PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is estimated to affect between 5 – 10% of girls and women of childbearing age. Signs of PCOS vary, but are typically characterized by several of the following symptoms: acne, abnormal menstrual cycles, hair loss and/or excessive body and facial hair growth, infertility, mood disorders, ovarian cysts, overweight and sleep apnea. The commonality among most of these symptoms is an overproduction of male sex hormones (androgens) emanating from the ovaries. Insulin resistance is another factor in PCOS. Therefore, the conventional treatment of this prevalent condition usually involves birth control pills to moderate sex hormone concentrations, diabetes medications to improve insulin sensitivity and fertility aids for women who have difficulty getting pregnant.
Tags: Exercise, Insulin, PCOS
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Women's Health | 5 Comments & Updates
One of the distinct pleasures of attending Natural Products Expo West is knowing that I can share my findings both here and directly with my clients. Over the years I’ve developed a profound appreciation for the highly individualized needs of every person I encounter. So, while some reporters marvel or even scoff at the sheer number of products displayed at Expo West, I see opportunities to address the unique requirements of my clientele and readers.
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 5 Comments & Updates
If you ever plan to attend Natural Products Expo West, make sure to go on an empty stomach. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of exhibitors there who want to feed you for free! These distributors, manufacturers and retailers are downright eager to share their newest functional foods, meals-to-go, probiotic beverages, snacks and much, much more. For some, this may sound like a dream come true – lots of (mostly) delicious treats and giveaways with a healthy twist! But, the reality is that you have to carefully pace yourself if you have any hope of getting the most out of Expo West.
Tags: Broth, Coconut, Eggs, Fish
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Product Reviews | 10 Comments & Updates
If you regularly eat garbanzo beans or hummus, lamb, lentils, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds or tahini you’re well on your way to following my latest prescription. All of these foods are stellar sources of zinc, an essential trace mineral. For all of those who don’t eat zinc-rich foods on a daily basis, I highly recommend a daily multivitamin providing at least 100% of the RDA of most minerals including zinc. In fact, since zinc is both essential to health maintenance and safe when taken in conservative amounts, I recommend multivitamins to just about everyone. Now, you may think that I’m focusing on zinc because of its widely known benefits to the immune system. After all, zinc lozenges are probably the most popular natural cold aids currently on the market. While true, there’s so much more to zinc than just that.
Tags: Alzheimer's, Breast Cancer, Diabetes
Posted in Children's Health, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 13 Comments & Updates
A few years ago, I wrote a column entitled, “Natural Health for Dogs”. It’s a bit ironic that I focused on dogs first since I’ve always held a very special place in my heart for cats. Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve felt a unique affinity towards felines of all kinds. Something about them draws me in and inspires effortless feelings of joy and peace. Over the years I’ve had the good fortune of being a caretaker and companion to various cats. Today, in tribute to the many feline friends that I’ve known and loved, I want to share some information that can improve the lives of other cats that I will never know.
Tags: Carnitine, Fish Oil, Resveratrol
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 7 Comments & Updates
Recently, an old friend asked for some suggestions to protect her eyes from the “normal” visual decline associated with aging. Now, you’ve probably seen more than a few eye supplements at your local health food stores and pharmacies. And, most of these products contain similar ingredients such as beta carotene or pro-Vitamin A, copper, lutein, Vitamin C, zinc and so on. All of these nutrients and phytochemicals have been shown to benefit ocular function or health in one way or another. Having said that, some newer, far less common botanicals may provide additional protection. What’s more, these lesser known extracts are generally not found in nutraceutical formulas intended to support eye health.
Tags: Curcumin, Eyes, Pycnogenol, Saffron
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 5 Comments & Updates
Lack of adequate blood flow can affect many areas of the body. When insufficient circulation targets the legs, it’s frequently caused by a condition known as PAD or peripheral artery disease. In PAD, hardening of leg arteries and accumulation of plaque lead to a narrowing effect and diminished blood flow. Subsequently those with PAD often suffer from uncomfortable symptoms, including leg cramping, numbness and pain – especially during periods of physical activity. More importantly, a PAD diagnosis may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and poor wound healing in the lower region of the body. Fortunately, emerging research indicates that certain foods and exercises can limit PAD symptoms and some of the associated risks.
Tags: Beans, Curry, Lycopene, Salt
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Nutrition | 7 Comments & Updates
Unless you have very high or low blood pressure, you probably don’t think a lot about the the blood pressure spectrum. As an example, a significant number of people have higher-than-normal blood pressure, but not high enough to treat with medication. This is typically defined as “prehypertension” and is marked by blood pressure ranging from 120-139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic. If you consistently have blood pressure in this range, you may well be a candidate for using a variety of natural options to drop your readings into the “normal” category of 120/80 mmHg or less. However, I want to point out that in some instances having higher than normal blood pressure may actually be advantageous. For instance, some research has found that higher blood pressure may actually reduce the risk of balance issues, dementia and all-cause mortality in seniors. So, when in doubt, consult with a cardiologist to determine what’s right for your unique circumstance.
Tags: Blueberries, Chocolate, Flax
Posted in Heart Health, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 13 Comments & Updates
Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that affects up to two million adults and children in the United States alone. However, unlike many other autoimmune conditions, vitiligo is visibly apparent to those living with it and those around them. In most cases, the characteristic loss of skin pigmentation can’t be fully concealed with clothing or cosmetics. What’s more, conventional treatments used to manage vitiligo are often expensive, risky and not entirely successful in slowing its spread and/or repigmenting affected white patches. Thankfully, there is hope to found in the form of affordable, natural remedies with good safety profiles.
Tags: Black Cumin, Gluten, Vitiligo
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 3 Comments & Updates
Nobody wants to get a colonoscopy. But, much like going to the dentist, it’s a preventive care necessity. Unlike most other diagnostic tests, colonoscopies not only detect cancer, but can also prevent it by removing polyps which may develop into cancer. In fact, researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard recently concluded that colonoscopies are by far the most accurate tests to identify and reduce the risk of cancerous growths both in the distal (right) and proximal (left) sides of the colon.
Tags: Berries, Cancer, Mediterranean Diet
Posted in Exercise, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 2 Comments & Updates
For Mexican food lovers (myself included!) there is a simple approach to improving the health benefits and nutritional quality of Mexican-style meals. It really doesn’t matter if you’re eating out at Mexican restaurants or preparing it yourself at home. There are potential pitfalls in both instances which can be largely avoided by practicing a basic technique I call “crowding out”. The concept is that you crowd out most or some of the unhealthy foods and replace them with better options. In the realm of Mexican cuisine, this means minimizing your intake of chips, rice, sweetened beverages and tortillas and focusing instead on foods containing more fiber, healthy fat, nutrients and protein.
Tags: Avocados, Beans, Hibiscus
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 4 Comments & Updates
An ideal diet allows for a combination of health benefits and sensory pleasure. The problem with many dietary plans is that they tend to be rather restrictive. It doesn’t matter if it’s gluten free, low carbohydrate, Mediterranean or Paleo. So, while they likely fulfill the “health benefits” part of the bargain, they frequently fall short of the “sensory pleasure” component. To some extent, this is a fact of life that needs to be accepted as a necessary compromise. Having said that, on occasion research reveals that select foods typically forbidden in specific meal plans do not have to be avoided altogether. In fact, some commonly shunned foods often add both enjoyment and a healthful boost to restrictive diets.
Tags: Blood Sugar, Fruits, Triglycerides
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 6 Comments & Updates
Availability and convenience play major roles in maintaining a healthful eating plan. The trouble is that many readily available foods and snacks such as muffins, protein bars and smoothies contain questionable additives and ingredients. But, there’s no rule that says you have to compromise convenience in order to stick to a wholesome diet. All you really need to do is learn how to make the types of food you wish you could find at your local market. It’s probably easier then you’d imagine and usually a whole lot less expensive as well.
Tags: Blueberries, Coconut, Nuts
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes | 1 Comment
Question: I’ve read that an enzyme supplement called catalase helps reverse hair graying. I think this sounds too good to be true. But, I hope I’m wrong! What’s your opinion about these products?
Answer: For starters, let’s briefly review what causes the graying of hair and the potential role of catalase. The loss of melanin, a pigment which colors hair, is partially induced by a build up or overproduction of hydrogen peroxide in hair follicles. Catalase, an antioxidant enzyme produced by the body, helps convert hydrogen peroxide into two, non-bleaching substances – oxygen and water. This is the rationale for some of the supplements you’ve likely seen. However, it should be noted that there are other enzymes (MSR A and B) which also affect melanin production and tend to decline with age. For this reason, L’Oreal, the cosmetic giant, is currently developing a supposedly all-natural supplement which targets yet another hair graying mechanism – tyrosine-related protein TRP-2 production.
Tags: aging, Hair, Walnuts
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 3 Comments & Updates
A reader asks: You’ve written a lot of blogs about nuts and how healthy you believe they are. I’m not convinced though, because you also frequently mention the importance of keeping an eye on one’s omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. My understanding is that most nuts are top heavy in omega-6 fatty acids and mostly devoid of omega-3s. These two recommendations seem to be at odds. Am I missing something? Bottom line, what’s your current stance on eating nuts and how it relates to the whole omega 6/3 ratio issue?
Tags: Almonds, Inflammation, Prebiotics
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutrition | 2 Comments & Updates
The word bitter has become synonymous with negative imagery. “That was a bitter pill to swallow.” “The night manager was bitter and spiteful about the way his supervisor treated him.” “In life you must accept the bitter along with the sweet.” The same is true of modern culinary trends. Recipes often call for the addition of sweet ingredients to temper the natural bitterness of popular foods – think hot cocoa, lattes and green leafy vegetables. But, what’s frequently lost in translation is that the bitter phytochemicals in common foods and herbs sometimes impart medicinal and/or therapeutic activity.
Tags: Digestion, Indigestion, Kale
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 2 Comments & Updates