Autoimmune Disease Explained

orangeimmunecells bursting outThe relationship between autoimmune disease and immune resilience.

These are very delicate times we are facing, especially with our health. And more specifically, because the coronavirus virus (COVID -19) has hit hard. To make things a little more clearer, we really need to understand the relationship between autoimmune disease and immune resilience. This, at least, may help people with autoimmune diseases feel a little more secure about the whole COVID-19 situation.

So, autoimmunity… and why does the body attack itself?

In my previous blogs I talked about immune tolerance and immune resilience. However, it’s important to understand that having an autoimmune disease doesn’t mean to say it will weaken immune resilience. But we’ll get to that later. First, let’s look at what autoimmunity really is.

Autoimmunity, to describe it in medical terms, is a disorder where the immune system erroneously destroys and attacks body tissue. Put simply, it is the immune system going slightly crazy (it’s gone into ‘tilt mode’) and mistakenly eats, destroys, and attacks body tissue. As an example, Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, where the body mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland; or rheumatoid arthritis, where the body mistakenly attacks the joints. Other examples of autoimmunity are type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, alopecia, vitiligo, etc.

Under normal circumstances the immune system is able to tell the difference between foreign (nonself)cells and your own (self) cells. And protect against germs like bacteria and viruses, sending or releasing, an army of fighter cells, natural killer cells, etc, to attack the foreign invader.

When we look at autoimmune disease, however, the immune system erroneously thinks parts of the body, such as the thyroid, joints, skin, etc, are foreign. Your immune system is in ‘tilt mode’, and sends out, or releases autoantibodies that then attack healthy cells.


How does autoimmunity affect your chances of contracting an illness – viral, bacterial or otherwise?

Well, that depends. When we talk about autoimmune disease and immune resilience we need to look at how well your immune function is working in relation to your autoimmunity. To put it another way, different people may have the same autoimmune disease but either a higher or lower immune state. And in fact, autoimmunity can either heighten or dampen immune resilience.

As an example, some people with Hashimoto’s may have a high white blood count and some a low white blood count. Some may have different levels of natural killer cells, T-cell regulation, and B-cell activity, etc. Everyone is different, just because you have the same autoimmune disease doesn’t mean your immune status will be the same!

What this means is some people with autoimmunity alone may have a heightened immune status, meaning they have a high immune resilience. One way to tell if your immune resilience is strong is if you haven’t caught a cold or flu over the last 5 years or so. Even when, at the same time, heightened immune activity may exacerbate autoimmune attacks against bodily tissues. This may seem a little complicated but really it isn’t. A good way to look at it is, we should think of autoimmunity and the immune resilience as two functioning processes that can harm us or protect us. Autoimmunity is a disease which harms us, whereas immune resilience, which can be built or broken depending on your lifestyle habits. When immune resilience is strong we will be less likely to catch get ill. And less prone to chronic disease.

Do people with autoimmunity need to be cautious when taking botanicals?

Well, yes and no!

Let me explain. Because autoimmunity instigates such a diversity of immune responses in each and everyone of us that have it, we need to think before we start taking any herbs, medicinal mushrooms, or other botanicals that can influence the immune system. Of course, it is always best to speak with a qualified functional/restorative doctor before commencing any regime.

If we take a look at the immune-stimulating botanicals such as echinacea or maitake mushrooms in some autoimmune people, they can fire up the immune system and make their autoimmune symptoms even worse. Again, botanicals that actually delay or slow immune response, such as antibody production, can also make autoimmune people worse. We need to be very careful here. Talk to your qualified functional/restorative physician or doctor.

The best way to modulate the Immune system and improve resilience with autoimmunity

So, let’s cut to the chase. If you are one of those people who finds it difficult to balance your immune system, or measure chronic disease, your lifestyle picture should be looked at. As mentioned in my previous blog they make a world of difference. These lifestyle strategies include:

Of course, there are many other healthy lifestyle habits you can take on which help balance immune function. But just start off slowly and you’ll see, you’ll get there. The key is to understand how important your life is…and your health. We only get one shot at this, and we only have one body. You can’t buy a new one, it’s not like a car or fancy dress. Take care of yourself and learn to love yourself. Remember you are the best thing that ever happened to you 🙂

You can find previous blogs here:

Healthy Immune System – Healthy You

The Immune Reset

To your health

Jill:) xx

The Immune Reset

Hand Blocking Green Immune Cells Bursting out from Black background

5 Ways to support immune resilience and improve immune tolerance.

Click here if you missed my previous blog about immune tolerance and immune resilience. And where we spoke about how important it is to strengthen immune tolerance (when it is low) in order to support immune resilience, which in turn promotes a healthy, well-functioning immune system.

Below are the five lifestyle strategies I mentioned in my previous blog, that we need to follow to strengthen immune system health. And to make your life and heart full again. To make you healthy and strong. Here’s to a happy, healthy life. Of course, there are other strategies you can do as well, but these are your starters.

  • Good sleep
  • Proper diet and nutrition
  • Hydration
  • Physical activity at appropriate levels
  • Emotions

Good Sleep

One of the most neglected and misunderstood strategies to improve immune function, immune resilience and to avoid infections is good sleep. Certain immune system cells (natural killer cells and T-cells) that are used to fight infection are boosted and activated when we sleep. When we sleep the body repairs itself and we are at peace. When we wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start the day, it’s a sign that we have had adequate sleep. When we are grumpy and bumpy, groggy and cranky, that’s a sure sign we didn’t get enough sleep. The day ahead will be long. Adequate sleep is fundamental to a well-working immune system and immune resilience.

Go to bed early. Try to sleep at least 7 hours a night. It is well known that people who sleep less than 7 hours are more prone to heart attack. And 90 minutes before bedtime, turn off all devices and televisions. Let your mind breath…and relax. I know it’s easy to say go to bed early when all you want to do is watch some television or stay on your computer because you feel as if your day has been all work and no play. It seems unfair. But start off by doing it a few nights a week, try reading a book in bed for ten minutes to relax and wind down. You’ll soon see that you’ll get into the habit of it, and start feeling much better.

Remember that there is not a single tissue within the human body and not one process within the brain that is not enhanced with adequate sleep (minimum 7hrs per night), or in the other case, impaired without enough sleep (less than 6hrs per night).

Proper Diet and Nutrition

What is nutrition, is it simply food that fills us up without giving us any health benefits, or is it food that is overflowing with vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, etc, that helps us grow, develop, renew, and stay healthy? You guessed it, it’s the latter.

If you look the word nutrition up in the oxford dictionary, it is the “process by which living things (including humans ) 🙂 receive the food necessary for them to grow and be healthy.” Without good nutrition we cannot possibly be healthy and we cannot possibly have a robust immune system.

This, I believe, is what most people in today’s world don’t understand. The foods we eat build us up or tear us down. They build our immune system and push hormone production – hormones, in turn, support a healthy and robust immune system and really improve our immune surveillance…killer cells at work!

So what should we do? Firstly, we need to cut out processed sugars, and concentrated sugars from your diet. That would include concentrated fruit juices, sweets, boiled sugar sweets, candy, etc. Anything that has a high amount of concentrated sugar in it needs to disappear from your diet. Plus they are empty calories that don’t provide you with any nutrition, at all!

We need to eat lots of colourful and varied fruit and vegetables which are high in flavonoid antioxidants, which really help our overall immune system strength. Another major helper is to diversify our microbiome. In other words, we want to have as many different healthy bacterial species in our gut. A healthy gut is essential for a healthy immune system. In fact, believe it or not, approximately 80% of our immune system is found in the gut. Eat multiple kinds of vegetables, but try to change the vegetable you eat. Don’t eat the same fruit and vegetable all the time…change them, this way you will really improve your immune resistance, by improving your gut microbiome.

Last but not least cut out inflammatory foods. Avoid such things as fried foods, processed foods, high floury carbohydrates (eg pasta, breads, pizzas), which cause insulin surges, make you tired (it’s the insulin surge that makes you tired), and they also deplete antioxidant reserves.

Also, avoid partially hydrogenated fats which deplete our antioxidant reserves – they usually come in packets or boxes. Read the labels on the foods you buy.

HYDRATION

Hydration…what is hydration? Again, in the Oxford dictionary hydration means, “The process of making something/somebody take in and hold water.” Water is the key word!. Drink lots of water throughout the day…drinking tea, coffee and alcohol can actually worsen the ‘hydration situation’ as these beverages act as diuretics, so we basically become dehydrated just from that. Please drink water and avoid sugary drinks. Another key to building immune resilience is to stay hydrated all the time. Don’t let yourself get thirsty.

When we are dehydrated the immune system goes into default, and we become more prone to infections. The immune system dysregulates and, interaction and communication (yes our immune system communicates…it talks to our body 🙂 ), and immune signalling becomes compromised. In other words, when we are dehydrated the immune system becomes less efficient. Another thing, dehydration impacts blood volume and can cause miscommunication (yes our body is talking again) between the lymphatic system and the immune system.

If you have an infection or feel you are about to get one, you definitely need to stay hydrated and drink (water!) all the time, as this helps clear the infection quicker.

Of course, you need to cut down on salt intake if you want to stay hydrated. High salt intake makes you urinate more often to try and get rid of the sodium and regulate osmotic pressure.

Physical activity at appropriate levels

Although this might sound strange the immune system communicates throughout the whole body – it has to, to enable us to have optimal immune function, and optimal immune resilience. So, throughout our body and throughout the trillions of cells we have in the body, we have different types of immune cells, from macrophage to antigen-presenting cells. What these cells do is test and sample whatever is coming into the immune system…so when a pathogen, viral, bacterial or other microorganism that causes disease, comes in, they check it out by sending an immune messenger. When a pathogen is detected they (immune cells) let the immune system know that it now needs to manufacture antibodies to protect it from this pathogen. T cells now need to switch on and our natural killer cells need to attack and deal with this infection. To achieve the best immune response this message has to reach the whole body as quickly as possible.

To quicken this process movement of any kind is important…but how much movement, when and how?

Movement promotes better blood flow, circulation, and lymphatic exchange of fluids. When you increase your heart rate, the blood flow and circulation enhances and when you pump those weights, and release and contract, it helps the lymphatic system to work more efficiently, and move fluids throughout the body at a greater speed. If you want to improve, support and/or build overall immune function, it is critical that you do some kind of movement/motion. However, the question is how much?

If you are healthy and have no immune challenges, strenuous exercise is fine, and can actually help release opioids, which have an incredible impact on immune cells like T cells, natural killer cells, and B cells, which of course, will strengthen immune system function and make it much more able to respond to any type of pathogen appropriately.

Instead, if you have an infection and are fatigued it’s best to slow down. Take it easy. High, intense exercise burns up antioxidants and reserves, which will really dampen our immune system. If you are not feeling too good or getting sick a brisk walk is just as good, it’s important not to fatigue yourself. Even a slow walk will activate your lymphatics and immune system function.

So, the key thing here is…

Any kind of movement, whether it’s high intensity or a gentle walk in the park, are critical to vascular dynamics (blood flow and exchange), to help push immune messengers throughout our body. If you want to improve your immune resilience and support tolerance, exercise, movement and motion are critical factors.

Emotions (Laughing and crying)

Really? Yes, really. These emotions can greatly impact immune resilience which help us to fight off infections and be less susceptible to infections that are going around.

Laughing actually triggers a release of opioids, that is of course, why we feel so relaxed and happy after a good laugh. As mentioned previously, opioids greatly impact immune system function by activating key cells such as T cells, natural killer cells and regulatory T cells that help the immune system to be more efficient in dealing with any type of pathogen. So, remember to laugh a lot and watch comedy films rather than tragedy. Laughing can have a profound impact on the immune system. ‘Be Happy – Laugh More – Stay Healthy’.

So what about crying? Hmm! Crying, believe it or not, this also helps us release opioids. For instance, in a critical situation or a crisis many of us cry. If you think about it we feel better after we’ve cried…it seems to relieve us somehow. When we start to cry opioids are released to act as a safeguard, and help dampen stress. In short, they help protect us from dealing with the stressor, which impacts the immune system.

So even crying significantly impacts the immune system by way of opioid release. Think about this next time you want to cry…just cry…and Be Happy!

I know we are all resistant to change, and yes, old habits die hard. But it’s your health we are talking about…it’s your life and the quality of it, no one else’s. Try these changes and see how it can change your life and your health. And if it helps to motivate you…these changes may even help you lose weight.

However, remember rebuilding a strong immune system doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. You need to be consistent…you need to stick with it. Make yourself a New Years resolution, even if it’s not New Year…who needs New Year to make a new resolution? Start now and your summer will be off to a super start. Remember, the longer you leave your immune system to breakdown the longer it will take to repair.

To Your Health

Jill 🙂

4 Supplements for Healthy Vision

Need longer arms to see what you’re reading these days?

As you grow older, you may find time reminding you of its passage ― stiff joints when you get up from a chair, flagging energy, nightly interruptions to sleep. And one day you realize your arms have become too short to hold a book far enough away to read!  

It’s called presbyopia, and that’s irritating enough, but, without proper care, more serious problems may lie ahead for your vision.

These are the five most common age-related problems that can affect your eyes:

  • Cataracts: Protein fibers form a film over the eye’s lens, causing vision to become cloudy.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy: Affecting people with advanced type 1 or type 2 diabetes, vision loss is caused by damage to blood vessels in the retina, which can either swell and leak blood, or close,  preventing the passage of blood.
  • Macular Degeneration: Vision is lost gradually, especially in the central visual field, as the retina (or macula) loses function and affects the ability to read, see objects clearly and perform daily tasks.
  • Glaucoma: Pressure in the eye gradually increases, damaging the optic nerve and reducing peripheral vision.
  • Dry Eye Syndrome: With age, inability to produce adequate tears to protect and nourish eyes increases, causing irritation and loss of visual clarity.

With loss of vision, you become vulnerable to a number of social and health problems. Many people, for example, become socially withdrawn, depressed or more apt to have accidents. It’s also common for visually impaired people to have trouble reading instructions and taking their medications properly, which can lead to dangerous interactions and side effects.

Fortunately, four supplements ― vitamin A, vitamin B50 complex, omega3 fatty acids (including krill oil), and MacuGuard ― can help protect your eyes against these life-changing diseases that can rob you of your sight.

Vitamin A for Better Night Vision

Do you have night blindness ― the inability to see in the dark or in poorly lit areas? If so, it could be a tip-off that you have a vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A, which is composed of a group of antioxidant compounds, is particularly important for seeing in low-light conditions. But having enough vitamin A is also important for other reasons.

You need vitamin A to avoid corneal ulcers, as well as to prevent clouding of the eye’s lens and development of retinal damage. Plus, vitamin A is what makes it possible for you to see certain colors, such as bright orange and purple.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the retina ― a thin piece of tissue that lines the back of the eye. It’s here where photoreceptor cells convert light to electrical signals, which the brain perceives as images. When the photoreceptors begin to deteriorate, central vision loss occurs.

AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in those over 50, and vitamin A is already being used to help prevent blindness from this disease. Over a six-year period, patients with mild-to-moderate AMD who were given a multivitamin containing antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, along with zinc and copper, had a 25% lower risk of progressing to an advanced stage of the disease.

B Vitamins to Fend Off AMD

We’ll say it again: AMD is the leading cause of blindness in people 50+. The good news, however, is that this doesn’t have to be! Evidence is mounting that (1) AMD is preventable and (2) certain B vitamins ― such as those in B-50 complexcan lower your AMD risk.

The 15-year Blue Mountain Eye Study, published in 2013, focused on the impact of vitamin B12 and folate/folic acid supplementation on homocysteine levels. Homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid, is a residual product of protein metabolism. Normally it isn’t harmful, but when it accumulates, it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and contributes to the retinal damage that occurs with AMD. The higher the homocysteine level, the higher the AMD risk.

Increased levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid lowered homocysteine levels by causing it to recycle back into methionine ― a non-harmful amino acid. Those with elevated homocysteine had a 56% greater risk of AMD than those with homocysteine within normal parameters.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Krill Oil for Retinal Protection

Our need for fatty acids, which contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicoapentaenoic acid), begins before we’re even born. The developing fetus needs these nutrients, especially DHA, for normal development of the brain ― and the eyes. And that need never ends. In fact, your need grows as you age.

DHA and EPA are found in both omega 3 +7 and krill oil

Up to 65% of the eye’s retina is composed of DHA ― the highest concentration found in any part of the body. All that DHA is what enables pigment (rhodopsin) in your eye’s photoreceptor cells to respond to light in a way that enables you to see at night.

Research to date suggests that omega-3s may help to prevent development of AMD or limit its progression. It also appears promising to relieve the stinging, burning, watering and light sensitivity associated with dry eye.

Some people prefer krill oil to fish oil because it’s rapidly absorbed, improves cognitive functioning and contains small amounts of astaxanthin. At 550 times the strength of vitamin E, and 6,000 times that of vitamin C, astaxanthin is one of nature’s most potent antioxidants. Moreover, research has shown that astaxanthin can accumulate in and protect the retina, which is damaged by AMD.

MacuGuard for Comprehensive Vision Protection

MacuGuard Ocular Support is a unique, proprietary blend that brings together in a single softgel the most powerful ingredients known to fight the effects of aging and protect your precious eyes.

Around 600 different carotenoids are found in nature, but only around 20 affect the eyes. Of these, MacuGuard contains lutein, trans-zeaxanthin, meso-zeaxanthin and alpha carotene ― all carotenoids known to provide glaucoma protection and support your macular pigment density, which declines with age. That’s the part of your retina that protects your critically important photoreceptor cells.

Phospholipids are included to help in the absorption of lutein within the retina and support it in protecting your eyes from blue and ultraviolet light, which can cause retinal damage.

MacuGuard also contains astaxanthin, one of the world’s most potent antioxidants. It protects against eye fatigue and irritation, and supports the eyes’ blood vessel health, which can fall victim to diabetic retinopathy.

Cyanidin-3-glucoside, made from European black currant extract, helps to replenish rhodopsin, which is essential for night vision.

Together with vitamin A, vitamin B-50 complex and omega-3 fatty acids (fish or krill oil), MacuGuard provides comprehensive, all-around defense against one of the most devastating outcomes of poorly managed ageing: loss of your wonderful, irreplaceable eyesight.

References:

Axe, J. Lutein: The Antioxidant That Protects Your Eyes & Skin. Dr. Axe, Food Is Medicine.

Brownstein. B Vitamins and Your Eyesight. Newsmax. Dec. 4, 2013.

Buckner, d. Does Vitamin A Make Your Eyesight Better? LIVESTRONG. Jan 3, 2016.

Haddrill, M. Stargardt’s Disease (Fundus Flavimaculatus). All About Vision.

Haddrill, M. Retinitis Pigmentosa. All About Vision.

Heiting, G. Eye Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids. All About Vision

Heiting, G. Vitamin a and Beta-Carotene: Eye Benefits. All About Vision.

Keep eyes healthy with folic acid, B vitamins, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin. Nutrition Express.

Maron, D.F. Fact or Fiction?: Carrots improve Your Vision. Scientific American. June 23, 2014.

Mercola, J. Astaxanthin ― Nature’s Most Powerful Antioxidant. Mercola.com. Feb. 10, 2013.

Meschino, J. Help Preserve Your Eyesight With B Vitamins. To Your Health, Vol. 07, Issue 11. Nov. 2013.

Supplementing for Optimal Health: When ‘Getting By’ Isn’t Enough

I remember when I took my first baby steps into the world of dietary supplements. I was overwhelmed! My knowledge level was at ground zero (or less) ― and to say I had a lot to learn is at best an understatement.

Thankfully, I worked closely with a wonderful restorative doctor, Dr. Sergey Dzugan, who had the patience to explain things and answer my many questions. He is still my mentor today.

Among all that I learned about supplements, the following three lessons stand out as really important for anyone interested in exploring how vitamins and minerals can exponentially improve their health and quality of life.

How Much Is Enough?

My supplement education began with understanding that I had to let go of some erroneous preconceptions.

I had always thought that if my vitamin and mineral levels measured at the Reference Intake (RI) (or, in the U.S., the Recommended Daily Allowance, or RDA) levels, then all was well. I must be healthy!

What I learned is that those numbers are averages. They don’t apply to everyone.

But more importantly, while those levels might technically prevent a deficiency, they aren’t sufficient. It is well known in the ‘world of restorative medicine’ that they are not enough to optimize cellular function and inadequate levels mean you’re always operating at less than your best.

Moreover, sub-optimal vitamin and mineral levels that persist over a long period of time can lead to diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and premature death. All those diseases we so dread. Diseases associated with old age.

These are diseases that, with optimal levels of vitamins and minerals, we can avoid.

Did you know, for example, that if you go for 30 to 40 years without enough folate for optimal function, your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease will double? It’s a great incentive for folic acid (folate) supplementation.

You can blame a lot of long-term degeneration on nutrient-poor diets ― diets high in carbs, sugar, and processed foods. But even the supposed ‘good’ food we get is all too often inadequate to meet our nutrient needs. Grocery stores are filled with GMO (genetically modified organism) foods . . . foods grown in nutrient-depleted soil . . . foods produced by plants sprayed with poisonous pesticides and other toxic chemicals.

Some foods fail to give us needed nutrients, while daily exposure to environmental toxins, as well as certain drugs, deplete our bodies of what essential nutrients we already have.

It’s up to us to restore nutrients up to our level of need.

LESSON 1: Most people today, despite test results saying they’re within ‘normal’ range, don’t get all the nutrients they need from food. Research tells us they’re likely to be deficient in one or more vitamins. Consequently, almost everyone needs to supplement in order to build a strong foundation for lifelong health.

Which Supplement to Buy?

Another important thing I learned is that you can’t assume just any supplement will provide your body with the raw materials it needs to thrive. But which ones to buy?

Confronted with a massive wall of shelved vitamins, minerals and herbs, how can you tell which ones may truly be judged excellent? How can you avoid wasting your money on supplements that don’t help you? Or worse, cause harm?

It feels like walking through a minefield! The choices are seemingly endless, and there’s almost no government regulation to ensure product quality, safety and efficacy.

In the UK, most supplements are regulated not as drugs but as foods by the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health (FSADH). They’re regulated as a medicine only if the manufacturer makes a medical claim ― in other words, after it has caused harm. The same is true in the US.

Before a supplement company brings a product to market, it is not required to:

  • Do clinical studies to verify that it does what it’s claimed to do
  • Test the product to verify that it’s safe
  • Meet standards of purity for ingredients
  • Ensure that labels accurately reflect the product’s actual contents

When supplements randomly taken from the shelves of stores have been tested for quality and purity, many labels have proved shockingly deceptive.

In one US study, the New York State attorney general’s office tested dietary supplements from four major retailers. Around 80% of the samples tested didn’t contain so much as a trace of the herbs listed on the label. Many consisted mostly of cheap fillers ― powdered rice, vegetables and houseplants ― that weren’t even listed on the label, and one contained powdered wheat, to which many people are allergic, even though its label said the product was wheat- and gluten-free.

Charges filed included mislabeling, contamination and false advertising.

The sad thing is, this wasn’t just a one-off. Because quality and safety regulations are lax to non-existent, this kind of deception is common in both the US and the UK. In fact, studies in the UK indicate that many supplements are contaminated with banned and often dangerous substances. Unfortunately, low price often equates to low quality.

LESSON 2: Buyer beware.

How Do You Know You’re Really Getting the Goods?

This is your first step towards securing your health . . .helping yourself to perform at your peak and prevent disease.

The best advice I can share is to buy from a reputable source ― a source that has a thorough knowledge of supplements, knows the importance of adequate active ingredients and understands their role in proactively achieving optimal health.

In the meantime, bear in mind that most women need to take:

  • A high-quality multivitamin
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D3
  • Omega3 fatty acids
  • Probiotics

The market is overrun with poor-quality products, so please be aware that it is important to know what you are looking for. Look for supplements supported by:

  • Basic science and clinical trials
  • Credible 3rd-party analysis and testing
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Commitment to content integrity (freedom from contaminants, preservatives and chemical agents commonly found in low-quality products)

LESSON 3: Working with an experienced restorative medicine doctor, buy supplements from companies that are backed by science and adhere to good manufacturing processes.

At Menopause Woman, we carry only products that meet the most exacting standards of purity. All our supplements observe GMP guidelines, which is your guarantee that they are consistently controlled and produced according to quality standards. They also comply with the EU Supplement Directive, adopted in 2002.

All our supplements have a long record of safety and efficacy. You can be assured that our products are made with ingredients sourced to meet the most stringent qualifications for quality, satisfy your highest expectations and deliver reliable, scientifically proven support for your health.

SOURCES:

  • Dr. Mark Hyman Takes the Guesswork Out of Vitamin Supplements. The Daniel Plan.
  • How to Choose a Quality Vitamin Supplement. Black Bear Naturopathic clinic, PC.
  • O’Connor, A. New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers. New York Times. February 3, 2015
  • Safety of contaminated vitamins and nutritional supplements can’t be left to consumers. The Conversation. May 5, 2015.
  • 10 surprising dangers of vitamins and supplements. Consumer Reports magazine. Sept. 2012.
  • Warner, B. To Trust or Not to Trust? What’s in Your Supplements? HealthyBalanceMD.com.

Hot Flush Supplements

Can Hot Flush Supplements Really Work?

Hot flushes are the affliction most commonly associated with menopause ― for good reason. It’s estimated that between 75% and 85% of women experience hot flushes during their menopausal journey.

They’re felt as intense attacks of heat and sweating, and may cause your heart to beat in a rapid, percussive staccato. They can begin in your face, your chest or at the back of your neck and spread throughout your body. You may feel hot to the touch and experience nausea. They may rob you of sleep and extinguish your sex life.

And the effects often extend well beyond the physical. Depending on the severity and frequency, hot flushes can disastrously affect your relationships and home life, your social life and your ability to work.

For some, hot flushes may strike dozens of times a day, each lasting between two and thirty minutes. According to a 2015 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, they last for around seven years on average, but may continue for as long as 11 or more years.

Despite all its associated symptoms, menopause is not a disease. It’s a natural part of life! Nonetheless, the symptoms can be life-disrupting, and women want ― and need ― relief. But can supplements really deliver you from the misery of hot flushes?

Let’s take a look at three frequently recommended hot-flush remedies: vitamin E, folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin E

Clinical studies from as long ago as the 1940s have found menopausal women taking vitamin E had around a 50% reduction in the number of hot flushes they experienced.

In an Iranian study, hot flushes dropped from five a day to three for menopausal women taking 400 IUs of the alpha-tocopherol and tocotrienol forms of vitamin E daily for four weeks. They also became less severe.

These studies reflect the experience of many other women. Around 50 to 75 percent of women affected by menopausal symptoms, especially hot flushes, find vitamin E works reliably and effectively to provide relief.

We are still learning about the mechanisms involved in hot flushes, so our understanding of exactly how vitamin E works to relieve this troubling symptom is incomplete. Nonetheless, some things are becoming clear.

We do know, for example, that oestrogen deficiency is not the sole, direct cause of hot flushes and night sweats. That commonly held belief is an oversimplification.

In perimenopause, women typically experience falling progesterone levels while oestrogen levels may decrease to a lesser degree or remain consistent. In fact, oestrogen may be the last hormone to decline, with the lowest levels being reached in full menopause.

The result is an imbalance in the ratio between progesterone and oestrogen ― that is, too much oestrogen relative to progesterone. This imbalance, called oestrogen dominance, likely increases activity of the hypothalamus gland in the brain.

The hypothalamus, which is responsible for regulation of body temperature, responds by activating secretion of two hormones from the adjacent pituitary gland: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH).

If vitamin E levels are low, FSH and LH levels increase, causing blood vessels to dilate and allowing greater blood flow to the skin, which elevates temperature ― the symptoms of hot flushes. Interestingly, women in one study who were experiencing hot flushes were found to have elevated levels of the LH chemical 66 out of 66 times tested.

Supplementing with vitamin E helps decrease FSH and LH levels and reduce oestrogen production from the ovaries by interacting with oestrogen receptors and blocking it. This lowers hypothalamus activity and allows a “cooling off” period.

During the menopausal years, FSH and LH strength may increase by as much as 1,300 percent over previous levels.

Adelle Davis, a pioneering nutritionist who based her recommendations on evidence-based studies, wrote, “During the menopause, the need for vitamin E soars ten to fifty times over that previously required. Hot flushes and night sweats often disappear when 50 to 500 units of vitamin E are taken daily, but they quickly recur should the vitamin be stopped.”

Folic Acid (Vitamin B9)

Folic acid’s effectiveness as a therapy for hot flushes has been the subject of considerable research, although most folic acid studies assume oestrogen deficiency as the cause of hot flushes.

One trial pitted 1-mg folic acid tablets against a placebo once a day for four weeks. Researchers saw significant symptom improvement and suggested that folic acid is an accessible, affordable method of treating hot flushes.

Another study focused on folic acid’s role in synthesis of the transmitters serotonin (which elevates mood) and noradrenaline (which increases stress) in the brain. Elevating serotonin increased its “feel-good” effects, and reducing noradrenaline lowered stress levels, which reduced hot flush symptoms.

The researchers in this study assumed that folic acid acted on these neurotransmitters in the same way as oestrogen and suggested that it therefore could be used as an inexpensive and effective alternative to oestrogen therapy.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s, which are fish oil, contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Every cell in your body requires these fatty acids, and, since your body can’t make them, they have to come from diet or from supplements.

A 2009 double-blind, controlled study of 120 women found that EPA, given over eight weeks in daily 1000-gram doses, could reduce hot flushes by half.

An Italian study compared omega-3 fish oil capsules with a soy isoflavone supplement and placebo. The omega-3 group, unlike the other two groups, experienced a steady decline in hot flush frequency.

The researchers explained that the omega-3 fatty acid’s ability to relieve hot flushes was likely due to their influence on neuronal [brain cell] membranes and/or their modulation of serotonin neurotransmitters, which lighten mood and relieve stress.

Yet another study focused on a link between hot flushes and the hypothalamus, the area of the brain mentioned above that regulates body temperature. The researchers hypothesised that insufficient oestrogen causes the hypothalamus to get the wrong signals and, as a result, turn up body temperature.

Omega-3s were thought to help ease hot flushes by reducing production of a particular type of eicosanoid (a signaling molecule) that promotes heat-generating inflammation.

How Do You Survive Hot Flushes?

Science is still learning about alternative treatments for hot flushes, and it appears performance of specific supplements may vary for different women. However, each of the above supplements has brought relief to significant numbers of women and made life bearable again.

Since conventional wisdom still attributes hot flushes solely to loss of oestrogen, it’s unsurprising that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most common recommendation. The idea is to replace what is thought to have been lost ― namely, oestrogen.

However, traditional HRT can pose risks for heart attack, stroke, blood clots and cancer. A far safer option is bioidentical hormone restorative therapy (BHRT), which uses plant-derived ingredients that duplicate the molecular structure of the hormones produced naturally within your body.

A great advantage of BHRT is that it enables accurate rebalancing of your hormones, which will bring oestrogen and progesterone into the proper ratio ― an excellent solution for taming hot flushes and, at the same time, for protecting against disease.

BHRT doesn’t carry the same health risks as HRT. Plus, advance testing enables formulation to meet your exact requirements, so it gives optimum results, including much-needed relief from hot flashes.

SOURCES:

Bani, S. et. al. The Effect of Folic Acid on Menopausal Hot flashes: A Randomized Clinical Trial. J
Journal of Caring Sciences. 2013 Jun; 2(2): 131-140.

Cohen, L., et. al. Efficacy of Omega-3 Treatment for Vasomotor Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Menopause. 2014 Apr: 21(4): 347-354.

Dexter, M.B. Vitamin E for Menopause. Love to Know.

Ewies, A. Folic acid supplementation: The new dawn for postmenopausal women with hot flushes. World Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Nov 10, 2013; 2(4): 87-93.

Ferrari, N. Menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats can last for years. Harvard Health Publications. Feb. 23, 2015.

Harpaz, M. Can Vitamin E Reduce Hot Flashes? Menopause Matters. Jan. 6, 2013.

Hot Flashes. Women Living Naturally.

How to increase progesterone. Miscarriage Research.

Kelley, J.W. Fish Oil & Hot Flashes. LIVESTRONG. Aug. 16, 2013.

Menopause Symptoms and Treatments. DrWeil.com.

Northrup, C. Is This Your Perimenopause Transition? DrNorthrup.com.

Pick, M. Your Omega-3 Fatty Acid ― Essential for Health and Long Life. Women to Women.

Progesterone (not Estrogen) for Hot Flushes in Perimenopausal and Menopausal Women.

Remedies for Menopausal Symptoms. ProjectAWARE.

Sail Through Menopause with a Little B and E. Alive. Jul. 31, 2015.

Telomeres: How to Help Prevent Them from Shortening

In my previous blog, I discussed the importance of telomeres to the ageing process and our bodies. Naturally, telomere length, and their impressive health benefits are now gathering more and more interest… the race is on! How do we preserve telomere length in normal cells, which in turn, sustain healthy cellular youth and functionality?

The Answer? Vitamin Supplementation

Over the last few years, scientists have gathered a tremendous and convincing amount of evidence, demonstrating that one way of supporting telomere health and length is to include a daily regime of certain vitamins in adequate amounts including, B vitamins (including vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and folic acid), vitamin D3, vitamin C, and vitamin E (in particular Gamma-tocotrienol which prevent, and may even reverse telomere shortening), and the vegetable carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, high levels of which have been seen to promote significantly longer telomeres.

Fish oils have also demonstrated they can significantly impact telomere length. One study showed that by reducing blood levels of omega-6 fats, and increasing omega-3s (from fish oil), the outcome was increased telomere length. This was due to a reduction of inflammatory molecules (cytokines) and oxidative stress, which was brought on by higher levels of omega-3s in relation to the pro-inflammatory omega-6s. There is a specific ratio between omega-6s and omega-3s that has to adhered to, to help prevent excess inflammation and for us to remain healthy. It is important to have both these omegas present in the body, so long as they are in the correct ratios.

An Important Note for Women

Women who consume a diet lacking in antioxidants tend to have shorter telomeres and present a moderate risk of developing breast cancer. On the other hand, a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene have been linked to longer telomeres and a lower risk of breast cancer.

I mentioned previously about hormone deficiencies and decline, and the influence they have on the shortening of telomeres. Hormones decline with age, but supplementing with bioidentical hormones can aid telomere length. Oestrogen – 17 beta oestradiol – and testosterone activate telomerase which plays a key role in telomere length. However, estrogen blockers such as those given to women who have been found to have cancer, turn off or inhibit telomerase, as do androgen (synthetic male hormone) blockers.

So to help maintain telomere length… remember to take your antioxidants and vitamins, and for an even better outcome… bioidentical hormones as well!

References

Zhu H, Guo D, Li K, et al. Increased telomerase activity and vitamin D supplementation in overweight African Americans. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012;36(6):805-9.

Chiappori AA, Kolevska T, Spigel DR, et al. A randomized phase II study of the telomerase inhibitor imetelstat as maintenance therapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. Ann Oncol 2015;26(2)354-62.

Pusceddu I, Herrmann M, Kirsch SH, et al. One-carbon metabolites and telomere length in a prospective and randomized study of B- and/or D-vitamin supplementation. Eur J Nutr. 2016.

Xu Q, Parks CG, DeRoo LA, et al. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(6):1857-63.

Shin C, Baik I. Leukocyte Telomere Length is Associated With Serum Vitamin B12 and Homocysteine Levels in Older Adults With the Presence of Systemic Inflammation. Clin Nutr Res. 2016;5(1):7-14.

Min KB, Min JY. Association between leukocyte telomere length and serum carotenoid in US adults. Eur J Nutr. 2016.

Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Dorling MW, Hales CN. Early growth determines longevity in male rats and may be related to telomere shortening in the kidney. FEBS Lett. 1999 Apr 1; 448(1):4-8.

Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Hales CN. Nutritional, oxidative damage, telomere shortening,  and cellular senescence: individual or connected agents of aging? Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Hales CN. Mol Genet Metab. 2000 Sep-Oct; 71(1-2):32-42.

Xiong S, Patrushev N, Forouzandeh F, et al. PGC-1alpha Modulates Telomere Function and DNA Damage in Protecting against Aging-Related Chronic Diseases. Cell Rep. 2015;12(9):1391-9.

Pusceddu I, Farrell CJ, Di Pierro AM, et al. The role of telomeres and vitamin D in cellular aging and age-related diseases. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2015;53(11):1661-78.

Zhang D, Sun X, Liu J, et al. Homocysteine accelerates senescence of endothelial cells via DNA hypomethylation of human telomerase reverse transcriptase. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015;35(1):71-8.

Harley CB, Liu W, Flom PL, et al. A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program: metabolic and cardiovascular response. Rejuvenation Res. 2013;16(5):386-95.

Borras M, Panizo S, Sarro F, et al. Assessment of the potential role of active vitamin D treatment in telomere length: a case-control study in hemodialysis patients. Clin Ther. 2012;34(4):849-56.

Makpol S, Zainuddin A, Rahim NA, et al. Alpha-tocopherol modulates hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage and telomere shortening of human skin fibroblasts derived from differently aged individuals. Planta Med. 2010;76(9):869-75.

Tanaka Y, Moritoh Y, Miwa N. Age-dependent telomere-shortening is repressed by phosphorylated alpha-tocopherol together with cellular longevity and intracellular oxidative-stress reduction in human brain microvascular endotheliocytes. J Cell Biochem. 2007;102(3):689-703.

Makpol S, Abidin AZ, Sairin K, et al. gamma-Tocotrienol prevents oxidative stress-induced telomere shortening in human fibroblasts derived from different aged individuals. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2010;3(1):35-43.

Sen A, Marsche G, Freudenberger P, et al. Association between higher plasma lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C concentrations and longer telomere length: results of the Austrian Stroke Prevention Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014;62(2):222-9.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Epel ES, Belury MA, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2013;28:16-24.

Gonzalez-Suarez I, Redwood AB, Grotsky DA, et al. A new pathway that regulates 53BP1 stability implicates cathepsin L and vitamin D in DNA repair. Embo j. 2011;30(16):3383-96.

Liu JJ, Prescott J, Giovannucci E, et al. Plasma vitamin D biomarkers and leukocyte telomere length. Am J Epidemiol. 2013;177(12):1411-7.

Kim YY, Ku SY, Huh Y, et al. Anti-aging effects of vitamin C on human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. Age (Dordr). 2013;35(5):1545-57.

Li Y, Zhang W, Chang L, et al. Vitamin C alleviates aging defects in a stem cell model for Werner syndrome. Protein Cell. 2016;7(7):478-88.

Farzaneh-Far R, Lin Jue, Espel ES, Harris WS, Blackburn EH, et al. Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease. Jama 2010 Jan 20;303(3):250.

Masood A. Shammas. Telomeres, Lifestyle, Cancer and Aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Jan; 14(1): 28–34.

Jing Shen, Gammon MD, Terry MB, Qiao Wang, et al. Telomere length, oxidative damage, antioxidants and Breast cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2009 Apr 1;124(7):1637-43.

Calado RT, Yewdell WT, WilersonKL, Regal JA, et al. Sex hormones, acting on the TERT gene, increase telomerase activity in human primary hematopoietic cells. Blood 2009 Sep 10;114(11):2236-2243.

Telomeres: Is Your Body’s Fuse Burning Out?

Could Your Body’s Fuse Be Burning Out?

Telomeres is a “hot subject” these days as they are considered to be an important factor in the ageing process, and although ageing is multifaceted, a host of research demonstrates that telomere length is as an excellent biomarker for ageing at the cellular level. The shortening of telomeres, over time, accelerates cellular ageing, however there are various nutrients that assist telomere repair and help maintain telomere length, that have proven health benefits.

What Exactly Are Telomeres?

They are often compared to the burning fuse; like this fuse, telomeres at the end of our chromosomes, steadily but surely shorten every time a cell replicates itself. Telomeres are a ‘time-bomb’ that hold the key to biological ageing; they are small strands of DNA code in our genes which control ageing and cell replication. In short, they help dictate how fast or slowly we age. Once they have reached a ‘critical point’ of shortness, cellular replication can no longer take place, which leads to ageing (senescence) of the cell and finally death, sometimes known as the “Hayflick limit process”. Ageing cells are not needed in the body and no longer contribute to efficacious tissue upkeep. And, in fact, telomere length is a very useful biomarker of cellular ageing.

Cells contain an enzyme (enzymes are special chemicals which speed up the body’s processes. Enzyme function declines with age) known as telomerase, which has the function of adding fresh new DNA to the ends of telomeres, assisting in keeping them long enough to support and maintain cellular health and activity.

What Circumstances Activate, Determine and Accelerate Telomere Shortening?

At every turn, we are faced with an internal (within our body) battle against negative forces. The eternal, endless and internal battle, wages war on our molecules, our cells, our entire body, as those forces actively work to destroy them. Our enemies in this war include: oxidation, glycation (a process that is damaging and toxic to the body), abnormal methylation (can lead to an increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, neurodegenerative diseases, and other chronic issues.), inflammation, and DNA gene mutation. At the same time, we also have to face external influences; environmental toxins, unhealthy diet, overeating (a restricted diet has been associated with significantly longer telomeres and longevity), lack of exercise, smoking, nature of work/profession, stress, hormone and vitamin deficiencies. All of these trigger the shortening of telomere length.

At every level, life and longevity is a balance of factors. Just as love is a balance of growing, learning and understanding each other; a balance between freedom and trust: ageing is a balance between entropy and defense; degradation and restoration. We must learn to come together and understand it, and learn how we can protect our telomeres and therefore, our lives and our longevity.

Why are Telomeres More Important as we Age?

Our body is so intricately designed that the human infrastructure instinctively defends us from an attack. From the top and at every level, the body has specific systems in place to protect, minimise, restore and repair damage. But as we age, from approximately 30 years, the human infrastructure and its systems begin to break down. As the years and decades pass, the breakdown picks up speed, shifting gears from first, to second, and finally sixth gear.

Our body is no longer able to repair itself as it once did. Cells can’t recycle as well as they once did, and as a result, the damage in our body increases. We now get a shift towards more damage and decay (known as catabolic) from restore and repair (known as anabolic). Age-related defects in metabolism equate to increased pathology (disease). When the body slows, the restore and repair systems in place decline and, at the same time, the pace of telomere shortening increases. The erosion of telomeres plays a role in ALL diseases. Shortened telomeres are found in individuals with age-related disorders including neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

In my next blog on Telomeres, I will explain how you can help to maintain their length with vitamin supplementation.

References

Zhu H, Guo D, Li K, et al. Increased telomerase activity and vitamin D supplementation in overweight African Americans. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012;36(6):805-9.

Chiappori AA, Kolevska T, Spigel DR, et al. A randomized phase II study of the telomerase inhibitor imetelstat as maintenance therapy for advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. Ann Oncol 2015;26(2)354-62.

Pusceddu I, Herrmann M, Kirsch SH, et al. One-carbon metabolites and telomere length in a prospective and randomized study of B- and/or D-vitamin supplementation. Eur J Nutr. 2016.

Xu Q, Parks CG, DeRoo LA, et al. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(6):1857-63.

Shin C, Baik I. Leukocyte Telomere Length is Associated With Serum Vitamin B12 and Homocysteine Levels in Older Adults With the Presence of Systemic Inflammation. Clin Nutr Res. 2016;5(1):7-14.

Min KB, Min JY. Association between leukocyte telomere length and serum carotenoid in US adults. Eur J Nutr. 2016.

Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Dorling MW, Hales CN. Early growth determines longevity in male rats and may be related to telomere shortening in the kidney. FEBS Lett. 1999 Apr 1; 448(1):4-8.

Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Hales CN. Nutritional, oxidative damage, telomere shortening,  and cellular senescence: individual or connected agents of aging? Jennings BJ, Ozanne SE, Hales CN. Mol Genet Metab. 2000 Sep-Oct; 71(1-2):32-42.

Xiong S, Patrushev N, Forouzandeh F, et al. PGC-1alpha Modulates Telomere Function and DNA Damage in Protecting against Aging-Related Chronic Diseases. Cell Rep. 2015;12(9):1391-9.

Pusceddu I, Farrell CJ, Di Pierro AM, et al. The role of telomeres and vitamin D in cellular aging and age-related diseases. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2015;53(11):1661-78.

Zhang D, Sun X, Liu J, et al. Homocysteine accelerates senescence of endothelial cells via DNA hypomethylation of human telomerase reverse transcriptase. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015;35(1):71-8.

Harley CB, Liu W, Flom PL, et al. A natural product telomerase activator as part of a health maintenance program: metabolic and cardiovascular response. Rejuvenation Res. 2013;16(5):386-95.

Borras M, Panizo S, Sarro F, et al. Assessment of the potential role of active vitamin D treatment in telomere length: a case-control study in hemodialysis patients. Clin Ther. 2012;34(4):849-56.

Makpol S, Zainuddin A, Rahim NA, et al. Alpha-tocopherol modulates hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage and telomere shortening of human skin fibroblasts derived from differently aged individuals. Planta Med. 2010;76(9):869-75.

Tanaka Y, Moritoh Y, Miwa N. Age-dependent telomere-shortening is repressed by phosphorylated alpha-tocopherol together with cellular longevity and intracellular oxidative-stress reduction in human brain microvascular endotheliocytes. J Cell Biochem. 2007;102(3):689-703.

Makpol S, Abidin AZ, Sairin K, et al. gamma-Tocotrienol prevents oxidative stress-induced telomere shortening in human fibroblasts derived from different aged individuals. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2010;3(1):35-43.

Sen A, Marsche G, Freudenberger P, et al. Association between higher plasma lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C concentrations and longer telomere length: results of the Austrian Stroke Prevention Study. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014;62(2):222-9.

Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Epel ES, Belury MA, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2013;28:16-24.

Gonzalez-Suarez I, Redwood AB, Grotsky DA, et al. A new pathway that regulates 53BP1 stability implicates cathepsin L and vitamin D in DNA repair. Embo j. 2011;30(16):3383-96.

Liu JJ, Prescott J, Giovannucci E, et al. Plasma vitamin D biomarkers and leukocyte telomere length. Am J Epidemiol. 2013;177(12):1411-7.

Kim YY, Ku SY, Huh Y, et al. Anti-aging effects of vitamin C on human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes. Age (Dordr). 2013;35(5):1545-57.

Li Y, Zhang W, Chang L, et al. Vitamin C alleviates aging defects in a stem cell model for Werner syndrome. Protein Cell. 2016;7(7):478-88.

Farzaneh-Far R, Lin Jue, Espel ES, Harris WS, Blackburn EH, et al. Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease. Jama 2010 Jan 20;303(3):250.

Masood A. Shammas. Telomeres, Lifestyle, Cancer and Aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Jan; 14(1): 28–34.

Jing Shen, Gammon MD, Terry MB, Qiao Wang, et al. Telomere length, oxidative damage, antioxidants and Breast cancer risk. Int J Cancer. 2009 Apr 1;124(7):1637-43.

Calado RT, Yewdell WT, WilersonKL, Regal JA, et al. Sex hormones, acting on the TERT gene, increase telomerase activity in human primary hematopoietic cells. Blood 2009 Sep 10;114(11):2236-2243.

3 Little Known Ways to Ease Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and/or wrist. Patients with carpal tunnel syndrome are given a range of options to treat this debilitating health issue. But what happens when the traditional splint, injection therapy and anti-inflammatory agents provide little relief?

Hint: I’ve got three amazing natural treatments to tell you about!

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a gradually progressing condition that occurs when the nerves in the wrist become compressed due to swelling and inflamed tendons within the carpal tunnel.

Patients regularly complain of pain and numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand, and more specifically, in the thumb and first finger. This can make it difficult to grip objects and perform other simple task.

CTS affects women approximately three times more than men which may be due to the shift in hormone levels during pregnancy and menopause. In addition, women have smaller wrist bones, which makes the carpal tunnel naturally smaller to begin with. While CTS usually develops after the age of 30, the greatest risk is seen between the ages of 45 to 54. This is where we see the connection between declining hormone, menopause and CTS.

If you suspect that you have developed CTS, see a doctor immediately. It is important to diagnose and treat CTS promptly to reduce the possibility of permanent nerve damage.

What is the Carpal Tunnel?

To put it simply, the carpal tunnel is designed to be a shield. As described by the Mayo Clinic, it is a small passageway that protects the median nerve in your wrist. It also protects nine different tendons that are used to make the fingers bend. When the median nerve is subjected to too much pressure, numbness and tingling arise.

What Causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Most people think that typing is the leading cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. However, this isn’t true. According to NHS Choices, carpal tunnel is more likely to affect people who perform strenuous activities than those who type for a living. However, there are also many people who acquire this syndrome that do not work.

Researchers have found that a number of health conditions can play a part in the development of CTS. These can include: hormonal changes associated with menopause (leaving women much more susceptible to this syndrome), diabetes, excess weight, rheumatoid arthritis, and underactive thyroid (all good reasons to get your hormone levels checked). In addition, activities that stress the wrist, wrist injury, abnormal wrist structure, family history and pregnancy can contribute to the risk of developing CTS.

If you’re seeing few results from traditional treatments for CTS, check out these three alternative options.

1. Vitamin B6

Research on vitamin B6 and CTS is astounding. In fact, Prevention magazine reports that some experts claim that up to 90 percent of cases of CTS can be quelled with the use of this vitamin. But why?

According to Ryan-Harshman and Aldoori (2007), vitamin B6 is very important when it comes to the metabolic pathways of neural function. Remember that CTS is a condition associated with compression of the medial nerve. If you don’t have enough B6, you could potentially have problems with nerve conduction.

There is other research that backs this concept up. For example, Life Extension magazine reports that one study concluded that four patients who displayed vitamin B6 deficiency and took supplements for at least three months showed improvement in symptoms. The team later conducted another study in which all seven study subjects displayed insufficient levels of vitamin B6. When daily supplementation of 100-150 mg of B6 was given for two and a half to three months, symptoms improved greatly in comparison to research using placebos.

Give vitamin B6 a try. Just remember to choose a pharmaceutical-grade vitamin. Vitamins aren’t all the same, so you owe it to yourself to consume the best possible product on the market.

2. Yoga

As it turns out, the benefits of yoga extend far beyond stress relief. According to the Mayo Clinic, specific yoga postures may be useful in the treatment of CTS. This is because yoga postures can build strength, stretch the muscles, and balance the joints. The combination of these factors could potentially improve symptoms.

This is particularly true when it comes to improving grip strength. A randomized, single-blind controlled trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that patients who participated in a yoga-based regimen showed a greater improvement in symptoms than those who were given wrist splints. In addition, the patients reported greater pain reduction.

Your best bet is to find a reputable yoga class in your area. Ask your friends which instructors they prefer. An experienced teacher can show you exactly which yoga postures will be beneficial for you.

3. Cupping Therapy

According to a press release issued by the American Pain Society, researchers from Germany have found that cupping can help to reduce pain associated with CTS. Cupping therapy is a healing method used in China, India, Arabia, Central Europe, and Africa. The technique is said to boost microcirculation in order to improve symptoms.

The study, which was published in The Journal of Pain, involved more than 50 CTS patients who were separated into treatment and control groups. Those in the treatment group participated in wet cupping therapy, which involved the use of cupping glasses and skin punctures using a sterile lancet. Researchers concluded that patients who underwent cupping therapy experienced a “highly significant” decrease in symptoms. Just one treatment improved symptoms for a week.

Do I Need Vitamin D3?

You absolutely need Vitamin D3

In fact, it’s a critical part of maintaining good health.

To begin, vitamin D3 is essential to bone health.  Without it, the body can’t absorb calcium efficiently. If you are low on vitamin D3,  your body can only absorb a tenth to a fifteenth of the calcium you take in.

In addition, vitamin D3 naturally combats cancer. Optimal vitamin D3 levels are thought to reduce the risk of many types of cancer including: colon, prostate, and breast cancer.

Vitamin D3 is also an anti-inflammatory agent that protects the heart. Researchers have found that patients with low levels of vitamin D3 demonstrate a 60% percent increased risk of heart disease. In addition to this, studies have shown that inadequate levels of vitamin D3 may triple the risk of hypertension.

And that’s just the beginning of vitamin D3’s abilities. It even helps to stave off diabetes, depression, multiple sclerosis, and the flu. Pretty amazing, right?

The difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3?

However, make sure you are taking the correct vitamin D. Often  milk and other foods are fortified with vitamin D but unfortunately, it is of the synthetic form, and is known as ergocalciferol, or vitamin D2. On the other hand, vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol, is produced in the skin with sunlight exposure – making it natural to the human body, and a perfect match. To emphasise! Make sure to choose vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). You should avoid vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) at all costs. I can’t stress this enough.

The reason? Because vitamin D2 is not natural to the human body. Vitamin D2 is a compound produced by irradiating yeast with ultraviolet light – it is not natural! The body does not recognise it, and therefore, works only half as well! In fact, vitamin D3 is at least three times more potent than vitamin D2, is more stable, safer, and more useful in the body. And importantly, vitamin D2 has been linked to various health issues, one of which is irritation of the lining of the blood vessels.  

Why deprive your body of true D3 when you can get it so easily? From the sun, through supplementation, and from certain foods! Vitamin D3 however, can not be found in many foods, in fact, just  about 10 percent of the vitamin D3 we get, comes from the foods we eat.

Remember this when you’re shopping: look for the top nine vitamin D rich foods: sardines, salmon, mackerel, tuna, raw milk, caviar, eggs, mushrooms, and cod liver oil. And don’t forget sunlight promotes the synthesis of vitamin D from cholesterol. Also, an authentic, high quality, vitamin D3 supplement enables your body to recognise, understand, and use it appropriately. Basically speaking… let your body do what it does best with what it knows best! In short, give your body what it recognizes. Always, always follow nature.  

However, beware of prescription vitamins, they are, more often than not, vitamin D2 rather than vitamin D3, and are therefore, not the best for your health.

Did you know that vitamin D3 isn’t really a vitamin?

Strange concept, interesting fact.

The truth is that vitamin D3 is a steroid hormone. It can’t be a typical vitamin because the body can – and does – make it on its own.

As mentioned previously, sunlight promotes vitamin D3 synthesis from cholesterol. But let’s take a closer look at this miraculous feat!

When sunlight meets your skin, the body undergoes a symphony of sorts. It produces a substance called 7-dehydrocholesterol. You might not have heard of it, but it is the start of an incredible process undertaken by your body.

7-Dehydrocholesterol then turns into cholesterol (yes, you heard that right), which converts into a healthy supply of vitamin D3. All you have to do is spend about twenty minutes in the sun without sunscreen- et voila! Your body has naturally supplied itself with this essential nutrient. However, vitamin D3 synthesis declines with age, mainly because the concentration of 7-dehydrocholesterol in the skin declines. This is where supplementation is important.

I personally advocate the use of supplements if you’re vitamin D deficient. If you’ve read my books, you’ll definitely understand why. 

My books (The Cholesterol Puzzle and The Menopause Cure) and are available to buy on Amazon in paperback or Kindle.

The Menopause Cure | Menopause Woman

The Menopause Cure

Is vitamin D deficiency rare?

Unfortunately, vitamin D deficiency is not rare. Recent official figures show that in the UK, 23% of adults, 21% of the elderly and 22% of teenagers have low levels of vitamin D in their blood. Astonishing, and deeply troubling figures that highlight how big an issue vitamin D3 deficiency is.

Some experts have suggested that nearly half of the global population is deficient.  And because of a decrease in production with age, your risk of deficiency is even higher. Maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D3 is essential to your overall health and wellbeing.

Is vitamin D3 linked to osteoporosis?

The answer is yes.

Vitamin D3 is required for the absorption of calcium into the bones and to help keep them strong. Again, production of vitamin D3 declines with age, without sufficient vitamin D3 the bones will become soft and weak. Taking professional-grade supplements may help protect against osteoporosis. Other nutrients that may also help are magnesium, calcium, vitamin K2 (as menaquinone), zinc, selenium, collagen, and silicon.

Will my vitamin D3 levels fluctuate with the seasons or based on location?

This depends on how far you live from the equator. Here are some rather interesting vitamin D3 statistics:

  • If you live in the UK, your body will struggle to produce sufficient vitamin D3 from October to March.
  • In the Southern Hemisphere, the schedule flips. For example, citizens of Buenos Aires won’t produce much vitamin D3 in June.
  • Scotland is particularly vulnerable to vitamin D3 deficiency. This is why experts recommend supplements throughout the year – especially during autumn and winter months.

Is there anything I should know about vitamin D3 and the menopause?

Ensuring that you have optimal vitamin D3 levels is one of the most important steps towards managing the menopause and staying healthy. Think of it like this: bones need calcium for strength. After menopause sets in, the body can’t make vitamin D3 as easily so it often needs a little assistance to reach optimal vitamin D3 levels. Doing this now can help prevent osteoporosis and other menopause-related health issues in the future.

What should I do next?

You owe it to yourself to get your levels of vitamin D tested. A doctor can perform a very quick and easy procedure to help you find out your levels. The best possible strategy you can employ is to be proactive and help prevent a vitamin D3 deficiency.  

Note: Always supplement with magnesium when taking calcium – magnesium is a natural calcium blocker, therefore is heart-healthy. Magnesium has the ability to block the channels by which calcium enters the cells; when magnesium is low, intracellular calcium rises. Magnesium can help avoid a buildup of calcium in the arteries.

References:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/2/491S.full

www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/what-is-vitamin-d/

www.health.harvard.edu/mens-health/vitamin-d-and-your-health

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002405.htm

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/128762-overview

www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/176941.php

www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2010/1/startling-findings-about-vitamin-d-levels-in-life-extension-members/page-01

www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/vitamin-d-and-osteoporosis/

www.prevention.com/health/symptoms-vitamin-d-deficiency

www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/vitamin-d-and-osteoporosis/

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356951/%23!po%3D1.18110&source=gmail&ust=1481664140371000&usg=AFQjCNFqbC9sm6NZ3B2f_lHGqjWCfO8OtQ

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/vitamin-D-sunlight.aspx

www.gov.scot/Topics/Health/Healthy-Living/Food-Health/vitaminD

www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3945536/From-preventing-flu-helping-live-longer-doctor-reveals-follow-Government-s-advice-pop-vitamin-D-winter.html

Vitamin C: why you need this healing antioxidant for your immune system

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant that can help to boost your immune system, keep you energised and stave off a whole range of diseases.

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C must be consumed in food or high-quality supplements as it cannot be made in the body. It’s used to generate the protein that makes your skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, and is an ‘electron donor’ that maintains optimal electron flow, fights oxidation and protects vital molecular elements.

All in all, it’s an important part of who we are and too many of us aren’t getting enough of it. This water-soluble vitamin is essential to your health, so make sure you stay at your radiant best by reading through our guide to vitamin C.   

What are the health benefits of vitamin C?

As a co-factor in at least eight enzymatic reactions, vitamin C impacts a whole host of the systems that keep you at your best. These are some of the effects of vitamin C that you just can’t do without:

  1.   Skin and collagen: Studies have shown that higher vitamin C intake is linked to a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and the time it takes wounds to heal. It also contains antioxidants, which is one factor in reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.
  2.   Mineral absorption: Taking vitamin C alongside iron increases nutrient absorption rates, which in turn helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation.
  3.   Free radical damage: Vitamin C can protect against a build-up of free radical molecules within the body, which might otherwise contribute towards conditions such as cancer, heart disease or arthritis.
  4.   Cold and flu: Vitamin C can shake your immune system from its slumber, helping to fight off colds and flu and therefore prevent further complications, such as pneumonia.  
  5.   Cancer: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and used in high-doses as a supplementary treatment for cancer. Lab tests have shown that it may slow the growth and spread of prostate, pancreatic, liver and colon cancer.
  6.   Stroke: A study from the US found that people with the highest concentrations of vitamin C were 42% less likely to suffer a stroke than those with the lowest levels.
  7.   Physical performance: The vitamin might improve muscle strength and oxygen intake during exercise, as well as reducing inflammation for asthmatics.

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency

So, now that you know how important it is to stay topped up, here are some of the key warning signs to look out for that might point to a vitamin C deficiency:

Bruising easily Swollen or bleeding gums Slow wound healing
Gingivitis Dry/splitting hair Dry, red skin spots
Rough/dry/scaly skin Nosebleeds Low immune system
Digestive problems Weight gain Swollen/painful joints

Certain factors can increase your risk of becoming deficient in vitamin C, including:

  • Smoking
  • Ageing
  • Antibiotics
  • Aspirin
  • Birth control pills
  • Cortisone
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • High blood pressure
  • High fever
  • Painkillers
  • Stress
  • Sulfa drugs

If you’re part of any of these groups, it’s recommended that you top up your intake with high-quality supplements.

How to find balance through our diet and supplements

Like all nutrients, you can optimise the amount you take in from your diet by using organic fruit and veg, and consuming either raw or steamed. To help you find your natural balance, try to make sure you’re consuming 2-3 of these vitamin C rich foods every day:

Foodstuff Vitamin C Foodstuff Vitamin C
Guava 1 fruit: 377 mg Blackcurrant 1 cup: 203 mg
Red pepper 1 cup raw: 190 mg Kiwi 1 piece: 164 mg
Green peppers 1 cup chopped, raw: 120 mg Orange 1 large: 82 mg
Strawberries 1 cup: 89.4 mg Papaya 1 cup, in pieces: 86.5 mg
Broccoli 1 cup raw: 81.2 mg Kale 1 cup raw: 80 mg
Parsley 1 cup, fresh: 79.8 mg Pineapple 1 cup, fresh: 78.9 mg
Brussels sprouts 1 cup raw: 74.8 mg Grapefruit 1 cup: 71.8 mg
Peas 1 cup raw: 58 mg Cauliflower 1 cup raw, chopped: 46.4 mg

*Figures courtesy of draxe.com.  

With vitamin C, there’s no chance of overdosing as any excess will be excreted out later. Doses of vitamin C higher than 5000mg can be taken, but may cause diarrhea. Mineral ascorbate and Ester-C are buffered forms of vitamin C that cause less diarrhea. And if taking antacids please remember to take your vitamin C at least four hour beforehand, as antacids inhibit absorption of this important vitamin.

However, as 10% – 20% of us fall below recommended levels of vitamin C through diet alone, you should also consider taking a high-quality supplement to top you up. Taking one 1,000mg high-quality supplement has no real downsides. In fact, it will help to reinvigorate your health and leave you feeling full of life. Vitamin C should be taken two or three times over the course of the day as it is easily excreted from the body. Keeping your levels topped up in this way will ensure that you stay fully protected.

Hemochromatosis happens when the body accumulates excess iron. Vitamin C can increase this accumulation, therefore people with hemochromatosis should avoid the intake of extra vitamin C. Also, people with a glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, should not have vitamin C given to them intravenously.

Follow these simple steps and find out how optimising your vitamin C levels could help you rediscover your natural vibrancy.