats) are essential parts of your defense. But did you know that eating whole grains puts extra muscle in your lineup?

Researchers recently reported in The Journal of Nutrition that 100 percent whole grains, such as wheat, rye and oats, help block diabetes. Each half-ounce serving a day can lower your risk by 11 percent (for men) and 7 percent (for women). And folks who ate a bit less than 2 ounces of these whole grains daily had the lowest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Want an even stronger defense? Add fiber- and nutrient-rich broccoli, nuts (walnuts and pecans) and legumes in your fight against Type 2 diabetes. You'll also get fatty acids that protect your brain health! Now there's a prevent defense that really works!

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Are your medications triggering depression?

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When Richard Farina wrote "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me" in 1966, he knew the Beat and Hippie subcultures from the inside out -- and felt the world was so topsy-turvy that feeling down was a kind of new normal, fueled in part by drugs.

Finding that depression is a new normal because of common drugs they take is something an astounding 37 percent of American adults can relate to, according to a study published in JAMA.

Researchers looked at the medication use of more than 26,000 adults from 2005 to 2014. Turns out, 203 often-used prescription drugs, some of which are also available over-the-counter, have depression and/or suicide listed as side effects. The meds included proton pump inhibitors and antacids, as well as sedatives, anti-seizure meds, hormonal contraception, blood pressure and heart medications, and painkillers.

The research also showed that if you're taking more than one of these, your risk of depression increases. Around 15 percent of adults who use three or more, which is not uncommon, experience depression, compared with 5 percent of folks taking none, and 7 percent of those taking just one. Drugs listing suicide as a potential side effect showed similar results.

So if you're feeling fatigued, sleeping too much or not enough, are sad or disengaged, or think about suicide, talk to your doctor about the prescription and over-the-counter meds you're taking. You may want to explore alternatives, including lifestyle changes that could ease pain and digestive woes and lower blood pressure, or opt for nonhormonal contraception.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Are you thumbing your nose at thumb arthritis?

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Thumbs are an essential part of your hands and our language. On the positive side, a "green thumb" is a good thing. And "opposable thumbs" -- well, they're what differentiates you from other animals that cannot grasp or manipulate objects well. Just try writing your name, tying your shoelaces or hitching a ride without using your very agile thumb! But "sticking out like a sore thumb"? You don't want that.

Unfortunately, for many women (10 to 20 times as many as men) age 40 and older, thumb arthritis makes the basal joint at the bottom of the thumb swell and hurt, sometime severely. This form of osteoarthritis can happen because of overuse and stress from hobbies or a job; diseases that affect cartilage, such as rheumatoid arthritis; and obesity, which triggers inflammatory reactions that can damage tissue and bone.

If you've got sore thumbs (they usually come in pairs), you don't want to twiddle them!

-- You can opt for wearing a brace, using heat and ice packs, oral medications or corticosteroid injections, or get off-label hyaluronic acid injections. (Although approved for arthritic knees, the Food and Drug Administration hasn't given the thumbs-up for thumbs.)

-- ASU (avocado/soybean unsaponifiable) supplements sometimes work.

-- There are two surgeries: One fuses the joint, easing pain but limiting mobility. Another removes a bone from the base of the joint and reroutes a tendon to provide a cushion and stability.

Nothing guarantees you'll regain full mobility, and physical/occupational therapy is essential, but all three approaches ease constant pain and may make you able to hitchhike again!

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Not enough sleep may be because of stress

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The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk looks just like an ordinary Jeep Grand Cherokee, but it has a 707-horsepower supercharged V8 that can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It's in a class of car Road and Track Magazine calls "sleeper cars." Well, if you want to be high performance, you should aim to be a super sleeper.

But is this you? You head for bed at a good hour, so you should be able to get seven to eight hours of sleep. But can't doze off. Well, there's a good chance you're bringing daytime stresses into bed: You worry about that task at work you didn't finish; you panic over an unpaid bill.

You're in luck. There are proven ways to deal with your disruptive stress response and cruise off into dreamland.

-- Eat a light, healthy dinner, three to four hours before turning in. Stay clear of fatty animal proteins and inflammatory processed foods that amp up your stress response.

-- Get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise daily (but not right before bedtime). Combine aerobics and strength training to dispel stress and ease depression.

-- Skip that nightcap. Your body needs a few hours to process alcohol before you snooze, otherwise, it may wake you later when it clears your system.

You exercised, ate healthfully, skipped that drink. Now slide between the sheets. It's time to try five minutes of mindful meditation (instructions at You'll learn to be in the moment, and in the next moment, you'll be asleep.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

CBT benefits moms with kids who have special needs

To paraphrase something the actress Allison Janney once said: If June Cleaver [Barbara Billingsley] made women in the 1950s and '60s feel bad because they didn't measure up to her all-too-perfect mom character in "Leave it to Beaver," Janney's character on the TV sitcom "Mom" should make moms everywhere feel great!

Well, laughter is great medicine. But there's something else that can make moms, especially those caring for children with special needs, feel better about themselves: cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.

Researchers at the University of Louisville have found that brief CBT sessions -- just five 45-to-60-minute meetings -- significantly improved the mental state of women who take care of children with chronic health conditions, such as cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis. The therapists also believe that CBT works in any situation where mothers are emotionally stretched because of a child's complex health condition.

One therapist describes the women as feeling isolated and blue because they couldn't hire a babysitter who knew how to deal with their child's special needs, and consequently couldn't find a way to spend time with friends. But even if such situations didn't change, after therapy, the moms reported decreased depressive symptoms, such as negative thinking, and their sleep quality greatly improved.

So if you (or someone you know), find yourself in a similar situation, locate a CBT program near you. Contact the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies at to find a CBT therapist in your area.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

The generic EpiPen is on its way

So what do the names Mark Sinclair, Caryn Johnson and Eric Bishop have in common? They sounded too generic -- even though they were the originals -- for their brands, which are better known as Vin Diesel, Whoopi Goldberg and Jamie Foxx.

But sometimes the generic version is a better choice. Take the original EpiPen from Mylan, which delivers lifesaving epinephrine to people suffering severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to thing like bee stings, peanuts and shellfish. The brand raised its price by 400 percent between 2010 and 2016. That led to a $465 million federal overcharge settlement against Mylan, and encouraged it to market an authorized generic version, which still costs a lot -- between $300 and $500 for a two-pack. Even with that, there's been a shortage of EpiPens lately, and the Food and Drug Administration has had to extend the expiration date on specific lots of 0.3 milligram versions of the EpiPen and their authorized generic by four months.

The FDA hopes the expiration-date extension will be timed to coincide with the release of a newly approved, truly generic version of both the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. It took a while for this generic to be developed because the delivery system was very difficult to duplicate. Once the device was proven to work (it took two years), the FDA gave Teva Pharmaceuticals permission to market its version. We hope everyone will breathe easier once the generic is available -- and (hopefully) affordable -- to all who desperately need it to protect themselves from anaphylaxis.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Strength training? What to eat when, to lose weight

[Image 1] Last May, 27-year-old Icelander Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, renowned for his role as "The Mountain" Gregor Clegane, in "Game of Thrones," won the World's Strongest Man competition. At 6 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing over 390 pounds, Bjornsson eats eight meals a day, while lifting tons of weights.

His meals consist of lean meats, grains, vegetables and healthy fats found in avocados and peanut butter. He's said: "I eat quite healthy for a big guy ... but you get sick of eating all the time. Today, I was supposed to have chicken with sweet potatoes and greens. Because I didn't want that, I had salmon. We have very good fish in Iceland."

It's true that high-protein foods are good to eat after resistance exercising to encourage muscle building. But did you know that eating protein after working out --if you eat the right amounts -- also can help you lose weight? That is effective because refueling with protein after your muscle-strengthening activities increases the amount of energy-burning muscle mass you build, and that uses up extra calories. Just make sure you don't eat ever-more total calories as you exercise more!

To take advantage of the muscle building and weight loss:
-- Eat protein up to two hours after working out to take advantage of the protein synthesis it fuels.
-- Enjoy protein from salmon, trout and skinless chicken.
-- Eat 20-30 grams of protein (it's the equivalent of 4 ounces cooked salmon or 3.5 ounces grilled chicken breast).

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

To fight an aging brain, cool it!

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In mid-September, the National Interagency Fire Center reported that firefighters continued to battle 89 large blazes across the Western states and Alaska; in Canada last August, British Columbia alone had more than 500 separate wildfires. You could say that both the U.S. and our northern neighbor were an in-FLAME-nation!

But you don't need timber and lightning to witness the ravages of inflammation firsthand. Your own brain is a potential target, according to researchers from Germany's University of Bonn. They've done a study, published in the journal Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, that pinpoints how poorly regulated inflammatory responses affect certain neurons and can lead to loss of brain cells -- especially as you get older.

Major triggers are inflammatory foods like added sugars and saturated fats, hormone-disrupting phthalates and BPA/BPS, and fiery habits like smoking, excess drinking and lack of sleep. If you have Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or chronic stress, your body's battling excess inflammation. So call out the fire brigade.

Quick Coolers: To put out your fires NOW try these three steps:

-- Take 900 milligrams daily of DHA omega-3 from algae.

-- Take a probiotic.

-- Floss your teeth daily.

Long-Term Fixes: To banish destructive inflammation adopt these habits:

-- Exercise for at least 30 minutes five days a week (walking 10,000 steps or equivalent and strength building).

-- Sleep seven to eight hours nightly.

-- Eat inflammation-fighting foods, like salmon, olive oil, 100 percent whole grains and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli and cauliflower).

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Spot the clot

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Twenty-four-year-old Spanish skateboarding star Danny Leon got made up to look like a not-so-steady-on-his-feet 80-year-old man. His goal: To see if teens at a local skate park would teach him the sport. They obliged, but when Danny started speeding down the half pipe and doing aerial spins, well, the kids were blown away.

Being a force of nature disguised as a harmless old guy -- that's a pretty good metaphor for the way a blood clot can disguise itself as a simple bruise. Don't you fall for it.

Bruises can be painful and turn shades of black and blue, but generally they're not harmful. One caveat: Easy or spontaneous bruising can indicate underlying disease and a need to see your doc.

A blood clot, on the other hand, is a concentrated aggregation of blood. It forms from an external injury to blood vessels or internal injury to the lining of a blood vessel from plaque, or because of dysfunction in your blood's flow-and-clot chemistry. Clots can obstruct blood flow or dislodge and travel through your bloodstream, triggering heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE). So if you spot a clot, see your doc.

Some tips:

Near your skin's surface, clots can appear bruise-like, but are generally redder and the underlying vein may be hard to the touch.

A clot that's moved and is causing trouble may trigger swelling and pain in an extremity (DVT); slurred speech and vision problems (stroke); chest pain or upper body discomfort, shortness of breath and a rapid heart rate (PE or heart attack).

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

How to Prevent the Widowmaker – the Worst Cardiac Attack

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The Widowmaker is a heart attack that is frequently fatal since it affects the left anterior descending artery (LAD). The LAD provides blood and oxygen to the entire frontal region of the heart, irrigating a more extensive area than other coronary arteries. The obstruction of the left anterior descending artery interrupts 40 percent of the blood that nourishes the heart, which leads to an increased risk of complications. The most common complications are irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and less frequently, sudden death.

A feature that makes the Widowmaker more fearsome is that it attacks silently. Most men who suffered sudden death due to coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Men 30 to 50 years old have a greater risk of death from coronary heart disease than women; this is because estrogen exerts protection against cardiovascular diseases.

Thanks to advances in medicine, an obstructed artery can be rapidly permeabilized with timely treatment. These procedures take place in a catheterization laboratory where the interventional cardiologist performs an angioplasty by threading a thin tube (catheter) in the blocked coronary artery expanding the diameter of the vessel and restoring blood flow.

How to prevent a heart attack from a widowmaker

Understand what happens in your body

A heart attack is caused by a blockage in an artery due to atherosclerosis (a process in which the fat called plaque adheres to the inside of blood vessels). However, to be at imminent risk of a sudden heart attack, there must be a blockage greater than 60% of the blood flow. A 90% blockage can cause a life-threatening heart attack. Plaque is often formed as a soft, unstable reservoir instead of a hard, stable reservoir. As it is soft, a fragment of the plaque often breaks off, and the fatty material flows into the bloodstream until it clogs a smaller artery.

Risk factors such as smoking, eating fatty foods, obesity, and having high cholesterol make the rupture of the atheromatous plaque more likely.

Calculate your risk of heart attack

Through the ASCVD Risk Estimator Plus of the American College of Cardiology, you can obtain an approximate risk of developing atherosclerosis in the next ten years. You simply need to enter your age, your cholesterol values (HDL and LDL), blood pressure, and answer questions regarding your lifestyle. If you get a score higher than 7.5 percent, you should consult your doctor for a full evaluation and establish therapeutic behavior.

Adopt a healthy diet

Various studies in different populations have linked the consumption of high-quality, healthy foods with a lower risk of heart disease compared to the consumption of unhealthy foods of low quality, independent of other risks such as sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and smoking. To maintain a healthy diet, you must prioritize the consumption of vegetable proteins and reduce the consumption of red and processed meats. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fish, and yogurt also have a beneficial effect on your health.


The adult population should avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Performing any type of physical activity will provide great health benefits. To obtain recognizable benefits, you should get at least 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity a week or 75 minutes of intense physical activity. To obtain an additional benefit, physical activity should include 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 2.5 hours of high-intensity aerobic exercise. Exercising has very positive effects on emotional health. When exercising, the body releases endorphins; metabolites that make the person feel more calm and happy. Also, physical exercise helps some people sleep better. It can also be of great help in some psychological problems such as mild depression.

Take the medications recommended by your cardiologist

One of the most commonly prescribed drugs is the statin. This drug is to reduce cholesterol levels even if you have not been diagnosed with heart disease. Statins have been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack by 25 to 33 percent by limiting unstable plaque deposits and reducing inflammation.

Vitamin D, an Ally in the Treatment of Asthma

Vitamin D exerts various functions throughout the body including the immune system. This vitamin is synthesized in the skin when exposed to sunlight. The wide use of sunscreen, a characteristic of modern life, would partly explain the increase in the prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency.

Multiple epidemiological studies have shown strong associations between asthma and reduced serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25 [OH] D), the main precursor in the circulation of vitamin D.

More severe asthma has been observed in patients with low vitamin D levels, but it is unknown at this time whether the linkages express causality or inverse causality. It is possible that the association between asthma and vitamin D is complex. The information as a whole supports the therapeutic role of vitamin D in reducing the risk of asthma exacerbations.

In the Childhood Asthma Management Program, an association was observed between baseline vitamin D insufficiency (<30 ng / ml) and the risk of severe exacerbations over four years.

Asthma triggered by allergens

The asthmatic inflammation was essentially due to immunological reactions in response to aeroallergens. In this situation, T-helper lymphocytes phenotype 2 (Th2), B lymphocytes (producers of antibodies) and mast cells have a fundamental role.

Th2 lymphocytes synthesize various interleukins (IL), such as IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13, involved in the etiopathogenesis of asthma. IL-4, in particular, induces the synthesis of immunoglobulin (Ig) E by B lymphocytes.

IgE binds to mast cells, and cross-linking induces rapid release of proinflammatory mediators such as leukotrienes and histamine, which cause bronchial obstruction and mucus production.

Adaptive immune responses are regulated by various classes of regulatory T lymphocytes (Treg), for example, Foxp3 positive Treg lymphocytes and Treg lymphocytes that synthesize IL-10. In healthy subjects, both lymphocyte subpopulations participate in the emergence of tolerance towards non-harmful antigens.

Vitamin D plays a decisive role in the function of responses mediated by Treg lymphocytes. In several studies, it has been observed that vitamin D is favorably associated with the frequency of Foxp3 positive Treg lymphocytes and with the levels of IL-10 in the airways of patients with asthma.

Likewise, the stimulation and the signals derived from dendritic cells (DC) determine the induction of tolerance or the appearance of inflammatory responses; Vitamin D regulates multiple functions of DC.

In vitro, vitamin D suppresses the synthesis of IgE by B lymphocytes and increases the synthesis of IL-10 with induction of a regulatory B phenotype. In children, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased levels of specific IgE against aeroallergens.

Vitamin D inhibits the activation of mast cells so that it reduces the synthesis of histamine and tumor necrosis factor alpha; it can also increase the production of IL-10 with anti-inflammatory properties.

Epithelial damage and asthmatic inflammation mediated by cytokines

The epithelial damage is accompanied by the release of IL-25, IL-33, and thymic stromal lymphopoietin, which directly stimulate various cell subtypes, including innate lymphoid cells type 2 (ILC2) and mast cells. ILC2 synthesize Th2-type cytokines, for example, IL-5, which induce eosinophilic inflammation.

Vitamin D modulates the epithelial response, especially by inducing synthesis in bronchial epithelial cells of soluble ST2, a suppressor of IL-33, associated with proinflammatory effects on effector cells, such as mast cells.

Viral infections induce the epithelial release of IL-33; in asthma, the mechanisms dependent on the Th2 phenotype alter the antiviral responses. Vitamin D is associated with increased immunological antimicrobial responses, through various mechanisms, including the increased production of antimicrobial peptides, such as cathelicidin, and autophagy, an important mechanism in viral and bacterial infections.

In a meta-analysis, the intake of vitamin D reduced the incidence of acute respiratory tract infections in selected patients with asthma.

Asthma resistant to steroids and IL-17

The physiopathological mechanisms involved in corticosteroid-resistant asthma would be somewhat different. The colonization of the airways with proinflammatory bacteria such as Haemophilusinfluenzae, oxidative stress (associated with air pollution) and vitamin D deficiency would play an important role in this type of asthma. Vitamin D increases the antimicrobial pathways and induces antioxidant responses.

Patients with asthma resistant to corticosteroids synthesize less IL-10. In these patients, the contribution of calcitriol is associated with the recovery of the clinical and immunological response of IL-10. Likewise, in patients with asthma resistant to corticosteroids, IL-17 would induce pathological neutrophilic inflammation, a phenomenon that reverts after the administration of vitamin D.

Vitamin D and remodeling of the airways

The final result of the abnormal immunological responses in asthma is the remodeling of the airways, associated with smooth muscle contraction and mucus secretion in the short term, and with remodeling and fibrosis in the long term. Vitamin D prevents the proliferation of smooth muscle cells in the airways.

Clinical data on the use of vitamin D for the treatment of asthma

In the study, Vitamin D Add-on Therapy Enhances Corticosteroid Responsiveness in Asthma (VIDA), showed that for every 10 ng / ml increase in serum levels of 25 (OH) D, the rate of therapeutic failures and exacerbations was reduced in a meaningful way.

Although the rate of asthma exacerbations did not decrease significantly in the total group assigned to vitamin D therapy, the exploratory analysis revealed a significant decrease in the frequency of exacerbations in the group of patients who reached levels of 25 (OH ) D3 ≥ 30 ng/ml.

In multiple investigations and Meta-analyses, it was observed that vitamin D supplements substantially decreased the rate of severe asthmatic exacerbations in patients with asthma.

With the exception of asthma resistant to corticosteroids, the different asthma endotypes have not been studied in detail in controlled clinical studies. Although more work will undoubtedly be required to answer these questions, the information as a whole suggests that the optimal state of vitamin D is important regarding the appearance and clinical evolution of asthma.

The Importance of Sleeping Well

Sleep is part of the daily routine, but most people find it difficult to sleep properly at some point in their lives, also known as insomnia. It usually lasts a short period, perhaps when the individual is worried, nervous, or stressed. When these situations disappear, you go back to sleeping normally. However, if the individual cannot return to sleep well, it can be a real problem because sleep keeps our minds and bodies healthy.

What is sleep?

Sleep is the regular period in every 24 hours during which we are unconscious and unaware of our surroundings. There are two main types of sleep:

• REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement): It comes and goes throughout the night, and constitutes a fifth of our sleep. The brain is very active, our eyes move quickly from side to side and we sleep, but our muscles are very relaxed.

• Non-REM sleep: The brain is quiet, but the body can move. Hormones are released into the blood, and the body is repaired after the day's wear and tear.

There are four stages of non-REM sleep:

1. "Pre-sleep": the muscles relax, the heart beats more slowly, and the body temperature drops.

2. "Light sleep": the individual can be easily awakened without feeling confused.

3. "Slow wave sleep": the blood pressure falls, the individual can talk or walk asleep.

4. "Slow and deep wave sleep ": during this time, it is very difficult to wake up, if someone wakes you up, you will feel confused.

Sleep is a biological necessity that allows restoring the physical and psychological functions essential for a full performance. Sleep and wakefulness are brain functions and, therefore, are subject to alterations of the nervous system. Sleep is neither a passive situation nor a lack of vigil, but an active state in which changes occur in bodily functions, in addition to mental activities of great importance for the physical and psychological balance of individuals. During sleep, hormonal, biochemical, metabolic, and temperature changes are necessary for the proper functioning of the human being during the day.

Sleeping adequately allows the release of oxytocin during non-REM sleep. It has been proven that this hormone helps relieve anxiety, increases confidence, and reduces social fear. Along with serotonin (a neurotransmitter released during sleep), oxytocin increases the feelings of love, empathy, and connection with other individuals due to its activity in the 5-HT1A receptors. Furthermore, maintaining adequate sleep hours generates an increase in serotonin concentrations in the brain which has been linked to the treatment of mental disorders such as depression.

Sleep also releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter widely known as being responsible for the sensation of pleasure. However, the latest findings show that its main function could be motivation since it was shown that people more focused on meeting certain demanding goals were those with the highest concentration of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex and the striatum.

How much sleep do we need?

This depends mainly on your age.

• Babies sleep about 17 hours a day.

• Older children only need 9 or 10 hours each night.

• Most adults need about 8 hours of sleep each night.

• Older people need the same amount of sleep, but usually have only one period of deep sleep at night, usually in the first 3 or 4 hours. After that, they wake up more easily. We also tend to dream less as we get older.

There are differences between people of the same age. Most of us need 8 hours per night, but some people (few) manage with only 3 hours per night. However, this can have serious consequences in the future.

Sleep disorders in adult life

You may feel that you do not get enough sleep or that even if you sleep the necessary hours, you do not get a good night's rest. There are many reasons for not sleeping well:

• The bedroom can be too noisy, hot, or cold

• The bed can be uncomfortable or too small

• Not having a regular sleep routine

• Not doing enough exercise

• Eat too late and find it difficult to go to sleep

• Tobacco, alcohol, and drinks that contain caffeine such as tea and coffee

Other more serious reasons include:

• Emotional problems

• Anxiety and worries

• Depression: wakes up very early and cannot go back to sleep

What happens if I do not sleep well?

Scientific studies increasingly give evidence that not sleeping well can affect our daily lives and our health. There are multiple consequences, both physical and psychological when we fail to have a restful sleep.

According to experts, a person must sleep between 8 hours a day to maintain an optimal physical, emotional, and mental state. However, the changes in the lifestyle of today have made the quality of sleep and the ideal time to rest much worse.

Studies have shown the negative health effects of restricting nighttime sleep. The results indicate that short periods of sleep have a negative impact on carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function. Both factors are considered fundamental parts of the normal aging process, so if the habit of shortening sleep periods persisted in the organism, the severity of the chronic disorders associated with aging would increase.

Multiple studies showed a marked increase in glucose concentrations, which predisposes to metabolic diseases and increases the risk of obesity. The sympathetic nervous system also suffered negative alterations, increasing adrenergic activity and consequently, plasma levels of adrenaline and cortisol which is widely related to cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, among others.

In a study published by Harvard Health Publications, it was evidenced that with sleep deprivation, patients presented deterioration of verbal fluency, planning capacity, creativity and originality, slowing of reaction time, signs of deactivation in the EEG, and drowsiness. The performance of long, repetitive and monotonous tasks is affected, especially in the case of newly acquired skills. Short-term memory impairments or reversible neuropsychological disorders may also appear in tasks involving the prefrontal cortex.

According to research conducted by the National Sleep Foundation of the United States, people who cannot sleep at least 6 hours a day, triple the risk of falling asleep at the wheel as a result of deterioration of mental coordination. The mood can also be affected, with a slight increase in anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion, etc.

Also, sleep deprivation has immunosuppressive effects. The ability of lymphocytes to produce cytokines is negatively affected, and there is a decrease in the production of necrosis factor alpha tumors (TNF-alpha) and some interleukins, which predisposes to suffer infectious diseases, mainly those that affect the respiratory system. In fact, it was determined that those who slept less had a greater risk of dying at a young age compared to those who slept properly.

Other studies have indicated that sleep deprivation delays the recovery of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and produces alterations in glucocorticoid feedback. Thus, lack of sleep can decrease resistance to stress and accelerate the effects of glucocorticoid excess on metabolism and cognitive functions.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Linked to High Blood Pressure

Every day, like millions of Americans, Dr. Walter Koroshetz, 65, who directs the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, takes a pill to control his blood pressure. He claims besides the therapeutic benefit of lowering his blood pressure, his medication helps him reduce his risk of dementia and helps keep his brain healthy and sharp.

Koroshetz is responsible for the institute's public health campaign called Mind Your Risks. Its goal is to let people know that there is a link between high blood pressure and stroke and dementia.

Koroshetz, as part of his campaign, also endorses efforts to keep your blood pressure down by exercising and paying attention to weight and diet.

The science underlying his concerns over high blood pressure is solid. Researchers have long understood that when blood pressure rises, it strains the tiny blood vessels that keep brain cells alive.

"With every pulse of your heart, you are pushing blood into these very small blood vessels in the brain… and when the heart pushes too hard, as it does when blood pressure is elevated, it can cause damage that can lead to a stroke.”

Koroshetz points to two recent large studies that have revealed an alarming trend among stroke patients…

"If you had a stroke, even a small stroke, your risk of dementia within the next two years was greatly magnified… So there's something about having a stroke that drives a lot of the processes that give rise to dementia."

The evidence is clearest for a type of dementia called vascular dementia, which occurs when something blocks or reduces the flow of blood to brain cells. Now, as a result of new studies, it seems that high blood pressure also appears to increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, which is associated with the accumulation of plaques and tangles in the brain.

Koroshetz believes, as does many experts these days, if people really knew about the link between dementia and high blood pressure, they might be more inclined to do something about it…

"Only about 50 percent of people who have hypertension are actually treated," he says. "So I think there's a lot to be said for trying to get high blood pressure under control."

The Alzheimer's Association is helping get out the word through Koroshetz's campaign and via a presentation of new research on blood pressure and Alzheimer's at its annual scientific meeting in Chicago. And the group is encouraging people to control high blood pressure.

"The good news is that we can control blood pressure now," says Maria Carrillo, the group's chief science officer. "We can do that with exercise, with lifestyle, with healthy eating, and also with medications."

4 Essential Nutrients You May Not Be Getting Enough Of

The USDA released its Dietary Guidelines, as well as information on the so-called “shortfall nutrients” that Americans are not getting enough of. Here are four important nutrients you may not be getting enough of and how to get them through the foods you eat.

1. Fiber
Why You Need It: Fiber can help prevent type-2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and heart disease. Research also suggests that consuming fiber-rich foods might boost weight loss by helping you to feel fuller after you eat. Fiber is also important to keep the digestive tract moving. But most of us eat only about half as much fiber as we should. Nutrition guidelines recommend that women eat 25 grams daily and men eat 38 grams daily; the average American consumes only about 14 grams.

How to Get It: Load up on plant-based foods—the less processed the better. (Consider this: a medium orange has 3 grams of fiber; a cup of OJ has zero.) Whole grains, such as oatmeal (3 grams per 1/2 cup), and beans (about 6 grams per 1/2 cup) are also great sources.

2. Calcium
Why You Need It: Calcium is important for keeping bones and teeth strong, but it also helps muscles contract, nerves transmit signals, blood clot and blood vessels contract and expand. Adults aged 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg per day; for women 51-plus (and men 70-plus), it’s 1,200 mg daily.

How to Get It: Dairy products are good choices (choose nonfat or low-fat to limit saturated fat), delivering between 300 mg (milk) to 490 mg (nonfat plain yogurt) per 1-cup serving. Some dark leafy greens also offer calcium that’s well absorbed by the body: for instance, kale and collard greens provide 94 mg and 266 mg per cup, respectively.

3. Potassium
Why You Need It: Potassium is critical for helping nerves transmit signals, muscles contract and cells maintain fluid balance inside and out. Newer scientific evidence demonstrates that potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure.

How to Get It: By eating a variety of fruits and vegetables—they’re full of this nutrient. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 32.5% of adults eat 2 or more servings of fruit per day and only 26.3% eat the recommended 3 or more servings of vegetables per day. Here are a few easy ways to increase intake of fruits and vegetables:
• Make fruit filled smoothies with fresh or frozen (not canned) mixed fruit, bananas, orange juice and pomegranate juice for an anti-oxidant boost
• Have a side salad with lunch and dinner.
• Use leftover veggies in a protein packed veggie frittata
• Have mixed fruit with a drizzle of chocolate sauce for an anti-oxidant packed dessert

4. Vitamin D
Why You Need It: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that’s important in bone building and has been linked with lower incidences of cancers and lower rates of immune-related conditions, such as type-1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. The primary way we get vitamin D is by making it ourselves—UV rays from the sun help us to produce it. In the wintertime, in northern latitudes, many people start to run out of their internal vitamin D stores.

How to Get It: Soak up some sun (ultraviolet, or UV, rays cause skin cells to produce vitamin D). Eat vitamin-D-fortified foods, such as milk, soymilk and cereals. Vitamin D is also found naturally in a few foods: fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, and in egg yolks.

If you live in the northern part of the United States, spend lots of time indoors and/or slather on the sunscreen anytime you’re outside, you may not be getting enough. Some studies suggest that as many as 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in vitamin D. To be absolutely sure you’re covering your needs for this nutrient, consider a vitamin D supplement (for folks ages 1 to 70, the recommended amount is 600 IU).

Found: The Link Between Sleep and Heart Health

Forty million Americans suffer from sleep problems, and 29% report averaging less than six hours of sleep a night. 70 million say they suffer from insomnia, while loss of productivity resulting from sleep issues costs U.S. employers $18 million per year.

New research shows that not getting enough sleep may have more serious consequences than missing a day or two of work.

In a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Chicago found that too little sleep can promote calcium and plaque buildup in the heart arteries. This buildup can ultimately cause heart attacks and strokes.

The research team documented for the first time the exact risk of not getting enough sleep, finding that one hour less on average each night can increase coronary calcium by 16%.

The study was comprised of a group of 495 men and women aged 35 to 47. The results of the study showed that 27% of those getting less than five hours of sleep each night showed plaque in their heart vessels. Of those sleeping five to seven hours a night, 11% had plaque while only 6% of subjects sleeping more than seven hours each night had evidence of plaque buildup.

Dr. Tracy Stevens, spokesperson for the American Heart Association and a cardiologist at Saint Luke's Mid-America Heart Institute goes further and states that "We have enough evidence from this study and others to show that it is important to include sleep in any discussion of heart disease."

11 Year Study Finds that Insomniacs Are at Higher Risk for Heart Attacks

Insomnia can wreak havoc on your life. Chronic insomnia can last for months or years. Most people with chronic insomnia spend several nights a week struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep.

The results of a large-scale study investigating the connection between heart health and insomnia reinforce the findings of the University of Chicago team. Scientists at the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology surveyed 52,610 men and women and follow up with the participants over a period of 11 years.

The results of the study were adjusted for several health and lifestyle factors, including age, sex, education, physical fitness, smoking, alcohol consumption and high blood pressure. What the researchers found was revealing:

• Study participants who had difficulty falling asleep had a 45% greater risk of heart attack compared to those who didn't have problems falling asleep.

• Participants having trouble staying asleep throughout the night had a 30% greater risk of heart attack than those participants able to sleep through the night.

• Those who woke feeling tired had a 27% higher risk of heart attack than people who woke feeling refreshed.

If you're having sleep problems, consider keeping a journal. By keeping regular track of bedtimes and wake times, as well as how you feel in the morning when you wake up, can give you a clear picture of how you're really sleeping. Check with your doctor if problems persist.

These and other studies are making it clear getting enough sleep could save your heart. Taking a supplement like Oraescin is another preventative step you can take to promote the overall health of your circulatory system.

Low-T and the Grim Reaper

Symptoms of low-testosterone such as a decreased sex drive, more belly fat and reduced vitality are alarming on their own... but several research studies are linking low testosterone levels with a higher risk of mortality as well.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that older men with low testosterone may die sooner than other men their age who have normal testosterone levels.

Researchers evaluated 794 men between 50 and 91 years old who were followed for an average of 11.6 years. Those with the lowest testosterone levels at the beginning of the study were 40% more likely to die over the course of the study than the men with higher T-levels.

Another study was carried out by researchers at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington at Seattle. This study evaluated 858 males over the age of 40 who were grouped according to their testosterone levels and followed for an average period of 4.3 years.

Men in the low testosterone group had an 88% increased risk of death compared to the group who had normal testosterone levels... even after variables such as age and other illnesses were factored in.

Another study worth mentioning was published in the online journal, Heart. Researchers in this study evaluated 930 men, each diagnosed with coronary artery heart disease.

They were followed for 7 years, during which time the research team took tissue samples from the participants to evaluate both bioavailable testosterone as well as total testosterone.

A total of one in four of the men was found to have low testosterone levels... and 42 % of these men died, or one out of every 5 participants.

Conversely, among those with normal hormone levels, approximately 12% died, which was equivalent to one out of every eight men who participated in the study.

A similar study was led by Dr. Giovanni Corona of the University of Florence in Italy. In this study, researchers evaluated the testosterone levels of 1,687 men who were seeking treatment of erectile dysfunction. There was an average follow up period of 4.3 years.

During that time, 137 of the men had had a heart attack or other major heart problem. 15 of the men died. Dr. Giovanni’s team found that those who had lower levels of testosterone were the most likely to die of heart problems.

The research is a wake-up call for men over the age of 50. Other studies are confirming these findings that having low testosterone not only impacts your every day health, including your heart health, it may shorten your life as well.

On the other hand, having higher levels of testosterone can be protective to the heart, and can lower your risk of other health problems like obesity and blood sugar issues.

Make a point of taking T-Boost, an-all natural supplement that promotes healthy testosterone levels.

Designed to turn on your body’s natural hormone production, T-Boost helps keep your heart healthy and the grim reaper at bay. As it’s been said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

How to Reduce Cholesterol Naturally

Strong circulation depends on a number of factors including a healthy heart, strong vein walls, and ideal levels of both good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol.

When cholesterol levels are at their ideal balance, blood flows freely throughout veins and arteries carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain and other vital organs. If your cholesterol is high, lowering those levels is a critical part of improving your circulation as well as your overall health. Taking a more natural approach to lowering your cholesterol levels has a number of advantages. These include lowering the cost of medication, a decrease in unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office, and an increase in your overall health and well-being.

One of the best and easiest ways to start the process of reducing dangerously high levels of cholesterol is to get plenty of exercise.

Not surprisingly, regular physical activity has been shown to have an effect on the cholesterol levels in the body. Exercise, especially regular aerobic exercise can also be a great way to help burn calories, and maintain the body and weight that is right for you.

While researchers aren't exactly sure how exercise lowers cholesterol, they are beginning to have a clearer idea. What is known is that a healthy body weight and a healthy fat to muscle ratio for the body help to keep one’s cholesterol levels in a safe range.

What's more, when you're overweight, you tend to have a higher amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in your blood. This type of lipoprotein has been linked to heart disease.

If you are just starting a regular exercise regimen, it's important to start slowly. Be sure to check in with your doctor to evaluate your current cardiovascular health. You might require blood tests or a treadmill test to see how your heart reacts when you exercise.

Beyond the benefits of lowering your cholesterol, there are other positives that come with exercising regularly. These include keeping your bones strong, improving your mood and circulation, and reducing your risk of cancer, diabetes, stroke, and obesity.

Eat More Heart-Healthy Foods

A heart-healthy diet is another great way to help reduce cholesterol naturally. While it can be challenging to change years of accumulated eating habits, the effort is worth it.

To begin, choose healthier fats. Saturated fats, the kind found in red meat and dairy products, raise your total cholesterol and the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as the "bad" cholesterol. As an alternative, choose leaner cuts of meat, low-fat dairy products and monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive, peanut and canola oils.

The next thing is to eliminate trans fats, which are found in fried foods and commercial baked products like cookies, crackers and cakes. One way to tell if a food contains trans fat is if it contains partially hydrogenated oil. Even though these foods may taste good, they're not good for your heart.

In addition, put away refined flour products as well and choose whole grain foods. Various nutrients found in whole grains promote heart health. Look for whole-grain breads and whole-wheat pasta. Choose brown rice instead of white rice or try quinoa, a high fiber, protein rich whole grain.

Don't forget to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in dietary fiber and help lower cholesterol. Include a mixture of colors and consider including things like vegetable casseroles, soups and stir-fried dishes on the menu.

Other foods to include are those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, walnuts and almonds. Omega 3s have been shown to reduce the "bad" cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body.

Lastly, take a supplement high in bioflavonoids like Oraescin for optimal heart health. Taking Oraescin gives your arteries, capillaries, veins and heart great circulatory support.

Are You At Risk for Shingles?

If you had chickenpox as a child or a young teen, you may think you're done with it. But without realizing it, you could be at risk for getting the disease known as "shingles".

In simple terms, the virus that caused your chickenpox can remain dormant in your nervous system. When your immune system is healthy and strong, it usually keeps the virus at bay. Aging and stress factors, however, can weaken your immune defenses and reactivate the virus, resulting in shingles.

Unfortunately, many people are either completely unaware of the disease, know very little about it and/or aren't aware of the risk factors.

A recent national survey by the American Pain Foundation found that over half of the respondents were not sure of the risk factors for shingles. Many of the respondents did not know about the relationship between chickenpox and shingles either.

While anyone who has had chickenpox can potentially develop shingles, 50% of the cases are among people over the age of 60. Stephen Tyring M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, noted that the risk of shingles increases with age.

"With each decade, a person's immunity weakens, so that by 60 years of age, the likelihood of shingles significantly increases," says Tyring. "In fact, one out of two people who live to the age of 85 will have had shingles." (1)

In addition, if you have a family history of shingles, you may be more susceptible to developing the disease. In a report published in the journal Archives of Dermatology, Tyring and his research team identified family history as one reason why some people might be more susceptible to shingles. (2)

According to Tyring, "Your risk is double that of someone who has had no relatives with the virus. The estimate, however, is most valid for first degree relatives such as a mother, father or sibling."

How to Minimize Shingles Pain

The onset of shingles isn't always noticeable. You may experience a tingling sensation, itchiness or varying degrees of burning and pain. During the initial days of symptoms, blisters will burst and a rash will form, usually on one side of the body or face. The rash will typically heal in two to four weeks. In some cases, there might be longer-term nerve pain which can persist for months or even years after the initial rash has healed. The older you get, the more at risk you are for long-term nerve pain, which can be quite severe.

Although there is no known cure for shingles, there are ways you can relieve the symptoms.

For the rash, keep your skin as dry and clean as possible, which helps reduce the risk of bacterial infection. You may want to wear loose-fitting clothes to minimize any rubbing against the skin from clothes that are too tight.

To help boost your immunity to the virus that causes shingles, consider taking up Tai Chi, which is a traditional Chinese form of exercise. A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that Tai Chi may help older adults avoid getting shingles.(3)

Depending on the severity of the pain, an all-natural solution like Isoprex may provide relief. Isoprex not only helps relieve pain, it works safely and gently to stop dangerous inflammation in its tracks as well... without the side-effects or worries of over-the-counter and prescription pain medications.


New Hope for Osteoarthritis Sufferers

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a painful and debilitating joint disease that affects 27 million Americans.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in two Americans will get some form of OA in their lifetime. In addition, it’s estimated that 1 out of every 2 will get symptomatic knee OA in their lifetime as well.

What’s more, it’s estimated that your risk of getting knee OA increases to 57% if you have had a past knee injury. In addition, your risk goes up to 66% if you suffer from obesity.

Medically speaking, OA is a joint disease that mostly affects the cartilage, which is the soft tissue that surrounds the bones in your joints. When you have OA, the cartilage breaks down and wears away, allowing the bones to rub directly against each other.

It’s this rubbing that causes you pain and causes the joint to swell, resulting in a loss of motion and mobility. Bone spurs may grow on the edges of the bones, and bits of bone or cartilage can break off and float around inside the joint space. As you might imagine, this can be quite painful.

The CDC goes on to report that many people fail to be proactive because they believe arthritis is something that happens as you age... and that you have to learn to live with the aches and pains.

The good news is that unless you have a family history of arthritis, such as one or both of your parents having OA, you don’t have to suffer needlessly. And perhaps most importantly, you can take steps to prevent OA from developing in the first place.

Could a Cure for Osteoarthritis Be On the Way?

A new study, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that researchers may be closing in on a way to eliminate the pain associated with OA.

The study was conducted at Rush University Medical Center in collaboration with researchers at Northwestern University, both in Illinois. What makes this particular study so important is that researchers focused on the “pain pathway” rather than the “cartilage break-down pathway”.

Using a surgical mouse model, the medical researchers were able to track the development of both pain behaviors and the molecular events taking place in the nerves. Then, they correlated the data over an extended period of time.

In the assessment of the data, they looked at changes in the nerve ganglia that carry pain signals toward the brain. They were able to identify the mechanism that is central to the development of OA pain.

To confirm their findings, the researchers blocked the mechanism in the mice at nine weeks after surgery. They found that this reversed the decrease in the movement-provoked pain behavior observed in the mice that didn’t have the mechanism blocked.

The belief is that the research could have major implications for future treatment of OA, especially for those in whom the condition has become extremely debilitating. However, it’s too early to tell if this research will lead to a permanent cure to OA.

With that said, and depending on the severity of your pain, an all-natural solution like Isoprex can provide immediate joint pain relief. It works safely and gently to stop dangerous pain-causing inflammation in its tracks... without any side-effects.

Keep a supply of Isoprex on hand for whenever the need is there.

Sex and Middle Age... Are You Still Having Fun?

If you think turning 45 has to mean the end of having fun in the bedroom, you'll be happy to learn of a new survey conducted by Zogby International on sex after age 45.

Sex can still be fun when you hit your middle age, but it may take a little more work.

Nearly 3,000 people age 45 and older were interviewed nationwide about changes in their sex lives. Perhaps this may come as a surprise -- researchers found that Americans over 45 are often unaware of what happens to their own sexuality as they age.

"In this country with the kind of media saturation we have and where sex is certainly no longer a taboo, it is surprising that people are not more aware of the potential for changes in their sexuality as they age”, says Michelle Van Gilder, director of international marketing for Zogby.

That said, nearly three out of five survey participants consider themselves sexy and desirable, despite a cultural obsession with youth. The survey was conducted with sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, best known as Dr. Ruth.

The numbers are revealing, as 73% of men and women said that after turning 45, they noticed changes in their sexual desire. Over two-thirds say they began experiencing differences in sexual functioning about the same time. About 50% say they were surprised by the changes in their sex lives and over a third were caught off guard by the changes.

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

According to Dr. Ruth, such ignorance is a hindrance to sexual bliss.

She went on to suggest that the need for sexual education is not limited to teens. Older men and women need information about what happens to their libido and bodies as they age.

"Somehow with all the talk, with all the television, the message is not going through as much as we need," Dr. Ruth says. "They believe they are always going to be 25, they believe the change of life doesn’t apply to them."

What's more, when properly educated and prepared for the changes in sexual functioning which occur over time, middle-aged folks "can learn to have sex in the morning, to not drink too much the day before, all kinds of things," she says.

Here are some of the interesting results from the survey...

-- 65% of men experienced noticeable loss of ability to have erections -- 45% of men took a drug for erectile dysfunction -- 34% of women reported that vaginal dryness lessened sexual satisfaction

On the positive side of things...

-- Survey participants said that less bed hopping meant less worrying about STDs -- 75% commented that they've discussed libido changes with their partner -- Over 50% of women say not worrying about birth control has had a positive effect on their sex lives

To help deal with unexpected changes in your libido, take a Resveratrol supplement every day. Resveratrol supports strong blood vessels by strengthening their walls. It also keeps damaged, stretched or stiff blood vessels from leaking. This all helps regulate blood flow and pressure, so that oxygen-carrying blood is delivered to your tissues and organs—including your penis.

That’s where Revatrol with its 100mg of erection-boosting Resveratrol comes in. It works to increase Nitric Oxide (NO) and the enzyme known as cGMP, which causes the tissues in the penis to relax so NO-rich blood can flow in and get you hard. Just one caplet a day gives your body the Resveratrol it needs to keep you ready for sex at a moment’s notice.

It’s the one supplement that won’t let you or your partner down.

Are You At Risk of Getting Migraines?

If you've ever had a migraine headache, then you know how debilitating they can be. Migraine sufferers typically experience a diminished quality of life along with impaired physical, social and occupational functioning. The pain can be severe.

The statistics may startle you. Migraine afflicts an estimated 10% of the world's population. In the United States, The Institute of Medicine recently reported that nearly 40 million Americans suffer from migraines. (1)

At a recent meeting of the American Pain Society (APS), David Dodick, M.D. and professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, noted that migraines have a genetic and biological basis.

"Today we know that migraine is a largely inherited disorder characterized by physiological changes in the brain, and, if attacks occur with high frequency, structural alterations in the brain," Dodick said. (1)

So... are you at risk for getting migraine headaches? It may not be a twist of fate if you are experiencing them right now. There could be something else going on that is a contributing factor.

Some of the triggers can be managed, such as stress, lifestyle choices including smoking and drinking, and high blood pressure. But equally important are the factors you have no control over that can predispose you to the condition.

Having one of more of the predetermined risk factors for migraine headaches doesn't mean you will inevitably develop migraines. However, being aware of the risks will help you arm yourself with the knowledge that you need to prevent and treat migraines should they occur.

Migraine Risk Factors You Need to Know:

The risk factors you have little control over include the following:

Family history — If your parents had migraines, your risk may be increased by up to 75%. If possible, it can be helpful to talk to them about their experience, so you can set into place a plan for prevention. Your family history of migraines will also make the diagnostic process simpler.

Gender — If you are female, you are at greater risk to develop migraines. During childhood, boys and girls have the same chance of developing migraine headaches. However, once hormones take center stage, the risks to a female jump significantly. In fact, adult women are three times more likely than men to get migraines. (2)

Hormonal changes — If you are a woman who gets migraines, hormones may be the culprit. During the menstrual cycle each month, hormone fluctuations can cause migraines. Any stress that causes hormones to spike can cause a migraine to occur if a person is susceptible.

Ethnicity — North American Caucasians appear to have a higher risk of developing migraines than either African Americans or Asian Americans. Migraines are less common in Europe or South America and much less common in Africa or Asia. Studies haven't connected this with any conditions in the environment, food supply, or medical knowledge, only genetics.(3)

If you have one or more of these risk factors, talk to your doctor about possible preventative measures. Discuss all your options to keep migraines from becoming a part of your life. In fact, according to Dr. Dodick, "Some studies have shown that migraine attacks can be cut in half or more with preventive treatments."

In addition, keep a bottle of Isoprex on hand. Isoprex is an all natural pain relief formula that can help minimize headache pains... without the side effects or dangers of NSAIDs.


Five Ways to a Healthy Gut

1. Increase Fiber Intake

Dietary fiber plays an important role in the health of our digestive tract. Besides lowering cholesterol, fiber also feeds the healthy bacteria and helps them to flourish. The best sources of dietary fiber are actually whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and whole oats, along with beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds, then fruits and vegetables. Shockingly, most people get only half of the daily recommended 20 to 35 grams fiber. But be careful to increase your fiber intake gradually, otherwise you’ll most likely experience some unpleasant and painful gas and bloating. Be sure to get plenty of fluids at the same time you eat fiber-rich foods in order to soften the fiber during transit. A hearty bowl of oatmeal and a cup of tea should move things along nicely.

2. Load up on Whole Fruits and Vegetables

Eating a variety of whole fruits and vegetables as opposed to fruit or veggie juice is a great way to get more fiber. Fruits like pears, blueberries, raspberries and apples all contain a minimum of 4 grams of fiber per serving. Vegetables such as red bell peppers, leafy greens, broccoli and sweet potatoes also have a hefty dose of fiber. The pulp of the fruit and veggies are what help scrub your digestive tract and allows better absorption of nutrients and antioxidants.

3. Try Yogurt for Lactose Intolerance

Research suggests that many people who are not able to properly digest lactose, the type of sugar in milk, can tolerate yogurt with live active cultures. Yogurt is relatively high in lactose, but the bacterial cultures used to make it produce some lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the sugar. Great news for those who are lactose-intolerant and looking for good sources of calcium!

4. Read Labels for Hidden (Lactose-Containing) Ingredients

Milk and foods made from milk are the only natural sources of lactose. But many prepared foods, including bread and other baked goods, processed breakfast cereals, instant potatoes and soups, margarine, lunch meats, salad dressing, candy, protein bars and powdered meal-replacement supplements contain milk derivatives. So be sure to read labels carefully if you are lactose intolerant.

5. Good Bacteria for Your Gut?

Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria found in the gut that help us digest foods and fight harmful bacteria. They also include live, active cultures used to ferment foods, such as yogurt. To get the potential benefits offered by probiotics, mix a cut-up banana into a cup of low-fat vanilla yogurt—with a “Live & Active Cultures” seal on it—for a midday snack or turn it into breakfast and add some granola. Try different kinds of yogurt to see which one works best for you. Mix fresh or frozen berries, peaches and banana with yogurt and a couple teaspoons of ground flax seeds for a delicious breakfast on the go or snack. For optimal levels of the good stuff, look for a high quality probiotic supplement that contains several different strains of yeasts and bacteria.

The Link Between High Blood Pressure and a Healthy Sex Life

High blood pressure is dangerous and affects many of your daily activities. One of the problems with high blood pressure is that if you have it, you may not feel it. As a result, the absence of symptoms makes it a silent killer, one that can be easy to ignore.

According to the Harvard Heart Letter, high blood pressure can also affect your sex life. It can alter circulation in your body and damage the inner lining of arteries causing them to lose their elasticity making them less able to handle the blood flow to the penis.

Ironically, if you’re taking blood pressure medicine, you have to be careful about taking drugs for erection problems. The combination of the two can lead to a significant and potentially life-threatening drop in blood pressure.

According to WebMD, some types of blood pressure drugs can actually cause erectile dysfunction. Because of this, some men find it difficult to stay on their medication. In fact, it’s estimated that 70% of men who experience side effects from taking high blood pressure medicine (such as problems with erections) stop taking it.

Getting an erection is a highly orchestrated dance between nerves, hormones, blood vessels and psychological factors. Some blood pressure medicines interfere with the production of testosterone, affecting this dance and reducing your sex drive.

Your ability to ejaculate can also be affected if you are taking high blood pressure drugs. When you have an orgasm, the bladder neck closes which allows the semen to flow out of through the penis. Some of the medicines can interfere with this mechanism and make it difficult to ejaculate.

Resveratrol For Better Sex

The good news is that researchers at the UC Davis Med School found that Resveratrol reduces blood pressure. And the higher study participant’s LDL level, the greater drop they experienced. So what is it about resveratrol that makes it so special?

To begin, the skin and the seeds of red wine grapes are also the richest known source of oligomeric proanthocyanadins, or OPCs for short.

OPCs are powerful compounds that fight free radicals. They are crucial for supporting healthy circulation, and perform a variety of roles throughout the body that are essential to optimal health.

For example, OPCs act as gentle cardiovascular cleansing agents that keep your heart and arteries clean and healthy.They improve blood flow in your brain and body, and promote normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Essentially, resveratrol is a vasodilator—which means it opens up your arteries and capillaries to rush more blood and oxygen to your organs. Taking resveratrol gives your arteries, capillaries, veins and heart great circulatory support—without the headache or dizziness often associated with prescription drugs.

Resveratrol supports strong blood vessels by strengthen-ing their walls. It also keeps damaged, stretched or stiff blood vessels from leaking. This all helps regulate blood flow and pressure, so that oxygen- carrying blood is delivered to your tissues and organs—including your penis.

While you should always consult with your doctor about your high blood pressure concerns, an effective way to get your OPCs is by taking a resveratrol supplement such as Revatrol. Revatrol contains the highest amount of OPCs of any resveratrol supplement on the market – an astonishing 95%.

Important Stroke Information for Women

About 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States, with stroke being the third leading cause of deaths. Remarkably, studies show that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.

What's important is that you learn how to recognize and respond to the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Along with this, it's important that you learn how to manage your risk of getting a stroke as well.

To begin, women should consider drinking something other than soda pop. Researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that women who drink just one soft drink each day dramatically raised their risk of suffering a deadly stroke by 83%. (1)

The Japanese researchers tracked the eating habits of nearly 40,000 men and women between the ages of 40 and 59 for a period of 18 years. This included how many soft drinks they consumed. During the course of the study, almost 2,000 of the participants suffered a stroke.

When the study period ended, the soda consumption of those who had strokes was compared with those who didn't have a stroke. The results were startling.

In particular, researchers found that the women drinking soda every day were at a much higher risk of suffering what's called an "ischemic" stroke. This type of stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel bursts and causes hemorrhaging inside the brain.

What's more, it didn't matter if the participants were drinking regular or diet sodas, as the risk was equally high. As the Japanese researchers noted, "Soft drink intake was positively associated with risk of ischemic stroke for women".

Raise that Glass of Wine in a Toast to Stroke Prevention

On the other side of the coin, another study has found that drinking a glass of wine every day may help reduce the risk of stroke in women.

Published in the journal Stroke, a decades-long study of 84,000 women found that women who had a glass of wine every day were at less risk to suffer a stroke than women who abstained from drinking.

Specifically, the women who drank about a half glass of wine per day were 17 percent less likely to have a stroke, while those who drink a full glass per day reduced their risk of stroke by 21 percent. (2)

Researchers noted that the risk of stroke did not lessen further when the women drank more than a glass of wine per day. The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Monik Jimenez, commented although drinking wine can help reduce the risk of stroke, moderation is always advised.

"Higher intake can lead to high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation which are both risk factors for stoke," said Dr. Jimenez. "Our findings really stress moderation for women who do drink."

Another study published in the same journal, Stroke, found that a diet that includes oranges and grapefruits may also reduce the risk of stroke in women.(3) The study, which followed 69,622 women for 14 years, found that the women who ate the most citrus fruit had a 19 percent lower risk of having an ischemic stroke than women who ate the least.

To help strengthen your body's defense against heart problems, take Revatrol daily. In addition to containing 100mg of Trans-Resveratrol, which is a potent form of Red Wine extract, Revatrol gives your body all the heart, artery, cholesterol and cellular benefits of 50 bottles of red wine.





The Dark Side of Antibiotics

Antibiotics were hailed as “miracle drugs” when they first burst onto the scene in 1942 with the introduction of penicillin. Doctors were finally able to subdue life-threatening infections with a single magic bullet.

It was a blessing—or so we thought.

For a long time, the medical mainstream did its best to ignore the frightening fact that the microbes were fighting back. Today, antibiotic resistance is headline news. The rise of “super bugs” like MRSA, that can be deadly no matter what antibiotics we throw at them, is practically common knowledge.

In addition, there is another side effect of antibiotics that may ultimately prove more deadly than the rise of the "super bugs" and it's this -- antibiotics don’t discriminate.

Instead, they kill all bacteria in their path. Not just the pathogenic germs that cause illness but also the nonpathogenic “good” bacteria in your gut that are absolutely critical to health.

Today’s wide-spectrum antibiotics like the penicillins, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and aminoglycosides are the biological equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Everything takes a bullet, not just the targeted germs. The collateral damage to your intestinal ecology can be significant and long-lasting.

Even if you took antibiotics years ago, your digestive system could still be comprised. And when the good bacteria are wiped out, it opens the door for toxic fungi Candida and toxic bacteria Clostridia difficile to take over.

Bouts of diarrhea and damage to the colon can result... as well as problems like yeast infections, colds and other immune problems, skin problems, mood swings and more.

Overuse of Antibiotics Kills the Good Bacteria Essential for Your Digestive and Immune Health

To your detriment, doctors have ignored this kill-off for decades. In fact, up to 25% of people taking antibiotics experience the immediate side-effect of diarrhea.(1) But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are some additional facts that highlight the risk...

• People who take a lot of antibiotics have much higher incidences of colds and flu.(2) This happens because the kill-off of good bacteria leads to a significantly weaker immune system.

• Microflora kill-off by antibiotics is directly tied to the epidemic rise in Clostridium difficile infections that strike 3 million people and kill up to 20,000 victims every year.(3) Even a single course of antibiotics can leave you vulnerable.

• Large-scale studies reveal an alarming correlation between antibiotics intake and increased cancer risk due to the destruction of the microflora that are critical to immune health.

For decades, doctors have willfully ignored the damage done by antibiotics to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. In their eagerness to root out the bad guys, they’ve overlooked the fact that the good guys are being killed too.

In other words, they’ve been bombing the village to protect the people... but the village of your intestines is virtually destroyed in the process.

Until the medical establishment publicly acknowledges the threat that antibiotics pose and act accordingly, you're on your own. And that means taking steps to support your microflora with every healthy means available.

According to The World Health Organization, consu