Category Archives: cognitive function

Are These Garden of LIfe Probiotics Worth the Cost?

Garden of Life LogoI recently received the opportunity to review several Garden of Life products, including their line of Doctor Formulated Probiotics. In the spirit of full disclosure, please be aware I was given these products for free. I  tried two of them myself and gave the others to clients who volunteered to try them and report their results. As you read this review, it will be obvious the fact I received free product in no way influenced my review. I am brutally honest and am fully committed to always sharing the truth. Please note that some of the links shared in this post are affiliate links for which I receive a very small sum if you make a purchase after clicking the link. These small affiliate sums help pay the costs of maintaining this website.

I reviewed a meal replacement powder, several probiotics, and several organic multivitamins. The products I reviewed and my opinion of each follow. I’m covering the probiotic line first, as it’s one that has products marketed toward the entire family. I’ll review the other products in future articles.

Dr. Formulated Probiotics

This line of probiotics was formulated by Dr. Perlmutter, a renowned neurologist who is a recognized expert on nutrition, the gut-brain connection, gluten issues, and neurodegenerative disorders. The entire line includes broad spectrum probiotics with a high number of active cultures and a large number of bacterial strains. Each product is hypoallergenic, vegetarian, and free of gluten, dairy and soy.  The probiotics in each product are specially formulated to be resistant to stomach acid and bile so they reach the digestive tract. (Many probiotics on the market are not, so they are consumed by stomach acid and bile and never reach the digestive tract.) Those are all definite “pros” related to this line. 

It is also important to note that Garden of Life is the only manufacturer of OTC probiotics that ships them in refrigerated trucks. This ensures the probiotic strains stay viable. Most other manufacturers ship in regular trucks, which means the heat during the summer may very well diminish the potency of the products. Garden of Life shipped me the Prostate+ product in a cooler filled with ice packs. I was impressed. In spite of that, the cost required to do so doesn’t seem to have impacted the cost of these probiotics. They range in price from $21 for the children’s up to around $40 for the probiotic with the highest potency. Those prices are in line with similar probiotic products, and are less expensive than some which are only sold to doctor’s offices but which have fewer strains and lower potency.

The complete line includes general formulas and specific formulas for the following:

  • Mood+:  A combination of organic Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb known ot assist with stress, combined with probiotic strains known to help support neurotransmitter balance.
  • Prostate+:  A formula that combines organic herbal remedies known to support prostate health combined with specific probiotic strains known to do the same.
  • Urinary Tract Plus:  A combination of organic cranberry extract combined with Vitamin D and strains known to boost immunity to support the body’s natural ability to resist e coli.
  • Fitbiotic:  A combination of healthy organic fiber combined with probiotic strains known to support weight loss and blood sugar levels.
  • Once Daily Ultra:  This probiotic contains a whopping 90 billion active cultures and also contains lactobacillus gasseri, a strain known to support healthy blood sugar levels. Not many probiotics on the market contain that strain.
  • Once Daily Women’s:  A nice blend specifically designed for women’s physiology. Is shelf stable, meaning it maintains its potency without being refrigerated. (However, for best results I don’t recommend storing these in hot, steamy bathrooms.)
  • Once Daily Men’s:  The counterpart to the women’s version. My male clients liked only having to take one capsule per day.
  • Children’s Plus Chewable:  A nice blend that includes 5 billion active cultures along with Vitamin C and Vitamin D in an organic, all-natural tablet that actually tastes good. I have many clients who found their kids didn’t get sick as often when they happily ate one of these each morning during the winter.

It’s a simple fact that most of us need a probiotic and would benefit from taking one every day. I like this line and especially like that it contains strains of probiotics that most OTC probiotics do not. I’ve used the 

I like this line and I especially like the products designed to support specific systems. In the midst of that, be aware that the specific support products aren’t designed to be used alone. They should always be used as part of a support program and not used as the sole product. It would be impossible to include therapeutic doses of additional support ingredients in a single dose, so the products for specific systems don’t contain a large enough quantity of additional ingredients to provide a strong amount of therapeutic support. 

My clients who used these products reported the following:

  • Several saw improvements in digestion, ranging from being more regular to having less indigestion. One saw loose stools completely disappear. She had resisted using a probiotic prior to this, even though I had recommended it repeatedly.
  • More than one reported feeling more energy throughout the day.
  • A male client who was using the Prostate+ product said everyone in his office came down with a nasty virus, but he skated through without so much as a sniffle.
  • A client who used Urinary Tract+ said, “I liked knowing this provided extra support, but really think the D-Mannose I was taking helped prevent UTIs more than this did.” 
  • One client had mild detox symptoms associated with having harmful bacteria in her gut die off. Those symptoms disappeared once we reduced her dosage from once daily to once every-other day. She was able to return to a once-daily dose two weeks later, and I recommended other steps to help improve the balance of good and bad bacteria in her digestive tract.

The only “cons” I found with this line of probiotics were related to the fact the products marketed to benefit specific systems don’t contain therapeutic doses of additional nutrients, and that this line can only be purchased online or in specialty health food stores. Those are paltry issues when compared to the other benefits of these probiotics.

Are they worth the money? In my opinion, that answer to that question is a definite YES.

Facts About Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Red Blood CellsIron-Deficiency Anemia is a very common health issue. Many women have been told at some point in their life they have Iron-Deficiency Anemia and that it is “chronic.” Unfortunately, the term “chronic” typically means the diagnosing doctor has chosen to not identify the cause of the condition. The doctor assumes the woman’s anemia is “normal” for her and therefore can only be controlled, not treated. I beg to differ.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia always has a cause or causes. It is never a “normal” state of being. Never. Let me clarify that I am speaking about Iron-Deficiency Anemia, the type of anemia that occurs when the body’s iron stores are below normal. Please note I am solely referring to Iron-Deficiency Anemia, not Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemia, Pernicious Anemia, Aplastic Anemia or any other form of anemia. Although the symptoms of the various types of anemia may be similar, they each have very distinct causes and cannot be addressed using the same approach. Please note that all references in this article are for adults, not children.

Common Symptoms

Iron-Deficiency Anemia results in a deficiency of red blood cells and diminishes the body’s ability to carry oxygen to the cells and carbon dioxide away from cells. The most common symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia include:

  • Fatigue
  • Easy bruising
  • Headaches
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Elevated heart rate/heart palpitations/chest pain (Seek immediate medical attention for any form of chest pain)
  • Breathlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Swollen tongue/sore tongue/cracks in corners of mouth
  • Muscle pain
  • Pale skin
  • Depression and/or a lack of motivation
  • Brittle nails
  • Frequent infection/illness
  • Irritability/inability to concentrate
  • Bluish coloration to whites of eyes
  • Cravings for unusual items (chalk, clay, paper, etc.) or a strong desire to chew ice

Each of those symptoms could also be a sign of other health conditions, some more serious than others. Please consult a trained practitioner if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.

Possible Tests for Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Iron-Deficiency Anemia is typically identified via blood tests. When checking for Iron-Deficiency Anemia, the following tests should be run at a minimum. Please note that each lab has its own definition of what “normal” ranges are. The ranges provided below are general guidelines:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC):  An overview of blood composition.
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  • Hemoglobin:  A protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Normal range for men is between 13.5-17.5; for women 12.0-15.5. Please note that results which are within “normal” but are at the low end may still cause symptoms of Iron-Deficiency Anemia.
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  • Iron:  A measure of the iron in the blood stream. Normal ranges between 60-170 mcg/dL.
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  • Ferritin:  A protein that stores iron. Is a measure of the body’s iron stores. Although some labs state that levels as low as 10 are “normal,” most people do not begin to feel anything close to normal until their Ferritin levels are at least 40. Please note that levels as low as zero are not a definite indicator of cancer or other serious disease. Extremely low levels need to be researched in more detail to determine the cause, but are not necessarily an indicator of a terminal condition. I once had Ferritin levels of zero which my doctor erroneously assumed meant I had cancer. After having a bone marrow biopsy, the consulting hematologist looked at me and asked why on earth the doctor ordered a bone marrow biopsy instead of investigating the cause and type of anemia first. Good question!
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  • Vitamin B12:  Vitamin B12 is essential for iron to be absorbed. A deficiency can lead to Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Normal ranges vary between 200-900 pg/mL.
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  • Total iron-binding capacity (TIBC):  A measure of the number of proteins available for transporting iron. Normal ranges are typically between 240-450 mcg/dL.
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  • Transferrin Saturation:  A measure of how saturated with iron the proteins responsible for transporting iron are. Normal ranges are between 20-50%.

Potential Causes of Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Your doctor may order other tests if s/he wishes to identify the specific cause of the Iron-Deficiency Anemia. Potential causes of low iron levels and Iron-Deficiency Anemia may include:

Iron Deficiency Anemia Red Blood Cells

Red blood cells in a person with Iron-Deficiency Anemia

  • Lack of iron in the diet
  • Inability to absorb iron in the digestive tract
  • Unidentified bleeding (in oral cavity, lungs, stomach, digestive tract, etc.)
  • Other forms of anemia not yet tested for or identified
  • Pregnancy and lactation
  • Extremely heavy menstruation
  • Frequent blood donation
  • Excessive exercise (Iron-Deficiency Anemia is common in long-distance runners)
  • Celiac, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Crohn’s or other digestive disorders
  • H Pylori infection (stomach ulcer)
  • Use of a proton pump inhibitor such as Prilosec, Nexxium, etc.
  • Kidney disease
  • Gastric bypass surgery/colostomy
  • Thyroid imbalances or other hormonal imbalance
  • Enlarged spleen or splenic dysfunction
  • Lead poisoning

Further Testing to Identify the Cause of Chronic Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Consistent Iron-Deficiency Anemia can be caused by any of the factors discussed previously, but may also be an indicator of more severe health issues. I advise considering the following to identify the root cause of Iron-Deficiency Anemia:

  • Check antiparietal antibody levels to ensure Pernicious Anemia is not the cause of the anemia
  • Test for other forms of anemia if symptoms and blood work indicate a possibility
  • Test for digestive disorders
  • Test for vitamin and nutritional deficiencies and supplement as needed
  • Test for food allergies (the inflammation caused by food allergies can impair iron absorption)
  • Check for bleeding in the digestive tract and digestive disorders
  • Check for bleeding in the respiratory system
  • Test thyroid levels (with a complete thyroid panel including TSH, Free T3, Free T4, TPO and Reverse T3 at a minimum)
  • Test hormone levels and have a gynecological exam if extremely heavy menstruation is suspected as the cause
  • Test for pregnancy (if appropriate)

Reversing the Deficiency

Many factors may contribute to Iron-Deficiency Anemia, so work with your doctor to determine what approach should be taken to reverse the deficiency. The most common approaches used to reverse the deficiency include:

  • Identify and Address the Cause:  Although it is imperative to get iron levels up using supplements or other approaches, it is also essential to identify why the iron deficiency exists and address the cause. If the cause can be identified and eliminated or greatly alleviated, the body can more easily restore iron levels to normal levels. If testing reveals a more severe form of anemia exists, additional steps will be needed. I will share more about the other forms of anemia in future posts.
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  • Increase Iron Consumption:  Increasing the amount of iron eaten on a daily basis can be helpful, but may not be sufficient in cases of absorption and digestion challenges. Please be aware that the iron contained in plants is called “non-heme” iron. It is not as easily absorbed as the heme iron in animal products. The body must convert non-heme iron into heme iron before it can absorb it. The best way to assist the body in making converting non-heme iron into heme iron is to eat fruits or veggies high in Vitamin C with foods containing non-heme iron. (Eating foods high in Vitamin C will assist with the absorption of iron in animal products, too, but is especially important for vegetable sources of iron.) This is one reason why spinach salads often contain oranges. The food that is highest in iron content is liver. Other foods high in iron include red meat, chicken and turkey, quinoa, organ meats, raisins, dark leafy greens, egg yolks, prunes, molasses, beans and lentils, salmon, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate (at least 80%), broccoli and others. I am not a fan of “iron fortified” milk and cereals because the iron those foods contain is in a form that is very difficult to absorb.
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  • Use Iron Supplementation:  Iron pills or supplements should never be taken if testing has not proven you are deficient in iron. Excess iron in the bloodstream can have negative affects which are as bad or worse as an iron deficiency. Please also be aware the forms of iron most commonly sold in drug stores are difficult to absorb and often cause constipation. Ferrous sulfate is the most commonly sold form of iron, but is very poorly absorbed and often causes constipation. It is not a form I recommend. My preferred forms of supplemental iron include iron citrate, iron gluconate, iron bisglycinate and/or chelated iron. Iron is best absorbed when it is taken on an empty stomach. My favorite iron supplements are Hematinic Formula and Vitamin Code Raw Iron.
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  • Severe cases of Iron-Deficiency Anemia may require blood transfusions or intravenous iron. Those approaches are usually not needed unless other health issues are present.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that Iron-Deficiency Anemia can usually be quickly addressed and reversed. More difficult cases may require further testing and additional therapies, but quality of life can usually be restored fairly quickly.

Red Blood Cell Photograph courtesy of Wellcome Images
Anemia Blood Cell Photograph Courtesy of Alpha Images

 

 

Modern Epidemic: Metabolic Syndrome

“Metabolic Syndrome” refers to a group of symptoms that are increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S. and other developed countries. Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as an “epidemic” because the number of people affected by it is increasing so rapidly. Why does this matter? Because Metabolic Syndrome is a set of conditions created by lifestyle and dietary habits. Metabolic Syndrome is Metabolic Syndrome: Apple with Stethoscope and Measuring Tapeknown to increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hormonal imbalances, depression, stroke and more.

Although experts disagree on the specific causes of Metabolic Syndrome, they all agree that obesity, a high carbohydrate diet, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables are contributing factors. Other factors which may increase your risk include heredity, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise, smoking and possibly toxic exposure from food, air and water.

The problem with Metabolic Syndrome is that no single definition of what it is and no specified set of diagnostic criteria have been defined. Many practitioners in the mainstream medical community do not believe Metabolic Syndrome exists and do not believe early identification can help improve health outcomes. There is also controversy about whether the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome truly represent a “syndrome” or are merely a group of related symptoms which each has its own risk factors. The concern is that we have created a “disease” which truly doesn’t exist.

The bottom line is that whether you group the symptoms together and label them or not, they each represent a very real risk to health and longevity. In my practice, I work with many people who have multiple symptoms associated with Metabolic Syndrome. Addressing the issues quickly restores health. It also often results in improved self esteem and a restored positive outlook. I find that people who address Metabolic Syndrome typically experience better overall health on a long term basis.

Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

The most common symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome include:

  • Weight gain in the stomach and abdomen, often in spite of exercise and decreased food intake
  • Fatigue
  • Increased triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100 mg/dL
  • Acne
  • Higher than normal blood levels of insulin (Please see The Top 3 Blood Tests Everyone Should Request for more info)
  • Mild to moderate kidney damage resulting in excess protein in the urine
  • Increased systemic inflammation which may cause joint pain, water retention and other symptoms
  • Increased liver enzymes due to insufficient detoxification and/or a condition called “fatty liver”
  • Excess growth of Candida (yeast) in the body
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in women
  • Low Testosterone in men
  • Abnormal development in children
  • Mental and psychological issues, ranging from mild to extreme

If you have three or more of those symptoms, please schedule an appointment with your practitioner. Ask him or her to order blood work including a complete metabolic panel, complete blood count, insulin level, A1C and complete thyroid panel. (If your doctor is unsure how to interpret these tests related to Metabolic Syndrome risk factors, please feel free to contact me to schedule a half-hour blood work interpretation consultation.)

Reversing Metabolic Syndrome

The good news is that Metabolic Syndrome can often be reversed using simple lifestyle changes. Supplements may also be used in some cases. The purpose of the recommended changes is to improve insulin sensitivity and restore balance to the endocrine system. Potential changes may include:

  • Improving an exercise regimen and combining it with weight training
  • Decreasing the type and quantity of carbohydrates eaten on a daily basis
  • Increasing the amount of healthy fat consumed on a daily basis
  • Identifying and addressing mineral deficiencies
  • Improving digestion to ensure foods are adequately digested and absorbed
  • Other recommendations based on the person’s specific health needs

Reversing Metabolic Syndrome is very possible, but requires the direction of a qualified practitioner. If you suspect you have Metabolic Syndrome and would like to start the process of reversing it, please contact me to schedule a consultation. 

Photo courtesy of Keith Ramsey

Top 11 Reasons I Refuse to Get a Flu Shot

I recently heard an extremely ill woman comment she couldn’t figure out why she was so sick. She went on to say she had gotten a flu shot, and obviously believed that should have protected her. My research has led me to conclude otherwise. I need to confess this article is extremely long. I felt the importance of the information warranted a longer format.

I want to state very clearly that getting vaccinated is a very personal choice. I support everyone who chooses to get the vaccination, and encourage those who are undecided to do further research. I am not “anti-vaccine,” I am simply pro-research.

I am one of the people mainstream medicine insists “must” have a flu shot. I’m considered “high risk” Flu Vaccine Syringebecause I have Type 1 Diabetes and have multiple other auto-immune conditions. I do not get flu shots and never get sick. In fact, I spent the last five years working in environments where I was exposed every day to multiple people who had active flu infections. In spite of that, I never became infected and never had so much as a sniffle. Unfortunately, mainstream media and mainstream medicine use a wide variety of scare tactics to convince people they will become sick if they are not vaccinated. Nothing could be further from the truth. Following are my top eleven reasons for not getting a flu shot:

  1. Infection is based on lifestyle, not exposure: The belief that everyone who gets exposed to the flu becomes ill is outdated and untrue. If it were true that exposure causes illness, none of us could enter a public place without becoming ill. The truth is that our lifestyle and our body’s environment are what determine whether or not we get sick. This is why my teenagers got sick in 2008 with a nasty case of the flu, but neither my husband nor I became ill while caring for them. Their lifestyle and high-sugar eating habits lowered their body’s ability to fight the flu, while ours provided natural immunity.
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  2. Low probability of correct strains used in vaccine: There are close to 300 different strains of flu, yet each year the CDC chooses 3-5 strains of Influenza Type A and 1-2 of Influenza Type B to include in the flu vaccine. They use scientific methods to try and predict which strains will be the most prevalent each year, but they are often wrong. Additionally, flu strains constantly adapt and mutate. This means the likelihood of the CDC choosing the correct strains is less than 5%. The CDC admits: “In some years when vaccine and circulating strains were not well-matched, no vaccine effectiveness can be demonstrated in some studies, even in healthy adults. It is not possible in advance of the influenza season to predict how well the vaccine and circulating strains will be matched, and how that match may affect the degree of vaccine effectiveness.”
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  3. Those who were vaccinated have higher infection rates than those who were not: More than seven studies proved flu shots do not reduce infection rates and may actually increase them. Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an influenza expert at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control in Canada , shared findings proving increased infection rates were consistently found for two years following vaccination in both humans and ferrets who received flu vaccines. These findings were true across seven different studies done on flu vaccines for 2008 and 2009. The findings agreed with statistical comparisons of over 30,000 people. The vaccines used in 2008 and 2009 are very similar to those being used today. (Ferrets are used in influenza studies because their physiology most closely mimics that of humans’ in influenza infections.)
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    It also needs to be pointed out that pediatric deaths due to flu were dropping prior to 2003. The decrease in deaths can be attributed to improved health conditions, better nutrition programs in schools and preschools, and other lifestyle improvements. Pediatric deaths caused by flu skyrocketed after the CDC insisted that all children older than six months of age receive a flu shot. The increase in death and infection rates following the CDC’s mandate is not coincidental and is too large to be ignored.
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  4. Zero science to support effectiveness of flu shots: A review of 5707 articles and 31 studies found little evidence to prove that flu vaccines actually reduce infection rates. The researchers also found that although the vaccines provided “moderate” protection some years, they provided little or no protection other years. The researchers also found that flu vaccines offer zero protection for anyone over age 65 or younger than age 7. Another group, the Cochrane Acute Respiratory Infections Group, studied 41 clinical studies and concluded the data showed flu vaccines provide zero reduction in infection or death across all age groups. The Cochrane group also studied 260,000 children between the ages of 23 months and six years and found the flu vaccine to be no more effective than a placebo at preventing illness. In 2009, many providences in Canada stopped recommending flu vaccines for anyone under 65 years of age. Their infection rates have not increased.
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    Commenting on other studies proving the ineffectiveness of flu shots, Michael T. Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy and Director of the Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance said, “We have overpromoted and overhyped this vaccine … It does not protect as promoted. It’s all a sales job: it’s all public relations.”
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  5. Most illnesses called the “flu” actually are not: Researchers found that only 6-8% of illnesses called “flu” were actually caused by a true flu virus. The other illnesses were caused by other viruses or bacteria, none of which would be included in a flu vaccine. Additionally, the CDC drastically increases their statistics by making the assumption that all deaths caused by pneumonia originated with a flu infection. This is simply not true. Although having the flu can increase the likelihood of a pneumonia infection in anyone with a compromised immune system, pneumonia is a bacterial infection and flu is a viral infection. Not all cases of pneumonia are caused by the flu, which means the CDC’s statistics are grossly inflated and are designed to create fear.
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  6. The “Original Antigenic Sin” Argument: This term refers to the fact that a vaccine only protects you against specific illness strains, whereas catching an illness provides immunity against that illness and against multiple others with similar chemical structures. In other words, if you get a flu shot which claims to protect you against Strains A and B, that’s all you have protection against. If you catch Strain A, you wind up with immunity against Strain A and potentially against hundreds of other flu strains which contain similar proteins. This may be why flu vaccines are virtually worthless for anyone over age 65. They have already been infected with and exposed to enough flu strains that they have naturally occurring immunity against a wide array of flu strains.
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  7. Flu vaccines suppress the immune system: The ingredients in flu vaccines stimulate the immune system to combat a few strains of flu, yet suppress it against all other viral and bacterial invaders. This is why so many people get sick with colds and other illnesses shortly after receiving the flu vaccine. Based on the other evidence shared in this post, it makes little sense to lower the body’s overall ability to fight infection by receiving a flu shot.
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  8. Increased risk of cardiac problems and oxidized cholesterol: A 2007 study found that flu vaccines cause an inflammatory response that increases the risk of cardiac problems and which also causes oxidation of the low density lipoproteins (LDL cholesterol). The oxidation of LDL cholesterol means that the very small cholesterol molecules capable of passing through vessel walls become oxidized, or hardened, in arteries, which directly contributes to arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other coronary disorders. This potentially deadly effect only lasts for a maximum of fourteen days, but needs to be considered by anyone having a pre-existing cardiac condition. The inflammation can also cause a condition called “Arteritis,” in which the walls of large arteries become inflamed. Depending on the body region affected, arteritis may cause visual disturbances, headaches, jaw pain, and more. A study by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health found that pregnant women are especially susceptible to the inflammatory effects of flu vaccines and that receiving a flu vaccine led to higher rates of pre-eclampsia, spontaneous abortion, and increased complications following birth.
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  9. Toxic ingredients: Most flu vaccines contain one or all of the following –
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    –  Mercury (Thimerosol): Thimerosol is a common preservative used in vaccines. Most flu vaccines contain enough mercury from Thimerosol to be deemed toxic by the EPA if they are taken by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Because mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, this information should be regarded with concern by anyone weighing less than 265 pounds. Note: There are a few vials of vaccines made without Thimerosol, but they are typically saved for children and pregnant women. You have the right to request them, and definitely should if you weigh less than 265 pounds, are pregnant, or are having your child vaccinated.
    –  Adjutants: Adjutants are ingredients added to vaccines which serve to stimulate the immune system. The most common adjutant used in flu vaccines is Aluminum, a heavy metal which is associated with many neurological illnesses. Primary among the neurological illnesses associated with aluminum toxicity is Alzheimer’s.
    –  Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. When combined with aluminum (as it is in the flu vaccine and many the vaccinations), formaldehyde is known to increase the likelihood of neurological damage.
    –  Eggs: Although not directly a toxin, all flu vaccines are grown on cultures from chicken eggs. This means the vaccines could be deadly to anyone having a severe allergy to eggs. Please be aware of this. The incidence of severe allergic reactions to flu vaccines is rising at an alarming rate, largely because many of the people administrating vaccines are not trained in their side effects and are not in a facility equipped to deal with anaphylactic shock. If you choose to get a flu shot, please get it in your doctor’s office and not in your local grocery store.
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  10. Negative reactions: Flu vaccines are known to cause the following reactions, some of which are deadly and some of which can cause permanent disability: injection site reaction, fever, convulsions (especially in children), narcolepsy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a severe paralytic auto-immune neurological condition which can result in permanent disability), allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock, increased risk of heart attack, encephalitis, neurological disorders, thrombocytopenia (a blood disorder causing low platelet counts, fatigue and potential blood loss from bruising or internal hemorrhage), and more..
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  11. Studies found Vitamin D more effective than flu shots: There is a good reason the flu only occurs during the winter months. Even in tropical climates, flu rates increase during the rainy season. The common factor? Sun exposure. Unprotected exposure to sunlight stimulates the body to produce Vitamin D. Studies conducted by John Cannell and associates found a direct connection between Vitamin D deficiencies and increased respiratory illnesses in adults and children. The studies also found that as little as 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis could prevent the flu and other respiratory illnesses 500% more effectively than flu vaccines. Another study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Vitamin D deficiency caused higher infection rates of flu and other respiratory illnesses. Per Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, “The findings of our study support an important role for vitamin D in prevention of common respiratory infections, such as colds and the flu.” Vitamin D stimulates the body to produce over 300 different antimicrobial peptides which help the body combat viral and bacterial infection. My personal recommendation is that anyone living in a cold climate should take a minimum of 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 on a daily basis and should get their blood serum levels checked at least once each year. Ideal blood serum levels should be maintained between 50-80 nmol/L.
What are your thoughts about getting a flu shot? My next post will focus on effective ways to protect yourself from the flu. Please feel free to share your opinions below.
References:
 
 
Does the Vaccine Matter? – The Atlantic
 
 
Flu Vaccine Effectiveness – Centers for Disease Control
On the Epidemiology of Influenza – Journal of Virology

The vitamin D-antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection – Linus Pauling Institute


Difference Between Lactose Intolerance and Dairy Allergy

Milk drop

Few topics inspire as much confusion as the difference between lactose intolerance and dairy allergy. The two issues can both cause digestive distress, but each has a very different cause.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance occurs when the body lacks sufficient lactase, the enzyme required to digest the sugars in dairy. The enzyme is lactase, dairy sugar is lactose. The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be as mild as a bit of gas or bloating, or may be extreme enough to cause vomiting and diarrhea. Each person will lactose intolerance will respond very differently. The symptoms result because the enzyme lactase is needed to break milk sugar (lactose) down into simpler sugars which can be absorbed and metabolized. If the lactose is not broken down, the body cannot absorb it and will experience digestive distress. Some people with lactose intolerance may also experience fatigue due to the strain caused when dairy is ingested. The amount of dairy required to cause a reaction in someone who is lactose intolerant varies from person to person. Some people must consume large amounts of dairy, while others can safely consume small amounts before experiencing symptoms.

Lactose intolerance may occur in infancy, but more commonly develops later in life. Lactose intolerance can be inherited and may run in families. It can also develop as a secondary challenge resulting from digestive disorders that damage the colon, such as Crohn’s, Celiac Disease, etc. Lactose intolerance can be diagnosed through a Hydrogen Breath Test in adults or via a Stool Acidity Test in children.

Most people can counteract the effects of lactose intolerance by limiting dairy consumption or by taking a digestive enzyme containing high amounts of lactase when they eat dairy. My favorites include: 

Lacto by Enzymedica (My favorite enzyme company)

Dairy Digest Complete by NOW Foods

Dairy (Casein or Whey) Allergy

Dairy allergies are an autoimmune reaction to one or more proteins found in dairy. Casein is the most common dairy protein that causes a dairy allergy. (A dairy allergy may also be the result of an autoimmune reaction to other chemicals in dairy, but casein and whey are the most common.) Reactions to a dairy allergy may be very mild or may be life-threatening, and can affect every body system. There are over 200 symptoms that may be caused by a dairy allergy. The symptoms may include severe or mild digestive distress, skin reactions, respiratory distress, cognitive and emotional issues, and many more.

The reactions occur when the body comes to regard chemicals in milk as “foreign invaders” that must be attacked and neutralized. To neutralize the invader, the body releases antibodies. These antibodies get carried throughout the body via the bloodstream and can therefore cause reactions in any part of the body. Dairy allergies are typically the result of one or more autoimmune genes getting turned “on.”

Dairy allergies can occur at any stage of life. Babies are sometimes born with a dairy allergy. Other people develop  a dairy allergy much later in life. Dairy allergies often appear to develop very suddenly. Causes of dairy allergies have been linked to Candida overgrowth (click link to learn more), feeds containing genetically modified produce fed to dairy cows, genetics, environmental toxins, and many unknown causes. Sadly, the incidence of dairy allergies is rising at a rate that is much higher than population growth.  

Dairy allergies require the affected person to completely avoid all foods containing dairy. This can be difficult because many processed foods contain ingredients that can set off a reaction but whose ingredient list does not contain words associated with dairy. Some people can reverse their dairy allergy by strictly avoiding dairy for six to twelve months, but others cannot. Some children outgrow a dairy allergy, while others do not. Because most allergies result when a gene is turned “on,” it can be very difficult to reverse milk allergies. Reducing or reversing a dairy allergy must include steps to also heal the digestive tract. Extreme measures are typically required to reverse the allergy, but it is possible for some people to eventually eat small amounts of dairy very occasionally without a negative reaction.

I personally had a dairy allergy so severe that I vomited multiple times per day and was extremely ill for many months. Before recognizing my allergy, I lost over 30 pounds, was extremely weak, had hair loss, was extremely grumpy and irritable, had severe acne, and had explosive diarrhea that made leaving the house difficult. To put it mildly, I was miserable. My dairy allergy was identified by a test called the ELISA Allergy Test. This is the test I recommend to my clients who have symptoms indicating a food allergy. (I’m now able to very occasionally eat small amounts of dairy without visible symptoms, although I know my digestive system remains healthiest if I refrain.)

Food allergies can be identified through blood tests, elimination diets, or muscle response testing. I do not recommend using “skin prick” testing for food allergies, as that form of testing is very inaccurate and often incorrect. Blood testing is also often inaccurate unless dairy is consumed within 72 hours of the blood draw, but there are tests which can identify the presence of dairy antibodies without recent dairy consumption.

One of the most popular ways of reversing dairy allergies is by following a diet called the GAPS diet. “GAPS” stands for “Gut and Psychology Syndrome or “Gut and Physiology Syndrome.” Click the link the view copies of the book that describes the protocol to be followed.

If you have digestive issues, constant congestion or cough, chronic fatigue, eczema or other symptoms you have been unable to remedy, you may have a food allergy or sensitivity. I have helped many people with food allergies and would love to help. Please contact me via email or by calling 317.489.0909 to schedule a consultation.

Have you dealt with lactose intolerance or dairy allergy? How did you figure it out? What tips can you share about coping on a daily basis?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/toru_okada/

Ten Tips for Avoiding Hangovers

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a joyous night of celebration and a very Happy New Year. Please celebrate with caution and be careful! This post is dedicated to ways to avoid hangovers.

I don’t condone excess drinking, but we all know that New Year’s Eve is typically a night filled with alcohol.Beer Bottles Why does excess alcohol cause a hangover? For the following reasons:

  • Alcohol causes dehydration, which leads to inflammation and feeling generally horrible.
  • Alcohol contains two highly toxic compounds: acetaldehyde and malondialdehyde. These two chemicals create massive cell damage throughout the body. The damage caused by these chemicals is so severe it resembles the damage caused by radiation. There’s a good reason you feel so bad! 
  • Alcohol lowers blood sugar and can cause hypoglycemia. Typical symptoms of hypoglycemia include weakness, dizziness, nausea, and more. Sound familiar? If you ever notice someone acting far drunker than their consumption warrants, chances are they have a low blood sugar. Get them something to eat! 

If needed, use the following ten tips for avoiding hangovers:

1) Don’t drink. (This is the only certain way to avoid hangovers. You know it.) Please don’t waste your money on products claiming to be a hangover “cure.” There is no such thing. The only way to avoid hangovers is to not drink, or to drink very small amounts of alcohol.

2) Alternate every alcoholic drink with a big glass of water or other beverage. Dehydration is one cause of hangovers, so drinking a non-alcoholic beverage between each alcoholic beverage will help limit your intake and will help keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding hangovers.

3) Add trace minerals to every drink. In addition to replacing essential electrolytes, trace minerals help counteract alcohol’s acidic effects. My favorite trace mineral is I like this one: Premier Polar Mins, but drinking coconut water is also an excellent way to replace trace minerals. It makes a good mixer, so it’s a win-win.

4) Don’t mix different types of alcohol. Stick to one type. Mixing beer and wine and distilled liquors puts a heavy load on your body’s ability to metabolize both the alcohol and the other ingredients in the drinks. There’s no guarantee that only drinking one kind of alcohol will avoid a hangover, but it may diminish the symptoms.

5) Drink lighter colored forms of alcohol. Darker alcohols (bourbon, dark rum, etc.) contain higher amounts of congeners, the toxins in alcohol which cause hangovers. Cheap booze also has higher amounts of congeners, so splurging on name brands which are more expensive may reduce hangover symptoms.

6) Avoid bubbly mixers. The gases in bubbly mixers can cause alcohol to enter the bloodstream more rapidly and may make it more difficult for the body to eliminate the toxins in the alcohol. Instead of carbonated mixers, use coconut water (loaded with electrolytes), fruit juice, water, etc.

7) Eat before you start drinking. Eating slows the absorption of alcohol and helps your body eliminate alcohol’s toxins. Eating a meal high in healthy fats is known to reduce hangover symptoms.

8) Order drinks on the rocks. The ice will melt and dilute the alcohol and will help keep you hydrated.

9) Ask for a larger glass. Ask your server to put your drink in a 16-ounce glass and fill the empty space with water.

10) Use supplements. Yes, supplements can reduce the effects of a hangover. Many hard core alcoholics know that taking Lecithin and Milk Thistle before, during and after drinking can help reduce hangover symptoms. The added bonus is that these also help repair the liver, so there is some value in using them.

Alcohol depletes the body of B Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium and other essential nutrients, so taking a multi-vitamin before you drink and a B Complex vitamin can help. Taking potent antioxidants can also help prevent the damage done by alcohol’s damaging chemicals. Taking all of the previously mentioned supplements as soon as you wake up may also help.

Related Articles:

Surprising Facts About Vitamin B12

Why You Need More Magnesium

Unusual Ways to Keep the Holidays Healthy

My Holiday Prayer for You

Natural Ways to Improve Cognitive Function

Our society assumes cognitive function “naturally” declines as we age. Although aging causes lower production of some chemicals affecting brain chemistry, many things affect cognitive health and a decline is not guaranteed. Aging is not a disease and loss of cognitive function is not a natural consequence.[i] The strongest factors known to help maintain strong cognitive function are a healthy (whole food, organic) diet, regular exercise, and participation in activities that stimulate and challenge thinking. The following supplements are known to assist brain chemistry and function (Note that some supplements can interfere with the function of prescription medications and that there is a potential for allergic reaction to any ingested product, so please ask a trained professional before combining supplements with prescription medications and discontinue use if any negative effects are experienced):

B Vitamins: Known to affect the formation and maintenance of nerve cells, B Vitamins are essential for maintaining cognitive function. Supplementing on a daily basis is advised because B Vitamins are water soluble and are not stored in the body long-term. Vitamin B12 is especially important for brain health. When taken in supplement form, B12 is best absorbed sublingually in the Methylcobalamin form. (The Cobalamin form is cheaper and more frequently used, so use care when reading labels.)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Naturally found in fish, algae and some nuts and seeds, Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been scientifically proven to improve the function of neurotransmitters in the brain.[ii] Omega-3s have been successfully used with Alzheimer patients and are often used to help children with ADD/ADHD.[iii],[iv] The purest Omega-3 supplements are sourced from wild-caught fish in cold waters or from algaes. Omega-3s are best absorbed when combined with Vitamin A. For those who have concerns about radiation poisoning from fish or who live a vegan lifestyle, Omega-3s can be obtained from seeds (flax and chia are good examples), but the body does not immediately absorb the Omega-3s and must convert them before they can be utilized.

Phosphatidyl Serine (PS): Phosphatidyl Serine naturally occurs in every cell in the body and is a potent modulator of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is one of my favorite supplements for improving cognitive function. Studies proved supplementation with PS may reduce, slow or even reverse cognitive impairment due to age-related decline.[v][vi] PS was shown to improve recall, learning, concentration, and even reflex response time.[vii] PS is also commonly used to help children with ADD/ADHD and is a well-known supplement used by college students to improve retention during finals week.

Huperzine A: Huperzine A is a chemical found in the herb Chinese Club Moss, which has been used for centuries in Chinese Medicine. Recent studies proved Huperzine A not only improved cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients,[viii] but that it effectively improved school performance in adolescents.[ix] Please note that Huperzine A is known to interact with several prescription medications used to change brain chemistry.

If brain chemistry interests you, please read my post: Stop the Winter Blues & Seasonal Affective Disorder: http://bit.ly/rdw3Zj.

My passion is helping people improve their health and lifestyle by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate their health challenges using a holistic approach. If you are ready to find a new level of wellness, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I will help you identify the cause of health challenges and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.

As always, these statements were not evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any health issue.

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i: Finch C. Longevity, Semescence, and the Genome . Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1990.
ii: Fotuhi M, Mohassel P, Yaffe K. Fish consumption, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and risk of cognitive decline or Alzheimer disease: a complex association. Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2009 Mar;5(3):140-52. Review.
iii: Ibid
iv: Burgess J, Stevens L, Zhang W, Peck L. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000; 71(suppl):327S-330S.
v: Cenacchi, B, Bertoldin T, Farina C, Fiori M.G., Crepaldi G. Cognitive decline in the elderly: a double-blind, placebo-controlled multicenter study on efficacy of phosphatidylserine administration. Aging (Clin. Exp. Res.), 1993, 5: 123-33.
vi: Alberts B. Et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell. New York, NY. Garland Publishing; 1989.
vii: Rosadini, G, Sannita ,W.G., Nobili, F, and Cenacchi, T. Phosphatidylserine: quantitative EEG effects in healthy volunteers. Neuropsychobiol, 1991. 24: 42-8.
viii: Wang, Bai-Song; Wang, Hao; Wei, Zhao-hui; Song, Yan-yan; Zhang, Lu; Chen, Hong-Zhuan (2009). “Efficacy and safety of natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitor huperzine A in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: an updated meta-analysis”. Journal of Neural Transmission 116 (4): 457. doi:10.1007/s00702-009-0189-x. PMID 19221692.
ix: Sun, QQ; Xu, SS; Pan, JL; Guo, HM; Cao, WQ (1999). “Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students.”. Zhongguo yao li xue bao = Acta pharmacologica Sinica 20 (7): 601–3. PMID 10678121.