NorthStar Nutritionals Blog

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  1. Benefits of vitamin C—happier hospital stays

    Ideally, you'll never have to spend even a single night in a hospital bed. But if you happen to wind up there, even if it's just for one night, make sure to take along your vitamins. Vitamin C in particular is a MUST.  A new study shows that the benefits of Vitamin C may also include keeping your mood afloat during your hospital stay.

    You see, vitamin C is the essential vitamin REQUIRED for all new growth or repair in the body. In fact, another benefit of vitamin C is that it boosts collagen production. And collagen is the main protein responsible for repair in the body. It repairs your tissues, tendons, bones, muscles, organs and even your brain. Want your post-op scar to heal faster? Make sure you've got plenty of vitamin C...because without it, your body can't repair anything.

    Second, vitamin C is critical to your immune system. It boosts the production of interferon, a protein that helps shut down the growth and spread of bacteria, viruses, or tumors. And it's exactly what you need to have in abundance when you're entering the hospital and fighting infection at every turn.

    A third benefits of vitamin C is that it makes for a happier hospital stay. That's what surgeons from Montreal's Jewish Medical Hospital just discovered.

    Can more vitamin C make you happier?

    Canadian physicians selected 32 hospital patients to take part in this study. (Granted, that's a miniscule number. But for a hospital to dispense anything other than Percocet or Prilosec, it's a pretty big deal and essentially unheard of in 2010!)

    First off, the doctors divided the patients into two groups. One group would receive 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day for up to 10 days. The other group would receive 1,000 IU of vitamin D (as a placebo) twice a day for up to 10 days.

    The doctors also measured blood levels of vitamin C before and after treatment. Unfortunately, they found that 60 percent of the patients were vitamin C deficient at the study's outset.

    Next, the doctors asked their patients to answer questionnaires about their mood before vitamin treatment began and after at least five days of taking the vitamins.

    Here's what they found:

    • First off, in the group taking vitamin C, their blood levels of vitamin C more than tripled.
    • In addition, the vitamin C group experienced a 34 percent average reduction in mood disturbance.
    • In the vitamin D patients, their blood serum levels of D rose as well.
    • But the vitamin D patients experienced no improvement in mood.

    Clearly, vitamin C gave patients a nice boost in mood during their stay. In their report, the doctors didn't make any guesses why the vitamin C group fared so much better. But

    I've got an explanation: the benefits of vitamin C makes everything better.

    You see, when you're under stress--physical or mental (such as during a hospital stay)--your body's need for vitamin C increases exponentially. In addition, inflammation following surgery or illness depletes your body's absorption of vitamin C. So by giving your body more of what it needs, you heal faster and you're happier.

    Add vitamin C to the top of your "To Pack" list

    There's no doubt the benefits vitamin C will help you recover from any hospital visit. Not only will it boost your mood, but it will also help you thwart infection. And we all know that's a huge concern even in the best hospitals. Plus, vitamin C helps flush out any drugs or anesthesia you may have received during your hospital stay.

    Bottom line? Prevent potential problems and supplement with extra vitamin C before you enter the hospital. And definitely pack a bottle of it during your hospital stay. Just don't count on your nurse to add it to your little cup of pills. In fact, you may have to sneak it in between hospital rounds. (I've done that a few times myself!)

    If you're recovering from an illness or preparing surgery, take 1,000 mg of C three times a day. That's quite a bit more than the Canadians used in their study. But if you're recovering from an illness or surgery, you'll need it. It's essential as your body repairs itself and returns to optimal health.

    Plus, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so any extra your body doesn't need will get flushed.

    For normal vitamin C maintenance, take 1,000 mg of C twice a day. But don't go for time-released preparations as these are a waste of money. Vitamin C only stays in your body for a few hours at a time.

  2. GlaxoSmithKline execs slammed for touting resveratrol

    One thing I don't like is a bully. And that's what GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is, when it comes down to it. Last month, GlaxoSmithKline forced two of it's execs to stop their volunteer work with a non-profit called Healthy Lifespan Institute.

    According to its website, Healthy Lifespan is "dedicated to extending the healthy lifespan by studying, educating, and testing the rapid advances in the science and medicine of aging." (Sounds like my kind of organization!)

    So why exactly did the GlaxoSmithKline execs get yanked from the non-profit? Did they spend too much time volunteering for the Institute?

    No.

    Did they divert GlaxoSmithKline profits to Healthy Lifespan Institute?

    No.

    They forced the execs off the non-profit's board simply because the Institute sold resveratrol supplements...at cost.

    So what's so bad about that? Well, turns out GlaxoSmithKline is trying to develop a resveratrol prescription drug that they can patent and make billions off of. As you'll recall from last week's Guide to Good Health, resveratrolis an antioxidant superstar that may help prevent any number of diseases...from Alzheimer's to cancer.

    I'll tell you what...I actually loved reading about this story. It shows that resveratrol is the real deal if it threatens even a big gun bully like GlaxoSmithKline. Plus, every time you take your resveratrol, you're keeping a bully in its place!

  3. High-fructose corn syrup may supercharge cancer growth

    For years, the food industry has tried to tell us that all sugars are the same...and that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) isn't any worse for you than "real" sugar. And in a way, they're right. HFCS and table sugar (or sucrose) are both bad news. They both contain roughly 50 percent fructose. And a new study conducted by researchers from the University of California proves that cancer cells feed off this type of sugar. In fact, according to the new research, cancer cells use fructose to grow, divide, and even metastasize. And that's a serious concern for most Americans. You see, fructose is everywhere. You'll find it in most sodas, breads, baked goods, and processed foods. You'll even find it in ketchup.

    Sugar is far more dangerous than once thought

    Dr. Anthony Heaney and his team of scientists fed glucose and fructose to pancreatic cancer cells to see what would happen. (They chose to work with pancreatic cancer cells because it's a notoriously aggressive cancer linked to high intake of HFCS.) First, the scientists removed pancreatic cancer tumors from patients. Then, they cultured and grew the malignant cells in Petri dishes. Next, they added glucose and fructose to the cells. They immediately noticed something disturbing about how the cells metabolized fructose. The cancer cells used it to infiltrate the building blocks of healthy DNA. Then the cells began to grow, divide, and spread frantically. In fact, in one interview with BBC, Dr. Heaney stated that the fructose "energized" the cancer cells. Now, back in the 1920s, scientists proved that glucose promotes the spread of cancer. But this is the first time fructose has been shown to do the same. That makes HFCS and table sugar -- which contain fructose and glucose – twice as bad in my book. And although the study used pancreatic cancer cells, Heaney believes fructose can cause other types of cancer to grow and spread too. Heaney even worries that fructose may actually cause new cancer to form. He plans to examine that concern in upcoming research.

    Make healthy, safe choices

    Therefore, my advice is; stay away from processed food that contains any type of sugar. Yes, this week I'm targeting HFCS, but you know I'm wary of any type of sugar, even "regular" sugar. Just go to www.northstarnutritionals.com and type "sugar" into the Guide to Good Health search box. You'll find 52 articles explaining why you should ban all types of sugar from your house. And based on this latest study, avoiding sugar is especially important if you have a history of cancer. My last word of advice is to take your health into your own hands. Avoid the center aisles of the grocery store. And if you do buy ketchup or bread...just make sure it doesn't contain sugar or HFCS. If you're looking for something sweet to sprinkle in your coffee, try Stevia. It's all-natural and far sweeter than sugar, so you only need a pinch.
  4. Resveratrol benefits… could it be the “fountain of youth”?

    I'm a research junkie. I'll admit it. So I just about jumped out of my seat when I read that someone had finally tested resveratrol--the antioxidant superstar found in red wine and grapes--on actual human beings! Yes, nutritionists have known about resveratrol for decades. It helps tame inflammation and prevent oxidative stress. This is significant because unchecked inflammation and oxidative stress can lead to heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. Even the mainstream press picked up on resveratrol a few years back when scientists proved it could extend the lifespan of mice by 20 percent! They dubbed it the "fountain of youth." But until last month, there was one giant problem with this antioxidant phenom: Zero clinical proof actually existed that it works on humans. (And I mean, ZERO.) There was plenty of data showing that it can increase the lifespan of roundworms, fruit flies, mice, and yeast. But nothing on humans...until last month. Will the antioxidant superstar work on humans? You may be wondering, why all the fuss? If resveratrol is found in red wine...doesn't everyone know that drinking a glass of red wine is good for your health? And yes, that's true. But this study digs much deeper. In fact, it's the first- ever study showing why resveratrol may be a legit "fountain of youth" for humans after all. Specifically, scientists from the University of Buffalo wanted to see if resveratrol could decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy men and women. So the scientists recruited 20 healthy men and women and took samples of their blood. Then, they split the participants into two groups. One group received 40 mg of resveratrol each day for six weeks. And the other group received a placebo. And here's what they found...

    Anti-aging extract scores off the charts!

    Resveratrol performed just as we all had hoped. First off, it blocked the formation of free radicals (reactive oxygen species or ROS). These harmful, unstable molecules cause damage to healthy cells. Over time, widespread free radical damage can harm your DNA and lead to a disease like cancer. But the participants who took resveratrol for six weeks significantly lowered their ROS levels. Secondly, the resveratrol group also lowered their TNF levels. TNF (or tumor necrosis factor) is a harmful protein that creates inflammation throughout the body. A few weeks ago, we talked about this harmful protein and the role it plays in rheumatoid arthritis. But TNF doesn't just harm rheumatoid arthritis patients. It causes widespread inflammation that can affect your blood vessels, your organs, your skin, and even your brain. It also messes with your body's insulin production. In fact, endocrinologists believe that lowering TNF levels will improve insulin resistance in diabetics.

    Small study, big impact

    Now, unfortunately this study is terribly small in scope with just 20 participants. Nevertheless, I think that it will have a big impact in the years to come. First off, it proves that resveratrol can help control inflammation in humans. And that's huge! Inflammation is the underlying, biological cause of so many different uncured diseases -- from rheumatoid arthritis to Alzheimer's disease. Plus, it just builds more momentum for this superstar antioxidant. It will be interesting to see if one day scientists prove that resveratrol can extend your lifespan, as they proved with mice a few years back. So if you're not already taking something with resveratrol, now's definitely the time start! (Especially if you're over 50 or have an inflammatory disease.) And yes, you'll find resveratrol in red wine and grapes. But you'd have to drink gallons of wine (or eat bushels of grapes) to get 100 mg of resveratrol. That's the amount you'll find in any quality resveratrol supplement. Most of these are derived from the Japanese knotweed herb. So take action now to keep feeling and looking young.
  5. Margarine is still margarine, no matter how you slice it

    Margarine manufacturers are relentless. They continue to find new ways to make their product sound healthy. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I saw dozens of products with added omega-3s, vitamin D, calcium, olive oil, and even plant sterols. Basically, these "purveyors of plastic" are trying to confuse you and make you forget you're buying a margarine product. And all the swift marketing appears to work. According to recent study, if margarine carries a health claim (such as "CONTAINS OLIVE OIL!"), 60 percent of consumers think it's healthier than butter. But don't fall for their sneaky tricks. You can add anything you want to margarine and it's still just margarine. My advice? Stay clear of anything that's not 100 percent natural butter (organic is even better). If you're not sure what kind of product it is, just take a look at the ingredient list. If it's got more than one ingredient – sweet cream – it's probably not butter.
  6. Can calcium supplements really give you a heart attack?

    A major new study announced that taking a calcium supplement may raise your heart attack or stroke risk by as much at 30 percent. I know what you're thinking: "Is this really true? Could the pill I take for my bones really be that bad for me?" And the answer is: Yes, calcium can cause serious health problems when taken alone. But I could also argue that shaving your beard is bad for you health because you could cut the carotid artery in your neck. Or walking the dog is bad for your health because you could get hit by a car. Basically, you do anything the wrong way and you can get hurt. So go ahead and shave your beard, walk the dog, and take calcium. Just do it the RIGHT way. Study misses one major fact... Professor Ian Reid and his team from the University of Auckland analyzed data from 15 different randomized trials conducted over the last 20 years. They found that men and women who took calcium supplements did increase their risk of heart attack or stroke by about 30 percent. But to tell you the truth, that stat didn't surprise me. And neither did his other big "discovery": Men and women with high dietary intakes of calcium did not see the same increased risk. In interviews, Reid and his team seem to scratch their heads to explain this conundrum. Why does a calcium supplement appear to raise risk and not a high- calcium meal? They theorize that calcium supplements cause the mineral to collect in your blood...and high-calcium meals do not. And, again, that's true. Taking 500 mg of calcium alone isn't a good thing. Your body can't handle it. In fact, in addition to cardiovascular problems, it can cause problems with your kidneys, GI tract, nervous system, and even your brain! But there's one sure-fire way to solve the calcium problem: Take magnesium with it. And that's the one huge, gigantic, obvious missing piece from Reid's analysis. You see, calcium cannot work in the body without magnesium. Crack the calcium puzzle You body can NOT handle high amounts of calcium on its own. It gets stuck in your blood, soft tissues, and in your kidneys. It also causes hardening of the arterial walls...and eventually cardiovascular events as Reid's meta-analysis showed. That's why I've always recommended taking one part magnesium for every two parts calcium. Magnesium helps your body absorb the calcium so it doesn't collect in your kidneys and soft tissues. By the way, this is taught in every Nutrition 101 course, in nearly every community college across the country. (Clearly, Professor Reid slept through that course.) And truthfully, I'm not sure why manufacturers even sell supplements that only contain calcium. If you've got a bottle, throw it out. Calcium and magnesium naturally work together So...now can you figure out why people from Reid's meta-analysis with a high- calcium diet didn't increase their cardiovascular events risk? You got it: They were also eating a high-magnesium diet. In natural foods, calcium is always paired with magnesium. It's just nature's way of providing us with exactly what we need to stay healthy. Just look up high-calcium foods like broccoli or kale. These foods also contain magnesium. In fact, nature doesn't make a calcium-rich food that doesn't contain magnesium. That is unless it's "fortified with calcium" like homogenized milk and most dairy products on the shelves. So don't get fooled into thinking these products are natural! Professor Reid goes down swinging In interviews, Professor Reid isn't content just bashing calcium. He goes after all supplements: "We have tended to focus on just the benefits of supplements without really looking at their safety. In the future I think we need to look at both the efficacy and the safety of supplements." Well, truthfully, I have to agree with that last thought...but for a different reason. Just because something is natural doesn't mean that it can't also do harm. Supplements are powerful tools and you must learn to use them the right way...in the right amount and combination. That's why it's important to work with a qualified naturopath and keep reading my Guide to Good Health. I'll make sure to point out the landmines and steer you clear of Professor Reids of the world.
  7. Fish oil supplements may help post-menopausal women slash breast cancer risk

    Be persistent and consistent with your fish oil supplement. It will be worth all the effort, especially if you're a woman. That's because a new study found that women who take fish oil for at least 10 years have a much lower risk of getting breast cancer. U.S. researchers asked 35,000 healthy, post-menopausal women about their supplement use. They found that many of women took specialty supplements as black cohosh, ginseng, and fish oil. Ten years later, 880 of the women developed breast cancer. But the women who took fish oil supplements for at least 10 years cut their risk of breast cancer by an impressive 32 percent! Researchers believe fish oil is helpful to women because it reduces inflammation, a key factor in the growth of breast cancer. As far as I can see, there's only one thing missing from this fantastic study: Vitamin E. You always need to take vitamin E along with any fish oil supplement. As I've said numerous times over the years, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil produce free radicals. But the antioxidants in vitamin E will zap any free radicals before they can cause any harm.
  8. Natural ways to lower blood sugar without dangerous drugs

    How much does a heart attack cost? Five hundred thousand dollars? A million dollars? Two million? Truth is, it doesn't really matter. GlaxoSmithKline will pay it. And they'll pay it willingly a thousand times over just to keep you taking their diabetes drug Avandia. That's because even after the billions spent on lawsuits, damage control, and cover-ups, Avandia is still worth it for them. It makes a profit. Yes, Avandia appears to raise your heart attack risk. (And yes GSK knew about it and tried hard to cover it up).But you do have other options. And I'm not talking about taking one of those "safe" Avandia-replacement drugs advertised just about everywhere these days. I'm talking about non-drug options. Safe, effective options for diabetes patients Without a doubt, you can lower your blood sugar without taking drugs. But it's not a quick, easy fix. It will take commitment. But I promise you; it's worth all the effort. You'll safely lower your blood sugar and you'll probably lower your risk of heart attack as well (instead of raise it, like Avandia does). Here's where you've got to start:

    STEP 1: Get off the sugar. And that includes throwing out any refined and processed flour products, such as white bread, rice, cookies, pancakes etc. The good news is that complex carbs such as 100 percent whole wheat, de-hulled barley, bran, and oats are all okay. Pasta is fine as long as it's made from spinach, artichoke, brown rice, or 100 percent whole wheat. It's heavy, so try angel hair pasta and don't serve as much. You won't need it.

    STEP 2: Fortify your overall health by taking a good multi vitamin that contains at least 25 mg of B3. I'd also double up on vitamin C to help detoxify your system. Go for 1,000 mg three to four times a day. If you start to experience diarrhea, back off by 1,000 mg increments.

    STEP 3: Then, I'd start looking at some natural ways to lower your blood sugar. First off, I'd think about adding chromium to your daily regimen. Go for either chromium picolinate, or preferably chromium GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor). This trace mineral helps to support your body's overall metabolism. It also helps to balance blood sugar levels and convert glucose into energy.

    I'd also considering adding to the mix 400 to 800 mg of the Indian herb Gymnema Sylvestre (GS). It too helps support healthy blood sugar levels and glucose metabolism. Plus, some research suggests that GS even repairs special cells in the pancreas called beta cells. These cells are vital because they produce insulin and help control how much sugar gets dumped into your blood. But in diabetics, up to 80 percent of their beta cells aren't working. (In type-1 diabetes, none of their beta cells work.) In fact, these little cells are so critical to your health, scientists are even investigating ways to replace damaged beta cells in diabetics. Scientists from India actually just wrapped up the first-ever human trial using Gymnema Sylvestre with diabetics. It was a small trial using a patented version of GS, but the results look promising. After just 60 days of taking 500 mg of GS, 10 out 11 patients significantly lowered their fasting blood sugar levels. The patients also increased their insulin and c-peptide levels. If you are dealing with full-blown diabetes, I'd also suggest looking into taking small doses of vanadium (or vanadyl sulfate). This mineral has been shown in limited studies to improve how diabetics process sugar. But there's also some concern that high amounts of vanadium (far higher than 5 mg) may cause harmful oxidative stress in the body. So the question becomes: How much can you safely take? Unfortunately, there's no standard protocol here. So I'd only try vanadium under the careful guidance of a qualified naturopath. Safely lower blood sugar by 20 percent Cinnamon is another powerful, yet safe blood-sugar solution. Sprinkle it on apples, oatmeal, whole-wheat pancakes, or yogurt. This tasty spice improves how your body processes sugar. In fact, in one recent study, cinnamon significantly lowered blood sugar among diabetics. For the study, U.S. researchers divided diabetics into two groups. One group received one, three, or six grams cinnamon each day. The other group received a placebo. And the results--after just 40 days – were astounding! All three groups taking cinnamon made big improvements all around. They lowered their fasting blood glucose levels by 18 to 29 percent, slashed triglycerides by 23 to 30 percent, and cut total cholesterol 12 to 26 percent. So even taking just ¼ to ½ teaspoonfuls each day made quite a difference. But it's important to keep it going because when the patients stopped taking the spice, their blood sugar levels rebounded. Not surprisingly, the patients who received the placebo didn't experience any improvements in the markers of their disease. But be careful what you wish for... There's no doubt in my mind that if you follow this regimen, along with a little exercise, your blood sugar will come down. But just be careful. These natural efforts can be so effective that you MUST seek the guidance of a good naturopath or enlightened physician. In fact, it's possible to push your blood sugar down so far that you become hypoglycemic. So it's important that your doctor monitors your medications very closely and lowers them as your diet and supplements take effect.
  9. Another missing piece to Parkinsons puzzle

    A few months ago, I told you about two new studies linking Parkinson's disease with a common vitamin deficiency. In both studies, men and women with low levels of B6 in their blood turned out to be about 50 percent more likely to develop Parkinson's disease. Well, this month, scientists from Finland found another missing piece to the puzzle. Turns out that vitamin D also plays a huge role in whether or not you develop Parkinson's disease. In this major study that spanned 30 years, scientists followed 3,173 Finnish men and women. During that time, 50 patients developed Parkinson's. And lack of vitamin D stood out as a major factor. In fact, men and women with the lowest levels were three times more likely to get sick compared to the group with the highest levels of vitamin D. Put another way, men and women who got with plenty of the "sunshine vitamin" over the 30-year-period reduced their risk of developing Parkinson's by an impressive 67 percent. Scientists believe that vitamin D is particularly important to the substantia nigra, an area of the brain most affected by Parkinson's disease. This area also contains a high concentration of vitamin D receptors. So while there's still no cure for Parkinson's disease, we've now got three major studies showing the important role nutrition plays. The bottom line? Make sure to take a B-complex and D3 supplement every day! Not only will you chop away at your Parkinson's risk, you'll also boost your overall health!
  10. Combat cardiovascular risk with four-antioxidant combo

    We just learned that vitamin E plays a major role in preventing Alzheimer's disease. But vitamin E is hardly a one-trick pony. In fact, another study out this week shows that vitamin E, along with three other antioxidants, can help combat cardiovascular disease. For this study, Israeli scientists recruited 70 patients who had at least two of the following risk factors:
      • high blood pressure
      • diabetes
    low HDL cholesterol (or "good" cholesterol)
    • smoked cigarettes
      Scientists divided participants into two random groups. The first group received 1000 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 200 mcg of selenium, and 120 mg of coenzyme Q10 each day. The second group received a placebo. The participants continued this regimen for six months. After six months, researchers found that the antioxidant group experienced some major changes in their overall health. First off, the patients' HDL -- or "good" -- cholesterol increased. They also lowered their blood pressure. And their blood sugar levels came down as well. And best of all, the researchers noted an improvement in overall arterial elasticity in the antioxidant patients. And that's a biggie, because stiff arteries lead to heart attacks and strokes. On the other hand, the group receiving just the placebo for six months didn't experience any of these improvements. Their numbers all stayed the same. What's the take home message here, folks? There's always plenty you can do to improve your overall health...even if you've already been diagnosed with hypertension or diabetes. Now, of course, I would make a few tweaks to the Israeli regimen. First off, instead of taking 1,000 mg of vitamin C once a day, take that amount twice a day. (That's my minimum recommended level for healthy adults.) In addition, you can take 400 IU of vitamin E twice a day as well. I would also make sure to add magnesium to the mix for anyone with a heart condition or diabetes. Go for 500 to 800 mg of it per day. Magnesium helps to relax your blood vessels and normalize your blood pressure. And lastly, I would also add 1,000 mg of l-carnitine. This nutrient helps you turn fat into energy.
  11. Common sweetener spikes hypertension risk by 77 percent

    Doctors always tell you to cut back on your salt intake if you've got high blood pressure. But there's something far more dangerous: a common sweetener found in most snack foods. In fact, U.S. researchers found that consuming even modest amounts of this potent sweetener could increase your risk of high blood pressure by as much as 77 percent. How can something so sweet be so bad? On average, American men and women consume 22 teaspoons (or 90 grams) of sugar each day. And that's too much...about 22 teaspoons too much. You see, aside from the obvious concerns about diabetes, sugar also messes with your heart function. In fact, it robs your body of magnesium. And without enough magnesium, your blood vessels constrict. So your heart has to pump harder to get the same volume of blood through narrower blood vessels, which results in high blood pressure. HFCS--The worst of the bunch High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the worst culprit when it comes to sweeteners. It's a super-sweet, super-potent, and super-addictive form of sugar. (Take it from me, a former sugar addict.) Manufacturers use HFCS to sweeten just about every packaged food product on grocery store shelves these days. You'll find it in bread, crackers, cereal, cookies, yogurt, ketchup, and even tomato soup! Of course, it's also used to sweeten soda and fruit juice. It's become increasingly prevalent since the 1980s for three reasons. First off, it's cheaper than sugar. Secondly, it extends a product's shelf life. And, lastly, did I mention that it's addicting? No wonder we keep buying it! Not surprisingly, it also seems to fast-track your weight gain. A recent study by Princeton scientists found that mice given a diet high in HFCS gained more weight than mice given the equivalent amount of sugar. Plus, there's the small problem of high blood pressure... U.S. scientists uncover hypertension-sweetener link Scientists from the University of Colorado examined nutritional data for 4,500 adults with no history of hypertension. They found that men and women who consumed 74 grams of HFCS each day (that's less than the average daily intake in the U.S.), significantly increased their risk of high blood pressure. In fact, eating just 74 grams of high-fructose corn syrup each day resulted in a:
    • 26 percent increased risk of prehypertension (135/85 mmHg)
    • 30 percent increased risk of Stage 1 hypertension (140/90 mmHg)
    • 77 percent increased risk of Stage 2 hypertension (160/100 mmHg)
    To put it in simpler terms, this means that drinking two and a half cans of soda a day will almost guarantee that one day you'll develop seriously high blood pressure. And that day may be a lot closer than you think. According to major study from last year, men who consumed a diet high in fructose experienced a spike in blood pressure after just TWO weeks! Yes, after just 14 days of eating foods filled with sugar, many of the men had serious blood pressure issues. Yet, when the men eliminated the fructose from their diets, their blood pressure returned to normal. What's it all mean for you? Eliminating all sugar from your diet will be difficult. As a former sugar-addict trying hard to stay "on the wagon," I know first-hand. But once you get past the initial cravings, I guarantee you'll start to feel and look better. It usually takes 21 days for the cravings to go away. Plus, now we know, you'll lower your hypertension risk as well. Just remember, manufacturers sneak sugar into just about all packaged food products so you have to be very careful reading labels so you don't miss it. And if you really want to make an impact on your health, you'll need to throw out processed white flour products as well, since your body treats them just like sugar. In terms of sweeteners, stay away from anything artificial, such as aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. I could devote a whole article warning you against these products and that still wouldn't cover it all. Aspartame is by far the worst offender. It turns toxic in the body and can cause serious illnesses. The only sweetener I use on occasion is stevia. Derived from the stevia leaf, it's all natural and 300 times sweeter than sugar. So you only need a drop or two in your coffee. And best of all, unlike sugar, stevia has been shown to lower blood pressure in a recent clinical study!
  12. Prevent breast cancer by eating a nice summer salad?

    Can eating a nice salad every night with dinner prevent you from ever developing breast cancer?

    You bet it can.

    You just have to make sure to sprinkle it with olive oil. Yes, I know olive oil is full of fat. And many women over a certain age would no sooner use olive oil than dye their hair blue. But here's the difference: Olive oil contains mono-unsaturated fats that are healthy -- even vital -- for you. And if you're a woman, it may even protect you against breast cancer.

    Truthfully, the fact that olive oil is good for you is nothing new. But here's what IS new: Now we know why. Recently, Spanish researchers uncovered the mechanism in olive oil that makes it so good for us: It blocks the activity of p21Ras.

    What's p21Ras?

    It's a gene that stimulates the growth and spread of breast cancer cells. So by "turning off" this gene, you block the cancer cells from ever taking hold. And olive oil does just that.

    Plus, researchers also discovered that olive oil protects the DNA in the cell nucleus. And this is really where cancer begins. It occurs when one tiny cell nucleus gets damaged. And then, instead of dying, this damaged cell multiplies. But olive oil protects the nucleus of your cells from ever mutating.

    So make sure you get a little olive oil every day. Your cells will thank you.

  13. All salmon are not created equal

    I can't be any more clear: Farm-raised salmon is bad for you. It's full of mercury, PCBs, dioxin, and other really bad stuff. But I recently read about "genetically-altered" salmon in the New York Times that makes farm-raised salmon look about as dangerous as a poof chair.

    All kidding aside, there's much to worry about here, folks. The FDA is very close to approving the sale of this super-salmon that grows two times faster than normal salmon.

    Apparently, regular old non-genetically-altered salmon don't grow fast enough. They only produce growth hormones in warm weather. So during the winter, they stop growing. But entrepreneur Ronald L. Stotish and his AquaBounty have found a way to fix that.

    They can now "turn on" a salmon's growth switch, forcing it to grow all year long. As a result, the fish are ready for market in just 18 months instead of three years.

    According to the article, if the FDA approves this super-salmon, the genetically- altered fish could hit your grocery store in just three short years. Let's pray the FDA has a sliver of common sense and blocks the sale. Though, I wouldn't hold my breath.

    If I were you, I'd stick with the wild-caught salmon. You can now find it in lots of grocery stores. Plus, for a little background reading, you may want to check out the Environmental Working Group's web site. It has an excellent report on farm-raised versus wild-caught salmon, so you can understand the difference it makes. You'll also learn why it's important to avoid all mercury, PCBs, dioxins, and all the other really bad stuff that's in farm-raised salmon. To learn more go to http://www.ewg.org/reports/farmedpcbs.

  14. Hearing loss risk spikes 34 percent without key vitamin

    Think that age-related hearing loss is more of a nuisance than a health issue? Think that everyone over 60 suffers from some degree of hearing loss? Think it's no big deal when you have to turn up the TV louder and louder to hear your favorite news program? Well, think again. A new study links hearing loss to low vitamin intake. Hearing loss tied to overall health In many cases, age-related hearing loss is linked to an amino acid called homocysteine. In fact, it could mean your homocysteine levels are too high. And that's never a good thing...because too much homocysteine in your blood is also an indicator for heart disease, stroke, and dementia. In addition, excess homocysteine messes with blood flow to your inner ear, increasing the likelihood that you'll have trouble hearing your spouse at a crowded dinner party. But researchers have found a simple but powerful way to block homocysteine from soaring out of control and thereby prevent (or slow) age-related hearing loss. Just take more folic acid. Most folks associate folic acid with fetal development. It's the nutrient that all newly pregnant (or soon-to-be pregnant) women should take to prevent neural tube defects. But it also helps the body break down homocysteine. And that made all the difference to a group of men and women from Sydney, Australia who wanted to keep their hearing intact. Let me explain... Folic acid's good for more than just fetuses Researchers from the University of Sydney examined blood levels of nearly 3,000 men and women over 50. The found that men and women with low folate (the natural form of folic acid in the body) were nearly 35 percent more likely to suffer from age-related hearing loss. Researchers also checked the participants' blood for homocysteine. They found that men and women with high homocysteine were a whopping 65 percent more likely to suffer from hearing loss! But this isn't the first time researchers have tied folic acid to hearing loss. Far from it, in fact. In 2007, scientists from the Netherlands found that taking folic acid may help prevent hearing loss. For this study, scientists divided 728 men and women between the ages 50 and 70 into two groups. Once group took 800 mcg of folic acid every day for three years. The other group took a placebo. Scientists found that both groups suffered some hearing loss after three years. But the group taking folic acid didn't lose as much. In fact, the folic acid group could hear a much greater range of sounds than the group taking the placebo. Plus, just one year ago, a group of U.S. researchers looked at nutritional data for 50,000 men over the age of 60. They found that men with high folate levels cut their risk of developing hearing loss by a solid 20 percent. The do's and don'ts about folic acid As you may remember, folic acid is part of the B vitamin family. You can increase your intake by eating beans, citrus fruits, whole grains, and dark green leafy vegetables like kale. I also recommend taking a quality b-complex supplement. Most of these contain 400 mcg of folic acid. If hearing loss is a concern of yours, you can add another 400 mcg per day on top of that. And remember, all the B-vitamins are water-soluble. So anything your body can't use just gets excretedand there's no concern about getting "too much." Take your folic acid along with 1,000 mcg of B12 to maximize its effectiveness. Lastly, I know there's been a lot of hype lately in the press bashing folic acid's role in preventing heart disease. But here's the thing: The latest JAMA study is truly the exception to the rule. Dozens of studies from the last 10 years alone show folic acid does indeed play a role in preventing stroke and heart attack. Just take a look back at last year's Guide to Good Health about a group of women who took folic acid for just 21 days and significantly lowered their blood pressure and homocysteine levels.
  15. Eczema is more than just a skin problem

    Eczema's a big problem for babies. And most parents worry about applying steroid creams to their child's red, itchy skin. But that's the only option you'll hear about from most pediatricians. And that's a crying shame, because eczema's more than just a skin problem. And to cure it, you need to address it from the inside out. First off, I always suspect food allergies in children (or adults!) with eczema. The most common food allergies are dairy, wheat, corn, soy, peanuts, egg, and artificial additives (like coloring and preservatives). Start an elimination diet to uncover the culprit. Plus, Russian researchers recently discovered that children with eczema given daily probiotics dramatically improve their condition in just four weeks. For the study, researchers divided children with eczema into groups. One group received 10 billion units of lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis each day. The other group received a placebo. After just four weeks, the children taking the probiotics improved their eczema by 35 percent. The next step, researchers say, is to find out whether adults respond to similar treatments. I have a hunch that your skin will respond to probiotics, even if you're out of diapers. So if your skin gets dry and irritated this summer, make sure to add a daily probiotic to your regimen that contains billions of units of friendly bacteria. It just may make all the difference!
  16. Blood pressure drugs that cause cancer?

    Alarming new research predicts that one out of every 105 people taking a specific type of blood pressure drug could end up with cancer. But drug reps shrug off the new discovery published in Lancet Oncology. They argue the risk is minimal for anyone taking their drugs. But here's the problem: Millions of men and women take these drugs worldwide. And this easily translates into 10,000 unnecessary cancer patients for every million men and women taking the drug. Now, here's the good news: There is a lot you can do to improve or prevent hypertension without taking a drug that will give you cancer. More on that in a moment, but first consider this... Big Pharma's got big problems Researchers analyzed the medical histories of 60,000 patients with high blood pressure. They found that about 85 percent of the men and women who got cancer took a drug called Micardis. It's a kind of drug called an ARB (or angiotensin- receptor blockers). Men and women who can't tolerate ACE inhibitors generally take ARBs. Diabetics also take ARBs to prevent kidney damage. The drugs -- which have been on the market for about 10 years --block a hormone that increases your blood pressure. However, researchers also found that taking an ARB increases a patient's risk for prostate, breast, and lung cancer. They aren't exactly sure why ARBs cause such a sharp spike in cancer risk, although they have a theory. In lab tests, these drugs encouraged the growth of new blood vessels. In humans, this could allow cancer to grow and spread more rapidly than normal as well. You see, cancer cells need access to blood vessels to survive. If fact, they pull in neighboring blood vessels and devour nutrients that are supposed to get delivered to other places. Technically, it's called angiogenesis. In fact, some of the drugs used to treat cancer, work by shutting off blood supply to tumors. This helps to drain the cancer cells of nutrients and causes them to stop multiplying. Plus, here's another big problem... According to the new research, you only have to take the drug for four years to increase your risk. But most men and women don't take these drugs for short stints. Blood pressure patients usually take them for 10, 15, even 20 years. According to lead author of the study, Dr. Ilke Sipahi, this causes a much greater impact that one would think. "When you look at it from the population level, millions and millions of people are on these drugs and it can cause a lot of excess cancer worldwide." So I want to know, if you take these drugs for longer than four years, does your cancer risk increase even more? Unfortunately, the researchers couldn't determine that...nor could they tell whether your risk normalizes once you stop taking the drug. Clearly, there are a lot of unanswered questions out there for folks taking ARBs. But here's the bottom line: Why would you take a drug that may give you cancer when there are so many other ways to control high blood pressure? Control hypertension naturally I promised you some good news in this whole mess and here it is: There is a lot you can do to prevent (and even control) hypertension without resorting to drugs. First thing I'd do is to get off all the stimulants such as caffeine, theobromine, and theophylline. That means no soda, coffee, tea, or chocolate. You'll also want to check your meds for caffeine. Many over-the-counter products contain it. Next, you'll need to get off all sugar. And I mean all of it. That means you'll also need to give up refined starches like white rice, processed cereals, and processed breads. These just turn immediately into sugar in the body. Besides adding unwanted calories, all this sugar plays games with your body's natural processes, including your heart function. Then, I'd like to see you add certain heart-healthy nutrients to your regimen... Start with magnesium. It's probably the most important mineral for hypertension as it relaxes blood vessels. This is important because when blood vessels constrict, the heart has to work harder to push blood through the body. As a result your blood pressure spikes. So start with 400 mg of magnesium twice a day. If your stools become loose, you can back off a bit. I'd also like to see you add in a complete multi-mineral supplement that contains calcium and potassium. In numerous studies, scientists link hypertension to deficiencies in these minerals. Coenzyme Q10 is another great nutrient for the heart. Studies have shown it improves heart function and can lower your blood pressure by 5 to 10 points when you take 100 mg per day. Essential fatty acids can additionally help chip away at high blood pressure. So if you aren't already taking fish oil, now's the time to start. Just make sure to add vitamin E to the mix to help fight off the free radicals. As I told you a few weeks ago, look for a gel capsule that contains 400 IU of 100 percent natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols. And lastly, some brutal honestly: To really chip away at high blood pressure, you've got to maintain a healthy weight and exercise. All the nutrients (or cancer-causing blood pressure drugs) in the world won't make a lick of difference if you don't keep the weight down and break a sweat a few times a week.
  17. New hope for RA patients taking multiple drugs

    Safe, natural, and effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients are hard to come by. That's why a recent study caught my eye. Scientists found that one common vitamin might help reduce inflammation and lighten the drug burden for RA patients. And for patients taking two, three, even four meds a day, that's a huge step in the right direction. RA patients on drug overload Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the lining of your joints. Over time, it can cause bone erosion and joint deformity. To avoid this, doctors aggressively treat RA patients with a dangerous cocktail of drugs, that includes:
    • NSAIDs: Drugs like ibuprofen help to relieve acute pain and reduce inflammation. But long-term use is a major problem. Side effects include heart, liver, and kidney problems. Plus, they can put a major strain on your digestive system. In fact, long-term NSAIDs use causes more than 100,000 hospitalizations each year due serious GI problems such as stomach bleeding. The drugs also contribute to 16,500 deaths each year.
    • Steroids: Corticosteroids also help to reduce acute pain and inflammation. But like NSAIDs, you can only use them for short periods. And even then, you run a risk of developing high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cataracts, and diabetes. Steroids also depress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections.
    • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): This is the main group of drugs used to slow the progress of RA. But we know very little about how your body will react if you actually have to take one for 20 years. In fact, a very common drug called Arava has recently come under fire for contributing to a major health concern. Last month, the FDA announced a "black box" warning to people taking Arava about the risk of severe liver injury. Since coming onto the market in 2002, this drug has caused 14 documented cases of fatal liver injury.
    • TNF-alpha inhibitors: TNF-alpha is a protein that ignites your body's defenses against infection or cancer. But if your body produces too much of it, your immune system kicks into overdrive and attacks healthy tissues. TNF-alpha inhibitors aim to protect your joints by shutting down this mechanism. They're only given to RA patients who haven't responded to DMARDs. That's because they can cause some very serious side effects, ranging from congestive heart failure to lymphoma.
    Drugs aren't the only answer... Now, don't get me wrong. I fully realize that many--if not most--rheumatoid arthritis patients could not live a normal life without some type of medical intervention. But according to a new study, drugs aren't the only answer. In fact, scientists from Taiwan have found that RA patients who took B6 improved the markers of their disease. Taiwanese scientists recruited 35 men and women with rheumatoid arthritis and divided them into two groups. One group received 5 mg of folic acid each day for 12 weeks. The other group received 5 mg of folic acid plus 100 mg of B6. After 12-weeks, the scientists ran tests on each of the patients. They found that men and women taking folic acid plus B6 significantly reduced their levels of TNF-alpha. The folic acid group didn't experience any reduction in TNF-alpha. Vitamin lowers inflammation without side effects The patients taking folic acid plus B6 also lowered their IL-6 levels. What's IL- 6, you ask? It's is another protein--similar to TNF-alpha--that causes joint damage in RA patients. In fact, the latest RA drug called Actemra works by blocking IL-6 in the body. But Actemra is given to RA patients as a last resort, when all the other drugs have failed...and for good reason too, because the side effects are downright frightening. According to the company's website, "Some people have serious infections while taking ACTEMRA, including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Other serious side effects of ACTEMRA include tears (perforation) of the stomach and intestines, changes in blood test results, hepatitis B infection in those already carrying the virus, nervous system problems, and serious allergic reactions." On the other hand, in this small, but significant study B6 lowered IL-6 levels in RA patients without any serious side effects. In fact, you don't get much safer than vitamin B, especially at this dosage. It's like the Walton family of vitamins. Plus, it's water-soluble. So anything your body can't use just gets flushed out at the end of each day. If you've got RA, definitely consider adding a B-complex vitamin (that contains at least 100 mg of B6) to your regimen. In my own practice, I saw major improvements using B6 to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. I suspect the same mechanism is at work here with RA. Give it three months of steady supplementation though to see if you notice any improvements. And make sure to keep your rheumatologist apprised of your progress. If you feel markedly better, ask to have your markers re-tested. And if the results look (and feel) good, you may just be able to stop taking so many risky drugs.
  18. Slash your cancer risk by cooking your burger the right way

    Cooking on the grill is as American as it gets. And who doesn't enjoy a nice juicy steak hot off the grill? But did you know that cooking your meat this way might increase your risk of colorectal, stomach, lung, pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers? That's because beef, chicken, fish, and pork cooked at high temperatures (or until it's "well done") releases a type of carcinogen called an HCA (heterocyclic amines). According to the National Cancer Institute, "HCAs form when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) and creatine (a chemical found in muscles) react at high cooking temperatures." And of all the meats, ground beef tends to release the most HCAs. That's one reason why it's a better choice to leave your steak and burgers a little pink on the inside. It will lower your HCA exposure. Here's another way to lower HCA exposure, without having to give up the grill: use herbs. A recent study found that adding certain herbs to your meat could lower HCAs by up to 40 percent! The research team tried adding cumin, coriander seeds, galangal, fingerroot, rosemary and turmeric to beef patties. They found that all the herbs and spices blocked HCAs from forming, even when they cooked the meat at high temperatures. One of my favorite herbs -- rosemary -- lowered HCAs the most. Scientists believe that these herbs and spices contain potent antioxidants that disable many of the HCAs before the cooking begins. So next time you fire up the grill, add some chopped rosemary to your burgers. And if you're eating steak, chicken, or fish, make a garlic-rosemary marinade. Just add chopped garlic, rosemary, olive oil, vinegar, and soy sauce to a Ziploc bag with your meat and marinate for 6-8 hours. This will block nearly half of the HCAs in the meat from ever forming. And if you want to lower HCAs even more, pre- cook your meat on a low setting for a few minutes in the microwave before hitting the grill. According to the NCI, this alone zaps almost 90 percent of HCAs!
  19. Seniors find safe answers against depression with superstar vitamin

    If you're over 65 and prone to depression, here's a bit of good news: You may be able to control your symptoms without resorting to drugs. In fact, a new study links a highly-versatile vitamin to a decreased risk of depression among seniors. And I'm all for finding a nutritional solution to the occasional bout of depression. That's because taking a prescription drug -- even a low-dose antidepressant -- always comes with a truck-load of baggage. In fact, did you know that if you're over 65 and take an antidepressant that you're more than 50 percent more likely to suffer a serious fall compared to other older adults? (Actually, that statistic holds true if you're over 65 and take ANY antidepressant known as an SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. The researchers for this study didn't explain why seniors suffered more falls, but I assume it's because drowsiness and dizziness are both common side effect of most SSRIs.) Thankfully, there are natural solutions to depression -- that won't increase your risk of falling. The new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed 3,500 Chicago residents for seven years. At the outset of the study, participants filled out surveys to determine nutritional intake through diet and supplements. The participants also filled out a standardized test used to evaluate depression. The researchers found a clear connection between vitamin B and depression. In fact, participants with the most B6 and B12 intake had the fewest episodes of depression. And to be more specific, the researchers found that for every 10 milligram increase of B6 and for every 10 microgram increase of B12, the risk of depression dropped by two percent. How does this affect your daily routine? Clearly, good nutrition can play a role in keeping the occasion bout of depression at bay. Here are a few guidelines to follow: Take a good B-complex vitamin everyday. Clearly, the seniors in the study got some added protection against depression by getting plenty of Bs. And it's important to remember that any good B-complex will include all eight of the different B vitamins. Plus, look for a brand that contains at least 25 mg of B1, B2, and B6. On top of the B-complex, you may want to add in some additional B6. Your body needs B6 to kick the "feel good" neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine) into high gear. I'd start by adding 100 mg per day of B6. You can go as high as 400 mg per day with B6. Some people start to worry about pyridoxine neuropathy with anything higher than 400 mg. However, based on my experience, this is extremely rare. Further more, B6 always works better with magnesium. So make sure you get 400-500 mg of that per day as well. Now onto vitamin B12... You probably already know that B12 is the "energy vitamin" and every cell in your body uses it. Like B6, it also appears to play a role in your body's synthesis of neurotransmitters. The current recommended intake of B12 is just 2.4 mcg (micrograms). But I'd go for much, much more, especially if you are looking to support your mental health. Go for at least 80 mcg per day of B12. I know that probably sounds high (when compared to the recommended amount), but remember, all the B vitamins are water- soluble. This means that your body can't stockpile it. Anything you can't use, your body flushes out, so you don't have to worry about overdosing on this vitamin. I personally take 500 to 1,000 mcg daily. More nutritional ways to boost your mood Another thing to remember with depression is that sometimes (even with natural solutions) you don't hit the target on the first try. So here are a few more options to try: Omega-3 fatty acids play a huge role in regulating your mood and sense of well- being. In fact, according to a study published in the journal Nutrition, women who have the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids reduce their depression by nearly 30 percent! In addition, the evidence supporting St. John's Wort is hard to ignore. There's plenty of hard data showing that it does give you a significant boost. I'd go for 300 mg of a 0.3% standardized extract three times a day. Just be patient. It can take two to four weeks to feel an improvement. Just avoid amino acid supplements and extended sun exposure while taking St. John's Wort, as these may lessen the therapeutic effect. If St. John's Wort doesn't cut it, you could also try the amino acid SAMe (s- adenosylmethionine) at 400 to 1200 mg/per day. It's more expensive than St. John's Wort, but highly effective and has been used a lot in Europe to naturally correct depression. Some nutritionists believe it's best suited to treat depression expressed as low energy and low motivation unrelated to anxiety. Tryptophan and DLPA (dl-phenylalanine) are two more amino acids that can be effective in improving depression if taken between meals (but not along with the other efforts). In closing, it's important to remember that depression is a whole-body disorder. And for some people, good nutrition alone isn't enough to keep the dark clouds away. But for others with mild to moderate depression, nutritional support can help. And it's certainly much safer than taking a prescription drug that increases your risk of falling and brings so many more serious side effects with it. In either case, I encourage you to seek the care of a trusted physician who will work with you to develop a safe and effective wellness plan.
  20. Slash Alzheimers risk by 54 percent with powerful antioxidant

    As much as it may puzzle conventional researchers, Alzheimer's disease is a modern problem stemming from our modern diet. Over the years, I've told you about preventing Alzheimers Disease with B3. And now, a new study from Sweden shows that adding just one powerful antioxidant to your regimen may cut your Alzheimer's risk by more than half. Unravelling the mystery of Alzheimer's disease The overt signs of Alzheimer's disease don't usually appear until after the age of 60. But we now know that damage to the brain begins much earlier, often up to 20 years earlier. The disease begins when abnormal bits of protein called plaques and tangles begin to form in the brain. As a result, a person with Alzheimer's appears more forgetful or has trouble completing complex tasks, like handling money or paying bills. As the plagues and tangles take root, more healthy neurons in the brain begin to die. Eventually, the carnage spreads to the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for building and storing memories. By the final stages, damage is so widespread that even basic functions -- such as speaking or swallowing -- become impossible. Unfortunately, the top three Alzheimer's drugs on the market haven't been proven to slow the progression of this disease one iota. Not one iota! In fact, one independent study in the UK showed that patients taking the drug Aricept had virtually the same timeline for decline as patients taking a placebo (42% taking Aricept ended up in an institution after 3 years, versus 44% taking the placebo). I still scratch my head as to why doctors continue to prescribe those drugs when they clearly don't work. The better option obviously would be to prevent the disease altogether. And the new study out of Sweden proves that preventing AD naturally is entirely possible. Seniors cut Alzheimer's risk by up to 54 percent Scientists from Sweden began their study with a hunch...a hunch that a powerful antioxidant could protect the brain against Alzheimer's disease. The scientists recruited 232 patients over the age of 80 with no signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. They took samples of the patients' blood to check for vitamin E, an antioxidant typically associated with supporting the heart and immune system. Then, the scientists checked back in with their patients six years later. During that time, 57 of them developed Alzheimer's. But the patients who had plenty of vitamin E in their blood at the outset of the study had a clear advantage. In fact, these patients had a 54 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's. That's right. One simple vitamin cut their risk by more than half! So exactly how does vitamin E protect the brain? Well, scientists have no definitive answer. But generally, they think that it simply helps to gobble up free radicals that contribute to nerve damage in the brain. It also seems to play a role in preventing oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is bad, no matter where it happens in the body. But in the brain, it can lead to the build-up of protein. And as you'll recall, protein in the hippocampus causes the early, overt signs of Alzheimer's disease. The person becomes more forgetful or has trouble handling money or paying bills. The good news, it seems that good 'ole E seems to help prevent all this. Vitamin E: More than just the sum of its parts With all the positive effects it has on your overall health and well-being, there's never been a better time to add vitamin E to your regimen. As this study showed, even men and women in their 80s benefited from this powerful antioxidant. Just remember, there are eight different naturally occurring forms of vitamin E. They all play a different role in the body. In fact, the participants in the study who garnered the most protection against AD had all eight forms of the in their blood. So if Alzheimer's is a concern of yours, make sure to look for an all-natural gel cap that contains all eight fractions of vitamin E.