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YOUR GUT AND YOUR SKIN ARE CONNECTED: INTRODUCING THE GUT-SKIN AXIS

March 12, 2019 - 1:02pm
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Have you ever wondered by pimples and constipation often come together, or why you break out after eating french fries? It could be because of the gut-skin axis, a concept at the center of an emerging, exciting area of research in Western Medicine. The gut-skin axis deals with the bidirectional relationship between the gut and the skin, two complex immune and neuroendocrine organs that are host to a varied community of microbes, as well as being related in purpose and function.

However, the gut-skin axis is not a new concept. Over 70 years have passed since dermatologists John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury discovered a connection between mental health conditions and skin issues, and concluded that a gastrointestinal mechanism could be behind it. They hypothesized that emotional states might alter intestinal flora, cause intestinal permeability and create systemic inflammation.

Title: New Frontiers in Fish Oil - Part Two

March 5, 2019 - 8:30am
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This is part two of a two-part series on omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil. In part one, we explored the reasons to take fish oil.

Throughout evolution, humans have consumed diets heavy in fish—meeting their dietary need for not only omega-3, but specifically EPA and DHA. Western diets, however, have evolved to where fish consumption is at a staggering low. These physiologically-essential nutrients that were once readily available—and consumed often—have become a nutritional deficit for many. Thus, a supplemental dietary solution was needed. That solution is fish oil.

According to the National Institute of Health, fish oil is the most popular natural product used by adults in the United States. Annual sales clock in at about $1.2 billion—three times greater than glucosamine, the number two highest selling natural product. With the continued surge in fish oil’s popularity, it’s more important than ever to keep a close eye on quality. Let’s look at the dilemma facing fish oil producers and what consumers need to know to choose the best quality fish oil for their dietary needs.

New Frontiers in Fish Oil - Part One

February 26, 2019 - 3:12pm
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This is part one of a two-part series on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil. Stay tuned for part two about how to incorporate fish oil into a regular diet.

From supporting cardiovascular health to promoting ideal body composition to optimizing inflammatory pathways, omega-3’s substantive impact on a wide variety of health issues has been well-documented. Here, we take a closer look at this versatile nutrient and its many applications.

Why Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Many research articles support the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids—primarily for their ability to act as the body’s natural protection. For those patients recovering from a heart attack, for example, omega-3 fatty acids aid in the healing process by helping with cardiac remodeling and enabling the heart to contract better. Omega-3 fatty acids also manage the fibrosis in the region and impact the reduction of biomarkers for inflammation. Further, according to the Journal of the American Medicine Association, omega-3 fatty acids also reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, as well.

Eat Your Thylakoids!

February 19, 2019 - 9:11am
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Most nutrition experts agree that we need to “eat more veggies” as part of a healthy diet.  Consuming more leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, etc) may, in fact, be one of the most important components for overall health and weight loss. In addition to containing a host of fibers, vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients, leafy greens also have structures called thylakoids, which have been shown to manage cravings and increase satiety. So, the next time you add a side-salad to your lunch, you may also be helping yourself avoid the munchies later on.

Thylakoids are the photosynthetic membranes of chloroplasts that are found in the leaves of green plants. They are appearing on the health and research scene as a promising functional ingredient that exhibits a lipase-inhibiting effect leading to a reduced appetite. Thylakoids include both proteins and lipids (mainly omega-3s), 50% of each. They also contain chlorophyll, antioxidants, carotenoids, and vitamin E.

5 Surprising Things that Hurt Your Microbiome

February 12, 2019 - 12:49pm
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The human gut contains trillions of bacteria – also referred to as the gut flora or microbiome – and these tiny unicellular organisms play an unfathomable role in overall health. For instance, a healthy gut flora has been shown to improve gut health, heart health, brain health, weight management and blood sugar regulation, among others.

Astragalus: The King of Herbs

February 6, 2019 - 10:22am
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Astragalus, also known as Milkvetch or huáng qí in Chinese, is an herb that has been used for hundreds of years, with its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. One of the few all-purpose herbs used, it is believed to support a wide array of biological functions.  

Despite the fact that Astragalus has over 2,000 species, only two are principally used in supplementsAstragalus mongholicus and Astragalus membranaceus. The main part of the plant utilized for medicinal purposes is its roots, which can be made into powders, capsules and liquid extracts.

Pharmacological research has shown that the extract of Astragalus membranaceus can be quite beneficial, as it increase telomerase activity, and has immunoregulatory, antihyperglycemic, hypolipidemic, diuretic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Sleep and DNA Methylation

January 29, 2019 - 12:07pm
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A recent study led by Jonathan Cedernaes and  researchers at Uppsala University reported that the consequences of acute sleep loss on weight gain are more than being hungry and making poor food choices. They demonstrated “how” sleep loss, shift work or sleep disturbances influence the epigenome and gene expression through DNA methylation.

Numerous studies suggest that shift workers are more likely to become overweight or obese from acute circadian misalignment. While there is not a magic number of hours of sleep for reduced risk of metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, one meta-analysis found the lowest risk at 7-8 hours of sleep per day, while short or long sleep increased the risk. In the last century it is no coincidence that America has seen an increase in numerous chronic illnesses as well as an approximate 20% decrease in the amount of sleep it gets. Current research also supports the role of sleep deprivation as part of the current obesity trend in children. Some obvious reasons may be the negative impact of insufficient sleep on eating behaviors and activity levels. Sleep even reduces the benefits of dieting – while the scale may show the same weight loss from a full night’s sleep or less sleep, the later reduced fat loss by 55%. While many dieters pay strict attention to meal planning and food preparation, they must also consider the quality/duration of their sleep to obtain the desired effects of a diet.

Spice Up Your Microbial Health

January 22, 2019 - 10:37am
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Among the many herbs and spices used to foster gut health is oregano. Derived from the Greek words “oros” (meaning mountain) and “ganos” (meaning joy), oregano was supposedly grown by the Greek goddess Aphrodite as a symbol of joy. Most known for its aromatic use in culinary dishes, oregano also has a history of medicinal application. As a matter of fact, many culinary herbs used for flavoring are important sources of micronutrients, which benefit overall health.

Exercise Your Guts Out

January 15, 2019 - 3:17pm
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Exercise is good for us, yes? With its wide-range of benefits that include supporting heart, muscle and bone health, the short answer is yes. But could there be repercussions in over-exercising? For some people, yes; intense exercise can lead to leaky gut. In the literature, it is referred to as “exercise-induced gut permeability,” and the mechanism for damage stems from changes in blood flow and neuronal functioning. During exercise, blood flow is diverted from the intestinal tract. Also, changes in the nervous system work to decrease intestinal motility. Our bodies move the resources to the arms and legs, and away from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Similarly, stress of any kind can exacerbate leaky gut for the same reason. Adrenal hormones move resources away from the GI tract and into skeletal muscle, away from the intestines. In addition, any type of stress can cause oxidative damage.

Impact of Diet on Baby’s Microbiome

January 8, 2019 - 10:17am
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Whether you’re a would-be parent or your newborn is already safely in your arms, the joy and wonder of having a new member in your family can be truly exhilarating. But what most parents may not take the time to think about is the impact a baby’s diet has on their microbiome.

The importance of developing a healthy gut flora from early life stages cannot be overemphasized. Among other things, a healthy microbiome helps to boost immune functioning, aids digestion and improves nutrient absorption. These, of course, lead to overall health. However, babies aren’t born with a fully-developed microbial colony, but if properly developed, the microbiome can lay a valuable foundation for a healthy life.

Do You Have Leaky Brain?

January 2, 2019 - 7:40pm
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The NIH estimates that 20% of Americans have a diagnosable mental disorder, at a cost of $201 billion per year. The most common maladies are depression and phobias. In 2014, the CDC issued a report indicating that the U.S. suicide rate reached 13 per 100,000, the highest it had been since 1986. We are beginning to look at systemic inflammation and its effect on the blood-brain barrier as a cause of neurodegeneration and, subsequently, mental health problems. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is semi-permeable and vulnerable to damage by free radicals and inflammation.  

As for the efficacy of antidepressants, a report published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics states, “Meta-analyses of FDA trials suggest that antidepressants are only marginally efficacious compared to placebos.” Because of this, researchers continue to explore mechanisms to address mental health issues. Scientists are now exploring how inflammation might decrease the firing rate of neurons in the frontal lobe of the brain in people with depression. Some believe that medications used to manage depression are limited since they do not address underlying brain inflammation.  

Detox Your Fat Cells

December 18, 2018 - 6:58pm
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A quick internet search on the causes of obesity would lead one to believe this epidemic is simply due to poor diet and lifestyle choices such as too much junk food, food addiction, or overeating without exercising enough to balance energy intake. Genetics have also been implicated in the obesity discussion, making obesity a multifactorial and complex disease. One consideration, however, that is often overlooked is the impact of artificial chemical compounds that disrupt the normal development and balance of lipid metabolism. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) are exogenous chemicals that interfere with hormone action; in animal studies EDCs are known to contribute to infertility, endometriosis, and other disorders. But what about obesity?

Adipose tissue is not an inert substance, but a complex endocrine organ that is associated with the synthesis and secretion of numerous hormones. EDCs that disrupt the normal functioning of these hormones have been called “obesogens” since these chemicals promote adipogenesis and cause weight gain by damaging natural weight-control mechanisms. With obesity and chronic diseases on the rise, obesogens should be considered an important contributor to the obesity epidemic. According to Current Obesity Reports, the lipophilic structures may be the culprit, since “their ability to increase fat deposition has the added consequence of increasing the capacity for their own retention. This has the potential for a vicious spiral not only of increasing obesity but also increasing the retention of other lipophilic pollutant chemicals with an even broader range of adverse actions.” Even when someone loses weight, these chemicals are released into the bloodstream, altering natural functions. However, the deleterious effects do not end here. Other studies have found these chemicals can alter immune and thyroid functions and increase systemic inflammation and oxidative stress.

Probiotics for Immune Support

December 11, 2018 - 8:53am
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You have already heard about washing your hands, getting plenty of rest, getting your vitamin D and eating a diet rich in antioxidants and various botanicals such as Echinacea, Astragalus, Elderberry and mushroom blends, but what other immune-boosting tactics might be missing from your medicine cabinet? To keep the immune system running strong, there might not be just one magic bullet. However, more and more, research is pointing to the power of probiotics in supporting immune health.

Your colon is an ecosystem containing several pounds of bacteria, which belong there. They remove toxins, keep pathogens in check, and create nutrients that are beneficial to the GI lining and to the rest of the body. According to research appearing in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, supplementing with prebiotics and probiotics can also improve antioxidant status, which might one way they help the immune system.

The Methylcobalamin Effect

December 4, 2018 - 11:08am
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Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system (and the formation of blood). One of its analogs, methylcobalamin, which is considered an active form of vitamin B12, exerts neural protection by encouraging the regeneration of injured nerves and serving as an essential vitamin for promoting proper brain development. Methylcobalamin is required for the formation of the myelin sheath and nerve fibers. Without it, irreversible nerve damage may take place. One such example where a lack of methycobalamin has been associated with neurological impairment is peripheral neuropathy. Recent clinical and experimental studies have demonstrated that methylcobalamin may also have soothing effects for patients with diabetic neuropathy (DPN) by improving nerve conduction.