Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cholesterol: Fact or Fiction

Cholesterol is a substance produced by the liver. We also consume cholesterol from animal-based foods such as eggs, butter, and cheese. If we consume no cholesterol from foods our liver still produces it, sometimes in abundance.

Cholesterol serves many important roles. It is the building block for hormones such as progesterone, estrogen, testosterone, vitamin D, and cortisol. Cholesterol is also essential to the brain and nervous system. Approximately 25 percent of our cholesterol is found in the brain.

If cholesterol is so vital to good health, why is it heavily criticized along with saturated fats?

Traditionally, elevated blood cholesterol levels have been associated with plaque build-up in the arteries known as atherosclerosis But we now know that’s not the complete story. Plaque forms along the arteries where inflammation occurs. Plaque is made up of a combination of calcium, white blood cells, cholesterol, and other substances. Plaque acts as a bandage where the arterial wall has been damaged by inflammation. This means cholesterol is acting as a protective measure from further damage occurring.

When talking about cholesterol we have to mention HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). HDL and LDL are referred to as “good cholesterol” and “bad cholesterol.” In reality they are not cholesterol, rather, they are transport vehicles for cholesterol.

LDL helps to deliver saturated fat to the cell membrane, which is important for cell vitality. There are two types of LDL, Pattern A and Pattern B. Pattern A LDL is larger in size and is responsible for carrying more fat-soluble nutrients and antioxidants. Pattern A also helps to reduce oxidative stress that leads to cell damage and inflammation making Pattern A a cardiovascular protector. Pattern B LDL, however, is a much smaller particle size. It is much more prone to oxidation and to form plaque. A ketogenic diet has been shown to reduce the highly oxidative Pattern B LDL.

HDL’s primary role is to remove the excess LDL particles and return them to the liver. LDL is susceptible to oxidation if it’s in the blood stream for too long. When LDL is exposed to chronic inflammation it becomes damaged. Having a balanced ratio of HDL to LDL along with low inflammatory markers assures that the body is working properly.

Diet is a contributor to inflammation. Certain foods have a higher rate of causing cell damage leading to more inflammation. Avoiding highly processed vegetable oils–especially fried foods–sugar, and processed grains can greatly reduce inflammation. Saturated fats have naturally occurring anti-inflammatory properties. Which is why consuming omega-3 fatty acids from grass-fed butter, grass-fed beef, cold water fish such as salmon, and taking high EPA fish oil supplements have been so beneficial in healthy cholesterol levels and helps to reduce inflammation.

by John Connor, CNC

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

ABC's of Nutrition: Zinc

Oysters contain the highest food source of zinc, but other shellfish, fish, and red meats are also relatively high. Good plant sources of zinc include whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Plant sources are less bio-available.

Three best forms of zinc are picolinate, citrate, and TRAACS™ glycinate chelate.

Although a zinc deficiency is not common among most Americans, it can be problematic with the elderly. Symptoms of a zinc deficiency are skin changes, delayed wound healing or recurrent infections due to a compromised immune system, hair loss, decrease sense of taste or smell, reduced appetite, malabsorption syndromes, and mental disturbance.

A good way to determine zinc status would be a laboratory test that measures the zinc inside white blood cells – the leukocyte zinc level.

The benefits of zinc are great because it is essential for many enzyme and body functions. Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system. It is required for cell growth and protein synthesis.

Zinc helps to maintain a good sense of taste, smell, and vision. If a loss of any of these senses becomes apparent, especially in the elderly, zinc supplementation may restore the lost sense.

In order to maintain normal skin function, proper zinc levels are required. Zinc serum levels are often low in the teen years and could lead to acne.

Zinc is vital for healthy male sex hormone and prostate function. A zinc deficiency may be the cause of an enlarged prostate.

Zinc is in every cell of the body and is a component in over 200 enzymes. Zinc is involved in more enzymatic reactions than any other mineral, and is stored primarily in muscle and highly concentrated in red and white blood cells. Copper is a co-factor in the absorption of zinc.

by John Connor, CNC

Monday, March 12, 2018

ABC's of Nutrition: Potassium

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables produces a potassium-to-sodium ratio (K:Na) of greater than 100:1 because most fruits and vegetables have a K:Na ratio of at least 50:1. Bananas produce a ratio of 440:1 and oranges produce a ratio of 260:1. For people who are on a low carbohydrate diet, salmon and avacados are also high in potassium.

The FDA restricts the amount of potassium in non-food based forms to only 99 milligrams. Nu-salt (potassium chloride) salt substitute provide a whopping 530 milligrams of potassium. Potassium is also available in a prescription.

Most Americans consume a ratio of 1:2 potassium-to-sodium. That’s twice as much sodium intake as it is potassium. This ratio can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, or cancer. A diet rich in table salt (sodium chloride) with a diminished intake of potassium is a common cause of high blood pressure.

Symptoms of a potassium deficiency include muscle weakness, mental confusion, fatigue, weakness, irritability, heart disturbances, and problems with nerve conduction and muscle contraction. (Notice these symptoms mimic magnesium deficiency.)

Excessive fluid loss has a bigger impact on potassium levels than a lack of dietary potassium. Excessive fluid loss (sweating, diarrhea, urination) can be caused by the use of diuretics, laxatives, aspirin, or other drugs. The amount of potassium loss from sweating is quite significant, especially in athletes and those who exercise. That is why it is important to increase potassium when exercising.

Over 95 percent of potassium is inside the cells, whereas most of the body’s sodium is outside of the cells. Cells actually pump out sodium and pump in potassium, known as the “sodium-potassium pump” located within the membrane of each cell in the body. If sodium is not pumped out, the water accumulated causes the cells to swell and possibly burst.

Potassium deficiency generally effects muscles and nerves first. The sodium-potassium pump helps to maintain the electrical charge within the cell. During a muscle contraction or nerve transmission is when the electrical charge (from potassium) occurs. Potassium then leaves the cell and sodium enters the cell resulting in a charge change causing a muscle contraction or nerve transmission.

Potassium is essential for converting blood sugar into glycogen, the storage form of blood sugar in the muscles and liver. If blood sugar drops too low (hypoglycemia), the glycogen converts back into blood sugar. During exercise the body uses glycogen for energy. A potassium deficiency compounds fatigue and muscle weakness.

Potassium and magnesium interact closely in many body systems. A bio-electrical analysis (BIA) is a great way to test the efficiency of your sodium-potassium pump.

by John Connor, CNC

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Supplements: Where To Start?

Time and time again people will ask the question, “Which supplements should I take?” As easy as it would be for me to start naming off a ton of different products, that is not how I like to do things. We get a lot of people in our store that have never taken a vitamin in their life, nor do they know where to start. It can sometimes be a little overwhelming and confusing, but, I am here to help ease your mind and frustration.

To start off, when talking about supplements I put a lot of emphasis on quality because there are some companies that outsource their raw ingredients from China, not to mention synthetic ingredients can affect the absorption of their natural counterpart. Remember the ol' saying, “You get what you pay for.” The vitamins you get at a pharmacy, grocery store or, God forbid, the dollar store, are not going to be as good of quality, and don't work as well compared to the products you get from a reputable health food store.

I always begin with an all natural multi-vitamin. A good quality multi-vitamin is going to give you all of the basic nutrients and minerals that each and every one of us needs. It's an essential foundation.

Next would be Vitamin C. Vitamin C is very important for your immune systems. It will help to keep you from getting sick–catching a cold or flu–and will lower histamine levels along with quercetin to reduce allergies.

Taking a B-Complex can be a great support for your health. B vitamins help us with energy, stamina, reduces stress, supports healthy nervous system, better cognitive function, increases red blood cell and blood flow.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also essential to your health. Cold water fish oil with high amounts of EPA and DHA have been shown in scientific studies to reduce heart disease by as much as 45%. Omega-3 fish oil also will lower LDL and triglycerides, reduces inflammation and pain, regulates blood pressure and can also help with memory and cognitive function.

Last but not least, D3. Vitamin D3 boosts your immune system, helps with calcium absorption for stronger bones, promotes healthy pregnancy, infant growth, and has been shown to even help with type 2 diabetes by regulating insulin and glucose.

Until next time, stay healthy, and God bless.

by Matt Connor

Friday, March 2, 2018

Laughter Is Good Medicine

Stress and the symptoms associated with stress affect more people every day. Often the stress is left unchecked which makes controlling the stress symptoms, such as weight gain, low energy, and sleep deprivation, more difficult.

There are many wonderful supplements that help reduce stress symptoms, lower stress levels directly, and balance hormones. Of course eating healthy is important. But there’s a very simple, natural, approach you may overlook: Laughter.

Laughing has a positive effect on hormones and stress. Laughter decreases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. If you are dealing with adrenaline dominance or adrenal fatigue, laughing can help control these hormones.

Laughing increases endorphins. Endorphins create a positive state of mind and boosts optimism. It stimulates feelings of caring and forgiveness. In addition to making you feel happy, endorphins act as a natural pain killer.

Depression is a negative emotion associated with stress and adrenaline dominance. Depression, along with anger and anxiety, can be caused by a thought or feeling that has been buried deep within. Laughter can help dislodge a blocked emotion that is causing depression.

Laughing can help increase growth hormones that improve immune function. While stress can suppress the immune system, laughter may help boost the immune system. Laughter also helps improve circulation and is a natural muscle relaxer.

Take time out of your busy day to laugh. Laugh often. Laugh alone or laugh with friends and family. The important thing is to laugh more to improve overall health and reduce stress.

by John Connor, CNC

Monday, February 26, 2018

ABC's of Nutrition: Magnesium

Magnesium is second to potassium in terms of concentration within the cells of the body. 60% of magnesium is in the bone, 26% in muscle, and the rest in soft tissue and body fluids. The highest tissue concentration resides in the brain, heart, kidney, and liver. Calcium gets all the headlines, but magnesium is just as important.

The best sources of magnesium are whole grains, green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, and tofu. Processed foods have little or no magnesium. Most people consume far less than the RDA.

TRAACS glycinate chelate form of magnesium is one of the best. Magnesium bound with citrate, asparatate, or any other Krebs cycle intermediates are very good. Oxide form of magnesium is not bad, but it is difficult to absorb. Magnesium oxide is likely to cause diarrhea.

Magnesium deficiency is very common among Americans, and is higher in menstruating women and the elderly. Secondary factors that reduce magnesium absorption or increase secretion are high calcium consumption, alcohol, diuretics, liver disease, kidney disease, and oral contraception use.

The body becomes susceptible to a variety of diseases when magnesium levels are low, this includes heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney stones, cancer, insomnia, PMS, and menstrual cramps. If magnesium levels drop too low there is a likelihood of fatigue, mental confusion, irritability, weakness, heart disturbances, problems with nerve conduction and muscle contraction, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, and a predisposition to stress.

Magnesium is essential for many cellular functions, including protein formation, energy production, and cellular replication. Magnesium participates in more than 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, in particular ones that involve energy production, such as ATP. Magnesium is also required to activate the mechanism that pumps sodium out of the cells and potassium in.

Magnesium is referred to as “nature’s calcium-channel blocker” because of its ability to block the entry of calcium into smooth-muscle cells and heart cells. Magnesium assists calcium metabolism through the parathyroid and calcitonin hormones.

Vitamin B6 works with magnesium in many enzyme systems. B6 also increases intracellular accumulation of magnesium. A high calcium/high dairy diet decreases magnesium absorption.

by John Connor, CNC

ABC's of Nutrition: Calcium

Dairy products are a primary source of calcium. Rich plant sources in calcium include green leafy vegetables, spinach, kale, turnip greens, and tofu. The absorption rate from kale, as well as other members of the cabbage family (turnip, mustard, collard) are higher than in milk. Calcium from spinach is poorly absorbed.

TRAACS (The Real Amino Acid Chelate System) are some of the most bioavailable minerals available. The amino acid chelates are bonded to the mineral and carry it into the body as an amino acid. At the correct moment – in the jejunum (middle section of the small intestines) – the amino acid chelate is absorbed and the mineral is used at its fullest potential.

Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite concentrate (MCHC) is a concentrate of whole bone. Derived from organic veal bone, MCHC contains calcium, but calcium makes up only 20% of the entire structure of the bone. The other 80% include phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, collagen, and other key minerals. Because MCHC contains all the minerals naturally occurring in healthy bones in the right proportions, it makes the ideal “bone food.”

“The citric acid cycle is a series of chemical reactions used by all aerobic organisms to generate energy through the oxidization of acetate derived from carbohydrates, fats and proteins into carbon dioxide.” By binding or chelating an ion from the citric acid cycle to the ion of the mineral makes the mineral better absorbed because the body recognizes the chelate. An example of chelation is binding citric acid from the cycle to calcium, hence you have calcium citrate.

Avoid oyster shell calcium, bone meal, and dolomite unless the manufacturer provides assurance the product is lead-free. Carbonate and oxide chelates are also less desired forms of minerals.

Calcium deficiency in adults can lead to osteomalacia (softening of the bones). Extremely low levels of calcium may result in muscle spasms and leg cramps. Calcium deficiency in children can eventually lead to rickets, resulting in bone deformities and stunts growth. Long term low calcium levels may contribute to high blood pressure, colon cancer, and osteoporosis.

Calcium along with other key minerals builds healthy bones and might serve as a protection against high blood pressure and colon cancer.

Osteoporosis (means “porous bone”) and low calcium are synonymous with one another. Women and men both experience a decline in bone mass after the age of 40. Many factors play a role in excessive bone loss, but postmenopausal osteoporosis is the most common.

Dr. Michael Murray describes bone as a “dynamic living tissue constantly being broken down and rebuilt.” Normal bone metabolism depends heavily on nutritional and hormonal factors. Twenty-four nutrients are required for optimal bone health. Calcium and vitamin D are two of the most important cogs in the wheel.

Blood calcium levels work within very narrow limits. The parathyroid and thyroid glands secrete hormones to regulate normal calcium homeostasis. These hormones determine how much activity is needed for the cells to break down bone, how much calcium excretion by the kidneys needs to occur, and how much calcium absorption is needed in the intestines.

Estrogen deficiency can cause cells that breaks down bone to be more sensitive to the parathyroid gland. This results in increased bone breakdown, in turn raises blood calcium levels.

Dietary factors have been associated with osteoporosis – high acid diet; low calcium, high phosphorus intake from too much dairy; and an extremely high protein diet. A high fruit and vegetable diet is associated with a low risk of osteoporosis. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Bones contain more than 99 percent of the body’s calcium.

by John Connor, CNC

Cholesterol: Fact or Fiction

Cholesterol is a substance produced by the liver. We also consume cholesterol from animal-based foods such as eggs, butter, and cheese. I...