Natural Health Bargains

February 2, 2010 Written by JP       [Font too small?]

There’s a chain of high-end health foods stores in the United States called Whole Foods. It’s an amazing place to visit if you’re interested in gourmet foods, all-natural personal care items and the trendiest supplements known to mankind. But cheap it is not. Some people even joke that Whole Foods should be renamed Whole Paycheck because that’s often what you end up spending there. This can be rather disheartening for those who are interested in natural living, but can’t afford to shop in this manner. If you’ve ever felt that way, please be advised that the vast majority of holistic lifestyle choices aren’t cost prohibitive. The trick is finding creative ways to derive the same benefits that normally come with a hefty price tag.

The next time you’re shopping in the dairy isle of your local health food store or market, you may notice a new product by Danone called Shape Lasting Satisfaction. Two new studies appearing in The Journal of Food Quality and Preference tested the effects of this cultured treat on appetite levels in a total of 135 healthy women. The women were provided with this specialized yogurt which contains added protein (8 grams per serving) and fiber (2.6-2.9 grams per serving) or a conventional yogurt as a mid-morning snack. Questionnaires were utilized as a means of determining subjective ratings for “desire to eat”, fullness, hunger and “prospective consumption”. The researchers also monitored exactly how much the participants ate at a meal given 2 hours following the respective snacks. The women who received the “super yogurt” reported feeling a reduction in appetite (-16%). This sensation resulted in an average 274 calorie decline in the subsequent meal. (1)

You can certainly try this new product to see whether it helps promote greater satiety. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you may very well derive similar benefits by simply spiking some regular yogurt with a good fiber source such as ground flaxseeds or shredded coconut and a natural protein powder. You can probably even improve upon the results found in the previously mentioned study by using unsweetened yogurt and adding a small amount of cocoa powder or xylitol-sweetened fruit preserves for flavor. Just make sure to select yogurt that contains “live cultures”. The combination of higher fiber + protein, low carbs and probiotics has been shown to improve: a) hunger hormone levels (CCK and ghrelin); b) feelings of “satisfaction and pleasantness” and; c) “regulation of tissue-free fatty acid composition and uptake, storage and oxidation” – all of which promote a healthier body mass index. (2,3,4)

Everyone wants fresh breath and a healthy smile. Even your cardiovascular system desires it. I’m serious about that! Poor gingival health has consistently been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. But fortunately an old ally of the cardiovascular system may now also promote improved gum health. A new report in the journal Nutrition has found a link between low levels of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, and periodontal disease in a 5 year study involving 55 seniors. The men and women with the lowest intake of dietary fish oil exhibited a 1.5 fold greater risk of “periodontal disease events” than those with the highest omega-3 intake. Previous studies in animal models and in humans suggest that the fatty acids in fish oil may decrease inflammation and reduce regional bone loss that is associated with declining oral health. From a cost and health perspective, purified fish oil is one of the wisest health investments most people can make as gingivitis is a prevalent health condition in people of all ages.(5,6,7,8,9)

The 12-Step Alcohol Abstinence Process
Source: BMC Psychiatry 2009, 9:76 (link)

A poor economic outlook and high unemployment rates are often a fertile breeding ground for addiction and depression. This is a time when more people than ever require proper medical care and oversight but can afford it the least. That’s why it’s important to remember and remind others that there are free and low cost resources available. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step groups are one option. A new analysis by researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine has found that part of the reason for AA’s documented success is likely due to an “alleviation of depression”. This observation is based on interviews of 1,706 AA members taken over the course of 15 months. Those who attended more meetings reported less drinking and fewer signs of depression. The conclusion of the study states that “AA appears to lead both to improvements in alcohol use and psychological and emotional well being which, in turn, may reinforce further abstinence and recovery-related change”. Another recent trial indicates that alcoholics who regularly participate in AA can reduce impulsive behaviors that often result in “legal problems”. One of the most noteworthy observations that is continually made when examining the issue of AA and alcohol recovery is that “the abstinence process is an ongoing process in which the alcohol-dependents free themselves of addiction progressively”. (10,11,12)

When I was writing today’s column I was reminded of a lesson that I learned during my screenwriting days. Sometimes the best way to encourage creativity in a writer is to set limits. If you tell someone that they have to create a film with only five characters that takes place within a one-block radius, they’re forced to be more creative than if you allow them to write about anything they want. Limitations often require you to find more creative solutions to your obstacles. In writing and in health care, this will generally require expending more effort. But the end result can be more fruitful and satisfying. The proof can be found by visiting 12-step programs in the wealthier parts of town – which I’ve done. Many people with substantial means continually attend those free meetings rather than seeing a $500 an hour psychiatrist because it’s worth it – in human, not financial terms.

Be well!

JP

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements

5 Comments & Updates to “Natural Health Bargains”

  1. anne h Says:

    Isn’t blogging like AA in a way?
    Feedback and support, anonymity and non-judgemental acceptance.
    (Hopefully!)

  2. JP Says:

    Anne,

    I think there are similarities – the acceptance, education, feedback and support.

    The online experience has certainly been therapeutic for me with regard to my weight loss journey. However I don’t think blogging has the same type of structure that a formal 12-step program does. Some people require a more rigid framework in order to avoid falling back into addictive or otherwise destructive patterns.

    That said, there’s probably no harm is combining the best of both worlds – if necessary. Perhaps blogging could be a complementary therapy to 12-step programs or vice versa. :)

    Be well!

    JP

  3. Sai Says:

    JP

    Good Day!

    Since you mentioned about the cost, let me tell you how we make yogurt. We boil the Milk in the stove for about 30-40 minutes until the milk reaches the boiling point and begins to form cream, then we put the milk aside to allow it to cool so that it is not hot but slightly warm, when it reaches that slightly warm temperature we add a tablespoon of yogurt and mix it well and then put a cloth around it and place it in the oven overnight (for warmth) [do not heat the oven], the next morning you will have creamy home made yogurt! Only when you do this for the first time you need a good organic yogurt (Plain) with active live cultures. From the next time you can use the same yogurt that you made as it would have all the active cultures. With this you choice is unlimited ‘coz you can buy organic milk of your choice and make a organic yogurt!

    Best Regards

    Sai.

  4. JP Says:

    An excellent money saving tip! Thank you for sharing that with us, Sai! :)

    Be well!

    JP

  5. JP Says:

    Update 06/08/15:

    http://www.drugandalcoholdependence.com/article/S0376-8716%2815%2900261-6/abstract

    Drug Alcohol Depend. 2015 May 27.

    A single dose of kudzu extract reduces alcohol consumption in a binge drinking paradigm.

    BACKGROUND: Overconsumption of alcohol has significant negative effects on an individual’s health and contributes to an enormous economic impact on society as a whole. Pharmacotherapies to curb excessive drinking are important for treating alcohol use disorders.

    METHODS: Twenty (20) men participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, between subjects design experiment (n=10/group) that tested the effects of kudzu extract (Alkontrol-Herbal™) for its ability to alter alcohol consumption in a natural settings laboratory. A single dose of kudzu extract (2g total with an active isoflavone content of 520mg) or placebo was administered 2.5h before the onset of a 90min afternoon drinking session during which participants had the opportunity to drink up to 6 beers ad libitum; water and juice were always available as alternative beverages.

    RESULTS: During the baseline session, the placebo-randomized group consumed 2.7±0.78 beers before treatment and increased consumption to 3.4±1.1 beers after treatment. The kudzu group significantly reduced consumption from 3.0±1.7 at baseline to 1.9±1.3 beers after treatment. The placebo-treated group opened 33 beers during baseline conditions and 38 following treatment whereas the kudzu-treated group opened 32 beers during baseline conditions and only 21 following treatment. Additionally, kudzu-treated participants drank slower.

    CONCLUSION: This is the first demonstration that a single dose of kudzu extract quickly reduces alcohol consumption in a binge drinking paradigm. These data add to the mounting clinical evidence that kudzu extract may be a safe and effective adjunctive pharmacotherapy for alcohol abuse and dependence.

    Be well!

    JP

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