Sugar is everywhere and in just about everything. Take a look at the packaged foods you buy. What are the ingredients? The first one is more than likely high fructose corn syrup or some other form of sugar. If it’s not the first ingredient sugar, or some form of it, is in the first 5. Low fat means higher sugar or salt content. In order for the “food’ to taste good they have to add in sugar or salt, or both.
Sugar permeates every facet of our lives. Everything from packaged foods, salad dressing, fruit juice, cereal, pretzels, soup, and packaged dips… the list goes on. An overload of sugar, along with the over 80,000 chemicals used in our society today, can be linked to everything from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer… just about every disease or allergy out there can be linked in one way or another to a toxic overload of sugar and chemicals from the standard diet and/or current farming practices.
What is it about sugar?
What is so powerful about sugar? Why do we crave it? Our brains react to sugar the same way it does for cocaine. Is it any wonder it’s used in almost every product out there? Sugar in and of itself isn’t so bad, the problem comes in consuming way too much. High sugar intake can be linked to just about every disease out there from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and so on.
Glucose and fructose are different types of simple sugars. After they are separated apart and broken down in your body they are metabolized using completely separate pathways. Glucose is utilized by every cell in your body, but fructose breaks down into a variety of waste products that are bad for your body. When talking about high fructose corn syrup, it gets metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar. Another waste product is uric acid which drives up your blood pressure.
Refined sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. A study involving rats had them choose between sugar-water and cocaine. 94% of the rats chose the sugar-water; even those who were previously addicted to cocaine wasted no time changing their selection. Plus the rats were more willing to work for the sugar reward than the cocaine reward.
The worst type of sugar you can ingest is fructose, which may surprise you because it is derived from fruit. Since the average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose, this can of soda ALONE would exceed your daily allotment of 15 grams. It is no accident that childhood obesity is at a record high and life expectancy for the youngest generation is, for the first time, lower than that of their parents.
Marion Nestle, who wrote What to Eat, is also a professor of nutrition at NYU suggests that any food that contains more than 15 grams of sugar per serving is closer to dessert than anything else. She looked up the sugar content of a few common foods and menu items. Here is what she found in March of 2010:
Sugar Content of Common Food Products
- Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut 10 g
- Luna Bar berry almond 11 g
- Froot Loops breakfast cereal 3/4 cup 12 g
- Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream 16 g
- Starbucks caffè latte grande 16 oz 17 g
- Godiva 2 truffles 17 g
- Subway 6″ sweet onion teriyaki chicken sandwich 17 g
- Tropicana 100% orange juice 8 oz 25 g
- Yoplait original yogurt 27 g
- Craisins dried cranberries 1/3 cup 29 g
- Vitamin Water 20 oz bottle 33 g
- Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz can 39 g
- Sprinkles Cupcake red velvet 45 g
- Starbucks caffe vanilla frappuccino grande 16 oz 58 g
Keep your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day!
Fructose consumption clearly causes insulin resistance, whereas straight glucose does not. Insulin resistance can eventually lead to full blown diabetes.
Interestingly, glucose actually accelerates fructose absorption. So when you mix glucose and fructose together, you absorb more fructose than if you consumed fructose alone. This is an important piece of information if you are struggling to control your weight.
Remember, sucrose, or table sugar, is fructose plus glucose. If you are craving something sweet, your best bet is to reach for an apple or a pear. And if you give yourself a sugar holiday for even a couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how much those cravings will decrease.
Because you are sure to consume plenty of “hidden” fructose in the other foods you will be eating, keep your total fructose from fruit below 15 grams per day. The table below can help with the fruit you choose.
Sugar’s Link to Obesity, Heart Disease and Diabetes
Obesity rates have paralleled sugar consumption trends in Western civilization. Although the obesity epidemic is relatively recent, obesity is not a new phenomenon. In 1860, the prevalence of a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or higher (which defines obesity) was 1.6 percent among 50 year-old men. By 1900, it had tripled, and it has sharply increased over the past century.
Did you know cardiology is a relatively NEW field? Prior to 1940, there was no such thing as a cardiologist because there was no need for them; and that was only 70 years ago! The first report of angina was in 1929. In 1950, there were 500 cardiologists in the United States. Now there are 35,000. Guess what, they perform more than one million heart surgeries annually.
What is driving this eruption of cardiovascular disease? One key factor: the explosion of sugar in our diet.
The book, Pure, White and Deadly, was written by a British nutritionist John Yudkin in 1972 and is said to be a culmination of decades of research. He surmised that, “…the evidence that the over-consumption of sugar was leading to a greatly increased incidence of coronary thrombosis, and that in addition it was certainly involved in dental caries, probably involved in obesity, diabetes and liver disease, and possibly involved in gout, dyspepsia and some cancers.” as stated by Wikipedia. Needless to say the Sugar Industry did not take kindly to this bit of news and did what they could to silence and discredit Yudkin, his book, research and what it revealed.
So What Can We Do?
How much sugar is safe? Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons per day while men should consume no more than 9. The reality is most people eat an average of 26 teaspoons per day! Kids who have just one soda pop per day ingest the equivalent of eating 50 pounds of sugar per year. No wonder there is a growing number of children and adults with diabetes and other health problems.
The keys to getting excess sugar out of our diets are actually pretty simple. First start with reading the labels on everything you buy and avoid sugar laden foods. Better yet, secondly, instead of buying prepackaged foods, start cooking meals from natural (preferably organic and non-GMO) whole foods and vegetables. You can find several recipes online of knock off recipes that you can reproduce with better ingredients. Third, instead of drinking several soda pops a day, either diet or regular, opt for non-fluoridated water instead. Fourth, get plenty of good sleep and add fermented and high probiotic foods or supplements to help stop cravings for the sweet stuff and allow yourself to make better decisions.
If time is the problem and reason it’s hard to cook homemade meals, find one day during the week when you can spend some time pre-cutting veggies to be used in recipes during the week. Crowd out the fake higher sugar content foods by adding greens and other veggies to your dinner. Try eating veggies like carrots which have a higher natural content of sugar to help you feel satisfied. Drinking a glass of water when a craving hits is also a good way to end the craving; many cravings are due to dehydration.
Taming the Sweet Cravings
If you feel like you need that sugar fix, don’t stress and deny yourself a little. You don’t want to set yourself up for a binge and failure. First just make sure you avoid ALL artificial sweeteners! They are not the same or better than sugar; they have been processed.
If you can find pure glucose, which is dextrose, on the internet do it. It’s not as sweet so you may end up using more; but health-wise it is the better option. Limit all other types of sugar as much as possible.
When all else fails, EXERCISE! If you are going to consume fructose it is BEST to do so immediately before, during or after intense exercise as your body will tend to use it directly as fuel and not convert it to fat. It will also increase your insulin receptor sensitivity and help modulate the negative effects of fructose, help to blunt your appetite and control your sweet tooth.
High sugar intake is one of the reasons we have such a high percentage of our money going to health care. The sugar industries along with the companies that make our processed foods don’t want to admit that their products are the cause for such overwhelming changes in our nation’s health. But is it totally their fault? Shouldn’t we be more engaged and aware of what we put into our bodies?
By changing the way we cook, eat, drink, sleep, relate to others and ourselves, cravings for sugar will decline and better health will come naturally. You don’t have to go cold turkey. Begin by reading labels, crowding out the bad with a few good choices that you can handle. Getting your taste buds used to eating healthy and increasing your gut health will eventually kill your cravings for high sugar foods.
Getting enough sleep is as important as eating a good diet, drinking plenty of water and exercising. When we don’t get enough sleep (or get too much) our bodies suffer along with our minds. “Enough sleep” is generally accepted to be 6 to 8 hours every night, but some people feel fine on as little as five hours a night, while others need as much as 9 or 10 in order to feel at their best. When we are sick or stressed out, we tend to need more sleep.
Our sleep patterns are dictated by our circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in your environment. The term circadian comes from Latin words that literally mean around the day, this is what drives the body’s clock and are important in determining human sleep patterns.
The body’s master clock controls the production of melatonin, a hormone and antioxidant that makes you sleepy. Melatonin also helps dictate sleep-wake cycles, cell regeneration, hormone production and release, patterns of brain wave activity, body temperature and other important bodily functions linked to this 24-hour cycle. When circadian rhythms are interrupted your body makes less melatonin which means your body’s ability to fight free radicals is lessened.
When your body can’t repair itself because you haven’t been able to rest, stress related health problems can become major issues. These can include heart disease, stomach ulcers, constipation or depression and mood disorders among other things.
Sleep Deprivation Symptoms
Sleep deprivation can cause serious effects on health. Poor sleep contributes to a weakened immune system, accelerated tumor growth, can cause a “pre-diabetic” state making you feel hungry when you shouldn’t be which can lead to weight gain, impaired memory, decreased mental and physical performance and decreased problem solving abilities.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation can include:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Feeling tired when you wake up
- Stress, anxiety and/or depression
- Changes in appetite
- Driver Fatigue
- Slow mental performance
- Reduced motor skills
- Mood swings
- Weakened immune system and frequent infections
- Blurred vision
- Digestion problems
- Hormonal imbalance
Sleep deprivation prematurely ages you by interfering with your growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep and during certain types of exercise. Growth hormone helps you look and feel younger.
Lost sleep is lost forever, and persistent lack of sleep has a cumulative effect when it comes to disrupting your health. Poor sleep can make your life miserable, as most of you probably know. One study has even shown that people with chronic insomnia have a three times greater risk of dying from any cause.
Sleep deprivation can even cause changes in your brain activity similar to those experienced by people with psychiatric disorders, and your body does most of its repairs during sleep, so not getting enough of it can weaken your immune system, leaving you less able to fight off diseases of ALL kinds.
According to Science Daily in an article published February 2, 2008, one of the largest epidemiologic studies of insomnia among adolescents ever conducted has revealed that youths with insomnia, especially chronic insomnia, are at greater risk of future somatic and psychological problems.
The study collected data from more than 4,000 youths between 11 and 17 years of age, with a follow-up one year later on more than 3,000 of them. Almost 14 percent suffered from one or more symptoms of insomnia, and almost half of those had chronic insomnia.
Among those who suffered from insomnia, there was a link to both somatic and psychological dysfunctions. The link to psychological dysfunction was particularly strong.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association lack of sleep can make other conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, gastrointestinal tract disorders, kidney disease, and behavioral problems in children worse.
Some Herbs and Tips on how to get good sleep
Optimizing Your Sleep Sanctuary
1. Sleep in complete darkness, or as close to it as possible. Even the tiniest bit of light in the room can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of melatonin and serotonin. Even the tiniest glow from your clock radio could be interfering with your sleep.
This will help decrease your risk of cancer since your body’s antioxidant power is working to repair the day’s damage. Close your bedroom door, and get rid of night-lights. Refrain from turning on any light at all during the night as best you can, even when getting up to go to the bathroom. Cover up your clock radio. Cover your windows, try using blackout shades or drapes.
Modern day electrical lighting has significantly betrayed your inner clock by disrupting your natural rhythms. Little bits of light pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological clock.
Light signals your brain that it’s time to wake up and starts preparing your body for ACTION.
2. Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 25 degrees C. Many people keep their homes and particularly their upstairs bedrooms too warm. Studies show that the optimal room temperature for sleep is quite cool, between 15 to 20 degrees. Keeping your room cooler or hotter can lead to restless sleep.
When you sleep, your body’s internal temperature drops to its lowest level, generally about four hours after you fall asleep. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may therefore be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body’s natural temperature drop.
3. Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs). It sounds kind of sci-fi, but these can disrupt the pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well.
To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, or hire someone to do it for you. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house. Not sure if this is totally necessary, but even unplugging unused devices and keeping your alarm clock at the foot of the bed can help.
4. Move alarm clocks and other electrical devices away from your bed. If these devices must be used, keep them as far away from your bed as possible, preferably at least 3 feet. Remove the clock from view. It will only add to your worry when you stare at it all night… 2 a.m. …3 a.m. … 4:30 a.m.
5. Avoid using loud alarm clocks. It is very stressful on your body to be suddenly jolted awake. If you are regularly getting enough sleep, an alarm may even be unnecessary. A sun alarm clock is a good way to wake up each morning if you can’t wake up with the REAL sun.
They combine the features of a traditional alarm clock (digital display, AM/FM radio, beeper, snooze button, etc) with a special built-in light that gradually increases in intensity, these clocks simulate a natural sunrise. Some even include a sunset feature where the light fades to darkness over time, which is ideal for anyone who has trouble falling asleep.
6. Reserve your bed for sleeping. If you are used to watching TV or doing work in bed, you may find it harder to relax and drift off to sleep, so avoid doing these activities in bed.
7. If you sleep with a constant snorer or mover, consider separate bedrooms. Recent studies suggest, for many people, sharing a bed with a partner (or pets) can significantly impair sleep, especially if the partner is a restless sleeper or snores. If bedfellows are consistently interfering with your sleep, you may want to consider a separate bedroom.
Preparing for Bed
8. Get to bed as early as possible. Your body (particularly your adrenal system) does a majority of its recharging between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. In addition, your gallbladder dumps toxins during this same period. If you are awake, the toxins back up into your liver, which can further disrupt your health.
Prior to the widespread use of electricity, people would go to bed shortly after sundown, as most animals do, and which nature intended for humans as well.
9. Don’t change your bedtime. You should go to bed and wake up at the same times each day, even on the weekends. This will help your body to get into a sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and get up in the morning.
10. Establish a bedtime routine. This could include meditation, deep breathing, prayer, using aromatherapy or essential oils or indulging in a massage from your partner. The key is to find something that makes you feel relaxed, then repeat it each night to help you release the tensions of the day.
11. Don’t drink any fluids within 2 hours of going to bed. This will reduce the likelihood of needing to get up and go to the bathroom, or at least minimize the frequency.
12. Go to the bathroom right before bed. This will reduce the chances that you’ll wake up to go in the middle of the night.
13. Eat a high-protein snack several hours before bed. This can provide the L-tryptophan needed for your melatonin and serotonin production.
14. Eat a small piece of fruit along with the protein. This can help the tryptophan cross your blood-brain barrier.
15. Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars. These will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep. Later, when blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), you may wake up and be unable to fall back asleep.
16. Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed. When your body temperature is raised in the late evening, it will fall at bedtime, facilitating slumber. The temperature drop from getting out of the bath signals your body it’s time for bed. Stick to baths if showers do more to wake you up than put you to sleep.
17. Wear socks to bed. Feet often feel cold before the rest of the body because they have the poorest circulation. A study has shown that wearing socks reduces night waking. As an alternative, you could place a hot water bottle near your feet at night.
18. Wear an eye mask to block out light. As discussed earlier, it is very important to sleep in as close to complete darkness as possible. That said, it’s not always easy to block out every stream of light using curtains, blinds or drapes, particularly if you live in an urban area (or if your spouse has a different schedule than you do). In these cases, an eye mask can be helpful.
19. Put your work away at least one hour before bed (preferably two hours or more). This will give your mind a chance to unwind so you can go to sleep feeling calm, not hyped up or anxious about tomorrow’s deadlines.
20. No TV right before bed. Even better, get the TV out of the bedroom or even completely out of the house. It’s too stimulating to the brain, preventing you from falling asleep quickly. TV disrupts your pineal gland function.
21. Listen to relaxation CDs. Some people find the sound of white noise or nature sounds, such as the ocean or forest, to be soothing for sleep. An excellent relaxation/meditation option to listen to before bed is the Insight audio CD. Another favorite is the Sleep Harmony CD, which uses a combination of advanced vibrational technology and guided meditation to help you effortlessly fall into deep delta sleep within minutes. The CD works on the principle of “sleep wave entrainment” to assist your brain in gearing down for sleep.
22. Read something spiritual or uplifting. This may help you relax. Don’t read anything stimulating, such as a mystery or suspense novel, which has the opposite effect. In addition, if you are really enjoying a suspenseful book, you might be tempted to go on reading for hours, instead of going to sleep!
23. Journaling. If you often lay in bed with your mind racing, it might be helpful keep a journal and write down your thoughts before bed. Try doing it in the morning when the brain is functioning at its peak and cortisol levels are high.
Changes in Your Lifestyle that Can Help You Sleep
24. Reduce or avoid as many drugs as possible. Many drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, may adversely affect sleep. In most cases, the condition causing the drugs to be taken in the first place can be addressed by following the health guidelines. Many people are starting to talk about drugs and their side effects on forums, chat rooms and other places. It’s best to learn as much as you can about each drug, its side effects and what the root cause may be that could be relieved through nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.
25. Avoid caffeine. At least one study has shown that, in some people, caffeine is not metabolized efficiently, leaving you feeling its effects long after consumption. So, an afternoon cup of coffee or tea will keep some people from falling asleep at night. Be aware that some medications contain caffeine (for example, diet pills).
26. Avoid alcohol. Although alcohol will make you drowsy, the effect is short lived and you will often wake up several hours later, unable to fall back asleep. Alcohol will also keep you from entering the deeper stages of sleep, where your body does most of its healing.
27. Make certain you are exercising regularly. Exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can improve your sleep. However, don’t exercises too close to bedtime or it may keep you awake. Studies show exercising in the morning is the best if you can manage it.
28. Lose excess weight. Being overweight can increase your risk of sleep apnea, which can seriously impair your sleep.
29. Avoid foods you may be sensitive to. This is particularly true for sugar, grains, and pasteurized dairy. Sensitivity reactions can cause excess congestion, gastrointestinal upset, bloating and gas, and other problems.
30. Have your adrenals checked by a good natural medicine clinician. Scientists have found that insomnia may be caused by adrenal stress.
31. If you are menopausal or perimenopausal, get checked out by a good natural medicine physician. The hormonal changes at this time may cause sleep problems if not properly addressed.
Other Natural Ways to Improve Sleep
32. Dr. Mercola’s current favorite fix for insomnia is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Most people can learn the basics of this gentle tapping technique in a few minutes. EFT can help balance your body’s bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.
33. Increase your melatonin. Ideally it is best to increase levels naturally with exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime (along with full spectrum fluorescent bulbs in the winter) and absolute complete darkness at night.
34. Natural supplements. Calcium, magnesium, B-complex, vitamin D, omega 3s which help reduce inflamation, a good multivitamin, Valerian, German chamomile and passion flower are just a few of the ways you can help your body be better equipped to have a good night’s sleep.
We would all love to be in perfect health all the time, but being able to live in a way that would make that happen can be incredibly tough. It only becomes more difficult as you get older, with work, family, and other commitments taking up most of your day. That makes it virtually impossible to eat the foods that can help keep you healthy, meaning that junk and processed foods tend to be the order of the day. The human body needs a certain number of vitamins and minerals in order to maintain a healthy balance. The fact that we can’t get enough of the foods we need to help us achieve that goal means that turning to supplements is often necessary. One supplement that is becoming increasingly popular is Gamma-Linolenic Acid, or GLA for short.
The body is not able to naturally produce GLA, but it can be introduced into the system by regularly eating vegetables. That brings us back to how difficult it can be to eat these types of foods every day, which is why a GLA supplement should very much be considered part of your daily vitamin regimen.
Just about everyone can benefit from taking the GLA, but considering that it can help specific ailments, the benefits that you see from it may vary. Where the real GLA benefits are to be found are in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or diabetic pains. It is also effective in helping those who are suffering from eczema or breast cancer, as well as being beneficial to people who suffer from osteoporosis or other bone issues. There have even been studies done that show that bond density is improved in elderly folks who regularly partake of the GLA supplement.
The list of health benefits from using GLA goes on and one, but there are probably still many of you out there wondering about potential GLA side effects. While you may assume that since GLA is derived from the natural oils of plants, the possibility of side effects would be lessened, you still have to be careful with how you use it. Of particular note is taking GLA supplement with other medicines or supplements that are known to increase the risk of bleeding. These include such items as aspirin, blood thinners, and the ginkgo biloba supplement. As is the case with any supplement, you should always check with your doctor before taking it.
When it comes to weight loss, there are many supplements that have undergone various trials to see how well it will work. Fortunately there have been some researched supplemental breakthroughs that have successfully been very effective for weight loss. GLA is a fatty acid which stimulates the burning of fat instead of the storage of fat by jump starting the metabolism. That is why people use GLA for weight loss more and more often. GLA benefits include the burning of specific tissues that are common to obese or overweight people, along with using up some of the body’s calories.
When a person is healthy, GLA can be extracted from the linoleic acid, which is usually found in essential oils such as evening primrose, black currant and other seed oils. Depending on the a person’s diet and nutritional intake, the GLA may not be able to extracted in this manner. The reason for this may be that if a person lives an unhealthy lifestyle where their diet is filled with alcohol, smoking, trans-fat and habits like smoking. These habits will put a halt on the conversion from linoleic acid to GLA. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to provide the body with the appropriate amount of GLA that is necessary to burn the essential amount of fats that are accumulated from a high calorie, high fat diet. Since GLA originates in seed oils, the body can actually skip the need to be extracted from the linoleic acid and fortunately go directly to burning the body’s extra fat.
If a person is looking to increase the amount of Omega fatty acids when they are extracting the GLA from the linoleic acid, it’s highly suggested to use black currant seed oil in order to begin this process. Most recommended dosages of GLA that is extracted from the black currant seed oils should be approximately 200 to 3,000 milligrams maximum daily. Essential fatty acids are some of the healthy fats that are naturally in some food. They serve as an essential part of the body’s nutritional intake in order for the body to function and weight loss to happen naturally. GLA comes in the form of supplements, which is one of the most concentrated ways to consume it and thus yield the quickest results for the losing weight process. In order for the GLA supplement to begin successfully stimulating the weight loss process, it’s important for consistent exercise and a well-balanced diet to be implemented.
Weight loss due to GLA supplementation has been due to the decrease in appetite that it renders. It also has the ability to decrease body fat by effecting the enzymes that metabolize glucose and fats that the body takes in. Most people who suffer from depression or anxiety tend to eat a bit more, which is due to a lack of serotonin. GLA for weight loss supplements assist with regulating an individual’s levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain which let the body know when it’s full after eating. GLA will balance out the level of serotonin, so that the individual will not feel the need to eat more when they are depressed or feeling anxious.
Advocates for the use of GLA supplements believe that a wide range of maladies may be helped from their use. People with breast cancer or colon polyps may find relief from daily usage. High cholesterol may be lowered and the effects of chronic fatigue may be lessened when GLA is used on a regular basis. Studies of GLA’s effect on heart disease and attention deficit disorder are also being done.
There are several areas where the use of GLA has been documented with varying degrees of success. Many women who suffer PMS symptoms monthly have experienced less irritability, breast pain and tenderness and bloating after taking GLA. It has also been noted that hot flashes seem to lessen after taking the supplement.
Other interesting benefits include those found in the areas of the skin. With aging or exposure to the sun the skin becomes dry and less smooth. The elasticity of aged skin lessens and sagging occurs. GLA benefits the skin by aiding in cell repair and giving the skin the ability to retain more moisture. This in turns produces skin that is smoother and skin that shows fewer wrinkles.
One of the best known benefits is its ability to reduce inflammation. People who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis have availed themselves to the properties of GLA to help reduce joint pain and stiffness. It should be noted that it takes one to three months for any lessening of symptoms to occur. Others who suffer with eczema or psoriasis have also experienced a noticeable difference after using GLA supplements.
There are presently laboratory tests being done that hope to show how GLA benefits will include the slowing down of the growth of cancer cells. There are other lab tests being done that hope to prove that GLA will be beneficial in reducing high blood pressure and the pain that is brought about by fibrocystic breast syndrome. Others tests hope to show how diabetics with nerve damage may be helped by taking the supplement.
One more thing to pay attention to GLA is the daily dosage you take. There should be very clear instructions on the bottle outlining the recommended daily dosage. The most common daily dosages for adults fall in the 500 to 1,000 mg range, usually depending on what they are taking the supplement for. Those taking GLA for high cholesterol tend to go with higher doses than those taking it for arthritis pain, but again, this is something that you should discuss with your doctor.
The Best Multivitamin – What is In It and What is Not?
Nearly 50% of adults take a multivitamin. How do you know you are getting what you need? How do you know are not getting what you don’t need? Most vitamin companies that sell their wares in the grocery and health food stores, do not have proof or studies showing that they actually work. Some even contain dangerous toxins like sodium selenite and selenate that do more harm than good. Taking some multivitamins does nothing good at all for our bodies, they just drain the bank account and make you think multivitamins don’t work.
If many of us use a multivitamin anyway why not re-route the money going toward dangerous and ineffective pills to a product that actually works and has the proof to back it up? I came across an article and comments that help back up the philosophy I am talking about. If you are going to buy vitamins, arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the best product decision possible. Changing brands can change your life.
Read the label; not all vitamins are the same. Some are made with synthetic fillers and modified forms of the nutrient. The only kind of vitamin supplement you should be taking is the one most like whole food. The best way to get your nutrition is by eating non-genetically modified foods so that you know the nutritional value of that food is not diminished. The soil nutrients are being depleted of selenium. To remedy this most companies add back in the lost selenium with a synthetic one. Opening the door for synthetic tampering of supplements and foods. When people genetically modify food the nutritional value of that food goes down; that is another reason taking a high quality supplement is so important in today’s day of food quantity instead of quality.
Quality is the most important ingredient in a supplement. Not many companies do quality testing on their products, let alone third party tests. Only Shaklee does over 1,000 quality tests each time they make Vita-lea; a convenient and easy open packet of every vitamin and mineral your body needs to feel its best every day. Not only do they do their own tests, they have many third party laboratories study their products as well. Since January of 2011 Shaklee already has 3 clinical studies published that are more than most vitamin companies have in total. And the studies and proofs keep coming.
Here is some information on what to look for in your vitamins and the kind of supplements you are using…
If Your Multivitamin Contains These Ingredients – Dump them now
Both sodium selenite and selenate are classified as dangerous and toxic to the environment. They can be carcinogenic and genotoxic, and may contribute to reproductive and developmental problems in animals and humans. Nonetheless, they are the primary forms of the mineral sold on the mass market today.
Most mass-market vitamins actually contain chemicals that the EPA has banned from public drinking water at levels above 50 parts per billion. That’s the equivalent of a tablespoon of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.
If supplements are so good for us, why aren’t we getting healthier?
Part of the reason could be that many people mistakenly believe that a vitamin is a vitamin, and one form of a mineral is equal to any other, failing to understand the inherent differences between synthetic chemicals and whole food nutrients. Many also mistakenly use supplements as a way to avoid having to change their dietary habits. But the proof is in the pudding, as they say, because if you eat a diet consisting primarily of processed junk food, and take cheap synthetic vitamins and minerals, you’re not likely to see a major change in your health status…
It has always been my belief that supplements should be used in addition to, NOT in place of, a sound diet. You simply cannot cover your nutritional- or lifestyle “sins” by taking a handful of supplements.
Why Selenium Supplements have Become More Popular
Selenium is an essential trace mineral found primarily in plant foods, and is known to have powerful antioxidant activity. Past studies have shown it can play a beneficial role in:
- Heart disease
- Cognitive decline
- Cataracts and macular degeneration
- Cold sores and shingles
The selenium content in whole plant foods depend on the level of the nutrient in the soil, and, unfortunately, many farming areas around the world are becoming increasingly selenium depleted. Most of the selenium is also lost when the food is processed or refined, so unless you consume lots of whole organic produce, you may be at risk of selenium deficiency.
It is because of these facts that supplements containing selenium have increased in popularity in the United States, to the extent that close to 25 percent of Americans over 40 take a selenium supplement or multivitamin that includes selenium. However, supplementing with sodium selenite and selenate may do more harm than good…
Beware of Inorganic Selenium
As explained earlier, sodium selenite and selenate are two potentially problematic ingredients found in many multi-vitamins. According to PAN, a database for pesticide chemicals, both sodium selenite and sodium selenate are classified as “Highly Toxic,” based on oral administration trials using rabbits and rats. And according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the highest allowable level of selenium in public drinking water is 50 parts per billion, which is equivalent to 50 micrograms, dry weight.
Studies have shown that:
- Long-term exposure to selenium, sodium selenite, sodium selenate, or selenium dioxide may cause paleness, coated tongue, stomach disorders, nervousness, metallic taste and a garlic odor of the breath. Damage to the liver and spleen in animals has also been observed, according to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
- According to the 1986 edition of the Handbook of the Toxicology of Metals, daily intake of about one milligram of selenium as selenite can be toxic.
- In one study, sodium selenite was found to induce substantial DNA damage in human fibroblasts.
- More recent research also indicates that too much selenium may contribute to the onset of diabetes.
It’s very important to realize that these potentially toxic chemicals are some of the primary forms of selenium sold as dietary supplements on the market today. As discussed in earlier, such inorganic minerals cannot replace biologically active trace minerals.
Other Problematic Ingredients Found in Many Multi-Vitamins
In the U.S., many supplement makers add so-called ‘flowing agents’ into their capsules. Two common additives are:
- Magnesium stearate
- Titanium dioxide
Now, neither of these will cause any major harm in small doses. But they do add up over time, and magnesium stearate can cause a biofilm to be created in your intestine, which will prevent the absorption of nutrients. The only purpose of it in the supplement is to help the raw materials become more slippery and easily flow through the machines that create the supplements.
Magnesium stearate is not a supplemental source of magnesium but rather a form of stearic acid. It’s essentially chalk, and previous research has shown that it suppresses your natural killer cells, which are a key component of your immune system. Unfortunately, this chalk filler stimulates your gut to form a biofilm – a sort of sludge lining – that acts as an effective barrier to the absorption of not only that particular vitamin but all the nutrients you’d normally get from food sources as well. This is a major reason for focusing on nutritional foods rather than taking handfuls of vitamins each day.
Titanium dioxide is another absolutely unnecessary color agent you don’t want to see in your supplements, as it has been shown to cause autoimmune disorders.
The Problem with Synthetic Vitamins
Most natural health experts agree on one thing: No matter which foods you eat, whole foods are far better for you than refined foods. So why do some people believe the rules of nutrition would suddenly change when it comes to vitamins and other nutritional supplements?
Whole food supplements are what their name suggests: Supplements made from concentrated whole foods. The vitamins found within these supplements are not isolated or synthetic. Rather they are highly complex structures that combine a variety of enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, activators and many other unknown or undiscovered factors that work together synergistically, to enable this vitamin complex to do its job in your body.
Synthetic nutrients, on the other hand, are not natural, in that they are never found by themselves in nature. When you take these isolated nutrients regularly, especially at the ultra-high doses found in formulas today, it’s more like taking a drug… At best, they will not benefit you as much as high quality food and food-based supplements. And at worst, they may cause problems.
Nature does not produce any nutrient in an isolated form. The nutrients in foods are blended together in a specific way and work best in that format. For an isolated nutrient to work properly in the body, it needs all the other parts that are naturally present in the food too. If the parts are not all there from the start, they are taken from your body’s stored supply. This is why isolated nutrients often work for a while, then seem to stop working.
Once your body’s store of the extra nutrients is used up, the isolated nutrient you’re taking just doesn’t work as well anymore. Worse yet, a deficiency in these extra nutrients can be created in your body.
Studies also show your body treats these isolated and synthetic nutrients like xenobiotic (foreign substances). This is why your urine will oftentimes turn some shade of glow-in-the-dark yellow when you take certain synthetic vitamins, as your body simply flushes these foreign substances out.
How to Identify High Quality Multi-Vitamin Supplements?
We do believe that dietary supplements — including vitamins and minerals — can help compensate for some of the damage your body incurs through modern living. However, it’s not wise to use supplements to justify a poor diet. In my experience no amount of supplements will ever be able to substitute for healthy food choices…
There are times when supplements can be quite useful, such as a high quality animal-based omega-3 supplement, for example, are essential for nearly everyone. This is because the main source of animal based omega-3 fats in your diet comes from fish – most of which is now so grossly polluted with heavy metals, PCBs and other environmental toxins that no longer are recommended sources for optimal omega 3 levels. Another supplement that many people need is vitamin D3, unless you can get sufficient amounts of safe sun exposure year-round, or use a safe tanning bed.
Another incredibly useful supplement is probiotics, which influence the activity of hundreds of your genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner. You can get these healthy bacteria from eating fermented foods, and if you eat them enough you will keep your digestive tract well supplied with good bacteria, but there may still be times when a probiotic supplement is necessary, such as when you stray from your healthy diet and consume excess grains or sugar; if you have to take antibiotics; or when traveling to foreign countries for example.
There are other instances when supplements may be useful as well, such as in the case of CoQ10 if you’re taking statin drugs, but their effectiveness depends largely on the quality of the supplement itself.
You may also want to take one or more food-based supplements to ensure you are getting an adequate variety of nutrients. However, I strongly recommend you make whole food supplements your first choice, and steer clear of synthetic vitamins. How do you tell whether or not a supplement you’re looking at is a good choice?
For starters, make sure it has the following characteristics:
- It is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form.
- Use independent third party labs that check the raw materials for contaminants and correct dosage.
- Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and NSF Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
- The utmost care has been taken in all phases of its production, from growing its ingredients, to manufacturing, testing for potency and quality control.
- It works! Always try to select from companies that have a long track record of providing high quality products that produce good clinical results.
If you are interested in optimizing your health your BEST solution is to choose the highest quality foods possible, and eat a wide variety of whole organic foods. Once you have addressed your diet and are looking for further improvement, odds are you would likely benefit from some supplements, like an animal-based omega-3 supplement and a probiotic, for example. There are many others you could consider depending on your specific circumstances, but just about everyone would benefit from these two.
Just remember to do your homework first and use only those that come from a reputable manufacturer using whole-food, natural ingredients that are free from additives, and have gone through a vigorous quality control process.
Hawaiians call coconut water “noelani” which means “dew from the heavens.” Many tropical cultures prize coconut water above all other beverages due to its rehydrating and health renewing properties. Not only is coconut water good for you, it’s good for plants too, having been traditionally used as a growth supplement in plant propagation. As a result of the rich volcanic soils and mineral-rich seawater in which coconut palms grow, coconut water’s nutritional profile is very impressive.
Coconut water is:
- Rich in natural vitamins (especially the B vitamins), minerals, and trace elements (including zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, and manganese). Vitamins are necessary for the enzymatic reactions your cells need in order to function.
- Full of amino acids, organic acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
- Rich source of electrolytes and natural salts, especially potassium and magnesium.
- Light, low calorie and nearly fat-free, as well as low in sugar but pleasantly sweet—contains about a fifth of the sugar of other fruit juices, like apple or grape juice, as well as containing a little fiber to moderate absorption.
- Rich in cytokinins, or plant hormones, which have anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-thrombolytic effects in human.
Coconut water also has an alkalizing effect on your body, which can help correct the cumulative effects of acidifying foods that make up most diets today. For a complete nutritional profile, refer to the tables at the Coconut Research Center site. The list of health benefits of coconut water is impressive, and growing by leaps and bounds with each new scientific study.
Coconut Water’s Abundance of Health Benefits
Addressing every one of these areas is beyond the scope of one article, but we would like to touch on a few of the most impressive areas where coconut water may give your health a boost. According to Bruce Fife, author of Coconut Water for Health and Healing and one of the leading coconut experts, scientific research and clinical observation have shown coconut water to have the following broad-spanning health benefits:
- Rehydration (water and electrolytes)
- Increased exercise performance
- Cardioprotective (rich in potassium and magnesium); helps regulate blood pressure, improve circulation, reduces plaque formation
- Anti-inflammatory; reduces swelling in hands and feet
- Prevents abnormal blood clotting
- Aids in kidney function (preventing and dissolving kidney stones, UTI remedy)
- Helps balance blood glucose and insulin levels
- Digestive tonic (rich in enzymes); feeds friendly gut flora
- Remedy for constipation and diarrhea
- Anti-aging properties
- Enhances skin health (elasticity, age spots, wrinkles), improves wound healing
- Enhances eye health (cataracts, glaucoma)
- Supports good immune function; antimicrobial (contains monolaurin)
- Helps prevent osteoporosis
- Anti-cancer properties
- Perfect Electrolyte Balance from Mother Nature
Electrolytes are inorganic compounds that become ions in solution and have the capacity to conduct electricity. They are important for electrical signaling—and of course your brain, heart, muscles and nervous system are all bioelectrical systems. Your cells use electrolytes to maintain voltage across their membranes and carry electrical impulses to other cells.
Things like water balance and blood pH depend on your body’s proper electrolyte balance, and you can suffer severe medical problems if your electrolytes fall out of balance.
Fresh coconut water is one of the richest natural sources of electrolytes and can be used to prevent dehydration from strenuous exercise, vomiting, or diarrhea. You lose electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium) when you sweat, which must be replenished with food and water intake. Because coconut water naturally contains so many electrolytes, it’s been called “Nature’s Gatorade.”
Coconut water has five electrolytes your body needs:
- Potassium: The most important positive ion (cation) inside your cells; potassium regulates heartbeat and muscle function; coconut water contains 295 mg, which is 15 times the amount in the average sports drink
- Sodium: The most important positive ion in fluid outside your cells, and also the one most depleted with exercise, as you lose sodium through sweat and urine
- Magnesium: important for maintaining the electrical potential of your cells, proper muscle function, and preventing calcium overload
- Phosphorous: Plays important roles in bone health, but also in transferring energy throughout your body, helping your muscles contract, and regulating nerve function (partners with calcium)
- Calcium: Important for bone health (partners with phosphorous)
The ONLY “Sports Drink” Recommended
For most average exercisers and athletes, sports drinks are not only a waste of your money, but more importantly, can actually worsen the health of most who use them. Less than one percent of those who use sports drinks actually benefit from them. Most sports drinks are loaded with things you DON’T want, like refined sugars, artificial colors and chemicals, none of which are in natural coconut water.
If you exercise for 30 minutes a day at a moderate to high intensity, fresh, pure water is the best thing to help you stay hydrated. It’s only when you’ve been exercising for longer periods, such as for more than 60 minutes, or in the heat, or at extreme intensity levels, where you are sweating profusely, that you may need something more than water to replenish your body.
Besides plain water, coconut water is one of the best and safest options to rehydrate yourself after a strenuous workout. If you need the electrolytes, it will provide them. If you don’t need them, then it certainly won’t hurt you. And as you’re learning, coconut water has a mountain of other health benefits in addition to rehydration, which no commercial sports drink in the world can provide. Depending on how much salt you’ve lost through sweating, you might even add a tiny pinch of natural Himalayan salt to your glass of coconut water.
One study in 2007 found sodium-enriched coconut water to be as effective as commercial sports drinks for whole body rehydration after exercise, with less stomach upset.
Coconut water is sterile when it comes out of the coconut, and extremely similar in composition to human blood plasma. These unique properties make it so completely compatible with the human body that it can be infused intravenously into your bloodstream. Physicians have actually used coconut water successfully as an IV fluid for more than 60 years, especially in remote regions of the world where medical supplies are limited and it has saved many lives. You can appreciate how safe and beneficial this natural beverage is, if it can be used intravenously!
Cytokinins: Secret Fountain of Youth Revealed!
Possibly the most important nutritional constituent in coconut water—more beneficial than the electrolytes vitamins and minerals and amino acids—is something you’ve likely never even heard of: cytokinins.
Cytokinins are phytohormones, or plant hormones. These hormones regulate the growth, development, and aging of a plant. Coconut water has been an important horticultural resource, used in the propagation of several plants, including orchids and traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. The cytokinins found in coconut water support cell division, and thus promote rapid growth.
But what does this have to do with humans?
Cytokinins have actually been found to exert an anti-agingeffect on human cells and tissues. When human cells are exposed to cytokinins, aging slows down considerably. Cells treated with cytokinins don’t undergo the normal degenerative changes, so they don’t “act their age.” Researchers have suggested that if you consume a diet rich in cytokinins, you may experience anti-aging effects and have less risk for degenerative and age-related diseases. And coconut water is the richest natural dietary source of cytokinins.
Cytokinins have also been found to have anti-thrombolytic properties so may lower your risk for blood clots. But coconut’s heart benefits don’t stop there. They have also been shown to have anti-cancer effects.
According to Bruce Fife:
“In regulating cell growth, cytokinins prevent the mistakes that may lead to the development of cancer. Normal cells are kept healthy while cancerous cells are programmed to die, preventing them from growing and spreading. Subsequently, the anti-cancer effects of cytokinins have been well documented.”
Benefits for Your Heart and Urinary Tract
High levels of mineral ions, especially potassium, in coconut water have been found to help prevent heart attacks. And coconut water has been found to have blood pressure benefits. In one study, 71 percent of people who drank coconut water experienced lower blood pressures.
Similar benefits have been found if you have problems with urinary stones. Dr. Eugenio Macalalag, director of the urology department of the Chinese General Hospital in the Philippines, reported that coconut water was effective in treating his patient’s kidney and urethral stones. He reported that his patients who drank coconut water two to three times a week experienced a significant reduction in stone size and expulsion, eliminating their need for surgery.
Pesticide, Chemical and Environmental Considerations
The most common variety of coconut being grown today for harvesting coconut water is a high-water yield dwarf hybrid variety that CAN be heavily fertilized and sprayed with pesticides. This makes it very important for you to select organic coconut water and organic fresh coconuts.
It is important to make sure the coconuts and coconut products you purchase are certified organic and sustainably raised. Regular coconut palms grow to be 80 to 100 feet tall, and because workers have to climb up and pick the coconuts, more manageable dwarf varieties have been cultivated that average about nine feet tall. There are environmental concerns as well, related to the intense market demand for coconuts and their products.
SO Much More Than a Sports Drink
Coconut water is one of Nature’s perfect foods—it is hard to say enough good things about it. It’s the perfect replacement for juice or soda. Please remember to read the label, to make sure it’s as pure and unprocessed as possible. Of course, drinking it fresh from the coconut, as opposed to bottled, is the ultimate choice.
Another alternative to easily enjoy the pure hydration drink with safely is Shaklee Performance Drink which has equally benefit as coconut water! Shaklee Performance is clinically proven to hydrate better than water. Plus, it has more electrolytes and provides more energy than the leading hydration drink. It proprietary OPTI-LYTE™ electrolyte blend plus unique mix of carbohydrates delivers instant and sustained energy and supports optimal hydration.
So next time you’re searching for a cool, refreshing after-work out beverage, crack open a coconut or mix 3 tablespoons of Shaklee Performance with cold water and experience its rejuvenation for yourself!