I’ve been a long standing admirer of rosemary. Rosmarinus officinalis, an admittedly cool sounding name, is a hardy plant. It thrives in all but the most extreme climates and doesn’t require a lot babysitting. An occasional hosing down or rain shower usually does the trick. That’s why it grows so well in the wild. The scent is pleasant too, but not in an overly floral or cloyingly sweet way. This is more of a rustic, savory member of the herbal community. It’s no accident that it pairs so well with the boldest chicken and meat recipes. But, since this isn’t a culinary or gardening site, I guess I should probably mention that, in addition to all of this, the essential oil of rosemary possesses a multitude of medicinal properties as well!
Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms can be caused or worsened by a long list of suspects. Common culprits include food allergies or sensitivities, H. pylori infection, intestinal permeability, microbiome (gut bacteria) imbalance and ulcers. Furthermore, in some instances, the exact cause or contributing factors is not easily identifiable. When this occurs, medications are frequently prescribed based on the specific symptoms that present themselves. Two popular examples include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to minimize gastric acid and tricyclic antidepressants to reduce abdominal pain. Physicians who veer towards the integrative side of medicine may also suggest certain dietary changes such avoiding dairy, FODMAPs, grains and/or heavily refined foods. Some doctors will even go so far as to encourage an “elimination diet” to methodically rule out any likely food-based troublemaker.
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.
If you put any given food under the microscope, you’ll typically find some good elements and some not so great things. The proportions of each vary, but a mixture of both is to be expected. Coffee presents a fitting example of this gastronomic truism. On the one hand, some health authorities point to the supposed dark side of java. They note that coffee may contribute to and/or instigate cardiovascular complications, gastrointestinal symptoms, poor bone density and sleep disorders. On the flip side, coffee’s proponents proclaim that it’s one the leading sources of antioxidants in the modern diet. This inconvenient reality may explain why coffee drinking populations tend to demonstrate a lower risk for a number of diseases, including dementia and select cancers.
Long time readers of this site know that I’m not a big fan of juicing. Sure, some juices are better than others i.e. those made from low glycemic, nutrient dense vegetables and small amounts of fruit. But, in most cases, they’re simply not as health promoting as eating the whole foods which are the starting points of the juices. What’s more, juices are often too high in naturally occurring sugar and deficient in dietary fiber which supports optimal blood sugar response. Still, it’s important not to paint virtually any food category with too broad a brush.
This marks my fifth and final column about Natural Products Expo West 2015. Today, the products highlighted don’t fall into the expected categories of foods, ingredients or supplements. The way we cook and what we apply to our skin are often neglected aspects of a comprehensive wellness program. These under appreciated factors have a very really impact on our well being whether we consider them or not. Fortunately, some manufacturers recognize the importance of providing simple, yet effective culinary and skin care products that won’t endanger your health. Below, you’ll find some of the best examples of this welcomed trend.
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.
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.
In some ways, Natural Products Expo West is like a gigantic “candy store” for those of us who are passionate or, maybe, too passionate about natural health. There’s a seemingly endless array of brand new extracts and technologies with all of the bells and whistles that compete for attention. Because of this, some supplements containing time honored, well established ingredients are often overlooked. They’re simply not exciting or novel enough to make a splash. The truth is, just like many other industries, natural product buyers and sellers are susceptible to gimmicks and trends. The key, as a researcher and consumer, is not to fall prey to the flavors of the moment or unsubstantiated hype. Instead, it’s important to look for genuine substance in product formulations and to reward manufacturers who provide well crafted wares.
The first week of March marked the start of this year’s Natural Product’s Expo West. There, team Healthy Fellow convened with approximately 71,000 other members of the natural health community at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. The purpose of this massive gathering is to learn about the latest offerings in the natural products marketplace. At this year’s convention, over 2,700 companies exhibited products ranging from organic pet food to non-GMO anti-wrinkle creams. In the first column of my five-part series, I’ll feature some of the more innovative and promising supplements we came across at Expo West.
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.
When I was growing up, we had a beautiful sauna in my parent’s bedroom. But, since no one in our home was accustomed to sauna bathing, we simply used the space for storage. Looking back on it now, I wish we had put that “storage room” to better use! These days, I would love to have a sauna at home. What’s more, Mrs. Healthy Fellow grew up using saunas, so we would certainly put it to good use. Unfortunately, the probability of adding a sauna to our home is about as likely as the addition of an elevator. On the other hand, our local gym has a sauna that we can and should utilize more often. In fact, saunas are readily available in most communities. This is great news because there’s more reason than ever to use saunas on a regular basis.
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.
The majority of past events, even very painful ones, do not have to cause psychological distress in the present. On a rational level most of us understand this reality. However, sad and/or traumatic memories, whether fresh in history or dating back to childhood, still hold a great deal of power over many people. These hurtful, life-altering experiences often shape personalities and result in long term attempts at exorcising these mental images from the present mind. But, recent findings suggest that an unconventional form of treatment known as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing or EMDR may offer a brief, new alternative for shooing away hurtful recollections.
In today’s culture, muscle is frequently regarded as a characteristic of one’s appearance. However, if you describe muscle using the technical term “lean body mass”, the idea of toned bodies tends to exit the picture. Lean body mass (LBM) is often mentioned as a measure of weight gain or loss in scientific studies. For instance, weight loss trials commonly note the total amount of weight lost and the percentage of body fat and LBM loss. Naturally, in overweight individuals, it’s preferable to lose a significant percentage of excess body fat. At the same time, the goal is to preserve as much lean body mass as possible. The preservation of LBM becomes even more important as we age. Even in the absence of intended weight loss, older adults tend to lose muscle and strength as a “normal” part of the aging process. In some instances, age-related muscle and strength loss is even more pronounced and is classified as sarcopenia. This is of great importance because seniors diagnosed with sarcopenia are at greater risk of falls, fractures and a general decline in overall health and independence.
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.