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Light Therapy, Low Carb Diets and Coffee Updates

June 9, 2009 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

This site is all about providing information about safe(r) and viable alternatives to conventional treatments. Although I understand that some of the data presented here could be considered controversial, that’s not my intention. In fact, I try not to factor that in at all when writing these columns. My sincere intent is to allow for the scientific research to dictate which items I cover. I do, however, make a conscious effort to find material that is unlikely to get much attention from the “traditional medical establishment”. By presenting such data, I hope to assist readers in making a more informed decision as to how to best formulate a wellness program.

Today I’m going to update three prior topics that can profoundly impact both physical health and quality of life. I encourage you to refer back to the original blogs in which I first discussed these health issues so that you can hopefully benefit from that research as well.

Update #1 – Light Therapy and Sexual Dysfunction

On February 4th I posted an article about a Natural Alternative to Viagra. A new study just published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics points to another non-prescriptive approach to addressing this common problem.

A group of Italian scientists have discovered a possible link between excessive daytime melatonin levels and male sexual dysfunction. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland of the brain, typically released at night when in a dark environment. Its primary purpose is to aid in falling and staying asleep. The trouble is that melatonin can also increase the levels of another hormone called prolactin, which can lower libido. (1,2)

9 middle-aged men with “non-organic sexual dysfunction” participated in an experiment to test the effects of “bright light therapy”. All of the volunteers were deemed to suffer from either hypoactive sexual desire disorder, sexual arousal disorder or orgasmic disorder not stemming from the use of medication or due to any physical or psychological conditions.

The group of men were split into two. One set received 30 minute daily exposure to “active light treatment” (ALT) and the other received a “placebo light treatment” first thing in the morning. The difference between the two forms of light is that the “active light” used an ultraviolet filter and the “placebo light” used a neutral filter, which significantly reduces the light intensity. A standardized questionnaire was provided prior to the course of light exposure and after the 2 week treatment period to assess self reported changes in sexual desire and function.

At the conclusion of the experiment, 3 of the 5 patients receiving the ALT improved enough to no longer be classified as having a sexual disorder. All 4 of the participants that received the placebo light showed no signs of benefit. These preliminary results are likely to instigate a larger study that will attempt to replicate said positive effects of light therapy on primary sexual dysfunction. I’ll keep you posted on any future developments as they become available.

Update #2 – Low Carbohydrate Diet News

An interesting trial was published in the newest issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. It evaluated the effects of a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) vs. a high-carbohydrate diet (HCD) in relation to both weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors. The twist in this study is that the low carb diet was vegetarian. This is unique in that most carb restricted diets include plentiful amounts of dairy, eggs and meat. (3)

The LCD was comprised of 26% carbohydrates, 31% protein and 43% fat. The source for these macro-nutrients was described as coming from “gluten, soy, nuts, fruit, vegetables and vegetable oil”. The HCD contained 58% carbohydrates, 16% protein and 25% fat and included some low-fat dairy and egg products.

A total 47 male and female volunteers took part in the experiment. They were all classified as being overweight and hyperlipidemic (having high cholesterol). The duration of diet was 4 weeks. Here’s what the researchers found in their post-study analysis.

  • The level of compliance and weight loss (about 9 pounds) for both groups was comparable.
  • The low-carb dieters exhibited significantly better changes in their cardiovascular risk factors.

The alterations in heart disease markers related to reductions in LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol, apolipoprotein B and the lowering of diastolic and systolic blood pressure. This led the authors of the study to conclude that, “A low-carbohydrate, plant based diet has lipid lowering advantages over a high-carbohydrate, low-fat weight-loss diet in improving heart disease risk factors not seen with conventional low-fat diets with animal products.”

Two other recent studies help to dispel a few common misconceptions about carbohydrate restricted diets (CRD). The first study from April 2009 counters the claim that CRDs are very difficult to stick to and lead to a diminished quality of life. In that research, the effects of a CRD and low-fat diet were studied for 24 weeks in a group of 119 overweight men and women. The results of that trial indicate that the low carb diet improved “health related quality of life” to a greater extent than did the low fat diet. In particular, diet satisfaction and emotional and mental health scores were superior in the carb restricted individuals. (4)

The last low-carb study I want to draw attention to is a trial that examined the effects of a ketogenic (very low-carb) diet in a group of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This study is significant because there is the perception out there that this kind of diet impedes digestive health. The results of a recent study by the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the University of Colorado Denver simply does not support that assertion.

13 patients with moderate to severe IBS followed a ketogenic diet (with less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day) for 4 weeks. 10 of the 13 (77%) were confirmed as demonstrating “adequate relief” from their typical symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea and quality of life. (5)

Update #3 – Coffee and Liver Cancer

Finally, I’d like to briefly mention a June 2009 study that supports the notion that frequent coffee consumption may protect against a deadly form of liver cancer. But once again, there’s an unexpected twist in the data. It turns out that the highly respected cancer fighter, green tea, does not appear to provide the same effect. (6)

The aim of this Japanese study was to determine whether regular coffee or green tea consumption showed any benefit in preventing hepatitis induced liver cancer. The health records of almost 19,000 men and women were examined. When the cases of liver cancer were closely analyzed, it was determined that those who drank the greatest amount of coffee (3 cups a day or more) had the lowest risk of liver cancer, regardless of their hepatitis status. No discernible benefit was documented for regular green tea drinkers.

I hope that today’s updates will add to your understanding of these health issues and possibly expand your list of options to address such concerns. If you happen to come across any interesting research on these or other conditions that you think I should add to this site, please let me know. I truly want to make our information database as complete as possible.

Be well!

JP

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12 Comments & Updates to “Light Therapy, Low Carb Diets and Coffee Updates”

  1. LC Says:

    Great info :)

    I have a couple things that I am looking at..I am looking at getting some new vitamins and glocosomine for my joints when I came across this:
    http://www.vitacost.com/Peter-Gillham-Natural-Vitality-Liquid-Organic-Life-Vitamins#IngredientFacts

    There are so many different things out there I don’t know what to get hehe but this sounded good..notice its sweetened with stevia..and is organic..

    Also, what is the latest on Alfalfa sprouts.. I have been reading that they should be avoided due to a toxic amino acid that they have in them..

    Anyway lookforward to your response and great info as always :)

  2. JP Says:

    LC,

    Like most multinutrient blends, I like some aspects of the Peter’s Organic Life Vitamins.

    Keep in mind that the primary sweetener used in the product is agave syrup with some added stevia. The amount of agave is probably small enough so as not to be much of an issue however.

    http://www.healthyfellow.com/185/agave-danger/

    I’ll look into the alfalfa sprout issue and try to find out the most current info. Please check back and I should have some sort of an answer for you. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. LC Says:

    okay thanks!

  4. JP Says:

    LC,

    Personally, I would avoid them and focus on other healthier options like broccoli sprouts. The main reason why is due to a naturally occurring amino acid found in alfalfa called canavanine.

    http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=166

    http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/id/QAA202343

    Hope this helps!

    Be well!

    JP

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for this article.

  6. JP Says:

    You’re welcome!

    Be well!

    JP

  7. Rufus Banks Says:

    The article “Light Therapy and Sexual Dysfunction” does not mention, that the study has been made with the “Laxman Mental System” and that this device is not only for light therapy, but for stressmanagement and mental training as well.

  8. JP Says:

    Rufus,

    Can you please provide us with a link that specifies that? I didn’t find any information about it on the company’s website in their “studies” section. Thank you!

    Be well!

    JP

  9. Rufus Banks Says:

    I guess I have been a participant in this study ^^
    I don’t know if there is anything published about the tools that have been used. I just googled for the keywords.

  10. Rufus Banks Says:

    …In ‘my’ study they used the ‘Laxman’ and they provided a special discount for every participant. This was the way how I got my Laxman. We worked with special audio sessions containing sexual sounds(like moaning mixed with ambient stuff), not only the lights.

  11. JP Says:

    Rufus,

    It sounds like a different study. The trial I cited here appeared to exclusively utilize a therapeutic and placebo lighting source:

    “The ALT consisted of daily exposure to a white fluorescent light box (Super-Lite 3S, fitted with an ultraviolet filter and rated at 10,000 lx at a distance of 1 m from screen to cornea) for 30 min as soon as possible after awakening, between 7.00 a.m. and 8.00 a.m. The L-PBO was an identical light box fitted with a neutral density gel filter to reduce light exposure to 100 lx”.

    Thanks for sharing your experience though. It was interesting to learn about.

    Be well!

    JP

  12. Nate Says:

    The third update about the correlation between coffee and liver cancer is very insightful. This is actually not my first time to hear about this issue. Scientists led by Gang Hu at the University of Helsinki examined the associations between coffee and liver cancer and the verdict – Higher Coffee Consumption: Lower Liver Cancer Risk.

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