My third and final installment of news from the Natural Products Expo West focuses on a category of products known as “functional foods”. Basically, these are beverages, ingredients or packaged foods that are fortified with nutrients, phytochemicals and pre- or probiotics. In essence, they’re a hybrid of dietary supplements and healthy foods. The idea is to take an already wholesome food and increase its therapeutic potential by adding ingredients that aren’t normally present.
Tags: Chocolate, Gluten, Probiotics
Posted in Food and Drink, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
Most of us give little thought to the involuntary actions which occur in our bodies on a daily basis: the digestive system absorbing nutrients, hearts beating and circulating blood, livers processing toxins and so on. Beneath the level of conscious awareness resides the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the controller of these vitally important bodily functions and many others. In general, the ANS requires little maintenance. However, sometimes this unsung aspect of our physiology benefits from some assistance in order to work for our greatest good.
Tags: asthma, Breathing, COPD
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Heart Health, Memory | 1 Comment
As a stalwart proponent of integrative medicine, I strive to integrate natural remedies into the conventional medical system. However, I don’t do so indiscriminately. Many years ago, I came to the realization that I must use an evidence-based model to separate truly effective, safe remedies from those that may do harm and/or result in a waste of money and time. This approach to evaluating alternative and complementary therapies doesn’t always make me popular in the natural health community. Still, it’s a necessary step in order ensure long lasting trust between natural health proponents, the medical establishment and, most importantly, the consumers who decide to consider all possible options.
Tags: Astaxanthin, Curcumin, Pomegranate
Posted in Heart Health, Memory, Men's Health | 4 Comments
There are countless supplements that claim to enhance cognitive performance. Some even hint at providing protection against age-related cognitive decline. But, what if you’re just looking for a little extra “brain nutrition”? Perhaps you simply want to improve your attention, reaction speed or short-term memory. Or maybe you’re thinking down the line about natural ways to optimally nourish your brain before any signs of decline appear. The following recipe is valuable for virtually all brain stages. I suggest this very formula to many of my clients who are looking for everything from greater mental sharpness to strides in academic performance.
Tags: Cocoa, Coconut, Walnuts
Posted in Food and Drink, Memory, Recipes | 5 Comments
Dr. Abraham Maslow, the famous and influential psychologist, once quipped: “If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail”. If you go to see a doctor or health coach that has a particular specialty, they’ll usually make recommendations based on their personal training. And, if their “prescriptions”, whether allopathic or holistic, aren’t effective, the client or patient is left without a solution unless he sees another expert who offers a different perspective. Some of the people who don’t find solutions to their health concerns end up seeking out alternatives from consultants like me. Recently, a client in his late 70′s contacted me about natural methods of improving cognition and nervousness. But, as is often the case, this gentleman was already taking many positive steps to address his concerns – a reasonably healthy diet, adequate sleep, exercise, supplements, etc. Also, I was made aware that he wasn’t keen on the idea of daily meditation. He had tried it many times before and simply couldn’t or wouldn’t stick with it.
Tags: Anxiety, Meditation, Music
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Memory, Mental Health | 2 Comments
The fact that I embrace science as a means of validating natural remedies occasionally puts me at odds with strict holistic advocates. In a recent encounter, I was accused of aligning myself with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – an organization which, by most accounts, has a contentious relationship with the natural health community. My response was that if I were affiliated with the FDA, prescriptions for statin medications (used to lower cholesterol) would become obsolete and avocados would be stocked in pharmacies throughout the land.
Tags: Diabetes, Heart Health, Olive Oil
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Memory, Nutrition | No Comments;
For the next few moments, I’d like you to conjure up an image of what you think caffeine does to the brain. Did you come up with negative or positive imagery? When I think of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, hot cocoa or tea, I associate them with the promotion of brain health. I know this goes against the common stereotype of caffeine as overly stimulating. However, modern science is starting to show a consistently positive trend in trials investigating the role of caffeine consumption and neuroprotection.
Tags: Cancer, Coffee, Depression, Tea
Posted in Food and Drink, Memory, Mental Health | 12 Comments
Fruit juice isn’t something that I normally recommend. Most bottled and fresh juices simply contain too much sugar – a dietary component that is already too plentiful in many diets. Then, there’s the issue of dietary fiber. The process of making juice removes the fibrous portion of fruits and vegetables, and concentrates the sweet liquid contained therein. This yields both negative and positive effects. On the one hand, the antioxidants, nutrients and phytochemicals that naturally occur in juice are often better absorbed when fiber is absent from the equation. But, without fiber, fruits and vegetable juices become more concentrated reservoirs of high glycemic carbohydrates which generally result in large fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin.
Tags: Antioxidants, Circulation, Grapes
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Memory | No Comments;
Part of my responsibility as a medical researcher and natural health consultant is to present breaking information that your doctors may not be aware of and/or ready to share with you. Mainstream medicine is notorious for not advocating certain important health practices until they’re widely accepted by the institutions that govern it. On the other hand, holistic practitioners often veer to the opposite end of the spectrum and assign too much importance to theories that are only backed by preliminary evidence. Today’s blog features an evidence-based snapshot of a trend I’ve been seeing over the past few years. I believe the data contained herein will eventually be accepted by the alternative and conventional medical camps. But, you don’t have to wait until the Journal of the American Medical Association or some other pillar of modern medicine gives its seal of approval to enact the forthcoming research.
Tags: Alzheimer's, Dementia, Vitamin D
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | 8 Comments
A recent article appearing in the Los Angeles Times draws attention to an emerging health crisis that is currently underreported. “Looking at the Link Between Diabetes and Dementia” focuses on the growing consensus among researchers that elevated blood sugar likely plays a pivotal role in the development of dementia. One of the more shocking statistics mentioned is that an estimated 10% of all dementia cases may be attributable to diabetes. But, hope can be found in the words of Dr. Debra Cherry, one of the specialists featured in the piece – “What is good for the reduction of diabetes risk is also good for reduction of the risk of cognitive impairment”.
Tags: DHA, Massage, Milk Thistle
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diabetes, Memory | 4 Comments
The term “Advanced Glycation End product” or AGE isn’t exactly well known. Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine aim to change that and with good reason. To the uninitiated, AGEs are toxic byproducts that are linked to numerous health threats ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes. They’re formed during the cooking and processing of various foods using high heat. Within the body, AGEs can also be produced – especially in the context of diets rich in carbohydrates. The latest evidence suggests that this prevalent risk factor affects everyone from infants to seniors. Why infants? A report in the December 2010 issue of Diabetes Care explains that infants receiving baby formula had twice the level of AGEs typically found in adult diabetics. The authors go on to reveal that baby formula can contain 100 times the AGE content of breast milk. In seniors, elevated AGEs are an emerging risk factor for “accelerated cognitive aging” and Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, there are simple ways to mitigate the effects of dietary AGEs and to discourage their manufacture internally. For instance, according to a study published in July 2011, switching to an AGE-restricted diet for as little as 4 months can lower inflammation and insulin levels by 35% in type 2 diabetics.
Tags: AGEs, Alzheimer's, Heart Health
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Memory | 2 Comments
The July-August edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine addresses one of the more contentious medical, political and societal issues of our time: medical marijuana. The review provides a balanced perspective about the pros and cons of cannabis use in modern medicine. It not only describes scientific evidence pertaining to legal and illegal cannabis, but also points out issues that require more clarification and future study including: the addictive potential of the “drug”, optimal delivery methods and quality control issues involving natural and synthetic contaminants. My own investigation into the medicinal use of marijuana uncovered some promising and troubling findings. On the positive side, two trials from 2010 and 2011 demonstrated encouraging results in the management of chronic pain related conditions such as fibromyalgia and postsurgical neuropathic pain. However, other recent cannabis studies point to a lack of success in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy and a decline in cognitive performance in multiple sclerosis patients that use “inhaled or ingested street cannabis”. This new data is unlikely to sway stalwart opinions about medical marijuana one way or the other. But, I hope it will add some scientific weight to the discussion.
Tags: Fibromyalgia, Marijuana, Pain
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Memory, Mental Health | 7 Comments
What I personally look for in a physician, regardless of their specialty, is someone who is an expert in their field, but who also acknowledges and understands the importance of holism. Historical wisdom and recent scientific discoveries make it abundantly clear that it no longer makes much sense to treat symptoms in isolation. These days, physicians need to consider individual dietary, lifestyle and psychological factors in addition to biomarkers and other test results when evaluating a patient’s true health status. Dr. Larry McCleary is an example of a brain specialist who has fully embraced this concept by searching throughout the body for clues that may enhance wellness. Read more »
Tags: Brain, Coconut, Vitamin D
Posted in Diabetes, Interviews, Memory | 1 Comment
Figures just released by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics report that over 94 million prescriptions for Zocor (simvastatin), a cholesterol-lowering medication, were written in 2010. Crestor and Lipitor, two other statin drugs used to reduce lipids, registered sales of $3.8 and $7.2 billion respectively last year. Salvia officinalis or sage is unlikely to pose much competition to these powerhouse medications. However, a select group of integrative and naturopathic physicians are taking note that this common culinary herb may have much to offer as an alternative and/or complementary treatment option. (1) Read more »
Tags: Alzheimer's, Cholesterol, Sage
Posted in Heart Health, Memory, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments
Throughout history there have been many wise and witty sayings about growing older. Here are a few of my favorites: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Mark Twain; “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.” Benjamin Franklin; “The minute a man ceases to grow, no matter what his years, that minute he begins to be old.” William James. Some of the changes that occur with advancing age cannot be avoided entirely. But I believe there’s such a thing as “quality of aging” as well as “quality of life”. What’s more, we can all affect the manner and pace by which our bodies reflect our biological years. Read more »
Tags: Arthritis, Heart Health, Tai Chi, Yoga
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Bone and Joint Health, Memory | No Comments;
Being an informed consumer almost always results in greater satisfaction. This applies when you’re shopping for a car, electronics, a new home and, without a doubt, medical care. In the realm of modern health care if you simply accept all of the information presented by so-called experts, you’ll often miss out on opportunities that you won’t even know exist. Two herbs that are frequently criticized in the popular press are Ginkgo biloba and Silybum marianum or milk thistle. On many occasions they’re described as ineffective and/or unproven at best and potentially dangerous at worst. However, what’s often left out of the picture is the actual data that supports their use and offers clues about their relative safety.
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Tags: Cancer, Ginkgo Biloba, Milk Thistle
Posted in Memory, Men's Health, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments