NorthStar Nutritionals Blog

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  1. Some hearts like whiskey better

    Red wine is believed to be the key behind the “French Paradox.” The idea that one can eat, drink and be merry to their heart’s content…provided that drink is red wine.

    What I mean is, the typical French cuisine leans primarily on red meats, heavy carbs and rich buttery sauces. And yet the incidence of heart disease in France is shockingly low.

    One theory being that they benefit from the antioxidant power of resveratrol—a powerful polyphenol found in red wine. Which the French are also known for indulging in liberally.

    Aside from this apparent paradox, resveratrol has also been associated with life-extending powers in mouse studies and its ability to counter the effects of a high-calorie diet.

    In an effort to prevent other forms of alcohol from being jealous of red wine’s power, researchers at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, in Toronto, Canada, set out to see how other alcoholic beverages affected heart health.

    As it turns out, red wine isn’t the lone superstar it’s been chalked up to be. In the study, one drink of spirits had the same affect on heart health as one glass of red wine.

    Researchers believe that alcohol in general has a relaxing effect on blood vessels, thus its beneficial effects. They noted, however, that two or more drinks put more of a stress on the cardiovascular system—increasing heart rate, blood pressure and overall activity of the sympathetic nervous system.

    Even though this was a very small study, involving only 13 people, it certainly speaks to the benefits an occasional drink.

    And while no one could fault you an occasional drink in the name of good health, the American Heart Association does not recommend implementing a glass-a-day heart health regimen.

  2. Twist on the Side

    Next time you order your drink with a twist. Or even a glass of water with lemon…you may want to ask them to put it “on the side.”

    A recent report, put out by, found four organisms on the lemon wedges they inspected—two of which were, “definitely fecal in origin.”

    Anne Loving, the microbiologist quoted in the report, said that the fecal particles may have come from the dirty unwashed hands of a food preparer or from raw meat.

    Either way…I suggest you squeeze the lemon juice into your drink and leave the wedge on your napkin.

  3. Still smoking? Suicide is not the answer...

    Chantix was approved by the FDA in 2006 and soon after was lauded as the best smoking cessation crutch since the cold turkey.

    The only notable side effects (which were originally described as mild and rare) of this wonder drug were constipation, gas, nausea, vomiting and “changes” in dreaming. Which are far better than the headache, crankiness and irritability typically experienced by those who quit without the help of a drug. A closer look at this study and we see that participants were white men and women with an average age of 43. Excluded from the study was anyone with a history of depression, panic attacks, heart, liver or kidney disease, diabetes and those who use drugs and/or alcohol. Leaving the 3,659 people who made the cut a poorly-represented sample of your average smoker. But thanks to this study, Chantix boasts a 44 percent success rate. That is, 12 weeks into one study, 44 percent of participants hadn’t touched a cigarette in the last four weeks of treatment. And when we look at participants in weeks nine through 52 that number drops to 23 percent. A relapse rate of about 77 percent. Hardly a remarkable statistic when the average relapse rate for ex-smokers is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent in the first year. After 34 suicides and 420 instances of suicidal behavior, on February 1 of this year, the FDA warned that Chantix may cause “serious psychiatric problems, including suicidal thinking.” According to a first-person account from a former Chantix user, published in the February 10 issue of New York Magazine, “...self-destructive fantasies slowly began cropping up as cartoonish flights of fancy...that became a little more concrete and domineering with every passing day.” A small price to pay for a 23 percent chance that you’ll never smoke another cigarette. He went on to describe five and six hour blackouts, complete social withdrawal and a climax that included a complete ransacking of his own house. Chantix is designed to work by blocking the pleasure receptors in the brain that are activated by nicotine. Thus removing any pleasure one might receive from smoking a cigarette. But one theory behind the development of such destructive behaviors is that perhaps it works almost too well, blocking the pleasure one receives from all of life’s more pleasurable experiences—socializing, exercising, eating, etc. As of today, the Chantix packaging is in the process of being updated to include warnings about all of the above. Meanwhile, there are still doctors calling it a wonder drug. And it is still being prescribed, albeit with a “keep an eye on yourself” type warning. Do you really want to kick the habit? Try the patch, chew some gum and task your friends and coworkers with keeping you on the right path.  
  4. Trouble Swallowing Pills

    One of the only complaints we receive with any regularity is that people have trouble swallowing pills. Whether they’re big or small, coated or uncoated, there are some people who wince at the very idea of swallowing a pill. More often than not, capsules can be opened and sprinkled into a beverage or onto your food. But for caplets, tablets and softgels, you might try one of the following tactics:
    • Try drinking liquids of more substance like milk, a milkshake or liquid yogurt when trying to swallow a pill. The thicker liquids could help “mask” a pill easer than thin liquids like water.
    • Try placing the pill on the back of your tongue, take a sip of water, tilt your chin closer to your chest and then swallow.
    • Try placing the pill on the tip of your tongue, take a sip of water, tilt your head back and then swallow.
    In the mean time, as powders, fast-melts and other, more convenient, delivery methods are introduced, we will continue to investigate the opportunity to offer our products in non-pill formulas.