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NUTRITION NEWS

Green Foods Top The Charts

Green foods are one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition available. At a time when only about 10% of North Americans consume the recommended quantity of fruits and vegetables, green foods can fill in considerable nutritional blanks. Gram for gram, most have more protein than beef, more iron than spinach, more beta-carotene than carrots, and an abundance of chlorophyll.

Green foods come in two main varieties: grasses that bear grains and water greens. Grasses, including barley, oat, rye, kamut, wheat grass, and alfalfa, are generally higher in fiber, while water greens such as spirulina, chlorella, and blue green algae tend to be higher in protein. Blue green algae and spirulina contain phycocyanin, a pigment that's responsible for their brilliant hue. Research on phycocyanins suggests that they have potent free radical activity and offer some anti-cancer protection.

Klamath blue green algae has been used to remove radiation and heavy metals from the body, boost immunity, lower cholesterol, and help children with learning, behavioral, and social disorders. Blue green algae are harvested from Klamath Lake in Oregon, the only place in the world where this particular strain grows in a harvestable fashion.

Spirulina is rich in protein, vitamins A, B, and K, potassium, trace minerals, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin. Studies suggest that spirulina can halt pre-cancerous growths and can play an important role in cancer immunotherapy. A recent study found that spirulina extract greatly decreased cancer growth in blood samples from healthy volunteers.

Chlorella contains protein, fatty acids, carotenoids, and a range of vitamins and minerals at levels comparable to spirulina. Chlorella contains more chlorophyll than any known plant: 20 times the chlorophyll of alfalfa, 10 times that of spirulina, and 8 times that of wheat grass. One study showed that chlorella may help reduce blood pressure while also lowering cholesterol levels.

Cereal grasses have been used since early Egyptian times for healing and medicinal purposes. Cereal grasses are said to neutralize acids in the body, including uric acid and lactic acid, remove radiation, lower cholesterol, and help protect against cancer, in much the same way green vegetables have a chemoprotective effect.

Reference: Journal of Medicinal Food (2000) 3:3, 135-40.

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Supplements For Parkinson's Support

Some 60,000 cases of Parkinson's disease (PD) are diagnosed each year. The average age of a Parkinson's patient is 60 years, and the disease seems to affect men and women equally. Named after the physician who first described the condition in 1817, PD is characterized primarily by degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in a small area of cells in the mid brain known as the substantia nigra, which results in decreased dopamine availability.

PD symptoms include tremors in hands, arms, legs, and jaw; rigidity of limbs and trunk; slowed movement; and impaired balance and coordination. Currently the most effective means of treating PD is by replacing dopamine deficiency with levodopa (L-dopa). After five to ten years of L-dopa treatment, PD patients develop neurological complications-some 40% develop dementia. Researchers are looking for therapies to help slow dopamine loss in early-stage PD, to control L-dopa's long-term side effects, and to halt PD progression.

Because free radicals have been implicated in PD, antioxidants should reduce the risk of neuron degeneration and dopamine oxidation. In vitro studies support the theory that vitamins C and E suppress oxidative destruction of dopamine. Some human studies indicate that people who eat more antioxidant-rich foods may have a lower risk of PD.

A case-controlled study conducted in the department of neurology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey found low intake of vitamin E-rich foods early in life was associated with a higher PD risk.

Other epidemiological studies have shown that PD incidence cor-relates strongly with high dietary intake of animal fat. An abstract showed that consumption of vitamin C was related to lower rates of PD in women over age 50.

A German study of 15 patients who received NADH for seven days showed statistically significant improvement in PD symptoms.

CoQ10 is a component of the mitochondrial electron transport system and of energy production, and appears to provide neuro-pro-tec-tion. If neurons have a deficient mitochondrial transport system, they will conceivably produce more free radicals. Researchers have suggested this as a cause for increased oxidative damage in PD patients, since platelet levels of CoQ10 are low in patients with early-stage PD.

Reference: Brain 2000;123:733-45.

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Quercetin For Prostatitis

Chronic Prostatitis is a frustrating health problem. Most physicians prescribe antibiotics, which are modestly effective at best. Antibiotics fail largely because not all prostate distress is caused by bacteria. Quercetin, a naturally occurring bioflavanoid found in apples, black tea, and onions, was tested as a treatment for chronic prostatitis in a non-blinded study by researchers at the Institute for Male Urology in Encino, CA. In the trial, an encouraging 59% of the subjects improved.

In light of these results, the Division of Urology, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, conducted a proper double-blind test of quercetin vs. placebo. The researchers put 15 prostatitis patients on a twice-daily dose of 500 mg quercetin and 15 on placebo for one month. Two patients taking placebo dropped out because their symptoms worsened, whereas all those in the quercetin group remained. Of the 28 patients who completed the study, in the quercetin group, symptom scores decreased significantly, by an average of about 40%, compared to an insignificant decrease of 6% for those taking placebo.

This study appeared as a "rapid communication"-meaning high priority-in Urology, the leading U.S. urology journal.

Reference: Urology 1999;54:960-3.

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Benefits Of L. Acidophilus

Probiotic supplements are becoming increasingly popular in the treatment of disturbed intestinal microflora. Lactobacillus is a genus of bacteria which is found in the intestinal tract, milk, and fermented products. Acid-ophilus is a member of lactobacilli common in the human mucosa in the mouth, digestive tract, and vagina.

Diarrhea is one of the most common health problems in the world during childhood. Viruses and antibiotics have also been associated with mild or severe episodes of diarrhea. In a recent placebo-controlled trial, 73 children, of whom 40 were on antibiotics, with acute diarrhea received either L. acidophilus or placebo twice per day for two and a half days. L. acidophilus was found to markedly reduce the duration of the diarrhea, in particular among children who were not on antibiotics, as compared to placebo.

In another study, researchers gave Lactobacillus to children on antibiotics for bacterial infections, and to healthy children (placebo). Twenty-five percent of the placebo group contracted diarrhea during the course of the antibiotic treatment compared to just 7% of the Lactobacillus group.

Allergic conditions such as eczema have been linked to failure of the immune system. In a Finnish study published in Lancet (2001), 159 pregnant women with a family history of allergies were randomly given either Lactobacillus or placebo twice a day for three weeks before they gave birth. After they delivered, breast-feeding mothers took the probiotic capsules for six months, while bottle-fed babies were fed the contents of the capsules mixed with water for the same amount of time. At the age of two, 23% of those fed probiotics had developed eczema, compared with 46% of the infants given placebo treatment.

Vaginal bacterial infection is one of the most common infectious disorders affecting women. In a clinical trial, 32 non-menopausal women with this condition received L. acidophilus or placebo. After four weeks, the acidophilus group had a cure rate of 88% compared to only 22% in the placebo group.

Reference: J Pediatr Gastro Nutr 2000; 30:68.

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Flaxseed Slows Growth Of Prostate Tumors

Including flaxseed as part of a low-fat diet may slow the growth of tumors in men with prostate cancer, preliminary study findings suggest.

In the five week study, prostate cancer patients who added 3 heaping tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily to their juice, yogurt, and other low-fat foods had more slowly-dividing tumor cells and a greater rate of tumor cell death than men who did not follow this diet.

"Data from this study suggest that the flaxseed-supplemented diet appeared to influence several markers associated with prostatic cancer," according to Dr. Wendy Demark-Wahnefried of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC.

Flaxseed was commonly used in cereals and breads in the Middle Ages, but has not been a staple in the modern diet since the industrial age. It is rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which may affect levels of hormones that are involved in the progression of cancer. Flaxseed also contains a fiber-like compound, lignan, which is thought to bind to testosterone and possibly help remove it from the body. This could, in turn, help suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells.

The study included 25 men with prostate cancer who followed a low-fat diet supplemented by flaxseed for an average of 34 days. The diet included about 30 grams of flaxseed daily, which was sprinkled on cereal or mixed into juices, yogurt, or applesauce.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, excluding skin cancers. While the cancer will be diagnosed in about 1 in 6 men, about 1 in 30 will die of the disease.

Reference: Urology 2001;58.

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Soy Protein Reduces Cholesterol

Harvard University's Harvard Heart Letter says recent research shows that eating 20 to 50 grams per day of soy protein "significantly reduces" LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") in people who have high cholesterol levels.

Commenting on revised dietary guidelines issued by the American Heart Association, the Harvard Medical School publication reported that, "some of these benefits come from the isoflavones found in soy." Other benefits, it said, come from replacing foods high in saturated fats with a healthier source of protein.

The American Heart Association has recommended soy protein especially for individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease and those with elevated total and LDL cholesterol, the Heart Letter said.

An analysis of 38 clinical trials concluded that replacing animal protein with soy protein notably lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides without adversely affecting HDL ("good") cholesterol, the publication reported. "These effects were strongest in people who already had high cholesterol," it concluded.

Reference: Harvard University's Harvard Heart Letter, July 2001.

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New research indicates that Vitamin E can be a safer and much less expensive treatment for bone loss than current medications, according to a study presented at a meeting of the Endocrine Society in Denver, CO.

Dr. Sunil Wimalawansa, chief of endocrinology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Jersey, reported on a study examining the effects of vitamin E on bone loss caused by a deficiency of estrogen.

The study compared eight weeks of treatment using vitamin E to fight off bone loss with a second group that was treated with traditional estrogen. Researchers found that the group receiving vitamin E showed it to be an effective alternative to estrogen treatment.

Dr. Wimalawansa indicated that current medications used to combat bone loss and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could be replaced by appropriate doses of vitamin E. According to a statement by the Endocrine Society, Dr. Wimalawansa said that if his tests are confirmed in human studies "this treatment will be not only safer but also ten times less expensive than any other estab-lished FDA-approved medication for this disorder."

Reference: Endocrine Society Meeting, June 2001.

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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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