Archive for January, 2009
Acupressure is technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that is quite similar to acupuncture. Instead of needles, instruments or fingers apply direct pressure on specific points of the body in order to alleviate symptoms or to support various organs or systems of the body. Read more »
Tags: Pain, Pregnancy
Posted in Alternative Therapies | No Comments;
A few weeks ago I wrote a column about xylitol’s beneficial effect on the health of teeth and gums. But there are many other natural extracts that you’ll probably see in oral care products in the coming years. Ironically, many of these natural substances are derived from sweet fruits. Today I’m going to present a brief overview of three up and coming natural ingredients that will soon be appearing in a toothpaste or mouthwash near you. Read more »
Tags: Cavities, Gums
Posted in Dental Health | 3 Comments
This past week, I learned of two new studies that question a few common misconceptions about arthritis. I thought it would be important to share these with you, as some of you may be avoiding these resources due to incomplete information. Read more »
Tags: Arthritis, Chondroitin
Posted in Bone and Joint Health | No Comments;
Yesterday, a friend of mine commented on how his new diet was derailed by some unexpected circumstances. He went on to describe a number of stressful events that made it difficult for him to acquire healthy food. Well, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. But if you’re anything like me, you probably aren’t buying the story my friend’s selling. At least not 100% of it. So this would be a good opportunity for me to share some simple tips that have kept me on the right track to good health.
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Mental Health, Recipes | 4 Comments
Today I have two news items for the ladies (and all the men who love them). First I want to take on a condition that severely affects the quality of life for many women. After that, I’m going to provide new information about how women can help avoid an all too common killer. Read more »
Tags: Breast Cancer
Posted in Women's Health | 6 Comments
Do you exercise? Are you planning on starting an exercise program? In either case, you’ll want to exercise in the most efficient way possible. In today’s blog, I’ll provide some new research that may help you construct a more effective exercise regime. Read more »
Posted in Exercise | 13 Comments
Burn After Reading is a new comedy by Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen brothers are a filmmaking duo that has enriched my life by making cinematic gems such as Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo and No Country for Old Men. They’re also critical darlings, having been nominated for multiple Academy Awards and just about every other award you can think of. So it’s no surprise that they’re able to attract an impressive group of actors for all of their productions. This film is no exception. The cast of this film includes such heavy hitters as: George Clooney, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton and Richard Jenkins (2009 Academy Award Nominee for Best Actor in The Visitor). Read more »
Posted in Movies | 2 Comments
One of the greatest gifts of the Internet is the ability to learn more about the lives of others. By writing this blog, I hope to not only provide scientific information that may be useful, but also a glimpse into some of the healthier practices of my life. Sometimes seeing how others apply health principles can help us to adopt similar concepts or even inspire us to improve upon the examples we see. Read more »
Tags: Low Carb, Vegetables
Posted in Diet and Weight Loss | 6 Comments
It’s time to round up some nutritional odds and ends. I found three recent news items that didn’t seem to get much press coverage, but I thought you might still like to know about. Read more »
Tags: B Vitamins
Posted in Nutrition | 4 Comments
Yesterday, I highlighted some recent studies about the heart healthy effects of magnesium. Today I want to give you a sense of just how broad a range of conditions magnesium can impact. Read more »
Tags: Magnesium, Migraine
Posted in Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
The most popular mineral of our current age is undoubtedly calcium. Almost everyone knows that calcium is essential to keep our bones and teeth strong. When we’re young, our parents often urge us to drink milk or fortified juices because of their calcium content. But there’s another macro-mineral (a “major” mineral that needs to be consumed in dosages of more than 100 mg per day) that often goes unnoticed. It’s so important that I want to devote two days to some of the recent findings about it. The mineral I’m referring to is magnesium.
The Heart of the Matter
It’s hard to find an organ or system that isn’t affected by magnesium. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 vital biochemical processes in our bodies. These processes range from the formation of our skeletal system to the ability to generate energy to the contraction of our muscles.
One of the areas in which magnesium plays a very important role is in relation to cardiovascular health. So today I want to highlight several recent studies on the benefits of magnesium in managing the health of the heart and circulatory system.
In November of 2008, a study was published in the Journal of Human Hypertension. In that study, 82 diabetic volunteers with high blood pressure were prescribed either a magnesium supplement (containing 450 mg of magnesium) or a placebo for a 4 month period. The ages of the participants ranged from 40 to 75 years of age.
The group receiving the magnesium had a significant decrease in their systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers). The magnesium supplementing group also experienced a rise in their HDL cholesterol levels (the “good” cholesterol). Both of these changes are consistent with improved heart health.
Another study published one month later offers some additional insights into the role of magnesium and the health of our hearts. This particular study was a review of 14 previous studies that measured the effects of drinking “hard water” on cardiovascular disease. Hard water is a source of water that is rich in minerals.
In total, this review utilized data on over 2,900 people. After pouring through all the data, the authors of the study concluded that they “found significant evidence of an inverse association between magnesium levels in drinking water and cardiovascular mortality”. In other words, higher levels of magnesium in drinking water led to lower rates of heart related deaths.
The two previous studies are powerful pieces of information. But they offer more of a preventive type of application for magnesium. One question that often comes up is whether magnesium has any role in more advanced cases of heart disease. In any such case, it’s obviously very important to work closely with a knowledgeable health care practitioner. And hopefully, such a practitioner will at least consider the role that magnesium could possibly play in an integrative approach to treatment. Here’s one example why:
A brand new study in the International Journal of Cardiology set out to determine whether a form of magnesium known as magnesium orotate could help manage the symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients with severe heart failure.
A total of 79 patients were split into 3 groups. One group received 6,000 mg of magnesium orotate. The second group received 3,000 mg of magnesium orotate. The final group was given a placebo. The trial took place over the course of 11 months. All of the patients in this study continued to use their prescribed medications and were closely monitored by their cardiologists.
After a year had passed, the researchers analyzed the data on the patients in the study. Here’s what they found:
- About 76% of the patients using the magnesium orotate were alive after one year.
- Only 52% of the placebo group survived one year.
- Those taking the magnesium also found a nearly 39% improvement in their symptoms. This indicates an improvement in the quality of life.
Because of these results, the authors suggest that magnesium orotate may be a useful addition to conventional therapy for severe congestive heart failure.
I just want to point out that magnesium orotate is a special form of the mineral. It’s thought to be well absorbed, but it’s also very bulky. In other other words, you typically need to take quite a bit of it in order to get a significant amount of elemental (actual) magnesium. It’s my understanding that most magnesium orotate supplements contain about 6-7% elemental magnesium. Based on that percentage, 6,000 mg of magnesium orotate would equal about 400 mg of actual magnesium (and the 3,000 mg dose would provide about 200 mg of magnesium).
Tomorrow, I’m going to focus on some other applications for magnesium supplementation. I’ll also list some of the best foods sources for this invaluable mineral.
Tags: Heart Health, Magnesium
Posted in Nutritional Supplements | No Comments;
Every once in a awhile I’ll hear someone say that they really want to cut back on their coffee intake. If they mention that to me, I usually tell them one of two things: 1) A lot of recent research points to the overall health-promoting effect of coffee – for most people. 2) If they insist on wanting to cut back on coffee, I usually mention an alternate brew with a lower caffeine content, but with even more health benefits. And I’m not talking about green tea.
Have you ever heard of white tea? It’s not nearly as popular as black or green tea but, I think should be. White tea comes from the same plant as black and green tea. The difference is the white tea undergoes the least amount of processing of the three. It’s generally made with younger leaves and buds and is typically lower in caffeine and contaminants, such as heavy metals and pesticides.
The amount of research conducted on white tea is much less than that of green tea. But the research that has been published looks very promising. Here are a few of the highlights:
- White tea appears to contain higher levels of a group of antioxidants called catechins. Catechins belong to a family of plant chemicals called flavonoids. These naturally occurring chemicals are being investigated for their beneficial effects on various cancers, diabetes, heart disease, weight loss and many other conditions.
- White tea may contain a higher level of an amino acid called theanine. Theanine is commonly used to help promote a state of relaxation and improved mood. Therefore, some people find that white tea gives them a gentler energy boost. More energy, less jitteriness.
- The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University found that white tea extracts may possess more potent cancer fighting activity than green tea extracts. They theorized that the additional processing that green tea undergoes may rob it of some of the healthful properties that remain in white tea.
- Researchers at Pace University found that white teas showed greater anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral activity than green tea.
The other desirable quality of white tea is that it’s the mildest tasting of the tea family. It has a delicate flavor that’s almost an afterthought. This lends itself well to mixing with other ingredients, such as juices, or as a base for a smoothie or even soup. You can always brew it with another type of tea as well – like ginger or peppermint tea, to add a little flavor to the mix.
I don’t mind admitting that I still love my coffee and I stand by my favorite brew. But, I do believe it’s a good idea to try to consume a wide variety of healthful foods and beverages. White tea would be one example of a good addition to most diets as a coffee substitute or otherwise.
Update from 5/8/09: White Tea as a Fat Burner
Tags: White Tea
Posted in Food and Drink | 2 Comments
The love of cakes, cookies and pastries is at the heart of many of our health and weight problems. Many dietitians and doctors have tried in earnest to get us to cut down on our sweet consumption. But that often doesn’t work. The draw of such sweet things is simply too great. Read more »
Posted in Food and Drink | 7 Comments
The Secret Life of Bees is based on a much beloved novel by the author Sue Monk Kidd. I had never read the book and so I sat down to watch this film without any specific knowledge of its subject matter. Sometimes that’s a good thing. I believe that’s the case here. Read more »
Posted in Movies | 2 Comments
Do you suffer from poor circulation? If you don’t, it’s almost certain that you know someone who does. Today I’m going to share some information about two natural approaches to improve the circulatory system. And the beautiful thing is that they’re completely free and won’t require you to take any pills. Read more »
Tags: Circulation, Salt, Vitamin D
Posted in Heart Health | 2 Comments
Bone loss, sometimes known as osteoporosis, is a very common health concern in older women. Not only can it cause changes in physical appearance (a loss of height, curvature of the spine and stooped posture), but it can also bring about back pain from compression fractures and even broken bones. In addition to these terrible symptoms, it’s also important to note that healing time is often sluggish in our later years. Because of this reality, the best possible plan of action is to try and prevent bone loss before it occurs. But what if you’ve already lost some bone density? Are you only left with the conventional options of hormone replacement therapy and/or prescription medications? Perhaps not. Read more »
Tags: Carotenoids, Soy
Posted in Bone and Joint Health | 2 Comments