Live in the Now Health. Freedom. Knowledge Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:45:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Fat-Inflammation Link: What a Few Extra Pounds Actually Does To Your Pet’s Joints Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:45:40 +0000 dog eatingOver 60 percent of American people are considered overweight or obese, and in a disturbing trend, American pets are following their owners’ lead. Over 57 percent of dogs and 53 percent of cats are overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Just as in humans, obesity can be defined as accumulation of body fat in excess of what is necessary to maintain optimum condition and health. Quantitatively, obesity is defined generally as exceeding ideal body weight by 15–20 percent or more.

For many years, we looked at fat cells as “storage facilities,” underestimating the damage. We eat too many carbs, they’re “stored” as fat. We consume too much fatty, processed food, those calories are “stored” as fat; excess energy in an unattractive reserve.

However, we now know that fat cells themselves are more like mini hormone factories, producing various cell-signaling chemicals.  One class of chemicals in particular, cytokines, can impact different body systems, including musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems.  While there are many types of cytokines, and researchers are working to identify them and understand the specific effects of each kind, what we do know is that as the number of fat cells increase, so does inflammation, which breaks down the protective cartilage that cushions joints

While most people recognize that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes, it’s not as commonly known that it also increases the risk of getting a certain type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, OA, is the most common type of arthritis, affecting approximately 20 percent of American pets. OA is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage – the flexible but tough connective tissue that covers the ends of bones at joints. Age, injury, heredity and lifestyle factors all affect the risk of OA.

How Excess Weight Delivers a One-Two Punch That Harms Your Pet’s Joint Health

OA has a logical link to obesity: the more weight that’s on a joint, the more stressed the joint becomes, and the more likely it will wear down and be damaged. Combine this with the inflammatory cascade created by obesity itself, and we have a recipe for disaster for our pets’ joints.

A long-term study was performed of 48 Labrador retrievers from 7 litters divided into 2 dietary groups. One group was fed an adult maintenance dog food and the second group was fed the same diet at 75 percent of the amount. Restricted fed dogs lived on average 1.8 years longer, weighed less, had better body condition scores and had longer delay to treatment of chronic disease, including OA. Maintaining optimal or slightly lean body condition may be associated with lower risk of developing OA, development of less severe OA if it occurs, and delay of onset of clinical signs of OA in dogs.

So what can we do to help our pets beat this inflammatory curse caused by excess fat?

First and foremost, we have to recognize obesity in our pets. In a survey conducted by APOP, among pets that veterinarians ultimately classified as obese, an incredible 93 percent of dog owners and 88 percent of cat owners classified their pet’s weight as normal!

An easy rule of thumb for assessing your pets’ weight at home is to feel their ribs. Put your hands on your pup’s chest and try to find a rib. If you have to push down, feel around or just can’t find one at all, there’s a good chance that your pet is overweight. While your pet’s ribs should not be sticking out, you should be able to easily palpate them under a thin layer of fat. Thicker layers of subcutaneous fat will prevent you from easily feeling the ribs.

If you feel like your pet may have a weight issue, have them assessed by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will assign a body condition score (similar to a BMI in humans). If your pet is indeed overweight, you can create a weight loss plan together. An exercise and nutritional assessment should consider the individual patient, diet, feeding management, as well as environmental factors and pre-existing medical conditions.

While chondroprotective agents, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, are often included in these “healthy joint” diets, the amount of these compounds in commercial diets is less than recommended for treatment of OA; therefore, in order to get effective levels one must supplement.

Stay tuned for my next article in which I’ll be discussing the best supplements for your pet’s joint health!

The bottom line is, if you want your pet to live a long, healthy, happy life, you can’t kill them with kindness. The kindest thing that you can possibly do is to keep you pet slim and trim in order to be able to spend the most years together.

MZX_6893-Edit (2)Dr. Katy Nelson is the mother of five – two human and three animal – kids, an avid nutrition and fitness enthusiast, and an admittedly rabid Louisiana sports fan. She is an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Centre in Alexandria, VA., as well as the host and executive producer of “The Pet Show with Dr. Katy” on Washington DC’s News Channel 8. A Certified Veterinary Journalist (CVJ) accredited by the American Society of Veterinary Journalists (ASVJ), Dr. Katy is the Animal Health Reporter for ABC7 News, and serves as “Dr. Pawz” on WTOP Radio. Dr. Katy is also a founding partner of, a national health and fitness initiative aimed at getting people healthy alongside their dogs, and serves as a media and marketing consultant for numerous pet-related companies and media outlets.

A lover of all animals, Dr. Katy carves out time for many charitable organizations in the DC area and beyond. In early 2012, Dr. Katy teamed with Emmy-Award winning producer Judy Plavnick to form Sit. Good Girl Productions, LLC, their first production is the documentary Tell Them I Am Kind, the story of the creation of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary.

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Meet the Herb That Can Stop Sugar Cravings and Balance Blood Sugar Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:31:24 +0000 gymnema_4You may think that only diabetics need to pay attention to their blood sugar, but this is not entirely the case. Since blood sugar levels and the consumption of sugar in general can be a predisposing factor in the development of diabetes, metabolic syndrome and even heart disease, achieving a balanced level of glucose in the body is extremely important.

The amount of glucose in your blood is supposed to be consistent throughout the day. If it gets too high and stays high, the extra glucose can wreak havoc inside your body by damaging blood vessels and down-regulating insulin receptors, which eventually can lead to type 2 diabetes. If glucose levels fall too low, the cells in the body won’t have enough energy to optimally perform their jobs, and symptoms like headaches, fatigue, irritability and in extreme cases, unconsciousness can occur.

In healthy individuals, keeping balanced blood sugar levels can be quite simple. Skipping the sugary snacks and eating balanced meals with at least 15 grams of protein every four hours allows for a consistent and stable amount of glucose to be released into the bloodstream. That being said, it is sometimes not easy to stop eating foods high in sugar. Many of us are chronically addicted to sugar and cutting it out can be more difficult than we think.

Amazingly enough, there is actually a plant that can both reduce sugar cravings and balance your blood sugar. This plant is called Gymnema sylvestre. Native to parts of India and Southeast Asia, gymnema has been used for thousands of years as an anti diabetic and as a way to reduce sugar cravings. Due to its ability to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings for those sugary snacks it can be used (in conjunction with other dietary and lifestyle modifications) to prevent diabetes, metabolic syndrome and in some cases heart disease.

When taken internally, gymnema has an inhibitory effect on plasma glucose and serum insulin, meaning that it is a powerful blood sugar regulator and is indicated for diabetes types 1 and 2. It has also been shown to reduce hemoglobin A1C in diabetic patients. On a cautionary note, since gymnema may enhance the glucose lowering effects of insulin, diabetic patients taking insulin or glucose lowering medication need to consult their physician before using this plant as a part of their treatment plan.

Historically, gymnema has also been used for weight loss. The leaves, when chewed actually possess the ability to paralyze the sense of taste for sweet and bitter substances for up to a couple of hours. So for a few hours after tasting the leaves of gymnema, sugar will not taste like sugar at all. In fact, in most cases it will actually make sugar taste terrible! As you can imagine, this can be a very powerful tool for someone who is trying to cut sugar out of their diet or who needs help controlling their blood sugar.

Dr. Passero completed four years of post-graduate medical education at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon after receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology from the University of Colorado. Dr. Passero has trained with some of the nation’s leading doctors in the field of natural medicine. In his practice, Dr. Passero focuses on restoring harmony to both the body and mind using advanced protocols that incorporate herbal therapy, homeopathy, vitamin therapy and nutritional programs. Through education and guidance patients are able to unlock the natural healing power contained within each one of us. For more information, visit his website, Green Healing Wellness, or follow him on Facebook.

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Researchers Just Discovered the Real Secret to Living a Longer Life — Surprised? Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:54:19 +0000 Old man with old woman at dockWhat do you think the secret is to living a longer life? Happiness? Wealth? Optimism? Good relationships? Peace of mind? Well, according to a new study on the topic, none of these are the true secret, and the answer may surprise you. According to this fourteen-year study, the real secret to a longer life is simply having a sense of purpose.

This comprehensive, long-term study was conducted out of Carlton University in Canada, and was published in the journal Psychological Science earlier this year. The study included over 6,100 Americans aged 20 to 75 years, and tracked their physical and mental health over the duration of a fourteen-year period. Over the course of the study, participants repeatedly answered questions about the quality of their relationships and emotional state, and the researchers even controlled for factors such as having a positive outlook. While their findings did not mark the first time that purposefulness has been linked to longer life, it is the first time that its influence on longevity has been isolated from other influences for assessment purposes. Perhaps most interesting of all, of the 569 participants who died over the course of the study, every single one of them scored measurably lower than their counterparts in the field of purposefulness.

While the study did not address many important issues, including diet, environmental factors, or prescription drug use, a link between purposefulness and longevity is logical nonetheless. Simply put, without purpose, there may not be as much reason to live, even if many other aspects of one’s life are good. And regardless of whether you are a younger person, middle-aged, or in advanced age, taking steps toward giving your life purpose is likely to increase the length of your life.

4 Tips for Leading a More Purposeful Life

So, in light of this new research, what can you do to give your life more purpose? Here are a few research-backed ideas:

1. Set Goals: Consider introducing some new short- or long-term goals into your life.

2. Get Busy: Take action, and seek to fill downtime with something rewarding or even challenging.

3. Find Your Passion: Perhaps identify some topics or activities that you are passionate about, and learn or perform them more often.

4. Start a New Hobby: In fact, starting a new hobby can be a wonderful way to not only enrich your life and provide purpose, but may also stimulate your brain, keeping you sharp as you age, and reducing your risk of mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

But most importantly, don’t fret about figuring out the perfect or most challenging purpose to introduce into your life, because no matter how grand or simple your goals or objectives may be, the most important thing is merely to create purpose. Therefore, feel free to choose whatever excites or interests you the most, and don’t worry too much about the details. Everyone can accomplish this task, and it only takes the most basic effort to set things into motion. Before you know it, you won’t just be living a longer life, you will be living a richer life full of activities that you enjoy.

Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

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Another Reason to Take Resveratrol — It May Help Lower Blood Sugar Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:39:00 +0000 red wine (2)

You probably recognize resveratrol as a highly publicized super nutrient that’s usually associated with red wine. In fact, if you browse our website alone, you’ll find dozens of studies about the amazing health possibilities tied to resveratrol and other antioxidants! But what’s the scoop on those living with diabetes, blood glucose and resveratrol?

Previous studies involving human subjects that looked at the effects of resveratrol on blood glucose and insulin sensitivity are sadly inconsistent at best. A new 2014 meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition made it their mission to find the bottom line for us! By searching for previous studies and literature for randomized control trials related to resveratrol and blood glucose as well as insulin sensitivity, researchers selected eleven randomized control trials of 388 subjects to analyze. Researchers looked at resveratrol effects on fasting glucose in those subjects with diabetes and the effects in those who did not have diabetes.

According to the meta-analysis, resveratrol consumption significantly reduced fasting glucose, insulin, glycated hemoglobin and insulin resistance levels in subjects with diabetes. Subjects who did not have diabetes had no significant changes related to resveratrol intake related to blood glucose levels.

But don’t hit the bottle of red wine just yet! Thanks to this look at pre-existing studies, we know resveratrol has massive potential in the world of blood glucose control for people with diabetes. What we don’t know how best to use it outside of the clinical realm. Be sure to stay tuned as we keep tabs on this interesting news and await a high quality clinical trial!

Carlene Thomas RD,LD is a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in weight loss and wellness. She provides nutrition guidance to the public in a variety of ways including corporate wellness, private clients and contributes an expert nutrition voice to a variety of media.

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Should Pregnant Women Disobey Their Doctors and Eat More Fish? Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:34:29 +0000 pregnant fishYes, according to new recommendations made by the FDA. In a reversal to its long-running recommended limits on seafood consumption for pregnant women and young children, the FDA now recommends a minimum amount of seafood per week. But is all fish safe, and are there alternatives to seafood? Despite the new recommendations, these are important questions to consider.

Why is Fish Now Recommended?

For years the FDA has recommended limits on the consumption of fish for both pregnant women and young children. Citing the risks of potential mercury contamination, and its potential to impair neurological development in children, the FDA suggested limiting this food source. But while mercury contamination remains a valid concern, new science is showing that the benefits of eating fish outweigh the potential risks. In fact, the results of new research now indicate that missing out on the nutrients in fish, particularly omega-3 fatty acids and several key vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A and D, calcium, and magnesium, may have negative impacts on growth and development.

How Much is Recommended?

In light of this new science, the FDA is now recommending that pregnant women and children consume a significant amount of fish each week. The new recommendations suggest that pregnant women and children consume between 8 to 12 ounces of fish, or approximately 2 to 3 servings per week. At this level of consumption, pregnant women and children are able to get the maximum possible benefits of fetal and infant development and growth, while limiting the risks of mercury contamination.

What Types of Fish are Safe?

Not all fish are created equal. In fact, the FDA stresses certain types of fish in their guidelines. Seafood that is typically low in mercury, such as catfish, cod, salmon, shrimp, and tilapia should be targeted, while predatory species such as shark, swordfish, and mackerel should be avoided, as they are more likely to contain mercury. For help in choosing the best types of fish, refer to part one and part two of our series on eating seafood safely, and to help make sure you remain within the FDA’s weekly guidelines check out this online calculator created by the National Resources Defense Council.

Alternatives to Fish

If you remain concerned about the mercury contamination risks of seafood, or simply do not like these types of foods, there are several good alternatives to fish as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Beyond seafood, foods such as oils (especially flaxseed, canola, soybean, and some vegetable oils), beans (particularly kidney and pinto beans), nuts and seeds, and certain vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and squash) are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to these foods, look to green vegetables and healthier dairy products as substitutes for your vitamin and mineral intake. Finally, dietary supplements may be another option to consider if you are having trouble getting the recommended dosage.

Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Vision Troubles Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:08:57 +0000

People who get enough vitamin D are less likely to suffer from age-related macular degeneration, according to a study that appeared in the Archives of Ophthalmology. Bad news for those prone to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the foremost cause of blindness in older adults.

Since the publication of that study, the power of vitamin D to impact the health of people who do not receive enough of the vitamin through normal sun exposure or diet, has been steadily revealed in study after study. Current research has implicated vitamin D deficiency as a major factor in the pathology of at least 17 varieties of cancer as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, depression, chronic pain, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting, birth defects, periodontal disease and more.

But when it comes to your eyes, there had already been an exploration of the impact of vitamin D on eyesight decades ago, that was and still is, largely ignored by the medical community.

Arthur Alexander Knapp, MD began reporting on research with animals and humans in the 1930s. In 1946, he published a paper called The Eye as a Guide to Latent Nutritional Deficiencies, in which he detailed his observations and treatment of navy personnel in the South Pacific. One of Knapp’s discoveries was that a severe form of myopia (nearsightedness) responded to treatment with vitamin D and calcium. In over 50% of his patients, adding vitamin D and calcium stopped or greatly retarded the progression of myopia and more than 30% had improvements in their vision.

By using before and after plaster casts, Knapp actually proved that vitamin D and calcium supplementation actually changed the shape of the eye. (Note: Knapp often prescribed as many as 50,000 IU of D daily, not something one should do without medical supervision.) In experiments with animals, where Knapp and a colleague induced vitamin D and calcium deficiency, they discovered that the animals developed eye problems within 6 weeks and full blown cataracts after six months.

Weston A. Price, DDS, was also ahead of his time in his recognition of the critical role of vitamin D in human nutrition. Price studied isolated cultures during the 1940s and found that those who ate traditional diets had much stronger, cavity free teeth, broader smiles, fuller jaws and sunnier dispositions. Their diets had 10 times the amount of vitamin A and vitamin D than found in the diets of the standard American diet at that time. That’s because they seemed to instinctively seek out foods with these fat soluble vitamins — foods that many people don’t eat today, like intestine, skin, oily fish, organ meats and insects.

Many people are supplementing with 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, but according to the Vitamin D Council that may not be enough. The Vitamin D Council suggests taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 every day for three months, then get a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test. Optimal blood levels are between 50-80 ng/mL year-round. Blood testing is the only way to know for sure whether your regimen is appropriate.

It’s hard to know exactly how much vitamin D your body is making from sun exposure. It depends on factors like what latitude you live at, your skin color and how much skin you expose for how long. And your needs may change according to the seasons, your age, your health and your weight. Adjust your dosage up or down according to your results.

Don’t let a vitamin D deficiency put you at risk for vision loss as you age. Get your vitamin D levels checked so you can be sure you are taking enough supplemental vitamin D to keep your blood levels in a safe range.

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One Fatty Acid Found to Significantly Boost Immune Response Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:59:18 +0000 omega

A group of researchers from the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University have found that DHA-rich fish oil enhances B cell activity, a white blood cell that is critical to activate our immune response. One of the study authors, Dr. Jennifer Fenton explained “Fish oil may have immune enhancing properties that could benefit immunocompromised individuals.”

Fish Oil Fats DHA and EPA Stimulate Immune System B Cells to Fight Inflammation and Disease Risk

Most people take a healthy immune response for granted, as it typically remains on guard detecting a host of pathogens that may threaten our health. Bacteria and viruses that cause the common cold, flu, digestive distress and a variety of potentially fatal illnesses are identified and destroyed before they cause more than a minor discomfort. For most of the past decade, fish consumption and supplementing with DHA and EPA fortified supplements has been shown to lower levels of systemic inflammation and significantly reduce the risk of developing many cancers, stroke and cardiovascular disease, yet the precise mechanism of action has been unknown.

Omega-3 fat sources including fish oil include the long chain fatty acids, DHA and EPA that have been shown in a number of prior studies to reduce total body inflammation that help to lower the risk of developing many chronic illnesses including cancer, heart disease, dementia and stroke. Researchers now uncover how these special fats enhance B-cell activity, a white blood component necessary to improve immune system activity and lower inflammatory response.

Publishing their results in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, researchers used two mouse models to conduct their study, one group was fed a control diet and the other was fed a diet supplemented with DHA-rich fish oil for a period of five weeks. B cells were taken from various tissues and the scientists then looked for markers of B cell activation on the cell surface, B cell membrane changes, and B cell cytokine production to assess immune response activation.

The team found that the mice supplemented with DHA-enriched fish oil demonstrated B cell activation and antibody production to aid immune response and pathogen clearance, while damping systemic inflammation. The authors concluded “This work confirms similar findings on fish oil and B cells… and moves us one step closer to understanding the immune enhancing properties of EPA and DHA.” Adults should supplement with a distilled fish oil preparation (1,200 to 2,400 mg EPA/DHA per day) to fight inflammation and heighten immune system response.

John Phillip is a diet, health and nutrition researcher and writer with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.

Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource

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Lycopene’s Newly Discovered Heart Health Benefits Just Elevated it to ‘Super-Nutrient’ Status Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:41:44 +0000 tomatoes (high res)

In addition to a healthy diet and remaining active in our middle and later years, a handful of natural compounds found in raw and lightly steamed fruits and vegetables can have a direct impact on arterial elasticity and narrowing that can help prevent heart failure and cardiac arrest. The heart benefits of a Mediterranean diet have been well documented in numerous prior studies that have demonstrated how the diet reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke in those at high risk of cardiovascular disease. In a landmark study, researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge University Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust in the UK show that the natural compound lycopene found in tomatoes may play a part in such health benefits by improving blood vessel function.

Publishing in the journal PLOS One researchers show how a ‘Mediterranean diet’ consisting of a high level consumption of fruit, vegetables and olive oil reduces the incidence of events related to cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke. Specifically, the scientists have targeted the compound lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which is ten times more potent than vitamin E. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, watermelon and other fruits, and in the past has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and fatal cardiac events, but the mechanism by which it does so has been unclear.

How Several Servings of Cooked Tomatoes Can Cut Heart Disease Risk

To conduct this study, thirty-six cardiovascular disease patients and thirty-six healthy volunteers were given either an off-the-shelf supplement containing 7 mg of lycopene or a placebo treatment. As a double blind trial, neither the study participants nor the researchers dispensing the pills were aware which treatment was being provided. Patients with cardiovascular disease have a relatively impaired function of the endothelium, the critical inner lining of blood vessels, as compared to healthy volunteers. Endothelial function predicts future events, so having a healthy endothelium is an important factor in preventing the evolution of heart disease.

The team found that the group given oral lycopene supplementation improved and normalized endothelial function which was not seen in the healthy volunteers. Lycopene improved the widening of the blood vessels by 53 percent compared to baseline in those taking the pill. Lead study author, Dr. Joseph Cheriyan noted that constriction of the blood vessels is one of the key factors that can lead to heart attack and stroke. He concluded “We’ve shown quite clearly that lycopene improves the function of blood vessels in cardiovascular disease patients,” adds Dr Cheriyan. “It reinforces the need for a healthy diet in people at risk from heart disease and stroke.” Lycopene from supplements or lightly steamed tomatoes and organic sauces should be a staple part of your diet alongside heart-healthy nutrients including resveratrol, curcumin, EGCG and vitamin D to drastically lower cardiovascular disease risk.

Over the past twenty years, many hundreds of peer-reviewed research studies have shown a very clear picture of the multiple mechanisms behind the proliferation of the leading killer of adults in the U.S. today: cardiovascular disease. These studies almost unanimously confirm that heart disease and heart attack are not only caused by lifestyle digressions including poor diet and lack of physical activity, but that the risk for succumbing to a cardiac event can be negated and even reversed by employing a variety of lifestyle modifications such as eliminating hydrogenated/trans fats, sugars and processed carbohydrates from the diet and increasing intake of nutrients such as omega-3, vitamin D and, now, lycopene.



John Phillip is a diet, health and nutrition researcher and writer with a passion for understanding challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge technologies that affect our lives.

Discover the latest alternative health news concerning diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and weight loss at My Optimal Health Resource.


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7 Things to Try Before Going on a Statin Sun, 20 Jul 2014 18:11:28 +0000 Hearty EatingWhen it comes to cardiovascular disease (CVD) we know that imbalanced cholesterol levels is only one small part of the problem. Nonetheless, there are roughly 32 million Americans taking a statin drug, with 13 million more “eligible” under the new statin guidelines. Most take statin drugs in the name of “prevention,” however, not only have statins proved to be rather ineffective, there are a plethora of possible side effects associated with these drugs, including severe muscle pain and nerve damage, and an increased risk of diabetes, among many others. Additionally, statins deplete your body’s stores of CoQ10 and hinder its ability to generate more, lending to body aches and feelings of fatigue. To avoid statins and limit your risk, consider trying these alternative, natural treatment options prior to beginning medicinal treatment.

1. Ditch Processed Fats and Eat to Reduce Inflammation

For years we’ve been told that saturated fat causes heart disease. But research is revealing that nothing could be further from the truth. While processed trans-fats and the overuse of processed oils certainly play a role, experts are now admitting that eggs and butter are not the offenders we once thought they were. In fact, many experts now admit that inflammation may be much more likely contribute to heart disease. One study published in the journal Circulation declared that overall inflammation─often caused by excess sugar consumption, processed fats, and fried foods ─ “plays a critical role in cardiovascular disease, and the inflammatory cascade is particularly important in the atherosclerotic process,” citing that “inflammation is the underlying cause of approximately 80% of all sudden cardiac deaths.”

A healthy, balanced, anti-inflammatory diet is considered the best path to heart health and avoiding the complications associated with statins. And there are a number of foods that are known to help in this regard. Avoid foods that are high in processed fats and sugars, choosing leaner meats such as chicken and fish over red meats. Other foods, such as nuts, fish oils, oats, and green teas have all been shown to be beneficial too. Finally, consuming more fiber, especially when it comes from fruits, vegetables, and beans, is another effective way to boost heart health.

2. Look Into Bergamot Orange 

Bergamot offers a variety of cardiovascular health benefits, stemming from the five active ingredients it possesses — neoeriocitrin, naringin, neohesperidin, melitidine, and bruteridine — and the fact that it blocks a key enzyme in cholesterol production. More specifically, bergamot works to improve cardiovascular health by reducing total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol, while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and lowering triglycerides.

The citrus fruit has also been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, making it a helpful supplement for diabetics. Best of all, bergamot is a natural substance, and therefore does not come with a risk of the harmful side effects that are present with statins. Bergamot has even been shown to promote healthy weight loss. Altogether, this fruit offers a comprehensive package of cardiovascular health benefits, without putting a person at risk.

3. Kick it Up and Exercise

Ground breaking, right? It should go without saying that regular exercise boosts heart health. According to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, as many as 250,000 deaths in the U.S. each year can be attributed to lack of exercise. The heart is a muscle, and as such, should be worked and conditioned to ensure longevity.

Studies indicate that exercise has been shown to boost levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, while simultaneously lowering levels of unwanted cholesterol. While any type of exercise is beneficial, and even doing a little bit is better than nothing at all, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise five days per week. Even if you need to break this exercise into shorter 10 or 15 minute segments, research indicates you can still see great benefits. Help yourself to achieve your goals by choosing a type of exercise that you enjoy, and incorporating it into your regular routine.

4. Lose Weight

Losing weight is a powerful way to improve your cholesterol levels. In fact, if you are already overweight, lowering your weight by as little as ten pounds has been shown to improve your cholesterol ratios by up to eight percent. Combining this goal, with the aforementioned methods of eating better and exercising, can produce major results when it comes to better cholesterol levels and overall heart health.

5. Monitor (Just… Monitor) Your Alcohol Intake

Moderate consumption of alcohol may actually help to improve measures of “good” HDL cholesterol. Generally speaking, it may be beneficial for women to have up to one drink per day, and up to two drinks per day for men. However, if you do not currently drink or drink very little, exercise extreme caution and talk to your physician before doing so. Alternatively, if you currently consume more than this amount of alcohol, cutting back may help your cholesterol levels, in addition to providing many other health benefits.

6. Quit Smoking

Smoking represents a major risk factor for heart disease, and decreases levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Quitting smoking is not only a wonderful way to improve your cholesterol levels, but typically opens the door to improved health in a number of other ways too. If you are seeking to lower your risk of heart disease and avoid statins, consider the occasion a great opportunity to quit smoking.

7. Don’t be Afraid to Disucss Alternative Options With Your Healthcare Professional

If it’s been suggested that you have unhealthy cholesterol levels, your physician may be prone to recommend a statin. However, if you are willing to whole-heartedly attempt the measures described here, discuss the possibilities with your healthcare professional. You may be able to naturally balance your cholesterol levels without resorting to medication.

Finally, if you are already on a statin regimen, you should still consider alternative treatment options with your physician, especially if you are experiencing unwanted side effects. There may be an opportunity to reduce your cholesterol levels through natural means, and eventually end your dependence on medication. Remember that you have the ability to direct your health care treatment, and while your physician may ultimately believe you should be taking a statin, there is no harm in opening the discussion.

Derek is a technical writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the health care field, having first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Delaware. He is a contributing author on a number of textbooks in the medical field, ran a nuclear cardiology licensing course, and has written a variety of other pieces from online training courses to medical software manuals. Derek pursues his personal interest in health and wellness by playing multiple sports and running marathons. An insatiable traveler, he spent 16 months working and living abroad while traveling through South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia.

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Why You Should Stop Eating This Brand of Yogurt Immediately Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:56:36 +0000 ypgurt“All natural” Chobani Greek yogurt is not as natural as it claims. Actually, it is made from cows that are fed GMO grain. Since the company has just received a $750 million dollar loan to expand its operations, it will be pouring huge amounts of money into supporting GMO manufacturers, an industry in the process of harming human health and the environment by exponential proportions.

In response to the news of Chobani’s impending expansion, a consumer activist endeavor is underway to ask the company to stop using GMO-laden milk. You can add your voice to the effort by signing the petition at this web address.

The successful recent consumer program to get General Mills to make a GMO-free Cheerios is proof that manufacturers will take notice of a groundswell of public opposition to the way they make their products. Since Chobani is the most popular maker of Greek yogurt, the latest initiative is a worthy undertaking to help put the brakes on the runaway freight train of the GMO industry.

Live in the Now consulted Dr. Michael Wald, Director of Nutrition at Integrated Medicine of Mount Kisco in Westchester, New York and author of Frankenfoods – Controversy, Lies & Your Health. This GMO expert shares his perspective in the interview below.

Live in the Now: In the case of eating yogurt made with milk from GMO-grain fed cows, humans are ingesting the GMOs indirectly rather than directly. Please explain how this could be a concern.

Dr. Wald: Not unlike breast milk that could contain toxins, food allergens and other adverse substances that may pass into the breast-feeding infant, milk used to make yogurt could pass on undesirable substances to humans. Altered immunoglobulins, proteins and fats found in milk would all be in the yogurt and would eventually find their way into the bodies of those who eat it.

Live in the Now: GMO Insider reports on a study that disputes the dairy industry’s claim that GM particles are broken down in the intestines of animals consuming them. The particles have in fact appeared in their organs and milk; therefore, humans who eat the meat and drink the milk of these animals are actually consuming the harmful GM particles. What are the potential health effects of this consumption?

Dr. Wald: Genetic modification of our food supply has the potential to cause devastating health risks. GMOs may increase cancers; Alzheimer’s disease; inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis; various autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and lupus; and hormonal problems stemming from effects upon our DNA and immune system. Nutritional deficiencies may also occur because GMO foods are not “nutritionally equivalent” to non-GMOs. In addition, the GMO process may create new allergens and toxicities.

Furthermore, the foods can produce genetic problems spanning multiple generations, as GMO-altered proteins can potentially change the bacteria in our intestines, inserting unfriendly gene sequences into our own cells. This can lead to passing on new genetic abnormalities to our offspring.

Live in the Now: What would you say to someone who discounts the concerns people have about GMOs?

Dr. Wald: I’m convinced GMOs are incredibly detrimental to health, but only the passage of time will reveal the full magnitude of the problem. It will not be easy to quantify because we are all bombarded on a daily basis with various factors that will impact our health quality and disease risk. Separating out the effects of GMOs will never be entirely possible, and this is what GMO seed manufacturers know.

They say, “If GMOs were causing disease, we would all be dropping like flies over the last 15 years since their introduction.” Well, I say to this, “We are dropping like flies, and how do we know that GMOs are not to blame or are not at least contributing factors?” We do not know, but based on the information that I have researched, any reasonable and intelligent person must draw the conclusion that more study and safety testing should have been done before GMOs were released into the human or animal food chain and our environment.

Live in the Now: Do you have any other thoughts on the topic you would like to share with our readers?

Dr. Wald: Let’s be mindful that as bad as GMOs might potentially be for our health, one must take care to replace the GMO foods eliminated from the diet with non-GMO foods. It is no different from ridding the diet of gluten, which is a food component I believe is bad for virtually everyone. Removing foods from the diet requires proper food substitutions that would prevent deficiencies of protein, carbohydrate, healthy fats, vitamin, minerals and phytonutrients, thus averting disability and disease risk. I am astounded at the imbalanced and nutritionally inadequate diets that I see in my patients who, otherwise well intentioned, have removed GMOs and gluten but have not restructured their food intake.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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