Dr. Allan Spreen, MD

  1. Urinary tract infections / superbug threat continues to grow

    The superbug problem didn’t exactly sneak up on us. The writing has been on the wall for years.

    In fact, I first started warning Guide to Good Health readers about antibiotic resistance at least six years ago. Heck, even the mainstream media began to catch on a couple of years back.

    So, you’d think we’d be starting to get a handle on the issue by now. Sadly, that’s not the case. Not by a long shot, according to a recent study published in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control.

    According to researchers antibiotic resistant infections, such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), are actually on the RISE.

    It’s yet another case of mainstream medicine doing too little and doing it too late. Instead of dialing back on their overprescribing, many docs’ reaction to the superbug news was to simply switch from their now mostly-useless go-to antibiotics to different antibiotics.

    And I’m sure you can guess what happened next. These bad bugs, many of them forms of E. coli, are now becoming resistant to even more commonly prescribed antibiotics.

    Urinary tract infections are the second most common type of infection here in the U.S., with about 8.1 million people visiting the doctor every year looking for some relief. But these misery-causing bugs are now not only resistant to most antibiotics in the penicillin and cephalosporin families, they’ve also become highly resistant to some of the most commonly used drugs for treating urinary infections Ciprofloxacin and Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole.

    The best way to deal with a urinary tract infection is, obviously, to not get one in the first place. I shared some specific advice on how to UTI-proof yourself a few years back, including some dietary guidelines and supplement tips. If you missed that issue, click here to catch up on the NorthStar Blog.

    And if you’re already suffering with one of these nasty infections, don’t turn to antibiotics first. They likely won’t knock out your infection anymore anyway, but they CAN destroy your good gut bugs, leaving you wide open for secondary infections.  Instead, consider giving D-mannose a try.

    D-mannose is the ingredient found in cranberries that naturally fights off infections. And while you may have heard some conflicting reports over the years about cranberries and UTIs, I can assure you that this powerhouse can knock out just about any bladder infection that’s caused by E. coli.

    You‘ll find D-mannose online and in most natural food stores. Drink a half to a full teaspoonful dissolved in water every half an hour or so for two days.  If you don’t see an improvement after forty-eight hours, THEN make an appointment to see your doc.

  2. Is your mix of meds causing dangerous drug interactions?

    Getting older sure isn’t for sissies.

    Your hair starts getting thinner, your middle starts getting thicker, and some days you wake up with your joints feeling stiffer than a frozen fish stick in the middle of February.

    Even worse, around 75 percent of older adults will also end up facing not just one, but multiple chronic medical conditions.

    And of course, if you’re going to a conventional medicine doctor, you know what that means; drugs, drugs, and MORE drugs and possible drug interactions. Is it really any wonder that with so many different meds (and their side effects) on board, you can start to feel like your head is spinning?

    But now a new study—published in the journal PLOS One—finds that many of us have to worry about a heck of a lot more than just those “standard” side effects.

    Docs ignore dangers of prescription drug interactions

    Shockingly, nearly 23 percent of older Americans are being prescribed drugs that directly conflict with each other. In other words, there’s a very good chance that one (or more) of the drugs you’re taking could cause dangerous drug interactions and make one of your conditions worse!

    For example, if you’re diagnosed with heart disease your doc will likely prescribe you a beta blocker to lower your blood pressure. But if you also suffer from COPD that beta blocker can suddenly become a BIG problem. You see, beta blockers can cause airway resistance. And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that anything that monkeys with respiration is a real no-no for COPD patients.

    But believe it or not, that’s not even the worst of it.

    In a case where competing prescriptions exist, you’d expect swift action to correct the potentially dangerous…or even deadly…drug interactions, right?

    Well, don’t hold your breath. It turns out that only in an appallingly low 16 percent of the cases, are changes made to the prescribed treatments.

    Meaning, of course, that 84 percent of patients are left to deal with whatever the consequences are of what the study’s authors quaintly refer to as “therapeutic competition.” (I don’t know about you, but when a doctor chooses to simply ignore the fact that his treatments are making me worse, I’m more inclined to call it malpractice. But hey, maybe that’s just me.)

    1 in 5 are prescribed conflicting drugs

    With one-fifth of older Americans receiving conflicting meds for common conditions including diabetes, COPD, dementia, heart failure, hypertension, osteoarthritis, coronary heart disease, and high cholesterol, the odds are good that you—or someone else you care about—will one day become a victim of this accident-waiting-to-happen practice.

    Yet it sounds like one of the study’s authors, David Lee, assistant professor at Oregon State University, would like us to give docs a bit of slack. According to Lee, “Many physicians are aware of these concerns, but there isn’t much information available on what to do.”

    Um, I have an idea, Dr. Lee.

    Call me crazy, but how about asking docs to apply a little common sense to FIX the problem?!

    For example, if you find out your heart patient also has COPD, don’t stick your head in the sand. Instead, prescribe a beta blocker that doesnt have respiratory side effects. Or, better yet, look for a non-drug alternative.

    (Hint, the mineral magnesium has been shown to naturally improve lung function, and black tea, vitamin D, and even dark chocolate have all been shown to help with high blood pressure.)

    But judging by that lousy 16 percent of people whose docs actually made changes, it’s pretty clear that common sense is in incredibly short supply these days. So it looks like, once again, your best bet is going to be to fend for yourself.

    Start by making sure your doctor takes your full medical history before he prescribes a single treatment. If he refuses, and tries to dash off a prescription and rush you out of his office in fifteen minutes instead, find yourself a new doc.

    I would suggest an integrative or holistic physician whose goal will be to get you OFF as many meds as possible by targeting your medical problems at their heart, rather than just treating single symptoms.

  3. Azodicarbonamide sandwiches for dinner?

    Back away from that bagel and put down that panini. I have some news you need to know BEFORE you take one more bite. Nearly 500 bread-based foods found lining supermarket shelves—or being served in restaurants all over the United States—could contain a potentially hazardous industrial chemical that’s used in plastic products. Azodicarbonamide (ADA) is typically used to “fluff up” the plastics found in products like flip flops and yoga matts. But now it’s turning up in common foods you likely eat every single day including breads, bagels, pizzas, buns and pastries. And do you want to know the worst part? It didn’t get there by accident. Somehow food manufactures figured out that plastics aren’t the only thing this creepy chemical can add some elasticity to—it works on bread dough too. If you’re wondering what the clowns at the FDA have to say about this, well, you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that it’s totally cool with them if manufactures want to dump this petroleum byproduct into your food. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says there’s plenty of evidence that ADA can induce asthma, respiratory issues, and skin problems in those who work with the toxic chemical. Australia and some European countries have already banned the stuff. But if you don’t live in a country with a ban the best way to avoid ADA is to buy only organic products from sources you trust, or make your own.
  4. Gambling on good health

    I’ve read so many outrageous studies in my day that it’s getting hard to surprise me anymore. And I know we’re only three and a half months into the year, but a new study, just published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, might just steal the title for most ridiculous study of the year. Researchers have essentially concluded that slot machines could be the key to keeping childhood obesity under control. Yes, I’m serious. According to the researchers, as casinos went up… or expanded… on tribal lands, obesity rates dropped. Now, of course, the implication is that, ultimately, it’s the flow of money into Native American homes from the gambling trade that made the difference. But I have to wonder if they also looked at alcohol and gambling problem rates in those same communities, what they would find. You want to know what the worst part is? JAMA, which is supposedly THE premier medical journal in the US, only publishes two or three original pieces each issue. And in the entire world of health, they considered this study to be important enough to take one of those coveted spots.
  5. Low fat diet is all wrong--Eat MORE fat to live longer and healthier

    Like a breath of fresh air. That’s how it felt when I ran across a recent editorial on the low fat diet craze, published in the BMJ journal Open Heart. Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a well-respected and leading cardiovascular scientist, did the unthinkable. He openly admitted that a diet low in saturated fat… the very low fat diet crammed down our throats by the entire medical establishment for more than 50 years… will NOT prevent heart disease or prolong life. Now as a Guide to Good Health reader his announcement might not seem all that revolutionary. After all, I’ve been telling you about the pitfalls of the saturated-fat-myth for many years now.  But make no mistake about it, for someone in the mainstream this was a very brave act. And that sound you’re hearing? No doubt it’s doors slamming as Dr. DiNicolantonio’s (ex) buddies in the mainstream turn their backs on him for daring to tell the truth about the low fat diet. No worries, Dr. D., we’ve got plenty of room for you over here on our (SANE) side of the fence.

    Saturated fat is not the problem!

    To understand where this ridiculous idea that a diet high in saturated fat will somehow harm your heart came from, we need to rewind all the way back to the 1950’s. It was then that another researcher lit the fuse, when he claimed to have found an association between fat calories as a percentage of overall calories and death from heart disease. For whatever reason this notion caught on like wildfire, and for over three decades now we’ve been told that if we don’t drastically limit the amount of saturated fat in our diets, we’re dooming ourselves to high cholesterol, heart disease, and an early death. The only problem? As Dr. DiNicolantonio pointed out in his editorial, the research on the low fat diet from the 1950’s study was flawed. I’ve warned you before about the dangers of cherry-picked data in studies, and that’s exactly what happened in the case of this fatally flawed fat study. Either deliberately, or through pure incompetence (take your pick), the researcher chose to use data from only six countries that happened to match his hypothesis. The data from sixteen other countries that didn’t that match were rejected, and never made it into the study. What followed was an overhauling of diet recommendations. Soon docs everywhere were preaching the evils of saturated fats—and suddenly refined carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats were being pushed in their place.

    LOW-FAT diet leads to heart disease

    Fast forward, and over 50 years later we’re now being told to limit our saturated fats to less than 7 percent of our total daily caloric intake. Yet we’re fatter, sicker, and plagued with more heart disease than we ever have been before in history. And the evidence that cutting saturated fat will help reduce your heart risks? Oh, that doesn’t exist. But, according to Dr. D., what does exist in its place is research linking all those refined carbs and polyunsaturated fats you’ve being encouraged to gulp down to multiple health problems. You see, it’s no coincidence that heart disease, obesity, and diabetes have all reached epidemic levels in the last few decades.  We’re eating ourselves right into the grave with mainstream medicine’s so-called “heart-healthy” low-fat diet. And research, like the large-scale 2006 trial that found that low-fat diets don’t improve health outcomes or lead to fewer strokes or heart attacks –or the Spanish study that concluded we have to eat MORE fat to lower our heart attack risk—clearly shows that the mainstream approach has failed miserably. Dr. DiNicolantonio’s recommendations to turn this tide sound eerily familiar. In fact, as a Guide to Good Health reader you’ve heard them all before. Start by avoiding the deadly low-fat diet your doc is so fond of. Instead, choose unprocessed foods as much as possible, with lots of organic veggies, nuts, and grass-fed meats. I’d like to think this brave editorial signals a true sea change, but I sure won’t be holding my breath.
  6. Glucosamine relieves joint pain better with omega-3 fatty acids

    Don't think glucosamine alone can cut your joint pain? Try adding some extra fish oil to your regimen. A recent clinical trial from Germany showed that glucosamine worked better to relieve joint pain and stiffness when combined with omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers recruited 177 men and women with "moderate-to-severe" joint pain. Half of them received a 1500 mg per day of glucosamine sulfate. The other half received glucosamine plus omega-3 fatty acids (including 444 mg of fish oil, 200 mg of which were omega-3-fatty acids). After about six months, the researched assessed the patients' pain levels. Men and women who took glucosamine plus omega-3s reduced their morning stiffness more than the glucosamine alone group. Plus, they reduced pain in their hips and knees more than the group who just took glucosamine. So what's the big secret about omega-3s and your joints? According to the lead author of the study, "Omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the inflammation process...whereas glucosamine sulfate further supports the rebuilding of lost cartilage substance."
  7. Foods with trans fat may increase breast cancer risk by 40 percent

    Make sure you only use real butter (or olive oil) on the turkey this Thanksgiving. Skip the margarine or any foods with trans fat. Researchers from the University of North Caroline recently figured something out about foods with trans fat like margarine -- they‘re bad for you! They may even contribute to the development of breast cancer. For the study, UNC researchers extracted fat samples from 698 European women between the ages of 50 and 74. They found women with the highest amount of trans fats in their cells had a 40 percent greater chance of developing breast cancer than other women. Plus, women who consumed the most trans fats and the fewest polyunsaturated fats (such as those found in fish) were three and a half times likelier to develop breast cancer than their healthy counterparts. The researchers even accounted for other risk factors, such as smoking, weight, and family history of cancer. And still -- they found a 40 percent increase in risk. In fact, it‘s the first study ever to connect the dots between trans fats and breast cancer in women. But it doesn‘t surprise me in the least. Nutritionists like me have been preaching against foods with trans fat for decades. Foods with trans fat include French fries, baked goods, processed snack foods, and margarine. Trans fats are made by adding hydrogen atoms to the fat molecules to make them denser. This raises the melting point of the fat, so that it remains solid at room temperature. Hence, the Crisco and margarine stay solid sitting on your countertop and only melt when thoroughly heated. Foods with trans fat became popular in the U.S. because they don‘t spoil as quickly as regular fats. These products can sit longer on the shelf. That said, a lot of products now tell you if they‘re trans fat free. But the ones that still do contain them often try to hide the fact. They mislead you and tell you their product contains olive oil or DHA. So read all labels carefully. Skip anything that contains any amount of trans fats. Also, keep an eye out for "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" oils. These are also forms of trans fat.
  8. "Purple Crack" is hard to kick

    Why is it so hard to get off your PPI?

    Don‘t be surprised when you have a hard time kicking your PPI habit. In fact, I‘ve heard Nexium called "Purple Crack for seniors" at 50 cents a pop. All kidding aside, there‘s a scientific reason why it‘s so difficult to wean yourself off these drugs. Just ask the scientists from Copenhagen University...

    These guys studied the effects of PPIs on 120 healthy volunteers. Just to be clear, these volunteers did not have acid reflux or any other gastrointestinal disorder. Nor had they ever taken a PPI prior to the study.

    The researchers divided the healthy patients into two groups. One group got a placebo for 12 weeks. The other group got 40 mg per day of esomeprazole (the PPI in Nexium) for eight weeks followed by a placebo for four weeks.

    During the washout phase (during weeks nine through 12), 44 percent of the patients who took the PPI experienced a "clinically relevant acid-related" symptom compared to only 15 percent of the placebo group.

    That means, after they stopped taking the darned drug, almost half of these healthy folks experienced acid reflux, heartburn, or dyspepsia for the first time in their lives!

    You see, when the patients stopped taking the acid-suppressant, their bodies went into withdrawal and panicked. It started to over-produce a hormone that stimulates stomach acid. Then, voila, instant acid reflux...even though you‘ve never had it in your life!

    The study‘s authors called it a "rebound acid hyper-secretion." In their report, they said "These results justify the speculation that PPI dependency could be one of the explanations for the rapidly and continuously increasing use of PPIs."

    As I said...no wonder Nexium is called "Purple Crack." And you tell me that drug companies don‘t know exactly what they‘re doing. Ri-i-i-i-i-ght.

  9. How do you avoid a nutritional catastrophe?

    Are we wired to sabotage our long-term health? Maybe. That‘s what legendary biochemist Bruce Ames PhD might say if you asked him. You see, Dr. Ames believes that your body needs certain nutrients each and every day. When you don‘t get enough of these nutrients, Dr. Ames says, your body goes into "triage" mode. Triage comes from the French word trier which means to separate or sort. The word came into the English language to describe how military doctors sorted their patients. They tended to the most urgent cases first. Today, hospitals use triage to prioritize patients in the ER. Dr. Ames thinks your body does the exact same thing during a nutritional drought. He says when your body doesn‘t get the nutrients it needs, it must make up for the shortfall somehow. To do so, it transfers nutrients from less critical areas of your body to prevent a flat-out catastrophe elsewhere. For example, your body may steal nutrients from your skin and send them to your liver. This protects you from falling over today from liver failure. Dr. Ames thinks we developed this defense mechanism during evolution to survive a famine or drought. It‘s your body‘s way of protecting you from today‘s nutritional shortfalls. But does it sabotage your long-term health? Dr Ames thinks so, especially when it comes to selenium. Selenium is a micronutrient that helps fuel your immune system. Even small deficits of this mineral may have an effect on long-term health. Thankfully, there is one sure-fire way to make sure you get enough selenium. Plus, there‘s one form of selenium that‘s much stronger that all the rest. More on that in a moment, but first, let‘s talk about why selenium is so important... How does selenium help fuel your immune system? In your body, selenium teams up with proteins to make selenoproteins. It‘s a long word for sure, but their job is pretty simple... According to the National Institutes of Health, the antioxidant enzymes in selenoproteins may help prevent cell damage from free radicals. The evidence for selenium is so compelling, that after reviewing the studies even the FDA came out and said... "Selenium may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Some scientific evidence suggests that consumption of selenium may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer. However, FDA has determined that this evidence is limited and not conclusive." The problem is... Our food supply isn‘t what it used to be. Our parents and grandparents may have been able to get the selenium they needed in their regular diets, but nowadays the soil just doesn‘t have enough nutrient content and that means supplementing with selenium is the best option. To make matters worse, Dr. Ames theorizes, our bodies go into "triage" mode when we don‘t take in enough selenium. Why it‘s never good to rob Peter to pay Paul Recently, Dr. Ames and his colleagues analyzed 12 selenoproteins found in human blood samples. They classified five of these proteins as "essential" to the body. The other seven they called "non-essential." The researchers limited selenium intake, then took blood samples to see what would happen. Sure enough, the body went into triage mode. During this nutritional "drought," the number of essential selenoproteins remained sable. But the non-essential selenoproteins took a nose dive. These results support what Dr. Ames describes in his triage theory. The body compensates when given limited resources. While further research is needed to support a direct link between lower selenium intake and reduced levels of selenoproteins, the science is certainly compelling. Dr. Ames says when your body must make a choice, it will always choose to survive the next 24 hours. But as a result, your long-term could health suffer. In this case, the body stopped making non-essential selenoproteins. But here‘s the thing... Even non-essential selenoproteins are essential to your long-term health! Take for example the non-essential selenoprotein Gpx3. It may protect against DNA damage. And what about Gpx1? Experts link that non-essential protein to heart health. Make sure you choose the right kind of selenium Needless to say, Dr. Ames‘ triage theory may have some big-time implications for overall health. Failing to get enough essential nutrients might not affect critical functions, but it probably speeds up the aging process. In light of this, Dr. Ames recommends upping the Recommended Daily Allowance to 75 micrograms of selenium per day. The current RDA is 55 mcg per day. So here‘s the bottom line for you... Take steps to ensure you get the selenium your body needs by taking a high-quality selenium supplement. But be warned: not all forms of selenium are created equal. The market is flooded with cheap and worthless forms of selenium. These are usually inorganic forms like selenite. Don‘t waste your time! NorthStar Nutritionals makes a supplement called PureImmune Plus that contains 100 mcg of selenomethionine. This is the most potent form of selenium. In fact... Studies show that your body absorbs about 90 percent of ingested selenomethionine. In contrast, your body only absorbs around 50 percent of selenite. (Cheap supplements use selenite and pass it off as the good stuff...but your body can tell the difference!) I‘d stick with PureImmune. It contains a potent form of selenium. Plus, with each dose, you could be well on your way to avoiding a "nutritional catastrophe."
  10. Prostate health: Don’t become the next victim

    You know what the definition of insanity is, right? It’s doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. And by that definition, all too often the mainstream approach to medicine strays across the line into insanity. There’s no better example of this than its treatment of prostate health and prostate cancer. Let’s face it, no matter how much of a stoic you are, when you hear the word cancer come out of your doctor’s mouth, it’s like someone dropped a bomb on you. Your head starts spinning and alarm bells begin blaring at full blast. Trust me, I get it. But, the problem is, when it comes to prostate cancer, mainstream medicine has hijacked this natural fear response and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar industry. And countless men are paying a price that goes far beyond dollars and cents (hmm, or maybe that ought to be “dollars and sense”?).

    Impotent and in diapers

    As I’ve explained before, you’re far more likely to die WITH prostate cancer than FROM it. Most prostate cancers are incredibly slow growing, and aren’t a threat to your life. Well, that is until you become the next victim of unnecessarily aggressive mainstream therapies. And becoming a victim is far too easy because, let’s face it, once you hear those terrible words “You’ve got cancer,” one of your first coherent thoughts is likely to be, “What can I do to get rid of it?!?” That’s why I’ve never been a fan of yearly PSA testing. Too many hasty and poor decisions follow in its wake. The twin epidemics of over-screening and over-diagnosis have ruined far too many lives. I shudder to think how many men have been left impotent or in diapers because of a slow-growing tumor that they may never have even known existed for the rest of their long and fulfilling lives. Statistically speaking, by the time we hit fifty, half of us will be experiencing some type of prostate health problems. If you’re finding it hard to sleep through the night without a potty run… or if you’ve taken to mapping out all the rest spots before a road trip these days… you might already be in that group. If you’re lucky enough to reach eighty… and as a Guide to Good Health reader I’m sure you will… then it’s practically a done deal that you’ll be sharing your life with an enlarged prostate.

    Support your prostate health with supplements

    But I’ve got great news! You DON’T have to just grimace and bear it while you make yet another mad dash to the can. There IS another way, and it doesn’t involve risky surgeries or sickening rounds of radiation. If you’re not already experiencing prostate health problems, you may be able to head them off at the pass. And if your prostate has begun to make its presence known, you can tackle those annoying symptoms with some super support brought to you courtesy of nature. A mix of just the right herbs and supplements may even assure you of never again missing the ending of a movie, or having to deal with your buddies ribbing when you have to holdup the poker game for yet another bathroom break. Ready to learn the “secret formula” for a healthy and happy prostate? My team at NorthStar Nutritionals helped me create a killer infographic detailing the 10 Best Supplements for Prostate Health that you NEED to know. Click here to find out what they are. (I bet you’ll be surprised by a couple of them.)
  11. Is omega 3 fish oil your heart’s best friend?

    A recently completed NIH study might have you soon adding more fish to your menu. According to researchers, the more fatty fish you have in your diet, the more your heart is protected. In fact, if you eat as much fish as our friends in Japan, you may even be able to ward off heart disease. It’s the omega-3s that are found in fish oil that are the key, of course. Fish oil naturally reduces inflammation and helps keep plaque from forming in your arteries. The researchers partnered with Japanese scientists to follow a mix of nearly 300 American and Japanese men for five years. They tracked a variety of heart-disease-related factors, including cholesterol levels, cigarette smoking, drinking, and diabetes and blood pressure status. (Even genetics were considered.) After taking into account all the heart-related factors, the American men, shockingly, had three times more artery calcification than their Japanese counterparts! What was the difference between the two groups? It turns out that the Japanese men had 100% higher levels of omega 3s in their blood streams. In Japan an average person eats about 100 grams of fish every single day—that equals about one and half servings. Even fish fans might find that much fish difficult to swallow. That’s where an omega 3 fish oil supplement can help fill the gap. Just be sure the one you choose comes from a source you trust.
  12. What are the 10 best prostate health supplements for 2014? Infographic

    This infographic shows the 10 best prostate health supplements for 2014. Are you getting enough of these prostate supporters in your diet? prostate health supplements infographic
  13. Vitamin D builds immunities

    If you had been watching me wade through my daily stack of research reading the other day, you’d have spotted me do one heck of a double take. Wondering what the line that caught my eye was? “Our data suggest vitamin D may be involved in maintaining the health of the immune system as well as the skeletal system.”  This remarkable “confession” was spoken by Dr. Mary Ward, one of the author’s on a new study on D that’s been accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Now, there’s no denying the importance of vitamin D. There’s even a stack of research proving the critical role it plays in our health from fighting off respiratory infections to keeping you out of a nursing home… if you know where to look for it, of course. (Hint, it’s not in the mainstream media, but you can start with a search in the NorthStar Blog’s archives.)

    Be sure to get your D!

    But it’s still quite rare to see such a straightforward conclusion about the significance a vitamin plays in keeping us healthy, from such a mainstream, source. In this case, Irish researchers completed an observational study on 957 adults who were at least 60 years old. They found that those volunteers who were vitamin D deficient had significantly higher biomarkers for inflammation. And that’s important, because these biomarkers are linked to heart disease and other inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. So what does this all mean to you and me? I’ll let Dr. Ward explain, “The results indicate immune function may be compromised in older individuals with vitamin D deficiency.” In other words, be sure to get your D! To raise your vitamin D levels, I recommend spending more time outside. But since many of us can’t—or don’t—get all the D we need from sunshine alone I also generally recommend taking up to 5000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. A blood test can help you, and your doc, figure out what’s right for you.
  14. Are you trading pain for a frightening addiction to Zohydro?

    It’s set to hit shelves this month—a new pain reliever called Zohydro. And if you suffer from any sort of chronic pain, it’s entirely possible that your doctor will be writing you a prescription for it sometime soon. If he does, I want you to follow my simple two-step plan. Step 1:  Hightail it over to the trashcan. Step 2:  Rip up the prescription and toss it in. And if that sounds just a bit melodramatic, trust me when I tell you it’s not. Despite its upbeat sounding name—and its golden promises of pain relief—Zohydro lights up so many warning signs that it’s practically glowing. The drug is yet another addition to a long line of prescription opioid analgesics that seem almost tailor-made to lead to, and support, addiction. But this time, with the drug being reportedly five times as powerful as any of the others we’ve seen, the threat may even be worse. An unprecedented epidemic of addiction could be lurking right around the corner.

    Opioids kill more than heroin and cocaine combined

    To get an idea of just how bad things could get we only have to take a look at another opioid—one that you probably even recognize by name—OxyContin. ‘Oxy’ hit the market in 1996, and with millions spent on aggressively marketing the drug, sales soon shot through the roof, and it quickly became the biggest superstar in Perdue Pharma’s stable of drugs. By some accounts, it was responsible for up to 80 percent of the company’s profits, at one point. But at the same time Oxy’s star was rising, a black market for desperately addicted “junkies” (you know, folks like your Aunt Ethel, that sweet young man who cuts your grass in the summer, and Pastor Bob) practically sprung up overnight. OxyContin, and others opioids like it, turned out to have the potential to be highly addictive. Lots of normal, upstanding, every-day citizens become hopelessly hooked on the drugs, and accidental overdose isn’t all that uncommon. In fact, opioids kill more people every year than heroin and cocaine combined. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths from prescription opioid overdoses have skyrocketed, more than quadrupling since the late 90s. OxyContin abuse didn’t start to level out until the manufacturer finally created a “tamper-proof” version in 2010 that turned the once highly crushable pills—perfect for snorting or injecting—into a gummy mess when crushed.  Now, some of those same “non-traditional” addicts have been forced to turn to other drugs like heroine to get through the day. Imagine Pastor Bob walking the back alleys of your home town, desperately looking for some relief, and you’ll start to get an idea of just how bad an addiction like this can be. And that brings me back to that new drug Zohydro, which is not only five times more powerful than Oxy, but will also hit the market in an easily crushable tablet, making it potentially ripe for abuse.

    Devastating prediction:  “It will kill people…”

    I’m far from the only one sounding the alarm here. According to a recent report on CNN, a group of over forty health care, consumer, and addiction treatment groups have banded together to strongly urge the FDA to revoke its approval of the drug. One of the signers of the letter to the FDA, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, painted a devastatingly clear picture of the near future when he told CNN, “It will kill people as soon as it’s released.” Last year a group made up of 29 attorney generals sent a similar request to the FDA, and members of Congress have even asked the agency to reconsider its approval of the drug. So now you can understand my concern, and why I’ve advised you to toss that Zohydro prescription. Otherwise, you may end up trading in your pain for a frightening drug addiction… or worse! Instead of taking a heavy duty, potentially-addictive, prescription pain med, find yourself a holistic doctor that can create a personalized plan to help you get rid of your chronic pain once and for all. Meanwhile, safe and natural topical pain relievers like capsaicin and menthol can speed some much-needed pain relief right to where it hurts. While proven chronic-pain-relieving acupuncture or physical therapies… like spinal manipulation… could help in the long term.
  15. “Break-proofing” your hips against hip fractures

    She broke her hip, ended up in a nursing home, and never came out again. It’s a devastating story we’ve all heard before. But once you reach a certain age, it can quickly go from a sad tale to a frightening one. Because when you enter your golden years you start to fear that it could one day be your own story. Let’s face it; there are few things as frightening as the prospect of losing your independence. And while I don’t want to scare you even more, I must admit that the fear is justified. In the US alone, over 300,000 of us a year will fall victim to that bane of graceful aging, a hip fracture. But “break-proofing” your bones is probably much easier than you think. And while there aren’t, of course, any guarantees that you’ll never suffer from a painful and debilitating hip fracture, a few common supplements could go a long way towards making it highly unlikely. Now if I were to ask you what vitamins you should take for bone health, I bet you would respond with “calcium.” And you would be absolutely right. There’s no question that bone-friendly calcium should be in your “break-proofing” kit. But there are a couple of other nutrients that are essential for bone-health that you might not be aware of. To give your bones everything they need, you should make sure you’re getting enough of these four key nutrients…
    1. Calcium
    2. Vitamin D
    3. Vitamin K
    4. Magnesium
    Raising your levels of these nutrients by choosing the right foods is an excellent first step. Then, rounding them out with supplements can complete the picture. You can up your calcium intake by eating more canned sardines and salmon, both of which have soft calcium rich bones. And dairy products are another good choice. Fish is also a great food to turn to when you want to raise you vitamin D levels. Both the flesh and oil of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and swordfish are naturally rich in D. Egg yolks, and beef will also provide some D. And don’t forget to spend a little time out in the sunshine every day for another natural boost of this vital vitamin. Vitamin K is often overlooked when it comes to bone health, but it’s an important player in keeping your bones healthy.  K can be found in leafy greens like kale and spinach, broccoli, asparagus, avocados, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, olive oil, meat, egg yolk, yogurt and green tea. We already knew that the final nutrient in that “break-proofing” kit of yours, magnesium, was a bone-health hero. But a new study out of Norway drives the point home. Norway has MORE than their fair share of hip fractures every year, and researchers wanted to know why. It turns out that the water in certain regions of Norway is super low in magnesium, and in those areas hip fractures tend to sky-rocket. To raise your own magnesium levels, eat more pumpkin seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, black beans, quinoa, cashews, and sunflower seeds.
  16. Intravenous vitamin C kills cancer cells and extends lives

    A group of brave researchers at the University of Kentucky Medical Center just dropped a bomb on the medical mainstream. They announced that common vitamin C can kill cancer cells, and that some cancer patients can benefit from high-dose intravenous vitamin C therapy. Not only that, the researchers say that the antioxidant appears to also reduce some of the most devastating and toxic side effects of conventional chemotherapy drugs. As you can imagine, the mainstream is reeling from the news. After all, in their view, nutrition-based therapies like vitamin C may as well be Voodoo. Now to be fair, the Kentucky-based scientist’s announcement really shouldn’t have been that much of a bomb, since their findings are right in line with an ever-growing stack of small, but strong, pro-C studies over the years. In fact, you’ve read about some of them right here in the Guide to Good Health. Not to mention there’s a virtual ton of first hand experiences by doctors who have been using intravenous vitamin C to treat their cancer patients since the 70s, as well as the cancer-patients who have reaped the benefits.

    Vitamin C was blacklisted based on bogus trials

    But mainstream medicine is kind of like a spoiled child with his fingers stuck firmly in his ears. Tell a conventional medicine doc that vitamin C has the potential to kill cancer cells and he’ll respond with, “What’s that? Sorry I can’t hear you. My fingers are in my ears.” But wait, all those doctors must have a good reason for refusing to give this life-saving therapy a try, right? Sadly, that’s just not the case. And wait until you hear what the actual reason is. Incredibly, intravenous vitamin C was blacklisted based on some unsuccessful clinical trials on ORAL vitamin C. Yes, countless people have suffered through (and perhaps even lost) their fights with cancer while the mainstream has turned its back on a perfectly safe, and potentially life-saving therapy, based on irrelevant clinical trials! Even a child could tell you that vitamin C sent directly into a vein is not the same thing as swallowing a pill. Oral doses of the water soluble vitamin could NEVER reach the same concentrations as an intravenous dose can.

    Cancer patients lived longer and better with vitamin C

    Thankfully, the University of Kentucky researchers must have smelled something rotten in Denmark. Despite the blacklisting, they felt intravenous vitamin C was still worth another look. In the lab, they were able to prove that the vitamin does indeed kill human cancer cells. Next they showed that high doses of intravenous vitamin C inhibited the growth of tumors… and in some cases even shrank them… in mice with ovarian cancer. And then it was on to that all-important human trial. The clinical trial tracked 27 volunteers who had just been diagnosed with stage-III or stage-IV ovarian cancer.  Each of the patients received either one of two conventional chemotherapy drugs.  But some of the volunteers were also given high doses of intravenous vitamin C. And the results were stunning. Well, stunning, that is, to the mainstream, anyway. For the rest of us they were impressive, but entirely expected. Those volunteers who had received the intravenous vitamin C experienced significantly less of the notoriously nasty side effects of chemo. There was less toxicity to the brain, bone marrow, and major organs. Not only that, the volunteers who got the intravenous vitamin C also lived nearly 9 months longer than those who didn’t get the therapy! In other words, they lived both better AND longer. So it’s official. Intravenous vitamin C helps kill cancer cells, and we even know why. According to study co-author Dr. Jeanne Drisko, “Vitamin C in the bloodstream helps kill cancer cells because it chemically converts into hydrogen peroxide when it interacts with tumors.” When you raise your C levels up high enough—as you do with intravenous therapy—the vitamin slips into the spaces around the cancer cells and does essentially what your white blood cells typically do… beat the cancer into submission. And unlike harsh chemo drugs it leaves the healthy cells unharmed.
    Are you listening mainstream? It’s time to take those fingers out of your ears!
  17. Aging brains slower because they know more

    If you’re sporting a few gray hairs on your head, and you’ve been busy putting the golden in golden years, you’re going to love this next tidbit. You know how we’ve all been led by so-called aging experts to believe that, as the years on the calendar rise, we start to slide downhill mentally? That our aging brain naturally experiences cognitive decline, and there’s not a thing we can do about it? Researchers at Tübingen University in Germany say that’s just bull. Well, OK, to be fair those “experts” got the natural part right, but they totally blew it on the mental decline. According to the German researchers, the slowdown is there, but it doesn’t have a darn thing to do with mental decline. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The slowdown is only there because your noodle is packed with so much darn information that it takes longer to access the little scrap you’re looking for. When you’re younger… and more empty-headed… you simply can retrieve things faster. You can think of it like a computer hard drive. A fresh new hard drive is zippy and fast. But one that is packed to the gills with data – like an aging brain would be -- tends to take a little longer to process the information. And, not coincidentally, it’s computers that the German researchers used to demonstrate this concept. They programmed a computer as though it was a human, reading a certain amount each day and learning new information as it did.  When they limited the amount of reading and learning the computer did in a day, its performance on tests resembled that of a typical young adult. But when they exposed the computer to a wealth of information resembling a lifetime of experiences like you or I have had, it performed like an older (wiser) adult on those same tests. All of that increased “experience” led to a bigger database, and processing more data simply takes more time. In other words, your aging brain is not cognitively declining, you’re shining. So the next time someone accuses you of having a “senior moment,” give them a great big smile and say, “Thank you!”
  18. Probiotic health benefits: May help women lose twice the weight

    Since you’re a Guide to Good Health reader, I’m guessing I probably don’t need to tell you how important a bellyful of good bacteria is. As you know, your gut is the center of your entire immune system. And keeping your intestinal flora balanced can help keep you healthy. The trouble is, in today’s world it can be tough to do that. An on-the-go diet that’s way too high in junk and way too low in fresh healthy organic foods, stress and even medications like antibiotics all act like bulls on the loose in a china shop, shattering the balance of your gut flora making you vulnerable to getting sick. The health benefits of probiotics can quickly get you back on track, replenishing the good bacteria in your digestive tract. And what a difference it can make! One UK study I told you about a few years ago, found one of the health benefits of probiotics is that they could boost your immunities by an astounding fifty percent, in some cases. And it almost goes without saying that probiotics are some of the best protection you can get against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. In fact, because of the amazing health benefits of probiotics, I think they are a “must take” supplement that everyone should be including in their daily routine.

    Lower your body fat with belly bugs

    Good belly bugs do a lot more for you than just fight off the common cold or the flu. And we’re learning more about their effects every day. Just last year I told you about an exciting mouse study that revealed a connection between gut flora and diabetes. Researchers found that gut bacteria produce biochemicals and hormones that can literally stop diabetes from ever developing! But as I read the latest issue of the British Journal of Nutrition it wasn’t that diabetes study that came to mind, but rather an earlier one that I had shared with my readers years ago. I’ll get back to that new probiotic research in BJN in just a moment, but first let me refresh your memory about that earlier study. In 2009, Finnish researchers concluded that certain probiotics can help women manage their weight after a pregnancy.  They divided 256 pregnant women into three groups. The first group received dietary counseling and a daily probiotic. The second group got the same counseling, but received a placebo. And the third group didn’t get any dietary counseling, but got the placebo. The women continued with whichever regimen they were assigned to throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. Once they stopped breastfeeding they were brought in for measurements of weight and waist circumference. The women who took the probiotic came out on top. A year after having their babies they were sporting the best post-baby bodies, with the lowest body fat percentages. And just as exciting, the women taking the probiotic ended up carting around less fat around their midsections than the other two groups.

    Drop more pounds with probiotics

    Now, Canadian researchers have more exciting news for us about probiotic health benefits and weight. And this time it could lead to you taking your belt in a few extra notches. Scientists recruited 125 overweight men and women. For 12 weeks all of the volunteers followed a prescribed weight loss plan. That was followed with another 12 weeks of weight maintenance. During the study half of the group was given a probiotic (in this case from the Lactobacillus rhamnous family), and the other half was given a placebo. The women who got probiotics lost more weight than the placebo takers during the diet phase—an average of 1.8 kg more. That’s almost 4 extra pounds. And during the maintenance period the probiotic takers continued to lose weight, eventually dropping a total of 5.2 kilograms or about 11.5 pound each! In other words, the women in the probiotic group lost twice the weight. And the only difference between the two groups was the probiotic. Unfortunately, the guys in the study didn’t see the same results. The researchers aren’t positive why that is. The study may simply not have gone on long enough, or the dosages might need adjusting for the men. But there’s no reason to think that probiotics can’t have similar effects on weight for men, too.
    For their immune and digestion health benefits alone, probiotics should be on YOUR daily menu. And if they also happen to help you beat the battle of the bulge, that’s just very welcome icing on an already delicious cake.
  19. The feds make the flu shot funny

    I subscribe to the FDA’s Consumer Updates by email. And let me tell you, if you don’t you’re definitely missing out. These things really ought to come with their own laugh tracks, because they sure do keep me in stitches. Their latest gem is a real knee slapper. It’s entitled, “It's Still Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Vaccine.” That’s right my friend, if you somehow managed to dodge all the flu shot hysteria and hype this past fall never fear, the FDA says it’s still not too late to go get your jab. Phew, I’m sure that “news” is a load off exactly zero shoulders. Yes, here we are in February and the feds are STILL pulling out the pompoms and leading the cheer for their best buddies in Big Pharma. You see, according to the knuckleheads at the FDA the flu season peaks in January and February and can last well into May. But wait, they’re not done ramping up the fear yet. The feds say that while the flu typically hits children and seniors the hardest, sometimes a flu virus makes its way around that affects young and middle aged folks, too. So did you catch that? Everyone… that means children, young people, middle aged people, AND seniors… should fear the flu and obediently line up to get those shots. Of course, the only trouble with this fear mongering is that there’s no real evidence that the flu shot is even very effective, besides the fact that the vaccine is a total shot-in-the-dark guess every year, the numbers just don’t pan out. Even if they somehow manage to get it right, there’s no guarantee the vaccine will be effective. In fact, some studies find that, even when the vaccine matches the flu bug that’s circulating, forty to fifty percent of the vaccinated may still get sick. And don’t even get me started on the potential side effects that, ironically, sound an awful lot LIKE the flu you were trying to avoid in the first place. To make matters worse there’s even evidence that the yearly flu vaccine could leave you MORE vulnerable to other strains of the flu like the potentially deadly H1N1 flu. Stick with common sense measures and tried-and-true immune boosters like zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D instead. Click here to check out more of my advice on immune-proofing your system.
  20. The key to keeping colds at bay

    This time of year it can start to feel like the warm weather and sunshiny skies will never return. And it’s also prime time for that last cold of the season to sneak up on you, kicking you when you’re down.

    And with all the cold prevention advice I’ve given over the years there is one tried-and-true method that always tops my list. It happens to also be the simplest of all, and that’s frequently washing your hands.

    I know it’s not very exciting, but I can tell you from experience it works. And now a new review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal is backing me up.

    A look at 67 randomized controlled trials found that simple hand washing couldn’t be beaten for warding off the sniffles and sneezes.

    Add some zinc, vitamin C, vitamin D and a quality probiotic to the mix and you might just be able to skate right on through to spring without having to suffer through one last cold.

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