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NUTRITION NEWS

HRT The Natural Way

Menopause marks a decline in estrogen, and leads to a wide range of health consequences including an increased risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. An estimated six million women rely on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to treat these ills. Recently, however, an 8.5-year study conducted by the Women's Health Initiative was cancelled after just five years because rather than reducing disease, the data demonstrated that HRT significantly increased the risk of coronary heart disease and breast cancer.

Women have successfully reduced menopausal symptoms and the incidence of associated diseases through the use of natural remedies.

According to a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, postmenopausal women that limited salt intake to a teaspoon a day, and walked 30 minutes each day lowered their blood pressure by up to 16 points.

Black cohosh is approved in Germany as a treatment for menopausal symptoms. The Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine published a study on black cohosh in which the findings showed a reduction in physical and emotional symptoms in 70% of the women. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology considers black cohosh to be useful for hot flashes.

Red clover is a legume in the same plant family as soy. In a recent study patients were given 40 mg per day of red clover for five weeks, followed by 80 mg per day for five weeks. Scientists found that the participants taking red clover had improved large blood vessel elasticity and increased blood flow capacity. Declining blood flow in the arteries during and after menopause increases a woman's chance of developing heart disease. The women in the study reported no side effects from either dosage.

Progesterone cream is derived from wild yams and is identical to human progesterone. A recent double-blind study of the cream found an improvement in or resolution of hot flashes in 83% of the women compared with 19% on placebo. Participants applied teaspoon of the cream (about 20 mg of progesterone) per day.

Tori Hudson, ND, of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Oregon led a double-blind, placebo-controlled study on a menopausal herbal treatment containing licorice, burdock, Mexican wild yam, dong quai, and motherwort. At the conclusion of the three-month study, 71% of the herbal group reported relief of all symptoms including hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes, and insomnia. Only 17% of the placebo group experienced any relief.

Reference: The Journal of Women's Health and Gender-Based Medicine (11, 2:163-74, 2002).

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Strengthening The Immune System

The immune system protects the body against infection. Louis Pasteur, the father of modern immunology, believed that the most important cause of disease is the susceptibility of the individual, the "host resistance," rather than the germ itself. Exercise, a healthy diet, and a healthy lifestyle all contribute to keeping the immune system strong.

Zinc is a trace mineral that is essential for the healthy function of the body. It is found in muscle, bone, skin, liver, pancreas, and other organs. Next to iron, zinc is the most prevalent trace mineral in the human body.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes that zinc lozenges reduce the length and intensity of a cold. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, volunteers were randomly chosen to take a 12.8 mg zinc lozenge or a placebo at the onset of cold symptoms. Participants took a lozenge every two to three hours, for a total of about 80 mg per day. Those who took the zinc lozenges had less coughing, headache, nasal drainage, and sore throat compared with those who took the placebo. The colds of the zinc group were also shorter in duration, lasting only four-and-a-half days versus eight days for the placebo group.

Vitamin A helps to strengthen the mucous membranes, preventing germs from penetrating them. Vitamin C supplements given in doses of one to eight grams per day at the onset of a cold can reduce its duration by 48%. Echinacea supports immune function, both as a preventive measure and to treat infection once it has set in. Vitamin B6 deficiency is particularly common in young women who diet, and can lead to decreased white blood cell response and shrinkage of the thymus.

Vitamin E is an important immune-stimulating vitamin that is enhanced by other antioxidants such as vitamin C. Coenzyme Q10 is an energy-enhancing nutrient that boosts immunity. Essential fatty acids are necessary in energy production, circulatory health, and metabolism. Oregon grape root enhances immune cell function by inhibiting the ability of bacteria to attach to human cells, thus helping to prevent infections, particularly in the throat, intestines, and urinary tract.

Adults in North America typically catch cold two to four times per year, and children catch cold four to eight times per year. While there is no cure-all, a strong and consistent supplement regime can help build immunity and reduce the severity of cold symptoms and their duration.

Reference: Annals of Internal Medicine 2000; 133:245-52.

Protect The Liver With Milk Thistle

Recent statistics show that liver disease, including chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis, is the ninth leading killer in North America, causing over 200,000 deaths per year. The liver is responsible for breaking down toxins in the body, including nicotine, alcohol, environmental pollution, and medications. A safe liver tonic is a valuable addition to any natural health regime.

Milk thistle is an herbal detoxifier that offers natural protection for the liver, and has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for liver disease. The active ingredient contained in the milk thistle seed is a bioflavonoid complex called silymarin. Silymarin has regenerative properties that stimulate the growth of new liver cells. It is also a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to be safe and effective in doses of up to 600 mg per day.

Several recent clinical studies on the effect of milk thistle on liver disease show that this medicinal plant stabilizes cell membranes and stimulates protein synthesis. Researchers have concluded that long-term treatment is beneficial.

Reference: Drugs 2001; 61(14): 2035-63.

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Sinusitis Solutions

Sinusitis occurs when the mucous membranes become inflamed. Sinusitis is usually categorized as acute or chronic depending on its duration. Acute sinusitis is most frequently a complication of a viral upper respiratory infection. The therapeutic goal for acute sinusitis is to reestablish proper sinus drainage, and for this doctors commonly prescribe antibiotics. This practice is being scrutinized because most cases of acute sinusitis are viral and therefore not responsive to antibiotics.

A better strategy is to strengthen the immune system so it can counteract the underlying respiratory infection. Several nutrients may be helpful:

Vitamin A, called the anti-infective vitamin because of its vital role in immune function, reduces morbidity associated with respiratory infections. It also supports the health of the tissues lining the sinuses.

In clinical studies, vitamin C reduced the duration and severity of respiratory infections. Combined with bioflavonoids, vitamin C may help shrink sinus membrane swelling by decreasing vascular permeability.

Zinc is an immune-supporting nutrient that inhibits growth of infectious viruses while enhancing growth and function of a variety of immune cells. Clinical trials show zinc effectively fights upper respiratory infections.

Echinacea effectively boosts immune cell performance against infectious diseases.In a double-blind study that compared the use of freeze-dried stinging nettle with a placebo in a one-week trial, participants took a total of 600 mg stinging nettle per day in two 300 mg doses. Fifty-eight percent of the treatment group improved, compared to 37% of the placebo group.

Recent research shows that N-acetylcysteine (NAC) can reduce the incidence of chronic sinusitis by keeping the mucus fluid and helping the sinuses drain.In addition to supplementation, removing food allergens from the diet also can be an important factor in alleviating sinusitis, according to Dr. James C. Breneman, MD, a pioneer in the study of food allergies.

Reference: JAMA, 2000; 284(14): 1814-19.

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Probiotics And Prebiotics--The "Friendly Flora"

Probiotics are cultures of beneficial bacteria that support normal intestinal function and help prevent harmful bacteria from causing disease. Prebiotics are nutrients, such as dietary fiber and carbohydrates, that resist absorption in the upper small intestine. Probiotics use prebiotics to reach the large intestine where most bacteria thrive.

A recent double-blind, placebo-controlled study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology indicates that probiotics may be effective against viral infection. Conducted with hospital patients, only 6.7% of the probiotic group contracted diarrhea, while 33.3% of the placebo group exhibited symptoms.

In another clinical study from Finland, researchers found reduced incidence of eczema in children when probiotics were given during pregnancy and postnatally. Dr. Sherwood Gorbach, MD, of Tufts University School of Medicine states, "Here is an example of a food allergy reflected in the skin by eczema, which is improved by administration of healthy bacteria."A report from Helsinki cited a substantial reduction of respiratory infections such as bronchitis, sinusitis, and pneumonia in children that had received lactobacillus versus placebo in their milk. There was also a reduction in the need for antibiotic use in the control group.

Dr. Sherwood commented, "Probiotics may benefit the respiratory tract, and can alleviate intestinal inflammation."

Probiotics also help reduce dietary toxins, especially milk protein toxins, and may be helpful in preventing milk allergies.

Reference: Lancet 2001; 357: 1057-59.

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Fountain Of Youth Antioxidants

According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, toxic molecules called "free radicals" are responsible for beginning the aging process. Free radicals are missing an electron particle, and travel the blood stream trying to steal electrons from healthy cells. Antioxidants, a group of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, give their own electrons to free radicals, rendering them harmless.

Researchers have found that the higher the antioxidant level in the body, the less free radical damage to healthy cells. Each antioxidant provides specific anti-aging protection but their effectiveness is enhanced when combined. Some of the latest research shows that vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and beta carotene have beneficial antioxidant effects.Studies conducted on vitamin C and its role in atherosclerosis and heart disease show it has a protective effect. Beta carotene is similar to vitamin E and breaks free radical chain reactions. Vitamin E protects the skin, guards against cataracts, and macular degeneration. A 2002 study of a group of men with existing heart disease that took 400 IU to 800 IU vitamin E per day reduced their risk of non-fatal heart attack by 77%.

In a six-year clinical study, the National Cancer Institute investigated the use of supplements in people living in Linxian, China. Linxian has one of the world's highest rates of stomach cancer and a low intake of micronutrients. Over 29,000 adults were given daily doses of 50 mcg of selenium, 30 IU of vitamin E, and 15 mg of beta carotene. The results showed a 21% reduction in stomach cancer and a 42% reduction in cancer of the esophagus.

A growing body of evidence shows that diets rich in antioxidants from fruits, vegetables, and nutritional supplements can help prevent premature aging and disease.

Reference: Science of Geriatrics, 2000; 57-74.

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New research from Harvard indicates that consumption of the antioxidant lutein protects the skin against some of the damaging effects of the sun. "Our data is the first of its kind to suggest that lutein may have the potential to act as a preventative agent against UVB-induced skin cancer," said Dr. Salvador Gonzalez, MD, PhD, leader of the research team.

"In addition, these data suggest that lutein protects the skin against damage caused by exposure to UVB light, further validating our position that lutein is a critical component to overall skin health."

Reference: Society for Investigative Dermatology Conference; May 2002.

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Written by: EcoMall

Disclaimer: These statements on this site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and is for educational purposes only. For any serious illness or health related disorders please consult your physician.


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