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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 🙂

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.

Got the Menopause Blues?

Magnesium Could be the Solution

Studies show that magnesium benefits symptoms of anxiety, irritability, insomnia and water retention ― all common symptoms of menopause. In addition, magnesium increases levels of the mood-elevating neurotransmitter serotonin, which is important to improving sleep and memory, as well as depression.

When the perimenopause or menopause arrives, you may find yourself hit with an avalanche of life-disrupting symptoms. Could a precipitous drop in your magnesium level be the cause?

Over the past half century, magnesium intake has plummeted, thanks to mineral depletion in soil and water, resulting in mineral-poor diets. Consequently, around 75% of people in developed countries are now magnesium-deficient.

Most of us are unaware that our bodies rely on magnesium to perform more than 600 metabolic functions. However, we may become very aware of the effects of magnesium depletion.

Lack of magnesium can make itself felt in a number of ways ― stress, anxiety, depression, mood swings, irritability and insomnia, to name a few.

Depending on your magnesium levels over time, you may have previously escaped these problems or experienced them only irregularly. But with the advent of perimenopause and menopause, some or all of these symptoms commonly appear or worsen for many women. Some may be severe.

One can’t say that all menopausal symptoms are due solely to magnesium deficiency, but it can certainly be a major contributor.

And it may hold a key to relieving these distressing symptoms.

Why Magnesium Levels Fall with Menopause

Beginning with perimenopause, your oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone hormones fluctuate widely.

During your child-bearing years, when you need more minerals, oestrogen promotes magnesium absorption to accommodate pregnancy. However, as oestrogen levels begin to fall with perimenopause, your ability to absorb magnesium diminishes.

The result is hypomagnesemia (magnesium deficiency), which, if not addressed, will continue to worsen with age.

How Magnesium Helps Manage Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety rank high among complaints of menopausal women. The reason? As oestrogen levels drop, you also lose the ability to effectively regulate cortisol levels.

Cortisol is commonly known as “The Stress Hormone,” and in some instances it serves a useful purpose. For example, it can help you respond instinctively to emergencies, summon courage when threatened and weather daunting challenges.

However, too much cortisol for too long leads to chronic stress, which isn’t good.

In addition to producing stress, high cortisol impairs normal cell regeneration, production of vital hormones, cognitive function and healthy digestion.

Stress begins with your pituitary gland, which releases ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), and in turn, ACTH stimulates your adrenal glands to produce cortisol.

However, if you have enough magnesium, it can:
· moderate the amount of ACTH released from your pituitary
· lessen your adrenal glands’ response to ACTH, preventing a massive release of cortisol
· block the blood/brain barrier, preventing cortisol from entering your brain

Dr. Carolyn Dean, who authored the bestselling The Magnesium Miracle, explains how, under stress, “your body creates stress hormones causing a cascade of physical effects, all of which consume magnesium.”

It becomes a vicious cycle: Stress robs you of the magnesium you need to prevent stress, which makes stress still worse. If your magnesium level is low to begin with, it can be difficult to break the cycle.

To make matters worse, during periods of prolonged stress, you further reduce your magnesium store by passing it out with urine!

And Relieve Depression

Under the relentless assault of excessive cortisol and chronic stress, people may abandon healthy mood-regulation strategies. Consequently, the longer you’re stressed, the more likely it becomes that you will find yourself on a downward slide into depression.

There is, however, hope. There’s good reason magnesium is called “the chill pill”, “nature’s relaxant” and the “anti-stress/anxiety mineral”. In one study, researchers found magnesium equally as effective as antidepressants in relieving depression, often within a week.

An interesting article by researchers George and Karen Eby theorizes that stress, together with magnesium deficiency, can cause damage to brain neurons that results in depression. On the bright side, they observe that “Magnesium was found usually effective for treatment of depression in general use.”

Studies also show that magnesium therapy benefits anxiety, irritability, insomnia and water retention ― all common symptoms of menopause.

In addition, magnesium increases levels of the mood-elevating neurotransmitter serotonin, which is important to improving sleep and memory, as well as depression.

Is Magnesium Right for You?

The magnesium in today’s refined flour is only 16% of what used to be contained in whole wheat flour.
The soil in which we grow food is depleted of minerals, and flouride has banished magnesium from our drinking water in many localities.

A hundred years ago, when magnesium was plentiful, depression occurred in only about 1% of the population. In the US, it’s now around 6.9% for adults. And as of 2014, 19.7% of people in the UK aged 16 and over showed symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Many women find upping their magnesium intake is a simple, natural way to ease menopausal symptoms, relax and get a good night’s sleep.

And because magnesium deficiency is so common and so important to many bodily functions, it may be wise to consider increasing your magnesium prior to menopause. (It can even prevent a sudden heart attack!)

There are tests to measure magnesium levels, but the serum (blood) test often fails to detect deficiencies. Some physicians recommend the red blood cell (RBC) essential mineral test as being more accurate.

You can bolster magnesium levels by including high-magnesium foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit and dark chocolate in your diet.

However, since magnesium in food is limited, you may also want to consider topping up by suing a high-quality magnesium supplement.

References

Alban, D. 8 Ways Magnesium Relieves Anxiety and Stress. Be Brain Fit.

Curb, J.D. Endocrine Function and Magnesium Menopause and Premenstrual Syndrome. National Health Federation.

Deans, E. Magnesium and the Brain: The Original Chill Pill, June 12, 2011.

Eby, G.&K. Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. George Eby Research, Medical Hypotheses, Jan. 2006.

Magnolia. Food and Medicine: Magnesium for Anxiety & Panic Attacks in Perimenopause. The Perimenopause Blog, Jan. 27, 2017.

Pick, M. The Destructive Effects of High Cortisol Levels. Women to Women.

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.

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Why is Zinc Deficiency often Misdiagnosed

Why is zinc deficiency often misdiagnosed?

How to identify and fight it

Zinc is an essential trace element and mineral that’s found in all living beings. It’s known as ‘essential’ for a reason: it has a major effect on your overall health. In fact, it performs more biological roles within the body than all other elements combined.

However, your body has no means of producing or storing the mineral, so it’s tough to regulate your intake – the World Health Organisation estimates that 31% of people globally are zinc deficient. Ensuring that your levels are optimised will help you maintain your natural sparkle.

Why are we just starting to notice how common zinc deficiency is?

Though known as a crucial element for plants and animals since the early 1900’s, it took another 60 years before scientists began to investigate zinc’s effect on humans, and clinicians focused more on the effects of iron deficiency. The mineral was finally identified as essential only in 2009.

Zinc is mainly obtained via diet and the foods you eat. But even if you eat three balanced meals a day, it’s not quite that simple – modern food doesn’t contain as much zinc as in our cavemen ancestors time, for three key reasons:

  1. The soil we grow our food in is widely depleted of crucial minerals including zinc, selenium and chromium due to conventional agricultural methods
  2. Industrialised food processing rinses out up to 50% of zinc through mechanical and chemical processes
  3. Cooking habits – we don’t often risk eating raw meat or veg today, but cooking to being ‘well-done’, fries essential minerals to a crisp, preventing them from being absorbed by your body

Up to 2 billion people globally have a marginal zinc deficiency – but this is not severe enough for them to realise their condition, or for it to be easily diagnosed because symptoms are common to many other conditions.

How would I notice if I were zinc deficient?

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with enzymatic reactions, binding to electron-rich cell proteins to interact with amino acid side chains. But what does this actually mean for your general health and wellbeing? You might notice some of the following if you become deficient:

  • a loss of appetite
  • occasional moodiness
  • numbed smell and taste
  • immune system compromised: for example, getting a lot of colds and/or flu
  • diarrhoea or ‘leaky gut’
  • increased allergies sensitivity

If you notice these symptoms, you should consider supplementing with zinc to enhance your levels.

Here are some aspects of your health zinc can help with and maintain:

Cell growth Immune system Metabolic rate
Eye health Taste and smell Histamine storage
Gene expression Blood sugar levels Protein synthesis
Respiratory system Cell functionality and division Digestion

Zinc is needed for bone formation and enhances the biochemical actions of Vitamin D. As an added bonus, zinc is also considered an antioxidant, helping to protect you from free radical molecules that cause tissue damage and speed up the ageing process.  It is important to note that the absorption of zinc decreases naturally with age, so you need to be more proactive with your intake as you get older.

How can I supplement my zinc intake?

The best way to naturally increase your zinc intake is by adapting your diet to include some of the following foods, but make sure they are organically grown and contain all the required minerals and necessary nutrients to support your health:

Liver Oysters
Crimini mushrooms Pumpkin seeds
Spinach Beef
Sea vegetables Green peas
Raw milk and cheese Beans

Remember organic is best, and of course, always try to eat real food, not processed. Also, try boiling, poaching and steaming (and avoid microwaving, frying and charbroiling) to ensure that the zinc is still apparent and absorbable when you eat.

Note: cigarette smoke can cause zinc deficiency. Just something to think about.

Restoring your zinc levels to their natural optimum can enhance your overall physical and mental health, and help prevent a myriad of health conditions. And, it’s so easy to achieve: with simple diet improvements and nutritional supplements, you could find a whole new lease of life!

While stocks last during February, we’re offering a fantastic 50% off Natural Energy Zinc capsules.

Should we take vitamin supplements?

Some of the many questions women ask me are, should we take vitamins and other nutrients or not? In what amounts should we take them, which supplements are the most effective and which vitamins or nutrients should we take for a specific illness or chronic disease?

Yes, admittedly, it can be very confusing, especially as there are so many on the marketplace… some pure and some not so pure, but that is for another discussion!

The guidelines

Answering this question is important to our health and longevity – but as we know, there are so many differing viewpoints regarding nutrition and nutritional supplements, it is difficult to know in which direction to move. The RDA, recommended daily allowance, and the RDI, reference daily intake, were developed so they could be used as a guideline for our daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. However, these dietary recommendations are only suggestions, which are often rigidly followed by well-intentioned people.

Unfortunately, these guidelines are way below the levels that restorative medicine would call sufficient (optimal) to help people achieve optimal health – which is its goal. Also, the RDA and RDI recommendations do not consider that every individual is different and therefore their requirements for vitamins, mineral, and other nutrients will be different. T0 enable them to gain full health benefits, nutritional intake needs to be considered.

Of course, stress, age, lifestyle, genetics, medications, soil depletion, vitamin interaction, and whether there is a need for more antioxidants, also all need to be considered. Just because your healthy neighbour or friend is following a certain nutritional plan doesn’t mean that it will work for you.

What does your body need?

It is imperative to understand what the body needs. Only 20 per cent of disease is inherited and 80 per cent is the environment in which we place our body. It is what we personally do to our body that counts. Our health and lifestyle is basically based on lifestyle, environment and nutrition. It is these factors that have a huge influence on the number of years spent in good health. Many studies demonstrate that people with better health habits and nutritional diet survive much longer and with a lesser degree of disability at the end of life.

The Journal of the American Medical Association stated,

“Sub optimal vitamin states are associated with many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer and osteoporosis. It is important for physicians to identify patients with poor nutrition or other reasons for increased vitamin needs.” Going onto say, “Most people do not consume optimal amounts of all vitamins by diet alone… it appears prudent for all adults to take vitamin supplements.”

What about nutrients from healthy eating?

There are various reasons why it is almost impossible to get all nutrients we need from food:

  • most soil is now depleted of many important minerals, such as magnesium and zinc.
  • selenium, a trace mineral, is also deplete in some areas but can be found in overabundance in other areas. Selenium is good for health in small amounts but is toxic in large amounts – watch out!
  • when fruit and vegetables are not consumed after they are picked, they immediately lose their nutritional value.
  • cold storage continues to destroy nutritional value – grapes lose up to 30 percent of their B vitamins, by the time they arrive at the supermarket. Tangerines that are stored for eight weeks lose more than half their vitamin C.
  • over cooking – the longer you cook fruits and vegetables, the less nutrients there will be left. It is always better to lightly steam them or eat them raw, and if possible as soon as they are picked.
  • processing foods (the foods that most of us eat today) destroy any nutritional value it may have after it has been picked. Food can be processed, blanched, canned, sterilized and frozen – all these mechanisms decrease nutritional value. The milling of grains removes much of its fiber and twenty-six essential nutrients.

In today’s modern society the intake of supplements is fundamental to good health – but make sure you get the right supplements in the right amounts, and clean, pure supplements (no chalk, etc!)

Restorative medicine can design a nutritional programme just for you! Right amounts, clean, pure just for you!