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NUTRITION NEWS

A Natural Approach To Chronic Disease

Many scientific researchers have come to believe that dietary supplements can offer traditional medicine a hand in helping people live longer lives without the day-to-day burden associated with chronic diseases. There are four chronic conditions-cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis-where various dietary supplements have shown promise.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

The most well-known cardiovascular condition is arteriosclerosis. The development of atherosclerosis is dependent on the oxidation of lipoproteins. Antioxidants-such as vitamins A, C, and E, beta carotene, grape seed extract, and pine bark extract-may help slow or stop this process by scavenging free radicals that cause oxidation.

The most well-known and well-documented antioxidant for the heart is vitamin E. One study conducted two years ago revealed that after 18 months, the heart attack risk of the group receiving vitamin E was reduced 75%.

CoQ10 deficiencies have been confirmed among patients with congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, and hypertension.

Garlic has been indicated to lower blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol, and act as a general tonic for the cardiovascular system.CANCER

Beta carotene has been the subject of a number of clinical trials in which it has shown anticancer capabilities.

Lutein, found in kale, spinach, broccoli, and marigold flowers, has been studied in regard to cancer risk.

Lycopene, found in tomatoes, watermelon, and guava, has been the subject of research related to its role in reducing risk of certain cancers.

In a recent study, a team of scientists found that grape seed extract significantly inhibited and even killed human cancer cells in vitro, while increasing the growth and viability of normal healthy cells.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that intake of organic, high-selenium yeast by a subject group showed a 50% decrease in cancer deaths, 63% fewer cases of prostate cancer, 58% fewer cases of colon cancer and 46% fewer incidents of lung cancer.

OSTEOARTHRITIS

For more than a decade, a number of clinical studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of glucosamine as a therapeutic treatment of osteoarthritis.

Supplemental glucosamine works by penetrating joint cartilage. The recommended dosage for glucosamine is 1,500 mg daily.

Often paired with glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate may protect existing cartilage from premature breakdown by inhibiting certain enzymes that destroy cartilage or prevent the transport of nutrients.

MSM (methyl-sulfonylmethane) is an important building block that has been recommended for helping ease inflammation and pain associated with arthritis and gout.

OSTEOPOROSIS

An adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D by Americans has been reported to possibly reduce the risk of hip fractures by almost 20%.

Significant bone mineral density increases were seen in studies of more than 400 patients who have been treated with ipriflavone.

Reference: Journal of the American Medical Association, December 25, 1997.

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The Miracle Of Ginger

Ginger, like cayenne, is the preferred warming remedy in Oriental herbalism, where it is used for cold hands and feet, chills, weakness, poor digestion, nausea, and weak circulation.

Ginger is useful for colds, mucus, coughs, and bronchial infections. The Chinese use it when the weather or climate is cold and damp, and to prevent and treat viral infections.

Ginger does not specifically attack the virus or bacteria. Nor is it an expectorant that loosens secretions of mucus. Instead, it brings body fluids to the area, warming it up. This mobilizes the body's defenses.

The best known use of ginger is on the digestive system. Herbalists describe ginger as a "stimulating carminative." A carminative is an herb that calms and supports the digestion. It soothes the stomach, relieves gas, eases cramps, and generally encourages normal digestion and absorption.

In 1985, 80 healthy naval cadets sailed off to the seas of the Skagerrak. Most were seasick. The doctor handed out seasickness pills. The cadets didn't know that some contained powdered ginger while others contained a placebo. The ginger cut in half the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and cold sweats, compared to the placebo.

This kind of study has been repeated several times and has put ginger on the map as an effective natural remedy for motion sickness.

Ginger tea, capsules, or tablets are effective for morning sickness experienced during pregnancy. The European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology recently reported the results of a clinical trial involving women with the most severe kind of morning sickness, termed "hyperemesis gravidarum." Among the women taking one gram of powdered ginger per day, the symptoms were either greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.

In a remarkable study of 60 patients as St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London, ginger was used against post-operative nausea and vomiting.

One of the reasons why ginger is added to so many prescriptions in Chinese or Indian traditional medicine is that it helps in the absorption of other constituents.

Reference: Fulder, Stephen, Ph.D., The Ginger Book.

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Lycopene: A Powerful Carotenoid

The carotenoids are a large family of vitamin-like pigments found in fruits and vegetables.

Early research focused on the carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, that were converted in the body to vitamin A. Many other carotenoids, including lycopene, do not have pro-vitamin A activity and their potential benefits to health are only recently being uncovered.

Harvard Medical School researcher Steven Clinton, M.D., Ph.D., pointed out the importance of understanding lycopene, since it "is one of the major carotenoids in the diet of North Americans and Europeans," being found primarily in tomato-based foods.

Lycopene levels are known to decline with advancing age, which could adversely affect health status. "Current studies suggest that lycopene is a more potent scavenger of oxygen radicals than other major dietary carotenoids," said Dr. Clinton.

Several diseases may be influenced by lycopene intake. Cancer-particularly prostate, esophageal, stomach, and cervical cancers-appears to be less prevalent in those with higher lycopene consumption. Lycopene has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and protect against oxidative damage to LDL cholesterol. Preliminary work has also been conducted in the areas of AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Reference: Clinton, S.K. Lycopene: Chemistry, biology, and implications for human health and disease. Nutr. Rev. 1998;56:35-51.

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Natural Antidepressants: Safe And Effective

Affecting millions of Americans each day, depression can strike anyone at any time. For years, Prozac has been the treatment of choice in treating the illness. However, vitamins, amino acids, and herbs are being utilized in the fight against the "blues."

The American Psychiatric Association bases its definition of clinical depression upon the following criteria: 1) marked change in appetite; 2) insomnia or hypersomnia; 3) loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, or decrease in sexual drive; 4) fatigue; 5) feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or self-reproach; 6) physical hyperactivity or inactivity; 7) diminished ability to concentrate or think; 8) anxiety; 9) feeling sad, empty, or despondent; and 10) recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. The presence of four or more of these traits for a period of at least one month indicates clinical depression.

Many people become depressed only during the winter months.

Environmental, psychological, genetic, and physiological factors all can cause depression.

Caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and smoking increase the likelihood of depression.

Strong evidence, supported by hundreds of studies, indicates that exercise eases some mild cases of depression by raising levels of endorphins in the brain. Exercise also has been shown to reduce tension and improve mental outlook and self esteem.

The B vitamins are of particular importance in preventing depression. A deficiency of vitamin B3, or niacin, has been shown to lead to a number of psychological problems, including depression, apathy, anxiety, mania, dementia, and delirium. Deficiencies of vitamin B12 and folic acid may lead to depression. Deficiency of vitamin C also can produce symptoms of depression.

Mood is affected by the body's levels of amino acids, which function as neurotransmitters. Specific neurotransmitters that function as antidepressants include tryptophan, taurine, tyrosine, S-adenosyl-methionine (SAM), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

In the herbal category, the most well-known and well-studied natural choice for depression is St. John's wort.

Many of the studies were conducted in Germany where the herb is far more popular than Prozac and other antidepressants.

The October 1994 issue of the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology contains 16 articles on St. John's wort.

The most common preparations of St. John's wort are standardized extracts. The recommended daily dosage is 300 mg of St. John's wort containing 0.3% hypericin. While Prozac costs approximately $80 per month, St. John's wort is only about $20 per month.

Although supplements may effectively relieve feelings of depression, they are not cures. Amino acids, drugs, and herbs are symptomatic treatments and generally only work for as long as they are taken.

Reference: Upton, R., et al. St. John's Wort Monograph. American Herbal Pharmacopeia. July, 1997.

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Low Omega-3 Levels Linked To Depression

British research suggests that there is a link between the rise in depression and the fact that people have been eating much less omega-3 fatty acids.

The cell membranes surrounding red blood cells were analyzed in depressed and non-depressed individuals to determine fatty acid composition. The depressed group showed a significant depletion of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

The researchers suggested that the low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may be related to greater oxidative damage to cell membranes in the depressed individuals, which in turn may be associated with inadequate antioxidant defenses.

A related study confirmed the depletion of omega-3 fatty acids in the cell membranes of depressed people. In addition, those suffering from more severe depression had lower levels of fatty acids and less dietary intakes of omega-3 fatty acids.

According to the researchers, "the findings raise the possibility that, for some people, depressive symptoms may be alleviated by omega-3 supplementation."

Reference: Peet, M., Murphy, B., Shay, J., et al. Depletion of omega-3 fatty acid levels in red blood cell membranes of depressive patients. Bio. Psych. 1998;43:315-9.

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The Anti-inflammatory Effects Of Nettle Leaves

Urtica dioica, or Stinging nettles, has been found to contain several anti-inflammatory compounds that affect cartilage degradation, bone resorption, and acute rheumatic arthritis.

Previous research had established that 1340 mg of powdered extract of nettle leaves allows a 50% reduction in the dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory analgesics (NSAID) used to treat arthritis. In a German study, 40 subjects participated in an open randomized study comparing the effectiveness of a combination of stinging nettles and 50 mg of diclofenac to the standard 200 mg dosage of diclofenac. Diclofenac is an NSAID commonly prescribed in dosages of 150 to 200 mg per day for the treatment of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. The subjects were randomly assigned to the nettle and 50 mg of diclofenac group or the 200 mg diclofenac group.

Gastric bleeding is a common side effect of NSAID use. Both groups received the same nutrition over the study period of 14 days.

The study concluded that 50 mg of Urtica dioica plus 50 mg of diclofenac is as effective as 200 mg of diclofenac at reducing the clinical symptoms of acute arthritis. This could be great news for those who cannot tolerate NSAIDs because of ulcers or other gastric problems.

Reference: Chrubasik, S., W. Enderlein, R., Bauer, and W. Grabner, Evidence for Anti-rheumatic Effectiveness of Herba Urticae dioicae in acute arthritis: A Pilot Study Phytomedicine, 1997; 4(2):105-8.

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Diabetes often leads to complications related to circulatory health. A study of 10 diabetics and 10 healthy controls found that vitamin C restored healthy blood vessel function in the diabetic group. The benefit seen from vitamin C implicates free radical damage to blood vessels as the likely culprit in diabetic circulatory problems.

Journal Am. Coll. Cardiol., 1998;31:552-7.

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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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