WORKER BEES’ DAILY BITES
Howdy! Here’s the latest & greatest from the world of health news (of course, with our views):
Where Studies Get Tricky
More breast cancer news. A study of about 2,400 women found that non-hormone-receptor breast cancer survivors who ate 20% fat in their diets had a lesser chance of cancer relapse than those who ate just under 30% fat in their diets. The lower-fat group had 238 relapses, while the higher-fat group had 302 relapses. What’s unclear about this is if the weight loss is what spurred better survival rates, or the actual percentage intake of fat. Or, if there were other factors unforseen (smoking rates, family history, pregnancies). Or, if a difference of about 60 is enough to make a claim. This is where studies get difficult…clickativity. Let’s discuss, Apples.
Food Poisoning? I’ll Take That to Go, Thanks.
Again? Seriously, again? We’re starting to think restaurants just really hate their customers.
It’s a Good Day for Alcohol…Is That a Good Thing?
We’re not exactly impressed. Liquor is medicine now? (Well, it is a drug…)
We still say be careful with the alcohol hype. Better to get your antioxidants from something that can’t also poison you (like a good multivitamin). However, because we’re big proponents of moderation here at the MDA, we do agree that a glass of wine with dinner is probably nothing to worry about, and may even be good for you. We’re also glad to hear this news.
We’re a Little Scared to Let the Big Apple See This One
And in another genius decision, the FDA approves Celebrex for tots. Terrific. What’s especially terrific is that, while these folks voted 15-1 to approve the drug for kids, they only voted 8-7 to approve it as safe. Basically, what this boils down to is that they don’t know for sure that it’s safe, but they’re going to allow it anyway, and Celebrex has to keep tabs on the situation. While we would like to believe that Celebrex has kids’ best interests at heart, that’s kind of like telling a criminal who is out on parole that he should monitor himself in case he gets into trouble. Mind-boggling, is it not? Truth really is stranger than fiction.
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ALPHA LIPOIC ACID (ALA)
WHAT IT IS: Not to be confused with alpha linoleic acid, which is flaxseed’s famous precursor to Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant found in the body’s cells. It works in concurrence with several other antioxidants, including vitamin C and vitamin E.
Studies show: ALA, like other antioxidants, fights free radicals that ravage the body. When free radicals attack our cells, this is known as oxidative stress, which ALA prevents. But ALA goes a step further than other antioxidants.
This compound helps to regulate blood sugar and insulin. For this reason, ALA plays a vital role in energy, health and weight maintenance. Many diseases, such as diabetes and obesity, are linked to unhealthy blood sugar and insulin production levels.
ALA is also one of the only antioxidants that is both fat and water soluble, which is just one more reason why experts consider it to be such a valuable nutrient. Studies have shown that ALA both fights oxidative stress and helps improve the metabolism. Specifically, ALA has been shown to fight the destructive free radicals that contribute to aging.
In a recent study, ALA improved energy levels significantly. And ALA helps its buddies: at least two other antioxidants have been proven to work more effectively in conjunction with ALA.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We like ALA because of its potential for great energy improvement and age-fighting effects. ALA helps fight oxidation, is fat and water soluble, and improves the effectiveness of other antioxidants.
While the body does produce ALA within its cells, scientists have discovered a unique and wonderful side effect when an additional ALA supplement is taken – the ALA “free floats” to any area in the body suffering from oxidative stress, whether it be water, fat or blood. How cool is that? This is special because other antioxidants (like C and E) remain in particular cells, and often just the fatty section, at that.
Furthermore, ALA supports other antioxidants, increasing their effectiveness. And because high blood sugar and insulin irregularity are both problems for Americans, we believe ALA is crucial to managing your health. That’s why Mark includes a big dose of ALA in his world-class Damage Control Master Formula.
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WHAT IT IS: Quercetin is an antioxidant flavonoid present in everything from wine and tea to onions and garlic. Apples, green vegetables and leafy greens also contain this powerful antioxidant. Quercetin is particularly helpful for overworked blood vessels, meaning it may help those seeking optimal heart health.
WHAT IT DOES: Quercetin is one antioxidant of many; other flavonoid antioxidants include polyphenols, red wine’s resveratrol, and tea’s catechins. All are vital to good health. In general, antioxidants destroy the dangerous free radicals that are responsible for many health problems that have roots in cellular damage. Quercetin is unique because it does more than the typical antioxidant – in addition to destroying free radicals and supporting cardiovascular health, quercetin may boost cellular energy levels.
STUDIES SHOW: Well-documented studies show that quercetin is capable of blocking an enzyme called catechol-O-methyltransferase (or COMT). By inhibiting this enzyme, the level of a substance called norepinephrine is raised, creating several neat effects. Scientists think some of these may include increased energy expenditure and possibly more. It’s recently been shown that quercetin appears to support LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation. This makes it a terrific supplement to support a healthy cardiovascular system.
In addition, quercetin is known to have antihistamine effects, making it a valuable antioxidant supplement for those troubled by allergies. Recent research has theorized that quercetin may also be beneficial to asthmatics for this very reason.
WHY WE LIKE IT: We really dig quercetin for its antioxidant properties and subsequent role in overall health. Since quercetin may help to fight heart problems (though this theory is not conclusive), we think it’s important for everyone.
Quercetin is also great for those with allergies because of its antihistamine effects. An important vasodilator, quercetin supports the cardiovascular system and may strengthen blood vessels. In addition, quercetin’s known ability to increase norepinephrine levels in the brain leads many scientists to believe quercetin may help to increase one’s cellular energy output. That’s one hard-working antioxidant!
Pfizer announced yesterday that they were abandoning their newest “miracle drug”, torcetrapib. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Torcetrapib.
Turns out that in a recent large-scale controlled study, “rolls-off-the-tongue” killed more people than even the previous miracle drug, Lipitor. Pfizer had invested over $800 million in their most recent attempt to stem the rise of heart attacks and stroke by lowering cholesterol.
The main focus of torcetrapib was to raise HDL (the “good” cholesterol that has been shown to reduce fatty plaque formation on arterial linings). Since Lipitor is coming off patent soon, Pfizer needs a new blockbuster to fill the income pipeline – now at $51 billion a year. Meanwhile, news wire services are suggesting that this is a huge setback for millions with heart disease who have been awaiting another magic pill to reverse the damage brought on by poor lifestyle choices.
Here’s the deal: as long as the medical community continues to approach heart disease by promoting cholesterol reducing drugs, they will fail.
Cholesterol is not necessarily the bad guy here. It is the inflammatory processes of C-reactive protein and homocysteine, occurring within the arterial walls, that begin the process of coronary artery disease. These inflammatory processes are the real culprits. Cholesterol production is merely the response mechanism! Attempting to avert heart problems by reducing cholesterol is literally akin to removing scabs from wounds as they try to heal. (If that analogy turns your stomach, you’ll have an inkling as to how sickened I am by Big Pharma.)
The root cause of inflammation is a combination of poor diet, sloth and stress. The good news is that most cardiovascular disease is completely preventable and largely curable without side effects.
Cholesterol is the unfortunate scapegoat in all this. It’s a shame, because this endlessly-eviscerated lipid is one of the body’s most useful and dynamic substances. Among other duties, it’s a necessary component of every cell membrane and it’s involved in hormone production. The body makes about 1400 mg a day just to keep reserves up. Unfortunately, when you have a stressful lifestyle, toss in a bad diet and lack of exercise and you can get an inflammatory process within the arteries that causes lesions on arterial walls. The inflammation problem is completely unrelated to amounts or types of cholesterol.
Nevertheless, the ever-inventive human body adapts to this inflammation sequence by using cholesterol as a band-aid to cover up the lesions until healing can take place – which, of course, almost never happens since most of us keep living the inflammatory lifestyle with little regard for how destructive it is. We’re inflammation rock stars.
Eventually, the cholesterol band-aids harden (sclerosis), narrow the arteries and sometimes break off, causing a heart attack or stroke. Of course, we blame the cholesterol for all this and embark on a national campaign to rid the body of this important substance by dousing everyone with drugs, instead of focusing on the foods (and other stresses) that promote inflammation in the first place. And these drugs have some pretty nasty side effects. And yet, we continue to worship at the idol’s altar.
Bottom line: In my opinion, diet, exercise, stress reduction and prudent supplementation should be the primary focus of any primary care physician.
UPDATE 12/11/06: Another interesting analysis.
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WHAT IT DOES: Vanadium, a trace mineral, was only recently discovered to be essential to human growth. Vanadium plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, and well as cholesterol and lipids. Vanadium is often useful for diabetics wishing to help regulate their blood sugar. Vanadium is derived from seafood, grains, beans and mushrooms, though it is present in other foods in very small amounts.
STUDIES SHOW: Studies of vanadium supplementation have shown that vanadium offers the potential to regulate blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. A recent study found that vanadium supplementation was helpful for patients with diabetes mellitus (type-2 diabetes). With adult-onset, or type 2, diabetes rapidly spreading in this country, supplementing with vanadium may become increasingly important.
WHY WE LIKE IT: An essential mineral, vanadium offers potential blood sugar regulatory support. Vanadium appears to be an important part of fat and carbohydrate metabolism, and it is thought to be supportive to the metabolism, blood, muscles, and pancreas.
For these reasons, vanadium may be useful for those wishing to lower their cholesterol or maintain healthier insulin and blood sugar levels. Diabetics and those with hypoglycemia may derive additional benefit from vanadium. Athletes have used vanadium for years to improve glycogen metabolism, boost circulation, and support the muscles.
© 2014 Mark's Daily Apple