A highlight of Natural Products Expo West 2013 was a spellbinding presentation given by Paul Stamets, the famed mycologist. The talk was originally intended as a discussion about the effects of medicinal mushrooms on immunity. However, by the time Paul stepped off the stage, he had covered a broad range of applications for mushrooms which included their utility as non-toxic insecticides, in the promotion of greater biodiversity and as natural decontaminating agents for use during nuclear fallout and oil spills. But, as the lecture came to an end, Mr. Stamets also touched upon the potential of select mushrooms in bolstering the immune system. What’s more, he went on to describe how his mom used a specific mushroom alongside conventional care to heal herself of stage 4 breast cancer.
Tags: Breast Cancer, Immune, Mushrooms
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 6 Comments
Every few weeks or so, a favorite hobby of mine is to slowly make my way down each and every aisle of a local health food store. I glance over the countless shelves waiting for specific items to grab my attention. On a recent visit to Whole Foods, in Venice, California, I spotted a line of crackers that go by the name of Skinny Crisps. Usually, I’d keep on moving since most crackers can’t exactly be classified as health foods. But, something about the simple, yet eye-catching package and label claim of “Low Carb & Gluten Free” slowed me down long enough to study the little white bags in more detail.
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Product Reviews | 2 Comments
I’ve long believed that there is a psychological component that partially explains why natural therapies are met with resistance in the modern health care environment. The current medical paradigm is centered on advanced technology such as gene testing, nano-pharmaceuticals and stem cell treatments. Therefore, the idea that traditional practices, used by our distant ancestors, can be even more important than modern technology in promoting health is often perceived as impossible.
Tags: Fiber, Low Carb, Paleolithic Diet
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Product Reviews | 2 Comments
I’m always on the lookout for all-natural food products that make healthy living more practical. Based on what I saw at this year’s Expo West, many manufacturers are hoping to provide just that. However, my idea of what constitutes a healthy snack often differs from theirs. In many instances, natural food makers simply replace conventionally refined grains and sweeteners with organic counterparts. This is a step in the right direction. But, ultimately, these “new and improved” products are still largely comprised of nutrient-poor ingredients that are likely to cause unhealthy blood sugar fluctuations.
Tags: Kale, Low Carb, Olive
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Product Reviews | 3 Comments
This past weekend, over 60,000 members of the natural product community converged at the Anaheim Convention Center in Orange County, California. Among them were manufacturers, product spokespeople and retailers. In all, over 2,000 companies exhibited products and services on a show floor that spanned an impressive one million square feet. This all bodes well for an industry that reported 8% growth in 2010, which equates to a total of $127 billion in sales in the U.S. alone. As in years gone by, I took part in the proceedings as an information gathering observer.
Tags: Constipation, Seniors, Whey Protein
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 6 Comments
In case you haven’t already noticed, the slogan for this website is “Your Natural Health Critic”. And while I tend to focus on the more positive developments in the field of integrative and natural medicine, at times it’s necessary to point out some troubling trends as well. This year’s Natural Products Expo West was an excellent opportunity to flex my critical thinking in precisely this arena. In a recent press release, Adam Anderson, a spokesman for the Anaheim-based trade show, commented that “While the economy recovers, the natural and organic industry continues to grow. 2010 metrics including attendance and hundreds of new product introductions at Expo West are proof positive of the strategic value surrounding in-person business events”. The introduction of new products to the marketplace is an opportunity to show how innovative the natural health community can be. However, more often than not, the products in question fall short of my expectations.
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Tags: Agave, Diabetes, Gluten, Heart Health
Posted in Children's Health, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 2 Comments
Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday I walked the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center along with over 58,000 other members of the natural health community. I had my comfy Sanuk walking shoes on and a mission at hand: to survey the current trends in the natural food sector with a critical but fair eye. Some of what I saw left me hopeful, so that’s what I’ll focus on today. In my next installment on the Natural Products Expo West, I’ll discuss some of the more troublesome aspects of this colossal trade show.
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Tags: Prebiotics, Stevia, Xylitol
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 12 Comments
There are few topics in modern medicine that stir as much debate as nutritional supplementation. At first glance, it seems like such an innocuous subject matter. What could possibly be so controversial about the concept of supplementing in order to protect against a potential nutrient deficiency? On one side of the fence, you have some allopathic physicians who believe that supplements give license to patients to eat an unhealthy diet. Surprisingly, some on the naturopathic front share a similar perspective. They believe that the goodness found in natural, whole foods can’t possibly be matched by most supplements. In an ideal world, mankind could be expected to derive all that’s needed from the environment and food supply. But that’s a different world than the one we live in.
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Posted in Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 5 Comments
One of my least favorite sayings is, “Everything in moderation”. I think it’s a problematic piece of advice for many people who think they need such guidance in the first place. You wouldn’t tell a mother to let her child eat lead-based paint in moderation. It would be foolhardy to suggest to an alcoholic or drug addict to indulge every once in awhile, provided that it’s done moderately. So why then do family, friends, nutritionists and physicians insist on passing along this ubiquitous adage when it comes to eating unhealthy food? In my opinion, it’s largely rooted in a belief that most people just aren’t capable of doing what’s right for themselves on a long term basis. But I think there’s a better solution. Read more »
Tags: Cocoa, Probiotics, Sugar
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 17 Comments
I was listening recently to an interview with Dr. Richard Bernstein that was conducted by David Edelman of Diabetes Today. During the course of the interview David posed a few specific questions that I genuinely wanted to know the answers to: “What did you have for breakfast and for lunch?”. These aren’t exactly hard hitting inquiries or the kind of material that is likely to convert anyone to Dr. Bernstein’s philosophy for controlling blood sugar. But it does offer an intriguing glimpse into how a seasoned expert applies his own recommendations to his daily life. After all, isn’t that what we’d all like to know? How do we take the concepts and guidelines presented in books, magazines and websites, and incorporate them into our regular routines? One way to accomplish this is to replace damaging diet elements with healthier options. Read more »
Tags: B Vitamins, Dental Health, Green Tea
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Product Reviews | 11 Comments
Last Friday I was zigzagging between exhibitor booths at the Anaheim Convention Center. One of the most pleasant surprises I discovered was the omnipresence of stevia-based items and finished products sweetened with stevia. Even the coffee shops and concession stands throughout the convention center provided only honey, sugar and stevia as condiments. There was nary an artificial sugar substitute to be found at this gathering. Read more »
Tags: Diabetes, Heart Health, Stevia
Posted in Product Reviews | 46 Comments
There’s an old joke that goes: “If you want to hear God laugh, make a plan”. In November I hatched a plan to conduct a pilot study on a traditional herbal tea. The objective of the preliminary, mini-trial was to determine whether an herbal blend known as SLP Tea could help promote better sleep quality in a handful of my readers. I didn’t hear any divine chuckles, but not everything turned out quite as I had hoped. Initially, I enrolled 6 volunteers into my experiment. 3 of the 6 were ultimately able to comply with all of the guidelines I set for the study.
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Tags: Lemon Balm, Sleep, Tea
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 14 Comments
When I was growing up I imagined that the absolute greatest job in the world was to be a film critic. What could possibly be better than making a living watching movies and then telling people all about them? But, as time went on, my perspective changed somewhat. I think it’s partially because my desire to create surpassed any interest I had in critiquing the work of others. When I started writing films myself, I began to understand how very difficult it is to write a good, let alone great screenplay. What’s more, it dawned on me that the writing process is but one small piece in a much larger production. I think this is why I’ve ultimately phased out movie review columns on this site. My original intent was to recommend obscure but noteworthy films that I hoped would entertain and inspire. But writing (and reading) exclusively positive reviews tends to be rather boring and, frankly, my initial reservations about motion picture critiquing began to haunt me once again. Read more »
Tags: Green Tea, Pomegranate, Resveratrol
Posted in Product Reviews | 5 Comments
According to the October issue of the AARP Bulletin, 10 of the most popular medications prescribed in the United States are used to address psychological symptoms. In fact, over 243 million prescriptions were written in 2008 alone expressly for this purpose. Anxiety, depression and insomnia top the list of conditions for which these drugs are dispensed. But that startling statistic doesn’t reveal whether or not any natural alternatives were tried prior to the use of these powerful, psychoactive agents. Read more »
Tags: Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue
Posted in Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements, Product Reviews | 14 Comments
Thursday is the day of the week that I venture out to my local health food store. Today’s mission: To find a crunchy snack that’s all-natural, nutritious and delicious. It’s a tall order, but I think I’ve come up with three noteworthy items that fit the bill. There’s a little something for everyone: raw foodists, vegetarians and those of us on low-carb diets. I’m even throwing in a recipe from my own kitchen that is far more versatile and easy to prepare than any other chip or cracker I’ve ever made. Please join me on this brief tour to the land of healthy snacking. Read more »
Tags: Flax, Low Carb
Posted in Product Reviews, Recipes | 4 Comments
Salvia hispanica isn’t exactly a household name. But when it’s referred to as “chia seeds”, the recognition factor increases substantially. In prior decades, that coupling of words would bring to mind a novelty item that would grow into a Chia Pet. However these days, Salvia hispanica is more likely to be mentioned at your local health food store. It turns out that the seeds of chia are noteworthy for being more than just a gag gift. Read more »
Tags: Appetite, Diabetes, Heart
Posted in Product Reviews | 53 Comments