NorthStar Nutritionals Blog

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  1. Hate needles? Try this simple trick...

    You know it's not going to kill you, but you still hate getting needles all the same. Well, a simple trick may help during your next trip to the blood lab or allergist.

    Just cough.

    Sure--coughing provides a distraction from the pain. But it may even block the moment of pain all together.

    According to a new report in the British Medical Journal, coughing causes your blood pressure to spike. And this brief spike in blood pressure may block your perception of pain. In several recent studies, patients who coughed during injections reported less pain.

    Gynecologists have also found that coughing works during pap smears. In fact, it works as well as local anesthetic to blunt cervical pain. Plus, it significantly reduced the length of the procedure.

    So next time you get jabbed, try coughing. Just don't cough so hard the technician misses the mark!

  2. Nutrient increases survival time in breast cancer patients

    As a nutritionist, my focus is on prevention. I rarely talk about ways to treat a disease like cancer. But if you had to guess, you probably know what I think of chemotherapy. Without a doubt, it's one of the most brutal treatments in the so- called modern era.

    But there are things you can do to counteract its effects. In fact, a new study shows that one nutrient given alongside chemo can actually increase survival time in women with advanced breast cancer.

    Nutrient supercharges chemo

    French scientists recruited 25 women with breast cancer to take part in their study. Almost 70 percent of the women had advanced stages of cancer, with metastases to the liver and other sites.

    Each of the women received chemotherapy to treat their cancer. They also received 1.8 grams per day of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA.

    Why DHA, you wonder? Well, scientists believe that DHA makes cancer tumours more "sensitive" to chemotherapy. In other words, it helps the chemo to kill more cancer cells.

    Women with most DHA double survival rates

    The women followed this regimen for two to six months. Then, they went on living their lives as best they could. Scientists checked back in on the women after 31 months. They found that--on average--most of the women survived 22 months. But the women with the most DHA in their blood survived for 34 months.

    Now, I know these statistics are tough to read. But for anyone with cancer, it's critically important. Especially when you consider that the average survival rate for a woman with stage IV breast cancer is normally just 14 months with chemo alone.

    But in this study, the women with the most DHA in their blood added 20 months to their life. In other words, they more than doubled their prognosis just by adding an omega-3 supplement to their regimen.

    Drugs versus Nutrients

    In this study, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA added up to 20 months to a woman's life with advanced breast cancer. Now, let's compare that to the blockbuster drug Avastin.

    Avastin is not a chemotherapy drug. It doesn't kill cancer cells directly. Instead, it cuts off the blood supply to the malignant tumors. In theory, it should boost the effects of chemotherapy (much like DHA, you could argue). But Avastin can cost up to $9,000 per month. Plus, side effects include GI perforation, stroke, and heart attack. And here's the real kicker...

    A recent study on colon cancer showed that Avastin--despite the hefty price tag – only extends a patient's life by an average of four months.

    But what really makes me sick is that the company that makes Avastin wants to see the drug used to treat other types of cancer. Just last month the company wrapped up a clinical trial involving Avastin and advanced stomach cancer patients.

    In this trial, scientists divided patients into two groups. One group received Avastin plus another chemo drug called Xeloda. The other group received a placebo plus Xeloda. Turns out the Avastin group didn't live any longer than the placebo group did.

    However, despite these shameful results, Avastin is still the go-to drug for most oncologists. It pulled in roughly $6 billion in 2009 alone.

    Support without side effects

    If you're diagnosed with cancer, make sure to weigh your options carefully. And if you decide to include chemotherapy in your treatment, you should definitely consider adding a fish oil supplement.

    The women in the study took 1.8 grams of DHA per day. To get that amount of DHA, you'll have to take nine of the large fish oil capsules. (There are usually about 200 mg of DHA in each fish oil capsule.)

    And just in case you're wondering, fish oil--even at these high levels--is completely non-toxic. You'll just have to contend with the fishy aftertaste. To avoid this, take the fish oil with meals. Also, make sure to take at least 1,200 IU of all-natural mixed tocopherol vitamin E to wipe out free radicals generated by the fish oil.

    Additional support beyond fish oil

    Without a doubt, cancer takes an enormous toll on your body. So, it's critically important to give your body all the nutritional support it needs in order for it to have the strength it needs to fight the cancer.

    First, to support your immune system, be sure to take a good multivitamin every day along with 2,000 mg ascorbic acid or ascorbate vitamin C three times a day. In addition, you may want to consider taking alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant that's both fat- and water-soluble. Third, I'd also recommend milk thistle to help support your liver as it flushes away toxins from your body. And lastly, for anyone taking chemo, ginger tablets can really help ease nausea during treatment.

  3. Mineral improves lung capacity for asthmatics

    Last month, the FDA came out with a new warning for anyone with asthma or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Never take an inhaled long-acting beta- agonist such as Advair, Symbicort, Serevent, or Foradil, unless you also take an inhalable steroid. According to a new meta-analysis, these drugs, when used alone to control asthma, may increase your risk of hospitalization or dying!

    Doctors prescribe drugs like Advair and Symbicort. If inhaled, corticosteroids don't control your asthma. They just relax muscles in your lungs and airways and can improve your ability to breathe. But--as the new meta-analysis shows--they can also make your asthma worse.

    Thankfully, a new study proves you can improve lung function by taking a simple mineral known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

    Every little bit counts

    Scientists recruited 55 patients with mild to moderate asthma. Half of the patients took 340 mg of magnesium daily for six months. The other half got a placebo (or sugar pill). After six months, the lung capacity in the magnesium group improved by six percent. The group taking the placebo didn't experience any improvement.

    Now--I'll admit six percent isn't a huge gain. But it's definitely an improvement. Especially if it makes the difference between taking a drug like Advair and not taking it!

    Lastly, please note that 340 mg of magnesium is probably more than you'll find in your regular multivitamin. So you may have to add a magnesium supplement to get to the amount you need. But it's nontoxic (unless you have kidney failure) and it can be taken without calcium (just don't take calcium without equal parts magnesium).

  4. One small vitamin slashes your risk of the "big three" killers

    It's probably the smallest pill in your kitchen cabinet. But it's also one of the most important. In fact, for the first time ever, scientists have conducted a "meta-analysis" of this vitamin. This means that scientists gathered data from dozens of different studies. Then, they combined the results to give us "the big picture." And the results were spectacular. They revealed that in fact, this one tiny vitamin might be the best protection you've got against the "big three" killers: Stroke, Heart Attack, and Diabetes. Gold mine found hidden among 28 different studies Scientists analyzed the blood work from 28 different studies involving 100,000 men and women and they found that one vitamin made all the difference. As it turns out men and women with plenty of vitamin D in their blood remained much healthier than their counterparts did. In fact, this group of men and women reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 33 percent. And don't forget that CVD is an umbrella term. So this actually means that they cut their risk of arthrosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke by 33 percent. And that's not all... These men and women also reduced their risk of developing type-2 diabetes by a whopping 55 percent! But results didn't stop there! Scientists further discovered that this same group never developed a collection of symptoms known as "metabolic syndrome" - also known as syndrome X. How does all of this fit together? Metabolic syndrome often precedes the "big three" killers. It refers to a group of symptoms that increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, and type-2 diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, you have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of the following symptoms:
    • High blood pressure
    • High blood sugar levels (when fasting)
    • Large waist circumference
    • Low HDL cholesterol
    • High triglycerides
    Almost 75 million men and women in the U.S. have these symptoms. And, therefore, they're at serious risk of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes. But I'll tell you who doesn't have metabolic syndrome: the men and women from the study with an abundance of vitamin D in their blood. They reduced their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by 51 percent. What's your number? Clearly, vitamin D is essential to preventing disease. And hopefully, you've had your vitamin D levels recently checked. If not, ask your doc for the blood test. Ideally, you want your levels between 50-70 ng/mL. If your levels are lower than that, you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Anyone living in the northern part of the U.S. should also consider taking one, due to the lack of sunshine. I usually recommend taking up to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 (the form of D most easily absorbed in the body) daily, especially in the winter months. You can also get vitamin D into your diet by eating more eggs (naturally found in yolks), liver, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines. For example, just one serving of wild sockeye salmon contains almost 1,000 IU of vitamin D. Don't be a guinea pig In closing, I'd like to give you a warning. There's a major government-sponsored study on vitamin D in the works. It's called the Vital Study. Scientists are currently recruiting 20,000 men and women to take part. According to a recent New York Times article, scientists in this study seek to discover "whether high doses of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from fish-oil supplements will lower risk for heart disease and cancer." Sounds great at first blush. But here's the problem: Half of the participants will take either a D3 supplement or a fish oil supplement for five years. Not both. Or, you can be one of the really unlucky folks assigned to the placebo group. If that's the case, you'll be taking a sugar pill for the next five years! The problem is, to maintain optimum health; you need both of these essential nutrients. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for scientific research, especially on vitamins. And it will be very interesting to see the outcomes of the Vital Study. But I just wouldn't recommend you sacrifice your own good health to prove a point. Let someone else be the guinea pig.
  5. Support immune function naturally by taking spirulina for anemia in older adults

    If you're anemic, a new study should interest you. Scientists found that taking spirulina for anemia could help. Spirulina is a form of blue-green algae found in fresh and salt water. You can also take it as a tablet. It's rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as essential minerals, like iron and potassium. For this study, scientists recruited 40 seniors with anemia to take 3,000 mg of spirulina for 12 weeks. According to Nutra-Ingredients USA, "The objective was to determine if the supplements could be effective in countering two conditions that frequently impact the health of older people: anemia and declining immune function." After 12 weeks, scientists ran CBCs (complete blood counts) on the volunteers. First off, the volunteers had higher white blood cell counts. These cells are your front-line defense against viruses, bacteria, and toxins. The volunteers also had more haemoglobin in their red blood cells. (Low corpuscular haemoglobin -- on the other hand -- means you're anemic.) Researchers also noted that older women responded particularly well to taking spirulina for anemia. Plus, this isn't the first time scientists used spirulina to improve anemia. A previous study showed that malnourished children and children with HIV who took spirulina improved their anemia and gained weight. As you'll recall from last week, you need to be careful when choosing your sources of iron. That's because inorganic forms -- like those found in most multivitamins -- can increase free radical formation. But organic iron doesn't. That's why spirulina is the perfect choice for your extra iron. Most of spirulina tablets sold on the market contain organic iron. Just check the label to be sure.
  6. Bill Clinton should take a walk

    I sure wish Bill Clinton had read last summer's Guide to Good Health called "Skip the Angioplasty and Start Moving." He'd have been better off. Last summer German scientists studied heart disease patients just like Bill Clinton. Each of the patients in the study had angina (chest pain) with some artery blockage. But overall, they were in pretty good health. (Interestingly, this is exactly the same way doctors described the former President's condition in February. He hadn't suffered a heart attack or heart damage. He just had some narrowing of the arteries with chest pain.) If you walk into most hospitals today with these symptoms, you'd probably get a fast pass for an angioplasty. But German scientists wanted to see if that's really the best option. Which works better: angioplasty or exercise? The scientists divided the heart disease patients into two groups. The first group received an angioplasty to fix the clogged artery. For this procedure, doctors clear out the clogged artery and place a stent (or tube) in that spot. The second group didn't get angioplasties. They just began a daily exercise regimen. Doctors followed up with patients five years later. Any guesses which group fared better? Well, 63 percent of patients who followed a daily exercise regimen did not suffer a cardiac event (such as heart attack, stroke, or death). On the other hand, only 40 percent of patients who received an angioplasty survived without a similar cardiac event. The exercise group clearly fared better! They had almost 25 percent fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths. But don't cite that statistic to any cardiologist... You see, cardiologists perform 1.2 million angioplasties each year in this country. It's their bread and butter. Plus, angioplasties encourage repeat business. In fact, if you're anything like Bill Clinton, your first angioplasty isn't going to be your last. But in my book, the choice is perfectly clear. If you've got chest pain due to narrowing of the arteries, get moving!
  7. New study confirms there is an easy way to ease the pain of colitis

    Last November, I told you about a study showing how you could control ulcerative colitis through your diet. But the study involved mice, not humans. So I asked you to "stay tuned" because I was sure that scientists would get the same results, once they tested their claim on men and women. And, sure enough, three months later... a new study from Sweden proves that you can in fact control colitis symptoms by eating a simple fruit. Not only that, you can even super-charge the soothing effects adding a simple supplement. What to do when your immune system misfires... Many scientists believe that ulcerative colitis occurs when your immune system misfires and attacks a part of the body that it's supposed to protect. In the case of ulcerative colitis, your immune system attacks the lining of your intestines, creating inflammation. This can cause bloating, severe diarrhea, pain, and even fever. And over time, it can even increase your risk of colon cancer. But you can tame your immune system adding one simple fruit to your diet... Now, what is the super-food that reduces inflammation? Scientists from Sweden gave ulcerative colitis patients three different types of foods: rye bran, oat bran, and blueberries. And contrary to all the advertisements, they found that blueberries worked the best to control painful symptoms of colitis. Blueberries are particularly unique because they contain tannins. These substances help to control inflammation. Blueberries also contain plenty of insoluble fiber. This kind of fiber doesn't break down in your intestines. It stays intact and helps to flush away harmful waste, bacteria, and toxins. Plus, your body converts the insoluble fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which scientists believe, also help reduce inflammation. So, not surprisingly, when the Swedish patients ate blueberries, their symptoms improved. The blueberries acted like a sponge in the intestines. They soaked up anything that would typically cause inflammation and flushed it from the body. But then, the scientists took it one step further. They gave patients a probiotic supplement along with blueberries to see what would happen. The surprising findings about this powerful combination The scientists found that blueberries worked even better on UC patients when taken with a probiotic supplement. You see, it's all about creating a friendly environment in your intestines. Probiotics help to boost the friendly or "good" bacteria in your gut. And blueberries contain polyphenols, which kill any harmful bacteria. Plus, blueberries and probiotics boost your body's production of butyric and propionic acid. These helpful acids feed the cells in your intestines and promote a healthy immune system. Prior to this study, most doctors believed that these types of acids never left your intestines. But the Swedish scientists proved that theory wrong. They found that when UC patients took blueberries and probiotics, the helpful acids actually circulated throughout the body in the blood stream. In my book, that's an important discovery. It means that if your body makes enough of the helpful acid that some of it will spill over into your blood stream, which may help tame inflammation in other parts of the body, such as your joints. So it's true - You can heal your body with foods This study reaffirms everything we've discussed over the past year or so in the Guide to Good Health. You can heal your body with food. And if you're prone to intestinal problems, make sure to eat plenty of fruits, especially blueberries. Lastly, if you want to keep UC under control, make sure you also take daily probiotics. Yogurt's not enough. If you're lucky, a cup of yogurt will contain 10,000 active strains of bacteria by the time if reaches your mouth. But it also comes with a host of sugar, which is counter-productive. A good probiotic supplement will contain billions of units of active bacteria, which will actually give you the desired effect. Your digestive tract will thank you.
  8. Two sodas a week increases cancer rate

    Think having a soda once or twice a week isn't a big deal? Think again. According to a new study, drinking just two sodas per week can double your risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Researchers followed 60,000 men and women for 14 years. They found that people who drank two or more sodas per week had an 87 percent increased risk of suffering pancreatic cancer (compared to people who didn't regularly drink soda). Drinking soda is just bad news. It contains so much sugar that your body must unleash massive amounts of insulin to metabolize it. This overproduction of insulin – scientists believe – puts a strain on the pancreas, which may contribute to the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. It's true that pancreatic cancer is very rare. But it's one of the most deadly. In fact, only about five percent of men and women diagnosed with it survive five years. So the next time you feel like having a soda at the movies. Skip it. Order bottled water instead!
  9. Forget cholesterol...Ask your doc to check your CRP!

    You probably know your cholesterol level. But what's your CRP level? If you don't know it, you should - especially if you're over 65. In fact, according to many experts, CRP (C-reactive protein) is a much better indicator of your cardiovascular health than your cholesterol. If your CRP is too high, you're definitely at double or even triple the risk for a heart attack or stroke. But according to a new study, there's a way to control CRP. All you have to do is add modest amounts of one of the world's most common vitamins.
  10. Vitamin D protects you against Crohns disease

    Vitamin D just won't quit. It seems as though every time I pick up a medical journal, I see scientists have proven that the "sunshine" vitamin can protect you against another disease. This time, it's Crohn's disease.

    Crohn's disease is more than just an irritable bowel. It's an autoimmune disorder that creates inflammation in your intestines. Over time, Crohn's disease even puts you at risk for getting colon cancer.

    But here's the good news: Scientists now believe vitamin D can protect you against this disease. In fact, in this new study, they've gone one step further. Canadian scientists now believe that a vitamin D deficiency may actually cause Crohn's disease in the first place.

    They concluded that everyone should supplement with vitamin D to protect themselves against Crohn's disease. It's especially important – they said – if you have a family history of the disease.

    So how much should you take?

    Recently, I saw one health guru make a big deal about upping his recommended dosage of vitamin D3 (the most bioactive form of D in the body) from 1,000 IU to 2,000 IU per day. But I've always recommended taking as much as 5,000 IU per day, especially if you live in the northern half of the United States. You just don't absorb enough D from the sun in that part of the country, especially in the winter.

    Lastly, remember to take D3 with a meal containing healthy fats, such as olive oil, as this will help your body absorb the nutrient.

  11. Slash five years off your age with a supplement you should already be taking

    How would you like to take a magic pill to slow down your aging process? I'm talking about literally adding years to your life. Sounds like something from a fairy tale, I know. But especially for heart disease patients, this magic pill is for real. It all starts with your telomeres... A telomere is a tiny "cap" found at the end of each of your chromosomes. Some experts liken a telomere to the plastic wrap at the end of a shoelace. The plastic stops the shoelace from unraveling. Likewise, telomeres protect your chromosomes from mutating or fusing with each other, which can lead to cancer and other diseases. But your telomeres change with age. They get shorter. In fact, each time one of your cells replicates, the telomere on those chromosomes become shorter. Things like poor eating habits, smoking, drinking alcohol, and oxidative stress can also shorten your telomeres. When a telomere is totally gone, the cell dies. This has led many scientists to conclude that the shorter your telomeres, the older your biological age. In fact, Dr. Richard M. Cawthon and his colleagues at the University of Utah discovered that your telomere length has a direct affect on your lifespan. They found that men and women over 60 with shorter telomeres are three times more likely to die from heart disease. And they're eight times more likely to die from infectious disease. And that's not all... When Cawthon divided men and women into two groups based on telomere length, they found something interesting. The group with longer telomeres lived five years longer than the group with shorter chromosome caps. In fact, in a recent interview, Dr. Cawthon said that if you could find a way to protect your telomeres, he believes you could add 10, 20, or even 30 years to your lifespan. And now – thanks to scientists from the University of California, San Francisco – we know there is one thing you can do to prevent your telomeres from shortening... Get more omega-3 fatty acids! Omega-3s protect DNA Scientists from SCSF recruited 608 outpatients with stable coronary artery disease (CAD). Why'd they pick CAD patients? Well, it's an established fact that omega-3s have a positive impact on heart health. But until now, scientists haven't understood why (or how) this nutrient protects the heart. So they measured the length of the patients' telomeres and the level of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood streams. Then the scientists made a note of those scores and rechecked these patients five years later. And what did they find? Well, as you'd expect, the patients with plenty of omega-3s in the blood stream had the slowest rates of telomeres shortening. Patients with low levels of omega- 3s had the fastest rates of telomere shortening. Translation? Getting plenty of omega-3s slowed down the aging process in these heart patients. In fact, I'm quite confident, you'd get the same results using healthy patients or even patients with other diseases, such as cancer. So what's the bottom line for you? It's pretty simple. Just get plenty of omega-3s into your diet. The best way to do that is by taking a fish oil capsule. And be consistent. Take it every day. Just be sure to take extra selenium and 400 IU of natural mixed tocopherol-type vitamin E along with it for extra antioxidant protection. Also, if you want to learn more about omega-3 fatty acids, you can always look through back issues of my Guide to Good Health. Just visit Type "omega-3" into the KEYWORD search box and you'll find 13 important articles on the topic.
  12. Diabetics strengthen blood vessels with Folic Acid

    Last summer, I told you about a study of women who used folic acid. In just 21 days, the women decreased their homocysteine levels. (Homocysteine is an amino acid—which if you have too much—puts you at risk for heart disease). They also lowered both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. And they improved their bodies' response to sugar. Not bad for 21 days, right?

    Well, I've recently found a study that might explain why these women experienced such robust gains in heart health in just 21 days.

    Scientists from China gave folic acid to mice with diabetes. (Why'd they use diabetic mice, you ask? Well, diabetes contributes to heart disease. It weakens blood vessels and can cause blood clots. In fact, most people who have diabetes don't die of too much sugar. They die of heart disease because the sugar's damaged their blood vessels.)

    The scientists divided the diabetic mice into two groups. One group received a daily dose of folic acid. (They received a daily folic acid supplement equivalent to taking 5 mg per day if you weight about 150 pounds.) The second group of mice received no supplementation.

    After one month, scientists found that mice given folic acid reversed harmful damage (caused by diabetes) to the lining of their blood vessels. Scientists also saw marked improvements in a protein pathway that dilates blood vessels and prevents clotting. On the other hand, the mice not given folic acid did not experience these improvements.

    Bottom line: here's more proof that folic acid's an important tool in warding off heart disease, especially if you have diabetes. You can get some from the foods you eat. I'd skip the fortified cereals and other processed foods. Instead, eat plenty of green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. Also, you can take a folic acid supplement. Go for 800 micrograms (mcg) of it per day. Also, make sure to take folic acid along with 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12.

  13. Is krill better than regular fish oil?

    A Guide to Good Health reader recently asked me a question about fish oil. She wanted to know if krill oil is better for you than fish oil. Of course, the answer's never simple when it comes to your nutrition. So let's first start by discussing the ABCs of fish oil. The catch-22 of fish oil As you'll recall from previous issues of the Guide to Good Health, omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish or cod liver oil) are basic building blocks of good health. In fact, that's why we call them "essential" fatty acids. These vital nutrients support your immune system, heart, mood, blood sugar, joints, brain, and so much more. But they also increase free radicals in your body. Free radicals are charged molecules that can speed up the aging process. In addition, many scientists believe that free radicals can damage your DNA. They disrupt the natural life cycle of your cells, which over time can lead to diseases like cancer. That's why I always remind you to take plenty of antioxidants (especially vitamin E and selenium). These antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Finding the right fish oil Our bodies need omega-3 fatty acids for survival, but we can't produce the essential omega-3 ourselves. So we've got to get it from the foods we eat. Unfortunately, very few of us do. In that case... A bottle of high-quality fish oil capsules should always be a staple in your kitchen cabinet. Find a brand that you trust. Look for the bottle to say 99.99 percent purified fish oil. But don't worry. The last .01 percent doesn't contain mercury. Just small impurities that are nearly impossible to refine away. (It's the same with gold. You'll only find 99.99 percent pure gold. There's no such thing as 100 percent pure gold.) So if you can find good fish oil, what's the big deal about krill...? The pros (and cons) of taking krill oil As far as I can tell, there are four big reasons why people opt for krill instead of fish (or cod liver) oil. First off, krill oil contains a decent dose of the antioxidant astaxanthin. So some natural medicine practitioners say you don't need the added vitamin E and selenium when you take krill. But I disagree. Even if you opt for krill oil, you should still take a natural mixed tocopherols-type vitamin E along with it. Secondly, some people like taking krill better. There's less of a fishy aftertaste. (This isn't a huge problem in my book, especially if you take your fish oil before meals. But I know that trick doesn't work for everyone. And some people don't like to belch fish.) Thirdly, sometimes people take krill because they want a "more pure" product. You see, fishermen catch krill in the deepest, darkest waters of Antarctica. So some people believe this pretty much guarantees that your krill oil won't contain any pollutants or heavy metals. (But as I said earlier, I wouldn't worry about it too much if you find a major brand of fish oil that says 99.99 percent pure on the bottle.) The last benefit to taking krill has to do with the environment. You may have seen the recent TIME magazine article about fish oil. Apparently, the market for fish oil supplements has skyrocketed to $1 billion since 1996. As a result, some environmentalists say we're putting certain types of fish at risk. Scientists have seen declining numbers of one type of fish used primarily for their oil, called menhaden. These fish eat algae in the ocean. But when menhaden levels drop off, algae grow out of control. This depletes oxygen in the ocean and—according to some environmentalists—upsets the ocean's ecosystem. From this point of view, krill's a great option. It's a "sustainable" or "renewable" form of fish, which means even if everyone on your street starts taking krill; the fish won't disappear off the planet. One of the biggest reasons against taking krill has to do with the cost. A 30-day supply of krill oil costs at least twice as much as regular fish oil does. Plus, research for this relatively new supplement is still pretty limited. I've yet to see overwhelming research convincing me that nutritionally it's any better for you than regular fish oil. So unless you feel strongly about one of other the reasons cited above, the benefits might not warrant the big price tag. Decide for yourself Look at the pros and cons and decide for yourself about krill oil. I do take it from time to time. Though, it's certainly much more expensive than regular fish oil, so I really only take it when I'm feeling extravagant!
  14. Worlds "natural antibiotic" banned in Europe

    Welcome to the New World Order...

    As of January 1, the European Union banned the sale of colloidal silver as a nutritional supplement. Now, you'll need a doctor's prescription to get it.

    Forget that we've safely used colloidal silver for thousands of years to zap bacterial infections, fungus, and parasites from the body! Some call colloidal silver the world's strongest "natural antibiotic" because it's so good at wiping out infections.

    In fact, you'll find colloidal silver in just about every water treatment system on the market. It's also the main ingredient in Silvadene, a medicated cream used on burn victims to prevent (and treat) skin infections. You'll even find it in creams used to treat diaper rash in babies.

    I especially like to use it nebulized (or inhaled). It does an amazing job wiping out bacteria from the body if you're sick. Plus, as bacteria become more and more resistant to antibiotics, colloidal silver is a viable alternative.

    But according to CODEX ALIMENTARIUS colloidal silver's unsafe. Created in 1963 by the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, CODEX sets food safety standards. It also sets restrictions on nutritional supplements.

    The European Union follows CODEX rules to the letter. And in the U.S., there's immense pressure for us to adopt CODEX regulations as well. So far, lobbyists have been unable to pull the U.S. into the CODEX clique. But I don't know how long this will last. If I were you, I'd stock up now on colloidal silver. You might not see it on U.S. shelves much longer.

    To learn more about the history of colloidal silver and how to take it safely, visit the Healthier Talk web site at:

  15. Vitamin E "rescues" brain after stroke

    Last week, we talked about vitamin E and bladder cancer. But, really, we just scratched the surface. There's so much more to learn about this powerful antioxidant. According to a new study, vitamin E may protect you against brain damage following a stroke. Scientists say they've never seen anything like it. Even small amounts of the vitamin appear to protect precious brain cells following a stroke. Too much of a good thing... A stroke occurs when a blood vessel leading to your brain gets blocked or ruptures. Your body wants to repair the damage. But it overreacts and causes more harm than good. In fact, following a stroke, your brain releases a neurotransmitter called glutamate. In normal amounts, glutamate helps with learning and memory. But too much glutamate sets off a chain reaction that kills brain cells. And this sudden loss of brain cells is what's to blame for most of the long-term damage from a stroke. This is also why time is of the essence when responding to a stroke. The faster you remove the blockage, the less glutamate flooding into the brain, the fewer brain cells killed. But scientists from the Ohio State University (OSU) have recently found another way to block the damage caused by excess glutamate in stroke victims' brains. You got it: vitamin E. Not just any vitamin E will do... As you'll recall, vitamin E is a collection of eight different molecules. We don't know a lot about the roles each of these molecules play in human health. And we probably know the least about the one fraction of vitamin E called alpha- tocotrienol. And that's exactly the fraction that OSU scientists used in their recent stroke experiments... First, OSU scientists divided lab mice into two groups. The first group of mice got no vitamin supplementation. The second group of mice received a daily regimen of alpha-tocotrienol. (But they didn't get a lot. In humans, it would be like cutting your vitamin E supplement into 10 pieces. If you took just 1 piece of it each day, you'd get the equivalent of what the second group of mice received.) Next, the scientists injected all the mice with glutamate (to simulate what occurs in the brain following a stroke). In the non-vitamin group, the glutamate triggered the release of a toxic enzyme called cPLA2. This toxic enzyme poisoned the animals' brain cells, causing massive brain cell death. But how did the mice given alpha-tocotrienol do? Saving brain cells...without a drug in sight The glutamate injection still triggered the release of cPLA2 in the second group of mice. But it caused much less damage. In fact, the mice who took alpha- tocotrienol reduced their glutamate and cPLA2 levels by 60 percent following the stroke. As a result, these mice saved four times as many brain cells than the group without alpha-tocotrienol. Just think about that...four times as many brain cells saved! In humans, would that make all the difference in saving your ability to speak? Or being able to feed yourself? Here's how the study's lead researcher summed up their results: "Our research suggests that the different forms of natural vitamin E have distinct functions. The relatively poorly studied tocotrienol form of natural vitamin E targets specific pathways to protect against neural cell death and rescues the brain after stroke injury...So what we have here is a naturally-derived nutrient, rather than a drug, that provides this beneficial impact." Imagine that! A mainstream scientist going on record that a vitamin, not a drug, can protect you against brain damage following a stroke. And believe it or not the National Institutes of Health funded the study! Maybe we are starting to make small inroads into mainstream medicine, after all? Now, if only we could get rid of all that garbage on TV during football season telling you to take a drug to lower your risk of stroke! Keeping it natural Sure, we've still got a long way to go before proving vitamin E does the exact same thing in humans. But believe it or not, mice and human have a lot in common. Our brains react in the exact same way when exposed to glutamate. Plus, OSU scientists believe that vitamin E will protect human brains in the same way it helped the mice. Now... As you'll recall from last week, it's pretty tough to get enough vitamin E from your food sources. You'd have to eat a lot of almonds and wheat germ oil to get what you'll find in just one vitamin E supplement. I recommend finding a high-quality gel cap that contains all eight molecules. On the label, look for a blend of "mixed" tocopherols and tocotrienols. (They should be listed on the bottle as: alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocopherol; and alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocotrienol.) You'll also want to make sure only to take the natural forms of vitamin E, not synthetic. There's a little trick I can teach you for spotting a synthetic. Just look back at last year's Guide to Good Health.
  16. Do not use St. Johns Wart for IBS

    This month, I came across a misguided study conducted by scientists at the Mayo Clinic. They tried to treat their IBS patients with St. John's Wort.

    Of course, the herb didn't make the patients' IBS symptoms any better. And it didn't work for the same reason why you don't use tomato sauce to paint your house: It's really great on pasta, but not so good on your walls. St. John's Wort works great for mild depression, but not for IBS.

    Now, I would have been the first one to rejoice if the scientists had discovered that St. John's Wort could work for IBS. But it didn't. And I have a sneaking feeling that this study was designed from the beginning to fail.

    Plus, what happens as a result of a study like this is that "Middle America" hears that another herb hasn't lived up to expectations. They don't know that we've used St. John's Wort with great success for roughly 2,400 years to treat mild depression, but it's never been considered a real treatment for IBS.

    In any case, keep your St. John's Wort in the kitchen cabinet for slight bouts of depression we all run into from time to time. But if you suffer from IBS, you'll need more than one pill to fix the problem. And that's because IBS is a direct result of a SAD diet (SAD stands for Standard American Diet). The good news? It's nearly always curable. If you suffer from IBS, here's a quick crash course on how you can improve your symptoms:

    1. Cut out white flour.
    2. Cut out sugar and fried foods.
    3. Cut out caffeine.
    4. Cut out milk (and milk products). Go for rice or almond milk instead.
    5. Cut out processed foods.
    6. Add more whole grains to your diet (100 percent whole wheat, brown rice, barley, oats, etc.).
    7. Drink more water.
    8. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly.

  17. Antioxidant wards off cancer in older adults, smokers

    This year, I want you get more vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant is one of your greatest weapons against cancer. But you've got to get enough of it to form a strong defense. And the RDA just won't cut it. In fact, a new study shows that getting extra vitamin E can slash your risk of bladder cancer, especially if you're a smoker. But you'll need to take much more than RDA. Just how much am I talking about? Keep reading to find out exactly what I recommend. But first let's look at why bladder cancer is something you should take seriously, especially if you're a man over 65 or a smoker. Know your risk... The biggest risk factor for bladder cancer is actually smoking. Sure, most of us are keenly aware that smoking causes lung cancer. It causes about 85 percent of lung cancer cases. But few people know that bladder cancer's a close runner-up. In fact, according to some studies, smoking directly causes about 65 percent of the bladder cancer cases among men each year. You see, two chemicals found in cigarettes often show up in the urine of smokers. Scientists believe these chemicals cause changes to the cells in your bladder. Over time, normal cells begin to mutate wildly, grow ferociously, and eventually form a tumor. So, if you smoke, make 2010 the year you quit! Also, men are four times more likely than women are to get bladder cancer. The third risk factor is your age. The older you are, the greater your risk. In fact, we see most cases of bladder cancer in white men over 65. Now, if you fall into any of these three categories, here's the good news: bladder cancer's highly preventable, especially with the right antioxidant support. Cut your risk of bladder cancer by up to 42 percent Scientists from Australia recently analyzed the dietary habits of 322 people with bladder cancer. They also looked at the diets of 239 people without bladder cancer. They found that men and women with the highest daily consumption of vitamin E (at least 193.4 milligrams) were 34% less likely to develop bladder cancer. And smokers fared even better! In fact, smokers with the highest intake of E slashed their bladder cancer risk by 42 percent. Get more than the RDA of vitamin E The Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin E is about 20 mg per day. But truthfully, that's not enough, especially if you're concerned about bladder cancer. Remember, the men and women in this study who got the most protection took at least 193.4 mg per day of vitamin E. And they probably got that by taking a supplement. Because you'd have to eat about 20 handfuls of almonds (or 10 tablespoons of wheat germ oil) to get that much vitamin E. Now, stick with me, because here's where things can get a little confusing... The authors of this study and USDA (which sets the RDA guidelines) use milligrams (mg) when talking about the amounts of vitamin E. But that's not what you'll see on the package when you go to the whole foods store looking for it. You'll see vitamin E sold in IU (or International Units). You'll want to find a bottle that contains 400 IU of vitamin E. (Even though that's much higher than the RDA for E, it's an antioxidant and will cause zero toxicity even in very high amounts. In fact, doctors back in the 1950s used 8,000 IU daily on some 30,000 patients with zero side effects!) Just make sure to look for the mixed tocopherol form of vitamin E in a gel cap. (Finding this all-natural form of vitamin E can be very tricky. There's a lot of synthetic junk out there. These, you should avoid like the plague. To learn how to find the right kind of vitamin E, take a look back at last year's Guide to Good Health on the topic.) Lastly, for anyone at risk for bladder cancer, I'd recommend drinking plenty of water every day. In fact, we know statistically, that people who drink lots of fluids have lower bladder cancer rates. Scientists believe that emptying the bladder frequently throughout the day helps to flush out toxins and chemicals that can lead to cancer.
  18. Skip the boring treadmills! Make exercise fun in the New Year

    This week, I promise not to bore you about the importance of getting your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. You've heard it before. But I do have a suggestion for all you non-treadmill-loving readers out there who are looking for a way to mix up your exercise routine in the New Year. Try bouncing! You could bounce on your bed, but I recommend investing in a mini-trampoline with bungee-type springs. Bounce while watching TV shows, listening to music, or talking on the phone. Switch bounce positions every few minutes to keep things interesting. Go from bouncing on the balls of your feet to bouncing on your heels. Not only is bouncing surprisingly fun (try it, if you don't believe me), it's also easier on your joints than walking or running. Aim for 30 minutes of straight bouncing to get your heart rate up. But how do you know how hard you should work? Well, first ask your doctor and make sure you're fit for aerobic exercise. Then, you'll need to figure out your goal pulse. Do that by subtracting your age from 220. Multiply that number by .8 for your target pulse rate per minute. Try to reach your target level five to 10 minutes into your workout and keep it there for a few minutes to start. But remember, slow and steady wins the race. Trying to do too much, too fast will only get you into trouble…or it will become too hard and you'll quit. And remember, it's supposed to be fun. So don't get too caught up checking your pulse or figuring out how many calories you've burned!
  19. Hidden causes of your chronic cough

    Have a cough that just won't go away? You've had it for months (or years) and know it's not a cold. You don't have allergies, asthma, or acid reflux. And you're not a smoker. Could it be that you've got a B12 deficiency? It's highly possible, especially if you're over 60. That's according to a new study presented at the World Allergy Conference last month. For this study, Italian scientists looked at 40 patients with an unexplained chronic cough. The scientists had a hunch that sensory neuropathy (or nerve damage) caused their older patients' chronic cough. And what's one of the main causes behind sensory neuropathy? You got it: deficiencies in the vitamin B12. So, following their hunch, the Italian scientists tested the patients' blood. They found that 25 of the 40 patients with a mysterious chronic cough were deficient in vitamin B12. According to the lead author of the study Giuseppe Guida, M.D., their older patients were particularly prone to B12 deficiencies. He said, "Generally, you can find these lower levels of vitamins in older people because they can have some problem with their nutrition." So how does low B12 cause a chronic cough? Well, over time, lack of B12 may cause inflammation of the nerves leading to your airways. It also may cause you to become hyper-sensitive to every little dust particle... Does just a little bit of dust make you cough? The Italian scientists wanted to see exactly what made their vitamin B12 deficient patients so prone to coughing. They measured the lung capacity of all 40 patients using a machine called a spirometer. The patients exhaled into the machine to measure their bronchial capacity to get a baseline reading. Then the patients took a histamine "challenge test." You see, typically, when exposed to histamine, your airway will constrict and cause you to cough. But if you are "hyper-responsive," your airway will constrict at lower doses of histamine. Each of the patients with a B12 deficiency had significantly lower thresholds for histamine response. Translation? When exposed to even just a tad of histamine, the vitamin B12 deficient group started coughing. Then, the scientists gave them B12 shots. And any guesses what happened? Yep, their histamine responses improved. Their airways didn't constrict as readily and they didn't start coughing. Dr. Guida's guardedly optimistic. In his presentation at the World Allergy Congress, he said, "Of course, we need more data to confirm the fact that there is a strong association between these two cofactors [chronic cough and the B12 deficiency]." However, "if this is the case, [this] could be a very easy way to help these people," he said, "especially because they are older and it's a very easy medication to [administer]." Boosting B12 naturally Bottom line here, folks? If you've got a mysterious cough that just won't go away (or if you seem to overreact to allergens in your house), ask your doctor for a B12 blood test. Ideally, you should have blood serum levels above 300 pg/mL. An important warning here for vegans and vegetarians: don't necessarily trust your B12 blood tests. You see, some vegetables contain a nutrient that mimics B12 in the body. So it appears as though you have enough B12 in blood tests; but this analog doesn't perform the same job as B12. In fact, if you're a plant-eater, you can be severely B12 deficient and still look normal in blood tests. In any case, if blood tests show you're a little low, you'll definitely want to add some grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and free-range eggs to your diet. In most cases, your body should have no trouble at all absorbing B12 from these natural sources. For readers who have a more serious B12 deficiency, I recommend B12 shots. They're not as bad as they sound, I promise! Some people get them once a month and some people as often as two times per week. Your doctor will help you figure out how often you need one. (As always, I recommend finding a natural healthcare practitioner which you can do through associations like the International College of Integrative Medicine at, the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at, or the American College for the Advancement of Medicine at If you're not thrilled about getting regular shots in the arm, you can always try sublingual B12 tablets (you put them under your tongue) or low dose mouth sprays. Unfortunately, B12's just not very well absorbed in tablet form. Try this for a few months and see if your levels improve. If they don't, B12 shots are your best alternative. No matter how you get it, B12's one magic elixir. When your body gets enough, you'll feel more energized and relaxed. And you may just see your mysterious cough disappear!
  20. Head Hunting at the CDC

    Last year I made a bad joke to watch out for the next big vaccine: one for pimples. Well, if Julie Gerberding gets her way, you may actually see this kind of outrageous vaccine hit the market in the near future. Gerberding just landed a new job as the head of Merck's $5 billion vaccine division. At Merck, she'll be responsible for boosting sales of Gardasil, the company's cervical cancer vaccine, as well as Zostavax, the company's shingles vaccine. So here's the interesting twist to the story... Does Gerberding's name ring a bell? It should. She's the former top dog at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, she left the CDC last January—almost one year ago to the day—when the new Obama administration took over in Washington, D.C. Gerberding couldn't go straight to work for Merck. No, that would raise too many eyebrows (and break a few federal laws)... Gerberding "cools off" and ignites fires Instead, Gerberding's been "cooling off" for the last 12 months. You see, federal law requires that former employees wait at least one year before going to work for a company whose profits stem from government decisions. But, truthfully, Gerberding didn't "cool off" very much in 2009. No, she went to work for the PR giant Edelman. And any bets on which companies Edelman represents? You got it: Merck pharmaceuticals (as well as just about every other key player in the industry). In 2009, Gerberding became a PR pro. She gave lots of TV interviews, especially about H1N1. During one interview with Good Morning America, Gerberding really stoked the fires. Commenting on the H1N1 vaccine, she said: "We know there's not going to be enough globally, and it will be many months before we can cover our own population." As if the H1N1 virus wasn't enough of a hot button, thanks to Gerberding, viewers found out they had something else to worry about: There weren't going to be enough vaccines. Not hired for her truthfulness... Well, Gerberding wasn't right about the H1N1 vaccine. Turns out, there are still plenty of shots to go around (mostly because people don't believe it's safe). But who cares. Merck's got high hopes for her anyway. According to Richard Clark, Merck's CEO: "As a preeminent authority in public health, infectious diseases and vaccines, Dr. Gerberding is the ideal choice to lead Merck's engagement with organizations around the world that share our commitment to the use of vaccines to prevent disease and save lives." Translation? We hired Gerberding for her rolodex. And what a fat one she has! Just think of it! Not only does she have CDC officials at her fingertips, she also has connections to all the major DC lawmakers as well as leaders at the World Health Organization. In fact, I'd bet the ranch that Merck had access to Gerberding's rolodex even while she was at the CDC. Why such the cynic? Well, as you'll see, back- scratching was pretty much the norm at the CDC... You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours Under Gerberding's leadership, the CDC turned a blind eye to conflicts of interest. In fact, the majority of experts the CDC hired in 2007 had conflicts of interest. According to a new federal report, "The CDC did not identify or resolve potential conflicts of interest for 64 percent of special Government employees in 2007." Plus, we're not talking about your run-of-the-mill conflicts of a wife who works for a drug company. No, we're talking about financial conflicts, meaning that some experts voted on issues at the CDC that they could gain from financially. According to a recent New York Times article, "Most of the advisers [to the CDC]...had either a job or a grant from a company or other entity whose interests were affected by the [CDC] committees' discussions, and a considerable number also owned stock in such companies." All this happened right under Gerberding's nose. Even the new head of the CDC has admitted the agency's rife with problems. And he's actually making an attempt (at least publically) to implement stricter rules. But it's not all fun and games... I actually feel sorry for Gerberding. It's not going to be all fun and games for her at Merck. For the first time in a lot of years, she's going to have to look at the bottom line of a spreadsheet. And she's got her work cut out for her. Gardasil sales have been slumping (even though the CDC recommends it for 11- and 12-year-old girls). In fact, in the third quarter of 2009, sales were down 22 percent. Guess word's finally started to get out about this horrendous vaccine (to learn more about my take on Gardasil, check out 8-6-09's Guide to Good Health "Maximizing Profits One Way or Another." Watch out for more vaccines in 2010 Unfortunately – even if Gardasil doesn't pick up the pace in 2010 – I'm sure there will be another vaccine to take its place. Maybe for pimples. Or maybe even one for dry skin. You see that's big pharma's newest (and scariest) trend. They scare people into thinking their body isn't the most powerful healing machine ever created. And then they make a vaccine for something your body can – and should – fight off on its own. Just keep tuned-in to my Guide to Good Health in 2010. I'll steer you away from any new vaccines Gerberding and her new (or should I say "old") friends at Merck cook up.