Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Magic Bullet for Bipolar and Depression?

Have we been fishing in all the wrong places for the magic bullet for depression and bipolar? Have scientists been turning a blind eye to a well-known elixir that works well for other diseases and conditions? Ever since psychiatry threw Freud and his couch in the rubbish bin a couple of decades back, the profession has been oriented toward prescription drugs. Now, their focus appears to be widening.

Last year, a Harvard University study generated a buzz throughout the bipolar community with the prospect of a natural substance that worked - fish oil. After years of being bombarded by industrial-strength pharmaceuticals and toxic salts, people with bipolar could possibly look forward to a kinder and gentler treatment. Paradoxically, the evidence is far stronger when it comes to depression, but we're lacking the clinical trials as proof.

(read more)

Army Searches for Youth Potion in Mitochondria

The hip-hop world has been all a-flutter, lately, over accusations that 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige took human growth hormone, or HGH, to get big and stay youthful. Army scientists want their soldiers to stay strong and spritely, too. But they're taking a slightly different approach, in a new program for "Optimized Human Performance." Instead of HGH, the Army is looking for its fountain of youth in mitochondria -- the body's powerhouses, which turn sugars into energy.

(read more)

Conquering Delayed-Onset Food Allergies in Three Steps

Do you find yourself suffering from asthma, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fuzzy brain, non-seasonal rhinitis, depression, eczema, arthritis, bloating, or insomnia, yet no medical treatment seems to work for you? If you have one or more of these symptoms that just come and go and are unresponsive to medication, then there's a very big chance that your diet is the main culprit behind all your health complaints. A growing number of studies have established the connection between the above-mentioned ailments to food allergy. Even irritable bowel diseases such as diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease have been linked to food allergies.

(read more)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hillary Swank's Fitness Plan

Actress Hilary Swank would rather sleep six hours and get an hour workout, than sleep seven hours, according to a profile in W Magazine. (Me too.)

She lifts weights twice a week. And on the other days, she hikes, does PowerPilates or practices Krav Mag, an Israeli hand-to-hand self defense technique, according to this profile by Catherine Wong.

But her real health secret? She takes a whopping 45 supplements a day.

(read more)

Tony Gonzalez: 247 lb Vegan

The protein-rich bounty of the football training table is supposed to grow the biggest and strongest athletes in professional sports. Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Tony Gonzalez was afraid it was going to kill him. "It's the Catch-22," says Mr. Gonzalez, 31. "Am I going to be unhealthy and play football? Or be healthy and get out of the league?"

So last year, on the eve of the biggest season of his career, Mr. Gonzalez embarked on a diet resolution that smacked head-on with gridiron gospel as old as the leather helmet. He decided to try going vegan.

(read more)

Health and Beauty Trivia

This is not a litany of do’s and don’ts but tidbits of information with one objective in mind—make you better informed so you are able to make wiser lifestyle choices.

Liberation from ignorance will result in a greater ability to celebrate life in better health, assuming, of course, one uses the knowledge gained to make the right choices.

The only one who can make the decisions is you.

(read more)

Scientists Neutralize Cow Farts -- Yours May Be Next

Sure, Hummers are bad for the environment, but do you know what else is? Cow farts. Yep, the methane in cow farts contributes to a surprisingly-high 5% of all global warming gasses out there, with methane being 22 times more potent at capturing atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide. The good news? A couple of Japanese scientists seem to have stumbled upon a way to neutralize this problem.

(read more)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Phenylalinine: Happy Pill or Neuro-Toxin? (Exclusive Content)

A Special Catalyst Zone Exclusive Article in Cooperation With

For years, conspiracy theorists and urban mythology websites have warned about the dangers of aspartame, going so far as to implicate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a plot against North Americans, since the FDA has failed to respond to their concerns by banning the sugar replacement. One of the components activists point to as being dangerous is the amino acid Phenylalanine, abbreviated as Phe.

“Phenylalanine is a neurotoxin and excites the neurons in the brain to the point of cellular death”, says Janet Starr Hull, creator of the so-called 'aspartame detox program' and owner of the website
. “ADD/ADHD, emotional and behavioral disorders can all be triggered by too much Phenylalanine in the daily diet.”

Today, Phe is emerging in a role separate from its traditional role as a component of aspartame and is being included with dietary supplements for its reputed mood elevation properties, so it’s worthwhile taking a look at the real story behind Phe and its safety.

Phenylalanine (HO2CCH(NH2)CH2C6H5) is an essential amino acid, meaning you need it in your diet. However, humans can’t synthesize it themselves, and must therefore obtain it from dietary sources or supplements. Fortunately, it’s found in virtually all proteins, in foods such as eggs, milk, cheese, nuts, bananas, poultry, fish and whole grains, in three forms: D-phenylalanine (DPA), L-phenylalaline and D-L phenylalaline. While dietary deficiency is rare, it can occur in low-protein diets, where it would be characterized by lethargy, edema, weakness, or skin lesions, as well as liver damage and slow growth.

Phenylalanine uses the same active transport channel as tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier. The DPA form, which doesn’t have a role in protein biosynthesis, is nevertheless present in small amounts in proteins, particularly aged proteins and in processed foods. While the biological functions of D-amino acids like DPA are as yet unclear, there are suggestions that DPA, in particular, may have pharmacological activity.

The DL-phenylalanine form is thought to possess both
and antidepressant capabilities, possibly through its ability to block the degradation of the endorphin
by the enzyme carboxypeptidase A.

As a precursor of DL-phyenylalanine, L-phenylalanine (the most common form) has been shown to have a role in the synthesis of norepinephrine and dopamine, and elevated cerebral levels of these neurotransmitters has been thought to be associated with antidepressant effects. Basically, L-phenylalanine is converted into L-tyrosine, a DNA-encoded amino acid which is converted by the body’s chemistry into L-DOPA, which in turn is converted into the catecholamines dopamine, norepinephrine (or noradrenaline) and epinephrine (or adrenaline).

DL-phenylalaline is also being used to help with memory and learning, as an appetite suppressant, and in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and chronic arthritic pain, although rigorous clinical trials for these applications are still in short supply.

Aspartame, marketed under trade names including Equal and Nutrasweet – popular sugar-replacements widely used in weightloss products, and in more than 6,000 consumer food and beverages worldwide – is an attractive sweetener because it is 180 times sweeter than sugar. This means that, compared to sugar, the amount of product required to produce a similarly sweet taste is calorically insignificant. First synthesized by chemists from G.D. Searle and Co. in 1965, aspartame was not approved by the FDA for use as a food additive until 1980, largely due to unanswered questions about a correlation with cancer incidence in rats discovered during testing. Following FDA approval for use in dry goods, aspartame was further approved for use in carbonated beverages, with all other restrictions being dropped by 1996. Numerous other investigations, in Europe and elsewhere have been conducted, all with similar results. Juliette Kellow, a dietician with Weight Loss Resources U.K. (billed as an 'online slimming club', and hence presumably in business to sell weight loss techniques and supplements), says: “more than 200 objective scientific studies have shown aspartame to be completely safe. Its safety has been confirmed by the regulatory authorities in more than 100 countries including the European Commission’s Scientific Committee for Food, America’s Food and Drug Administration and by experts within the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the World Health Organisation.”

However, she notes, despite this confidence level, aspartame products are still required to carry a public notice identifying that they contain phenylalanine. This is because, while Phe is safe for the general public, there are people with a rare genetic disorder called phenylketonuria who are unable to properly metabolize phenylalanine and so are required to limit their intake of Phe from any source – including aspartame. Accordingly, all products in the U.S. and Canada that contain aspartame must be labelled: "Phenylketonurics: Contains phenylalanine."

Katherine Zeratsky, a dietician with the Mayo Clinic, agrees, saying:

“Phenylalanine is safe to eat or drink unless you have phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare birth defect in which an enzyme needed to process phenylalanine is missing. For infants and children with this disorder, consuming phenylalanine is dangerous. Adults with this disorder should consult their doctors regarding whether phenylalanine is a concern. If you do not have PKU, phenylalanine in foods is not a concern.”

Recently, researchers have found a way in which even those with PKU can consume phenylalanine with much less risk. BioMarin Pharmaceutical, a California company, was granted FDA approval on December 13, 2007 for its newly developed drug, Kuvan , which trials suggest helps people with PKU to ingest phenylalanine in 30-50% of cases.

So, say dieticians, aside from concerns voice by relatively fringe elements, there appear to be few reasons not to take phenylalanine. But are there any good reasons?

As it turns out, there is very little research pointing to the beneficial aspects of Phe – the analgesic and anti-depressant effects mentioned earlier. While some anecdotal reports suggest there is a link between Phe intake and elevated (and beneficial) dopamine, norepineprhine and epinephrine levels, insufficient data exists to posit a solid causal link. And, in the case of Phe use for treatment of arthritis, Parkinson’s or for memory support, data is even more scant. From all indications, a balanced diet high in protein would appear to provide the same benefits.

But on the other hand, how could it hurt?

Double Shot of Supplement Info for Pregnant Women

Already this week comes two separate studies describing the importance of nutritional supplements for pregnant women, and the importance they play in the health of both the mother and the fetus. First, a report from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology finds that "women who take multivitamins containing folic acid have a far reduced risk of pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure) than women who don't. (read more.

Meanwhile, upping the ante, an article in this week's Lancet reports that "multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMN) for pregnant women is more effective than iron and folic acid at preventing early infant death and fetus loss ( read more).

Low Vitamin D Levels Increase Heart Risk

A new study by researchers at Harvard Medical School has found that low levels of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of heart disease. The study published in the journal Circulation suggests that people who also have high blood pressure are at particularly high risk.

(read more)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Why High-Protein, Low-Fat, and Low-Carbohydrate Diets Suppress Hunger

Many popular diet plans are based on changing the proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats one ingests as a method to promote weight loss. There has been some controversy regarding the effectiveness of these diets, but a new study accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) could shed light on potential mechanisms by which various diets promote weight loss.

This study examined the relative ability of different nutrient types to suppress ghrelin, which is secreted by the stomach and is the only known appetite-stimulating hormone. Circulating ghrelin levels increase shortly before meals and then decrease promptly after ingestion of food.

(read more)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

European Industry Food Supplement Quality Guide Released

Demand has soared across the globe for a pan-European quality guide for food supplements created by trade organisation the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM).

Developed by a team of technical experts for EHPM, the ‘Quality Guide for Food Supplements’ is the first pan-European guide of its kind, building on many existing national guides that have been developed by the trade organisation’s member associations over the past ten years.

(read more)

Vitamin D2 Supplements Might Lower Risk of Falling in Older Women

High-risk older women, especially those from sunny climates, and especially during the winter, may benefit from a reduced risk of falls if they take Vitamin D2 supplements, according to an article in Archives of Internal Medicine (JAMA/Archives), January 14th edition.

(read more)

Mediterranean Diet Helps Pregnant Women Protect Kids From Allergies

PREGNANT women who eat a Mediterranean diet may be protecting their baby from eczema and allergies in childhood, new research suggests.

A study by Greek doctors found that children of mothers who closely follow the oil and fish-rich diet while pregnant have a 45 per cent lower risk of developing an allergic disease before the age of seven.

(read more

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why it's Important to Remember Phosphatidyl Serine

Scores of research studies since the 1980s have pointed to an important role for the “brain cell nutrient” phosphatidyl serine (pronounced fos-fa-tie-dil see-reen) as a dietary supplement in support of brain functions such as memory and mental sharpness.

What is phosphatidyl serine (PS)? It is made naturally by the body, is most concentrated in the brain, and works in the cell’s energy-producing mitrochondia to support cell function, the integrity of the cell membrane, and inter-cell communication. It is a basic component of cell membranes, which – in nerves and the brain especially – generate and relay electrical currents from cell to cell. This activity tends to fall off starting in middle age.

(read more)

Supplement Link to Prostate Cancer?

When two patients developed unusually aggressive metastatic prostate cancer within months of starting the same muscle-building dietary supplement, researchers here started investigating.

The supplement contained testosterone and estradiol but promoted cancer cell growth more potently than testosterone alone while hampering androgen blockade, found Shahrokh F. Shariat, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center here, and colleagues, in the Jan. 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

(read more)

Liver Life: When January Catches Up

JANUARY'S the month when all the boozing, the late nights and the over-eating finally catches up with us.

We drag ourselves around, perhaps pledging "never" to drink again, or to abstain for a while and tackle our sagging health.

Specialist in nutrition, Professor Patrick Holford, says: "It's common for people to panic at this time of year because they may be feeling really groggy and struggling to perform.

"The reality is most of us are always vertically ill - that is, we are upright but don't feel great most of the time. The majority of people are usually functioning well below their potential because their body is overloaded with toxins from the food and drink they take in.

(read more)

Defeat Narcolepsy the Natural Way

Narcolepsy is a chronic disease of the brain. Abnormalities in the structure and function of a particular group of nerve cells are thought to play a role in the development of narcolepsy. CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10) and Ginkgo Biloba promote good cerebral circulation and also have strong anti-oxidation effects. L-Glutamine assists in processes of the brain.

(read more)

Low Testosterone Linked to Fracture Risk in Older Men

Men older than 60 with low blood testosterone levels may have a higher risk for hip and non-vertebral fractures, researchers here reported.

The fracture rate was 30% higher for non-vertebral fractures for such men and almost 90% higher for hip fractures, Christian Meier, M.D., of the University of Sydney, and colleagues, reported in the Jan. 14 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

(read more)

UK to Test Vitamins on Inmate Behaviour

A pilot program to test the effects of vitamin and mineral supplements on inmates at UK young offenders' institutes will be carried out to see if adequate nutrition helps curb violent behaviour.
The pioneering move follows years of work by Natural Justice, which secured £1.45m to carry out a program from the Wellcome Trust charity.

(read more)

3 Nutrients May Cut Cataract Risk

he antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin E may help prevent cataracts, according to a new study on nutrition and eye health.

The study's key finding: Women who get more lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin E are less likely to develop cataracts than women who skimp on those nutrients.

Foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include leafy green vegetables (such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, collards, and mustard greens), squash, green peas, broccoli, pumpkin, and corn.

Foods rich in vitamin E include vegetable oils, almonds, sunflower seeds, leafy green veggies, and fortified cereals.

(read more)

Could Vitamin D Really Cure Your Arthitis?

Just in case there were any doubts about the importance of vitamin D - the 'sunshine' vitamin - two major studies published last week confirmed just how essential it is for good health.

One study found that people with higher levels in their blood were more likely to survive cancer, the other that having very low levels increased your risk of cardiovascular disease.

( read more)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Lipoic Acid Could Reduce Atherosclerosis, Weight Gain

A new study done with mice has discovered that supplements of lipoic acid can inhibit formation of arterial lesions, lower triglycerides, and reduce blood vessel inflammation and weight gain -- all key issues for addressing cardiovascular disease.

(read more)

Treating Joint Pain Naturally

A natural ingredient used in skin care may be the key to treating joint pain.

A recent study found that an oral supplement with an active ingredient from the pit of the shea fruit-which contains one of the most powerful inflammation fighters of any known plant-provided an unprecedented reduction in cartilage deterioration for a natural product.

(read more)

Probiotics: Friendly Little Germs

Until a few years ago, Ted Gallinat couldn't tell you the difference between kefir and yogurt or antibiotics and probiotics.

He was a fast food junkie. Then he attended a health conference in Davisburg.

"I was a little skeptical," admitted the Richfield Township resident and former Flint Township supervisor. His thinking had always been when you're sick, you go to a doctor and get a prescription. Preventive medicine wasn't on his radar.

( read more)

Using Supplements to Maximize the Benefits of Medication

Today, half of the U.S. population takes prescription medications to help safeguard health. But some doctors say that certain drugs might actually be robbing people of vital nutrients, causing serious side effects. According to medical expert Hyla Cass, M.D., taking one or more prescription drugs every day for any period of time could cause people to experience additional symptoms that are considered "part of the disease."

In her new book, "Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn't Know About Nutrition" (Basic Health Publications), Dr. Cass explains the nutrient depletion side effects of the most commonly prescribed drugs. She then provides nutritional supplement guidelines.

(read more)

Soy Linked to Less Belly Fat in Post-Menopausal Women

A daily soy supplement may prevent abdominal fat increases in post-menopausal women, suggests a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Women receiving a daily soy shake experienced reductions in their subcutaneous abdominal fat, while women receiving a casein placebo experienced gains in fat around their waist and abdomen.

( read more)

Fatworld Game Released

Ian Bogost's games often have a serious undertone despite the not-so-serious presentation. It's part of what makes them so popular. His new game, which has been released today, is no different and uses a cartoony style to cover up an attempt to provide a serious examination of obesity in gamers.

Persuasive Games, Ian's studio, has just released FatWorld, a game which Ian describes as "Animal Crossing meets Super Size Me".

( read more)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Fish Oils are found to be Beneficial in Preventing Breast Cancer

Fish could be the most important foods in the prevention of breast cancer. It has been found that fish oils are very beneficial in keeping breast cancer away in women who have crossed their menopause. Fish oils are effective even with risk factors such as age during the first full term pregnancy, age at first menses, age at menopause, other breast disorders, etc. Moreover, a diet that contains of a combination of fish and carrots is found to be much more highly effective than fish alone. Fish contain the omega-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids which are good combatants of breast cancer, as they reduce the levels of the harmful omega-6 fatty acids, which in fact promote the growth of the cancerous tissues.

read more

Can Creatine Prevent Huntington's Disease?

Following research breakthroughs that took place last year, it is now looking as if ultra-pure creatine could serve as a prophylaxis to prevent the onset of Huntington's Disease. This development is particularly interesting now that a genetic test is available. Those who are determined to be at risk could be expected to welcome preventative methods, particularly as other current treatments to date have focused on amelioration rather than cure.

read more)

Protein Helps Strength Training in OIder Men

Getting enough protein and moderate amounts of fat from food may help older men's muscles respond better to weight training, a study suggests.

Researchers found that among 45 middle-aged and older men who went through a strength training program, those with more protein in their diets tended to have a greater short term increase in testosterone levels right after their workouts. This hormonal response, in turn, was related to greater gains in muscle mass over 21 weeks of weight training.

( read more)

Law to Help Regulate U.S. Supplement Industry Now in Effect

The Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act has gone into effect a year after it was signed by President Bush.

The law requires manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and OTC drugs to report all serious adverse events associated with the use of their products to the FDA. It also requires them to keep records of other adverse events.

( read more)

Scientists Find High Protein, Low Carb Diet Best for Weight Loss

Scientists at Aberdeen’s Rowett Research Institute have shown that a high protein, low carbohydrate diet is most effective at reducing hunger and promoting weight loss, at least in the short term.

( read more)

How Your Fingernails Indicate Health Status: Quiz

Your fingernails can tell a lot about your overall health. Do you know how your diet can affect your fingernails? Here's a quiz to find out.

( read more)

Soybean Compound Cools Hot Flashes Safely

For menopausal women who took a standardized soy supplement, the number of hot flashes was safely reduced by 52%, researchers here found. That was compared with a reduction of 39% among patients who took placebo, Hope A. Ricciotti, M.D., of Harvard, and colleagues reported in the January issue of Menopause.

(read more)

Red Yeast Rice and Your Cholesterol

Lowly fungi have an amazing ability to create compounds that have strong effects on humans (alcohol, hallucinogens and antibiotics, to name a few). As far back as the Tang dynasty in 800, the Chinese harvested a red extract produced by certain types of fungi growing on rice. The fermented rice itself -- so-called "red yeast rice" -- was prized as a remedy for stomach troubles.

Today, red yeast rice enjoys wide acclaim as a cholesterol-lowering supplement that's a natural alternative to prescription statin drugs such as Lipitor and Zocor. Prescription statins can cut LDL cholesterol levels by 50% or more -- a potentially lifesaving result -- but many consumers worry that the drugs will cause muscle pain, a complication that occurs in up to 5% of users.

read more

Tips to Prevent a Cold This Winter

Eating the right foods and supplementing your diet correctly this winter can dramatically reduce your chances of catching a cold, and can significantly lesson your recovery time in the event you do suffer from one. ( read more)