Wellness Blog

Coffee for Weight Loss

Posted on July 5, 2017 at 1:20 AM

Over the last several days I have heard many news story teasers about using coffee to loose weight. This stems from research conducted on obese mice, more on that in a moment.


Caffeine has been used as the stimulant additive in many over-the-counter weight loss products. This is nothing new, as it has been available for decades. Various weight loss pills rely on high caffeine to bring about reduced appetite leading to weight loss. In some cases, the products were removed from the marketplace due to the negative health effects of too much caffeine. Sadly, many all-natural weight loss products also followed this pattern— using botanicals containing caffeine.


Present day… Recently released research has once again indicated a link between caffeine and weight loss. In the journal “Nature Communications” researchers showed obese mice fed caffeine and a high fat diet experienced reduced appetite, improved energy, and weight loss. The caffeine was able to reduce the effects of circulating adenosine and adenosine receptor (A1R) linked to obesity.


The headline coffee suggesting the next “quick-fix” for those overweight is misleading. Yes, the mice lost weight. However, the amount of caffeine ingested was extremely high…the equivalent for a human of nearly 30 cups of coffee daily!


The exact formula was 60 mg of caffeine for each kg of body weight. So, a 150-pound person would need to consume roughly 27 cups of coffee daily to achieve weight loss. (60mg x 68kg = 4,080mg caffeine divided by 150mg for cup of coffee)


Caffeine toxicity can cause tremendous health damage and in high enough amounts dealth. The amount suggested in the study is under toxic levels per pound of body weight. However, each person will have a differing tolerance level. Even without the risk of fatality, there are still GI tract, neurological, cardiovascular and other issues that can result with high caffeine intakes.


When it comes to weight loss the best approach is looking at your dietary choices first and your activity levels next. This is the best method to ensure weight loss that is retained while minimizing harm to the body.


Dianna Richardson, ND July 2017


Reference: Wu, L. et al. Caffeine inhibits hypothalamic A1R to excite oxytocin neuron and ameliorate dietary obesity in mice. Nature Communication. 8, 15904 doi: 10.1038/ncomms15904 (2017)

Artificial Sweetners

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:55 PM

Some time ago I posted on the dangers and health hazards of using artificial sweeteners. Currently, there is a news flash circulating in this forum that aspartame has been renamed as AminoSweet®. In reality this and several other renaming options began many decades ago, after its entry into the food market.


As concerns about this product rose, several marketing changes took place to keep the substance viable in the food markets. In 1992, Monsanto’s patent on the product expired (ending a 20 year monopoly) thus opening it to competitor’s interest. Monsanto sold the aspartame portion of their business in 2000. Since then the product has undergone several more name and marketing changes.


NutraSweet®, Equal®, Spoonful®, Equal-Measure®, Canderel®, Pal Sweet Diet®, Ajinomoto, Aspartame, and AminoSweet® are all brand names for aspartame. Read labels carefully as some products do not list a brand name but rather the ingredient or warning surrounding phenylalanine. Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. Both neurological and physical detriments have been associated with aspartame use.


Dianna Richardson, ND 11/16/2016

Folate or Folic Acid

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:40 PM

Folate or Folic Acid: Is there a difference? Dianna Richardson, ND

Each year the second week in January is set aside to emphasize the importance of folic acid in the diet. While many people use the terms folic acid and folate interchangeably, this is not correct. So, what is folate and why is it important?


Folate is an essential B-vitamin (B-9). There are several major roles folate plays in the body. Three of the most important are the following. First, folate is needed for red blood cell production. Red blood cells are needed for many functions in the body ranging from oxygen transportation to preventing anemia. Preventing anemia helps to keep energy levels higher.


Secondly, folate is needed to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. According to research, high levels of homocysteine can cause artery wall damage, increase risk of blood clots, and is associated with heart attacks and stroke. New studies have also suggested a link between low folate and development of some cancers and Alzheimer’s. For people with a genetic condition known as MTHFR it is extremely important to distinguish between synthetic folic acid and folate. Those with this condition should never use products containing added folic acid or supplements with folic acid. Only folate (naturally found in food) is safe with MTHFR.


The third, and best-known, use of folate, is to prevent birth defects. Young woman and women of child-bearing age are encouraged to eat a diet rich in folate to prevent neural tube defects. Unfortunately, unless you are planning a pregnancy, most women will not know they are pregnant until the first month of pregnancy. If the diet has not contained enough folate prior to conception, there is a high risk for birth defect.


So what foods are rich in folate? Black beans, lentils, nuts (peanuts, almonds), sunflower seeds, eggs, leafy greens, Romaine lettuce, rice, oranges, melons, and strawberries are good sources. One of the best sources is asparagus. Broccoli and avocado also provide needed folate. Summer and winter squash along with green peas will help make daily needs an ease.


Is it difficult to get all the folate you need from food? No. Most people eating a variety of plant foods will easily get the average 400 mcg daily recommended for adults. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 600 and 500 mcg. Children’s needs vary by age. Here is a tasty, quick and simple recipe packed with a daily allowance of folate (low calorie too)!


Salsa Lentil Soup—serves 8

2 tablespoons cooking oil


2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped


½ teaspoon garlic powder


5 cups water


1 (16 oz.) jar salsa


1 cup lentils, uncooked


1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce


½ cup instant brown rice, uncooked


1 cup shredded carrots


1 medium green pepper, finely chopped


Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat oil. Add onions and garlic powder. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Add the water, salsa, lentils and tomato sauce; mix well. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the rice. Turn the heat to medium-high until the mixture boils. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add carrots and green pepper. Let stand for five minutes.

MTHFR & Casein

Posted on January 15, 2017 at 3:35 PM

MTHFR…here is an interesting tidbit.

MTHFR or methyl-tetrahydrofolate reductase is responsible for methylation in the cells of the body. Why is this important? Methylation is important for cellular repair, synthesis of nucleic acids, production & repair of DNA & mRNA. It is also needed for detoxification and neurotransmitter production. This enzyme is also needed for a healthy immune system. It affects formation & maturation of red blood cells, white blood cells & platelet production. Okay, that all sounds very technical. Basically, a genetic mutation affecting MTHFR can lead to a host of health issues. How much a person’s health is affected does depend on the severity of the mutation.


Glutathione is your body’s primary detoxifier and antioxidant. MTHFR gene mutation can make you susceptible to illness by lowering your ability to make glutathione. People with low glutathione will experience more stress and are less tolerant of toxins. Have you noticed some people seem to constantly be fighting to stay healthy? This may be an indicator of low glutathione. There are many very serious conditions also associated with MTHFR mutations. Good news on the glutathione front may have come from an unlikely source. A2 Beta Casein has been shown to increase glutathione levels. At a time when milk is blamed for everything from allergies to yeast, this information is quite interesting. The debates about raw milk continue, but the evidence shows a definite difference between how the body uses A1 and A2 types of Beta Casein (B-Casein). We know that A1 type is responsible for the gastric upset people experience with cow’s milk allergy.


However, it should be noted that older breeds of cows Jersey, Asian, African cows produced primarily A2 type B-Casein. Genetic mutations, cross breeding, and other influences has resulted in breeds such as Holsteins now producing primarily A1 type B-Casein. However, there are alternative sources of milk available. Goat, sheep, camel, buffalo, yak, and donkey milk all contain mostly, or only A2 B-casein. So people that have avoided cows milk and used these alternatives were in reality increasing the amount of glutathione available for their bodies!


People with MTHFR mutation now have a reason to consider alternative sources for milk. Besides the normal health benefits associated with some dairy consumption, there is now the important increase in glutathione. Just think, that glass of alternative milk may contain the ability to improve immunity, reduce migraines, improve gastrointestinal issues, reduce risk for many chronic diseases, and more!


Dianna Richardson, ND January 3, 2017


References

Deth R, et al. Clinical evaluation of glutathione concentrations after consumption of milk containing different subtypes of β-casein: results from a randomized, cross-over clinical trial.Nutr J. 2016 Sep 29;15(1):82.


Haq MR et al. Comparative evaluation of cow β-casein variants (A1/A2) consumption on Th2-mediated inflammatory response in mouse gut. Eur J Nutr. 2013 Oct 29.


Yang S,et al. Identification of Genetic Associations and Functional Polymorphisms of SAA1 Gene Affecting Milk Production Traits in Dairy Cattle. PLoS One. 2016 Sep 9;11(9):e0162195. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162195. eCollection 2016.


Woodford K. Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and Politics: A1 and A2 Milk. Wellington New Zealand: Craig Potton Publishing 2007.

DIY Spring Cleaners

Posted on March 13, 2016 at 1:30 AM

Spring has arrived with a burst of new beginnings. For many of us this brings the urge to wipe away the lingering remnants of winter from our homes as well. Before you begin spring cleaning consider the types of cleaners you are using. While many products will get the job done, some are safer exposure in your living environment. Also, some of the simplest cleaning solutions are also the least expensive as well as least invasive. Here are a few cleaning tips and recipe solutions.


Rubbing Alcohol (90% please)

In a quart spray bottle add 4 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to water. Mix well. This is a great window, mirror, chrome, countertop, doorknob, light switch cover cleaner. A bonus is the ability to quickly cut through hairspray on bathroom fixtures! For tougher jobs simply add a little more rubbing alcohol to the mixture. This serves as a cleaner and antiseptic.


All-Purpose Cleaner

One of my favorite all-purpose cleaners is hydrogen peroxide with essential oils added. Essential oils hold many health-enhancing properties. Both lavender and tea tree offer antibacterial, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and other properties. In a 16-ounce bottle of hydrogen peroxide add ½ teaspoon lavender essential oil, ½ teaspoon lemon essential oil, 1/8 teaspoon of tea tree or peppermint essential oil. Combine all ingredients in bottle, attach spray nozzle, and shake to combine. For best disinfecting results, spray on surfaces and leave for a couple of minutes before wiping clean.


Hydrogen Peroxide (3%): This common medicine cabinet staple can kill bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungus. It is listed with the Environmental Protection Agency as a sterilizer. It can be used to disinfect all your surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. Note: Hydrogen peroxide is sensitive to light, so must be kept either in its original bottle (with an added spray nozzle) or transferred to another opaque spray bottle.


White Vinegar

Another common household staple that can do double duty is white vinegar. Adding ¼ cup of white vinegar to one-gallon of mop water cleans and disinfects floors. Adding ¼ cup to 2 gallons of water is safe for use on sealed wood floors. White vinegar in a spray bottle (2 tablespoon per quart) makes quick work of dirty microwaves and soap scum on bathroom tile. Looking for an alternative for oven cleaner? Spray the oven with white vinegar and sprinkle on some baking soda; then spray again. Allow to set for a few minutes and wipe clean (works well on bathtub rings too).

Low Resistance to Stress may Increase Your Risk of Type-2 Diabetes

Posted on March 13, 2016 at 1:15 AM

Diabetes continues to be an increasing health challenge. Multiple factors have been found to be contributors in the development of this chronic condition. Now information reveals stress we may endure may also be a risk factor depending on our stress resilience. In a study conducted from 1967 to 2012, a group of men were evaluated for stress resilience at a young age (18) and then followed to track development of diabetes. The study gathered baseline data from 1967 to 1997 on Swedish men who had no previous diagnosis of diabetes. A standardized psychological assessment for stress resilience on a scale of 1 to 9 was conducted.


Low stress resilience was associated with an increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes after adjusting for body mass index (BMI), family history of diabetes, and individual and neighborhood socioeconomic factors. The study also showed the 20% of men with the lowest resistance to stress (scores 1 to 3) were significantly more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes than the 20% with the highest resistance to stress (scores 7 to 9). Researchers also found that the diabetes risk decreased in a linear fashion with increased resistance to stress, and there was a linear trend in risk across the full range of stress resilience. Stress has been linked to development of many health conditions. This study has indicated a direct link between how we deal with stress at a younger age can impact development of diabetes later in life. This information is further backed up by a second study following men with permanent stress and increased incidence rates of type-2 diabetes. The researchers found that men who reported permanent stress had a 45% increased risk for developing diabetes compared with men who reported having no stress or periodic stress, after adjustment for age, socioeconomic status, physical activity, BMI, systolic blood pressure, and use of blood pressure-lowering medication. Why?


Low stress resilience may contribute to the development of diabetes through unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as physical inactivity and unhealthy diet, as well as other physiologic hormonal factors, such as increased cortisol levels that contribute to insulin resistance. Stress is also associated with increases in certain hormones, including catecholamines, cortisones, and thyroid hormones. Stress can become debilitating.


Chronic stressors can lead to loss of motivation and even depression; thereby changing daily lifestyle factors. Likewise, chronic stress keeps a steady flow of cortisol pumping in the body. Cortisol is part of the “flight or fight” response in the body. When activated it prepares the body for action. However, if no action is really needed, then a redistribution of fat may occur. The “extra” energy created and not used is stored as body fat. Excess body fat is a contributor to insulin resistance and increased risk for developing diabetes. Simply stated, chronic stress and low stress resistance favor hyperglycemia (high blood glucose).


Break the cycle of stress. With diabetes rapidly increasing, it is important to take a closer look at stress management for people of all ages. Simple strategies to develop coping mechanisms to reduce negative reactive responses to stress are essential. By developing high resilience to stressors we may reduce another factor contributing to health declines—including diabetes development.


Dianna Richardson, ND 2/21/2016


References

Crump C, Sundquist J, Winkleby MA, Sundquist K. Stress resilience and subsequent risk of type 2 diabetes in 1.5 million young men. Diabetologia. 2016. doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3846-7.


Novak M, Björck L, Giang KW, Heden-Ståhl C, Wilhelmsen L, Rosengren A. Perceived stress and incidence of Type 2 diabetes: a 35-year follow-up study of middle-aged Swedish men. Diabet Med. 2013;30(1):e8-e16. doi:10.1111/dme.12037.


Winning A, Glymour MM, McCormick MC, Gilsanz P, Kubzansky LD. Psychological Distress Across the Life Course and Cardiometabolic Risk: Findings From the 1958 British Birth Cohort Study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;66(14):1577-1586. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.021.

Constipation???Real Answers

Posted on February 20, 2016 at 2:00 AM

Picture the bowel system as a flowing stream. When things are moving at a normal flowing pace elimination of toxins is easily completed. Proper pH and a healthy balance of gut flora (good bacteria) are essential to maintaining a healthy large intestine. Diets high in animal protein cause an alkaline environment in the colon, making it sluggish. Most importantly, this alkaline environment suppresses growth of important gut friendly bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. This in turn encourages increased production of “bad” bacteria connected to poor gut health and numerous chronic health conditions. These conditions include arthritis, autoimmune diseases, colon and breast cancer, psoriasis, eczema, cystic acne and chronic fatigue.


Beyond being an uncomfortable problem, lack of adequate elimination also offers opportunities to negatively impact health. Bowel toxemia is a phrase associated with infrequent elimination. When waste debris remains in the bowel, increased risk of reabsorption of toxins becomes a concern. Basically, the body will start to reabsorb that same materials it is trying to evacuate. Having compromised liver function compounds probabilities of toxic waste being found in higher amounts in the colon.


Several toxins are produced in the colon. These include byproducts of amino acid metabolism, such as histamine, tryptamine, cadavarine, phenol, indole, skatole and hydrogen sulphide. Methylmercury is formed during the liver’s attempt to detoxify mercury, and also ends up in the colon. Ammonia is produced from every cell in the body as the result of normal metabolism processes. A healthy person efficiently excretes this toxin normally found in the body.


We should strive for a slightly acidic colon environment. Diet rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates create a slightly acidic pH, encouraging the growth of L. acidophilus. Besides the connection between Lactobacilli and anti-cancer activity, good bacteria (L. acidophilus and Bifidobacteria) have the ability to synthesize antimicrobial substances, such as lactic acid, acetic acid, benzoic acid, hydrogen peroxide and natural antibiotics.


A first step in creating a healthy bowel is to eliminate any food allergens. Dairy products are often the constipation catalyst for those suffering life-long constipation. Refined grains also pose issues, as the important fiber has been removed. For those with IBS with constipation or diarrhea, only pseudo-grains and sprouted grains should be consumed. However, dairy and coffee remain the two most frequent causes of chronic constipation.


The two most important factors in moving things along through the bowel are water and fiber. Water intakes should be high enough to translate into a bathroom break every 1 to 1.5 hours. The actual amount of water intake to meet this goal will vary from person to person depending on their physical activity, size, weight, and even the season of the year.


Fiber is easily increased in the diet by including brown rice, oat bran, fresh fruits and vegetables, dried figs and prunes, raw nuts and seeds (including flax seeds), lentils, peas and dried beans. While lentils do not require soaking, beans should be soaked (overnight), water discarded, and fresh water used in cooking. Pectin fiber will bind to eliminating heavy metals, toxins, cholesterol and bile acids helping to eliminate them from the bowel system. Foods providing a good source of pectin include apples, carrots, beets, bananas, cabbage, citrus fruits, dried peas and okra.


For some people dietary fiber is not enough to avoid chronic constipation. Typically in these cases not enough high fiber foods are eaten or tolerated. Then it may be necessary to add a fiber supplement. There are a variety of types available and experimentation may be needed to find the best one for your system. Fiber types include mucilages (such as psyllium), pectins, hemicellulose (like oat bran) and lignans (as found in flax seeds). PLEASE NOTE: people suffering chronic constipation may worsen their condition by using psyllium.


Quick tips:

Lack of adequate exercise, poor diet and low water intake play roles in constipation.


In the morning, before getting out of bed, gently massage the abdomen in a clockwise motion. This encourages the normal flow of stool toward the rectum.


After rising, drink at least eight ounces of warm (not tepid) water to stimulate the gastrocolic reflex. This reflex triggers signals which then stimulates mass peristaltic movements (large intestine flexes needed for movement of contents). If you use lemon or apple cider vinegar first thing of a morning they may be added to the warm water.


Walking for 15-20 minutes after each meal will also stimulate a healthy bowel movement time.


References:

Donovan P: Bowel toxemia permeability and disease: new information to support an old concept. In Pizzorno J, Murray M (eds): Textbook of Natural Medicine (ed 1), Seattle, 1985, John Bastyr College Publications.


Pizzorno LU, Pizzorno Jr JE, Murray MT: Irritable bowel syndrome, Textbook of Natural Medicine (ed 3), 2006, Churchill Livingston.


Yarnell E: Constipation. Naturopathic Gastroenterology, Arizona, 2000, Naturopathic Medical Press, p281

Maximizing Antioxidants in Tea: What Research Shows

Posted on February 2, 2016 at 2:50 AM

A recent publication of a study conducted on time and temperature of steeping tea has resulted in some surprising results. Most people simply follow the manufacturers instruction for tea preparation without giving it another thought. However, with many people turning to tea for antioxidant properties to help boost the immune system, perhaps closer attention should be given the preparation process.


The Journal of Food Science released the results of a study conducted on black green and white tea. If you caught an earlier post you know only material from the Camellia sinensis plant is considered true tea. Researchers tested three different types of tea, white, green, and black tea. Two varieties of each were tested in hot water for two hours, hot water for five minutes, cold water for two hours, and cold water for five minutes.


White tea reached its peak of antioxidant activity after steeping for the extended length of time. Temperature did not affect the antioxidant results. Green tea showed sensitivity to both temperature and time of steeping. Prolonged cold steeping resulted in the highest antioxidant release for green tea. Black tea performed the best with hot water and low time for steeping. This maximized the antioxidants available. The results also indicated the antioxidant capacity of green and white tea surpasses that of black tea.


Next time you make a cup of tea ask yourself if you are brewing for pleasure or health. How you prepare your tea can make a big difference in end results.

Cold Season

Posted on February 2, 2016 at 2:45 AM

Welcome to the common Cold season…

The weather outside is changing and creating the prime conditions for increased colds and upper respiratory infections. Being cold by itself does not cause people to come down with the common cold. However, combination of the following can contribute to why colds occur more frequently during the fall and winter seasons.


• Rhinoviruses (viruses that cause the common cold) thrive in low temperatures. In 2013 Nature News and in 2009 Respiratory Medicine published research results showing in a cold environment, the upper respiratory tract temperature may be more favorable to the replication of rhinoviruses, leading to an increase in occurrences of the common cold during times of lower temperatures.


• At low temperatures, our bodies may produce fewer antiviral immune signals and leave us more vulnerable to infections. At the 2013 American Society for Microbiology conference, research was presented showing how low temperatures may compromise natural defenses against rhinoviruses. In the cold, fewer antiviral immune signals are produced than in warmer conditions. This reduction in antiviral signals allowed infections to persist more easily at colder temperatures.


• Cold temperatures and low humidity, characteristics of the “cold” season, are associated with increased occurrences of acute respiratory tract infections. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) explains that cold-causing viruses “survive” better in low humidity, which occurs during colder months. Furthermore, the NIAID also reports that cold weather can cause the lining of the nose to become drier and more susceptible to viruses that cause the common cold.


Knowing winter is stacking the cards against you concerning catching a cold, what should you do? First, wash hands well (and a lot). A quick in-and-out under the faucet isn’t going to keep pesky germs away. Instead, get your hands wet, lather all over with soap, scrub for 20 seconds (it’s longer than you think!), rinse, and dry. Despite recommendations to sneeze into your sleeve, remember rhinoviruses can live for days (up to a week) on fabric and surfaces. Your best line of defense is still hand washing to remove contact particles. Next, don’t skimp on sleep. Your immune system thrives on sufficient shut-eye — for both recovery and prevention. In fact, research shows that shortchanging sleep makes you more susceptible to colds. Finally, don’t let green mucus scare you. Contrary to popular belief, green mucus is common with viral infections — not just bacterial infections that may require a trip to the doctor.

Immunity & Flu

Posted on January 1, 2016 at 2:15 AM

Not everyone is confortable when considering taking the fall flu shot. Do the benefits outweigh concerns? Whether you decide to get a flu shot is a personal choice. However, either way it is important to boost immunity. By boosting immunity, you increase resistance to colds, flu, and many other conditions. Here are some basic steps to improving immunity.


Lifestyle impacts your immune system. Be sure to eat a healthy diet, avoid toxins, be physically active, manage body weight and get adequate sleep.


Stress impacts immunity. Higher stress levels can translate into lower immunity. Daily practice of relaxation is needed to overcome daily stressors. Engage in activities you find relaxing, use breathing exercises for relaxation, meditation, or other methods.


Avoid refined sugars and excess fat. Naturally occurring sugar is found in many foods, but it is the added sugar (refined) that works against the immune system. Eat plenty of healthy protein and quality essential fatty acids (ex. Nuts).


Supplement your diet. Try as we may, it is not possible to eat a perfect diet daily. To offset this, take a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement. Your vitamin B-complex, C, E, zinc, and selenium are especially important to boosting immunity.


Get enough vitamin D. Research has shown about 10% of the human genome (more than 2,000 genes) need vitamin D. People with low vitamin D levels are more prone to respiratory issues. Likewise, children who take 1,200 IU of vitamin D daily reduce risk of developing flu by over 50%.


For those with impaired immune systems a more proactive approach may be needed. Several good botanical based products have been shown to improve immunity. If you are interested in a botanical approach to boosting the immune system, please stop by to discuss your personalized approach .