Will eating healthier make it easier to achieve superior skin health? If you’ve had a nutritional consultation at Seasons, then you already know the answer. Yes! The food you put into your body has a direct effect on how you feel and look.
Being diligent about applying SPF and regularly visiting your skin care specialist for rejuvenation treatments are two great ways to keep your appearance in tip-top shape, but consuming the right foods is also important to the health of your skin. After all, you are what you eat!
The following fruits are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that can help you live longer, look better, and even prevent disease. Here are our picks to keep your skin looking beautiful, healthy, and hydrated this summer!
- Cantaloupe. Consider cantaloupe your secret weapon for smooth, younger-looking skin. You can thank the Vitamin A and its derivatives for boosting cell reproduction. Cantaloupe also increases antioxidants in your body which increases your ability to absorb free radicals and decreases your risk of skin problems.
- Oranges. Like Cantaloupes, oranges are chock-full of antioxidants. Oranges and other citrus fruits are said to be among the best foods for your skin’s health because they are rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C can help protect your skin against sun damage which reduces your risk of skin cancer.
- Peaches. Not only are peaches great for reviving your skin, but they have benefits that include aiding weight loss, preventing heart disease and high blood pressure, and they contain an abundance of antioxidants.
- Blueberries. Ranked number one in antioxidant activity by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, blueberries can protect your skin from premature signs of aging.
- Apples. An apple a day may keep more than just the doctor away. Apples are rich in pectin – the starch essential in driving away acne! And don’t throw the skin in the trash! Apple skin contains phenols which provide important UV-B protection.
Fighting acne? Food choices are a huge factor contributing to this dreaded skin problem. Like the rest of your body, what you eat directly and indirectly affects your acne. This is one factor that we can easily control by being mindful of what goes into our bodies. So, here are five things to remember:
- Take your vitamins. Whole food multi-vitamins taken daily are a good choice to fight acne. Acidophilus B and garlic are also great acne fighters.
- An apple a day. Eat red or golden delicious apples daily.
- Drink water, water, water.
- Clear is better. You shouldn’t drink sodas for a whole slew of other reasons; but if you must drink a soda, remember that clear is better. The ingredients that make sodas dark can make acne worse.
- Go natural with your sweets. Too much refined sugar can aggravate acne. This means stay away from candy, sodas, cakes and pies! Try to use natural sweeteners, like honey or stevia!
It’s a fact: Americans love eating out. We blog, Tweet, and post about it. It’s very gratifying to share a meal with friends or family while taking a break from cooking at home. Even while on a diet, you may give yourself a pass to “treat yourself” or overindulge while dining at your favorite restaurant. But have you ever thought about what you are eating and where the restaurant purchased their food? Well, it is quite eye-opening!
Dining out will make you fat and very unhealthy! Unless you are dining at a health food type restaurant (which are few in number), the average restaurant meal is usually between 1,000-1,500 calories. Studies show that we eat about 40 percent more when we are in groups as opposed to eating alone. However, the main reason we eat more is due to the portion size at restaurants, usually much larger than we would consume at home.
The goal of most restaurants is to make a profit, not to provide healthy foods that will reduce your risk for heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Because they want you to come back, most restaurants will provide foods that simply taste good but are high in fat in forms of processed oils, trans fat, butter and lard. Even the healthier options can still be loaded with calories. And don’t forget the high amounts of sugar including high fructose corn syrup, a cheap form of sweetener.
Since profit is the main goal, most restaurants are not serving high quality food. Unless they advertise themselves as providing truly healthier options like grass-fed/organic meats, USA or Canadian wild-caught fish or organic grains, fruits and vegetables, they are likely serving you genetically modified foods (GMOs). Since 60-75 percent of grocery foods are genetically modified, the likelihood is pretty great that these cheaper sources of food will be found in restaurants.
In addition to harmful GMOs, you may also end up eating industrially bred and raised food loaded with hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. There are alarming and unhealthy practices that go on at a CAFO facilities (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). The problem begins at the massive CAFOs where cows, chickens, and pigs are fed genetically modified corn, soybeans, and excessive grains in general (not their natural diet, i.e. grass), along with many other unbelievable feed ingredients such as:
- Plastics: this is used for many animals whose digestive systems need more roughage to pass through them, thus CAFOs are now feeding them plastic pellets.
- Manure and animal feces: this can include cattle manure, swine and poultry waste. It also can include wood, sand, sawdust and other non-food substances.
- Roxarsone: more commonly named arsenic, which until recently was put into chicken and pig feed to control parasites, though Nitarsone (another arsenic-based poultry drug) is still approved. Chicken litter (containing the arsenic that passes through the birds) is also collected from chicken CAFOs and is fed surprisingly to feedlot cattle.
- Animal byproducts: categorized as “animal protein products,” this includes hair, skin, hooves, blood, internal organs, intestines, beaks and bones, dead horses, euthanized cats and dogs, and road kill.
Fast foods do not fare any better, and are usually chemically laden for shelf life and profit. Two examples of synthetic chemicals in popular fast food chicken nuggets are:
- Dimethyl polysiloxane: a type of silicone with anti-foaming properties used in cosmetics and variety of other goods like Silly Putty
- Tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ): a petroleum-based product that has antioixidant properties.
Due to all of the processing (added sugars and other ingredients), studies have shown that eating fast food just twice a week, can cause you to gain excess weight, but even more alarming is that it doubles your risk of developing insulin resistance, the driving force behind many chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Try these strategies for making healthier decisions while dining out.
- Reserve dining out for special occasions, not a bi-weekly habit.
- Seek out healthier-minded restaurants using seasonal, sustainable, non-GMO, organic, free range, or wild-caught ingredients and dedicated to preparing meals with healthy fats in mind.
- Ask questions about where they buy their foods.
- Avoid fast food as much as possible unless they advertise a truly healthier option as mentioned earlier.
Asian Lettuce Cups
- 1 1/4 lb. 93% lean, free-range/organic ground turkey
- 1 Tbsp cold pressed/organic oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger (can use fresh equivalent if desired)
- 2/3 cup thinly sliced organic green onions (about 4)
- 1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
- 12 Boston lettuce leaves (or organic iceberg)
- 3 Tbsp hoisin sauce (recipe below)
- 2 Tbsp lower-sodium organic gluten free soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp organic rice vinegar
- 2 tsp. roasted red chili paste, organic if possible
- 1/8 tsp. whole mineral salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground organic black pepper
Homemade Hoisin Sauce
- 4 Tbsp. lower-sodium organic gluten free soy sauce
- 2 tsp. organic white vinegar (or lemon/lime juice)
- 1 tsp. organic sesame seed oil
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted organic unsweetened peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp. organic/raw honey, molasses or brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. hot sauce/chili sauce (this will vary depending on your preference)
Mix together until blended. (Note: may need to slightly heat the sauce to disperse the peanut butter more uniformly)
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for about 6 minutes or until turkey is browned. Stir to crumble. Combine turkey mixture, onions and chopped water chestnuts in a large bowl, stirring well, and set aside.
Meanwhile in a small bowl, whisk together hoisin, soy sauce, rice vinegar and roasted red chili paste, salt, pepper and drizzle over the turkey mixture. Toss to coat completely. Add about 1/4 cup turkey mixture to each lettuce leaf, serve, and enjoy!
Recently on his daily television show, Dr. Oz discussed IV nutrition therapy. I was very disappointed when Dr. Oz questioned the validity, benefit, and safety of this invaluable therapy. He had a guest physician on his show to defend IV therapies, but his guest talked in generalizations with no specifics and no scientific data. Dr. Oz’s conclusion at the end of the show, and I will paraphrase, was: “I guess if the Hollywood celebrity types are doing it, there must be some benefit.”
Wow! Now that’s scientific (insert sarcasm). We live in day where we have instant access to data and scientific research, and that is his closing statement?
As physicians, we often forget that we are scientists. Our testing and therapies should be based on science, not opinion. Yet, neither Dr. Oz nor his guest presented any scientific data to support their statements in favor or opposition. So, allow me to do the job that Dr. Oz and his guest did not.
Intravenous nutritional therapy has been around since IV vitamin C was first used for treatment of polio in 1949. Is it something everyone needs? Of course not. Should everyone take insulin? You get my point.
At Seasons, we evaluate a client’s needs based on symptoms. The symptoms lead us to extensive metabolic testing to determine the specific presence and severity of deficiencies of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. Only then do we recommend IV nutritional therapies using the metabolic test results combined with the client’s symptoms. That is what medicine is all about – using the art and science of medicine for the patient’s benefit.
Another reason to use IV nutritional therapy is that for most Americans, our guts are a wreck (and that is putting it mildly). Absorption problems are a major concern for Americans. If you can’t absorb a vitamin or nutrient, it doesn’t matter how good the source or the dosage of therapy is, it just won’t be absorbed. If you are dealing with severe deficiencies, then you’ll never catch up.
How about an analogy to paint a clearer picture? A patient seeks help from a physician for severe dehydration. The patient just can’t keep anything down. Is the physician going to give the patient a pat on the back, tell them to just drink more water, and send them on their way? Of course not. The physician knows that the patient cannot tolerate oral therapy at that point. The deficiency is severe. The physician knows that he/she must catch the patient up, and then instruct the client to drink more water. And how does the physician “catch” the patient up? Well, IVs of course.
Does Dr. Oz question the safety, validity, and benefits of this therapy? Of course not. That is because it is standard practice. Standard practice is defined as: whatever everyone else is doing. I remember my mom often asking me, So…if everyone else jumps of a cliff, are you going to do that too?
And the testing to determine dehydration? Very limited. Usually, a urinalysis, complete blood count test (CBC), maybe a general chemistry, and of course a physical exam. From experience and training, I can tell you that the IV fluids are started based on the physical exam, before the test results get back. That is not how we approach IV nutritional therapy at Seasons. Dr Oz gave the impression that people just walk into a Doctor’s office to order IVs as one would a hamburger at a fast food drive-through. We customize therapy to specific needs and match it with their specific metabolic demand.
So, what does the science say about IV nutritional therapy? The science is overwhelmingly in favor of IV nutritional therapy.
The research below looks at surgical patients. It is well known that poor nutritional status of the patient undergoing surgery effects outcome. These studies showed that IV nutritional therapy improved outcomes. This is not total peripheral nutrition (TPN). TPN is therapy to replace all nutrition. Intravenous nutritional therapy is just to replace vitamins, minerals, and maybe some targeted macronutrients.
- Bellantone R, Doglietto G, Bossola M, Pacelli F, Negro F, Sofo L, Crucitti F. Preoperative parenteral nutrition of malnourished surgical patients. Acta Chir Scand. Apr 1988;154(4):249-51.
- Rham D. A guide to perioperative nutrition. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. July-August 2004;24)4):385-390.
- Xu J. Yunshi Z, Li R. Immunonutrition in Surgical Patients. Current Drug Targets. Aug 2009;10(8):771-777.
- Beier-Holgersen R, Boesby S. Influence of postoperative enteral nutrition on postsurgical infections. Gut. 1996;39:833-835.
So, what about the other benefits of IV nutritional therapy?
- Wolk RA, Rayburn WF. Parenteral nutrition in obstetric patients. Nutr Clin Pract. Aug 1990;5(4):139-52.
- Rayburn W, Wolk R, Mercer N, Roberts J. Parenteral nutrition in obstetrics and gynecology. Obstet Gynecol Surv. Apr 1986;41(4):200-14.
- Russo-Stieglitz KE, Levine AB, Wagner BA, Armenti VT. Pregnancy outcome in patients requiring parenteral nutrition. J Maternal Fetal Med. 199;8:164-7.
- Zibell-Frisk, Jen KL, Rick J. Use of parenteral Nutrition to maintain adequate nutritional status in hyperemesis gravidarum. J Perinatol. 1990;10:390-5.
First trimester miscarriage
- Acacio B et al. Pregnancy outcome after intralipid infusion among women experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss. Fertility & Sterility. Apr 2008;89(4):S11.
- Roussev RG et al. Duration of intralipid’s suppressive effect on NK cell’s functional activity. Am J Reprod Immunol. Sep 2008;60(3):258-63.
- Klenner FR. Massive doses of vitamin C and the virus diseases. J So Med & Surg. April 1951;113(4).
- Schencking M, Vollbracht C, Weiss G, Lebert J, Biller A, Goyvaerts B, Kraft K. Intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of shingles: results of a multicenter prospective cohort study. Med Sci Monit. Apr 2012;18(4):CR215-24.
- Gorton HC, Jarvis K. The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. Oct 1999;22(8):530-3.
- Tanaka H, Takayoshi M et al. Reduction of resuscitation fluid volumes in severely burned patients using ascorbic acid administration. Arch Surg 2000;135.326-331.
- Crimi E et al. The beneficial effects of antioxidant supplementation in enteral feeding in critically ill patients: a prospective, randomized, double, blind, placebo- controlled trial. A & A. Sept 2004;99(3):857-863.
- Dentico P et al. Glutathione in the treatment of chronic fatty liver disease. Recnti Prog Med. Jul-Aug 1995;86(7):7-8):290-3.
- Smith SW, Howland MA, Hoffman RS, Nelson LS. Acetaminophen overdose with altered acetaminophen pharmacokinetics and hepatotoxicity associated with premature cessation of intravenous N-acetylcysteine therapy. Ann Pharmacother. Sep 2008;42(9):1333-1339.
- Mitchell JR et al. Acetaminophen-induced hepatic necrosis. IV protective role of glutathione. JPET. Oct 1973;187(1):211-217.
- Chen JY, Chu CC, So EC, Hsing CH, Hu ML. Treatment of postherpectic neuralgia with intravenous administration of vitamin C. Anesth Analg. 2006;103:1616-1617.
- Schencking M, Sandholzer H, Frese T. Intravenous administration of vitamin C in the treatment of herpetic neuralgia: two case reports. Med Sci Monit. 2010;16:58-61.
- Chen JY, Chang CY, Feng PH, Chu CC, So EC, Hu ML. Plasma vitamin C is lower in postherpetic neuralgia patients and administration of vitamin C reduces spontaneous pain but not brush-evoked pain. Clin J Pain. Sep 2009;25(7):562-9.
- Riordan HD et al. A pilot clinical study of continuous intravenous ascorbate in terminal cancer patients. P R Health Sci J. Dec 2005;24(4):269-76.
- Mikirova N, Casciari J, Rogers A, Taylor P. Effect of high-dose intravenous vitamin C on inflammation in cancer patients
- Ohno S, Ohno Y, Suzuki N, Soma G, Inouse M. High-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer. Anticancer Research. Mar 2009;29(3):809-815.
- Chen Q et al. Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: Action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues. PNAS. Sept 20 2005;102(38):13604-13609.
- Juraschek SP, Guallar E, Appel LJ, Miller ER III. Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. May 2012;95(5):1079-1088.
- Schneider MP et al. Superoxide scavenging effects of N-actylcysteine and vitamin C in subjects with essential hypertension. Am J Hypertens. 2005;18:1111-1117.
- Mikirova N, Rogers A, Casciari J, Taylor P, Effect of high dose intravenous ascorbic acid on the level of inflammation in patients with rheumatoid. Modern Research in Inflammation. 2012;1(2):26-32.
- Sechi G et al. Reduced intravenous glutathione in the treatment of early parkinson’s disease. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. Oct 1996;20(7):1159-1170.
- Hauser RA, Lyons KE, McClain T, Carter S, Perlmutter D. Randomized, double- blind, pilot evaluation of intravenous glutathione in Parkinson’s disease. Mov Disord. May 15 2009;24(7):979-83.
- Kuwabara S et al. Intravenous methylcobalamin treatment for uremic and diabetic neuropathy in chronic hemodialysis patients. Intern Med. Jun 1999;38(6):472-5.
- Ziegler D et al. Alpha-lipoic acid in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy in Germany: current evidence from clinical trials. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 1999;107(7):421-30.
As you can see, the benefits of IV nutritional therapy are abound. That is not my opinion, but scientific fact.
How safe is IV nutritional therapy? The studies below showed the safety of IV nutritional therapies in all states of health, including pregnancy.
- Greenspoon JS, Rosen DJ, Ault M. Use of peripherally inserted central catheter for parenteral nutrition during pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. May 1993;81(f (Pt2)):831-4.
- Valencia E, Hardy G. Practicalities of glutathione supplementation in nutritional support. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. May 2002;5(3): 321-326.
- Padayatty SJ et al. Vitamin C: Intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects. PLos ONE 5(7):e11414.
Just because Dr. Oz (the great and powerful, Dr. Oz) says it is so doesn’t make it so. I hope I’ve helped pull back the curtain and expose the real science supporting IV nutritional therapy.
My pre-60th birthday journey to improve my previous test results from Seasons of Farragut continues! This month I decided to focus on the first tenet in our Seasons wellness regimen – nutrition!
About two years ago I took the ALCAT test and was astonished at my lengthy list of reactive foods! The ALCAT is a fascinating food sensitivity test in which white blood cells are introduced to a variety of foods, chemicals, and herbs. The severity of the reaction determines if a substance is mild, moderate, severe, or normal within my body. Since knowledge is power, I decided to receive the news that gluten and dairy were on my “severe list” as a positive indicator rather than “buyers’ remorse” for having performed the test!
Lyn-Genet Recitas has written a book, The Plan, which explains how inflammation from food intolerance can cause symptoms such as joint pain, skin disorders, fatigue, weight issues, headaches, and digestive disorders. Whereas a food allergy can have almost an immediate effect, a food sensitivity may not show up for several hours to 3 days later. For weight gain, it’s not as much about the calories as the chemistry of the body. One person may benefit from last night’s salmon and broccoli but someone else may actually gain 2 pounds. Inflammation from food intolerance causes damage to the lining of the gut. As the lining becomes “leaky” with gaps present, foods begin to slip through not completely digested. This causes the body to attack undigested foods.
As we age, inflammation can increase which causes our systems to slow down. Many of us have much less stomach acid and digestive enzymes to break down food. This can ultimately alter our weight and our health. Reactive foods cause our bodies to produce more histamine which causes water retention via dilated capillaries. The brain responds by increasing the production of Cortisol. As more Cortisol is produced, fewer sex hormones are produced since both sets of hormones depend on the same building blocks. Increased Cortisol causes an increase in glucose which causes an increase in blood sugar! This domino effect alters the good bacteria in the gut and can increase yeast production. The altered gut flora leads to a weakened immune response since about 70% of our immune system is in the gut.
The thyroid gland can also be affected by food intolerances. White blood cells that attack undigested foods may migrate to the thyroid gland and begin to attack it. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder of the thyroid gland. This is determined by a blood test that measures the number of specific antibodies against the thyroid gland. As I began to avoid gluten, my own antibody level began to decrease. I was able to decrease my thyroid replacement dosage. This month, I repeated my ALCAT test and found that many of my food intolerances had improved. Not only had I attempted to avoid specific foods, but I also worked intentionally on healing my GI tract. I take a powerful probiotic daily as well as a digestive enzyme with my dinner. For one month of each season, I take a protein shake that is loaded with L-Glutamine. This amazing amino acid helps to heal the leaky gut. It is packed with anti-inflammatories and herbs to help my liver and GI tract detox.
Two years ago, I had about a dozen foods on my severe list. This year, I only have one – apples! So, I’m going to give them up for the next 6 months. My moderate reactive list contains 18 foods which I will have to have great discipline to avoid. These are healthy foods but for me, can cause hidden inflammation. Gluten now causes moderate reactions in my body. I have noticed that when I indulge in gluten, the next morning, my joints ache and my stomach hurts. I doubt if I will ever reintroduce gluten. Dairy is moderate also. Fortunately there are lots of great choices for me and I look forward to continual healing of my GI tract. Our Nutritional Consultant, Carolyn will keep me focused on this life-long journey of wellness. Be sure to check out her amazing recipes on our website!
Long term benefits with this specialized nutritional therapy will keep inflammation down and hopefully help me avoid chronic disease as well as weight gain. If you would like more information regarding the ALCAT test, call Seasons today. Let’s age intentionally with nutrition being our number one “medicine!”
This time of year it is really hard to find fresh produce. Most farmer’s markets are not meeting and many local farms don’t have much winter season produce. The local grocery store will have a variety of fruits and vegetables but your best bet is to stick to the produce that is in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables will give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. Buying local is the first choice but if local is not available, opt for what’s in season.
Vegetables in season right now include:
- Greens (kale, collard and turnip)
- Brussel sprouts
- Winter squash
And don’t forget about fruits. God is creative in His planning of seasonal foods and what nutrients are more abundant at certain times of the year. Winter is full of fruits that are loaded with vitamin C to ward off colds and the flu. Fill up on your vegetables for meals and have oranges, mandarins, clementines and grapefruit for dessert.
Roasted Red Peppers Stuffed with Kale and Brown Rice
- 3 medium red bell peppers
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces kale, (6 cups lightly packed), trimmed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup cooked short-grain brown rice
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. To prepare peppers: Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve peppers lengthwise through the stems, leaving them attached. Remove the seeds. Lightly brush the peppers outside and inside with oil; sprinkle the insides with salt and pepper. Place, cut-side down, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake until peppers are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly. Turn cut-side up.
2. To prepare filling: Bring 2 cups salted water to a boil in a large wide pan. Stir in kale, cover and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water; squeeze dry. Finely chop.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and chopped bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until onion is golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in the kale. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Stir in rice, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons pine nuts and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the filling among the pepper halves. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons pine nuts.
4. Add 2 tablespoons water to the baking dish. Cover the peppers with foil and bake until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes more. Serve hot.
Recipe provided by eatingwell.com
Top 5 Reasons for NOT Buying Supplements at Discount Stores: Pharmaceutical-Grade Supplements Explained
Over 75 percent of the world’s population takes some kind of supplement daily. I am a huge advocate of supplements. Everybody should be taking, at the very least, a multi-vitamin. We just don’t get the same nutritional value from our foods that our parents and their parents did.
But will any source do? The quality of most over-the-counter (OTC) supplements just won’t cut it. The old adage “You get what you pay for” still rings true. If it costs $5 for a month’s supply of a particular vitamin, you are getting the quality of that $5, which is not much. So why pay $40 for that same vitamin because it is labeled “pharmaceutical grade?” Let me explain.
As stated by Health*Edge Sciences, there are three grades of raw materials in the U.S.:
- Pharmaceutical Grade
- Food Grade
- Feed Grade
Pharmaceutical grade is defined as greater than 99% purity without binders, fillers, dyes, or other substances. Food grade means it safe for human consumption. And feed grade implies it is safe for animal consumption (which usually ends up as human consumptions…but that is an article for another day). And can the FDA monitor all these supplements in the Unites States? Of course not. It is beyond their scope and ability.
Let’s make break down pharmaceutical grade into a more applicable definition.
Many supplements will only contain 10% of the raw material and 90% of other fillers.
Lack of purity or contamination has been a long-standing problem. From news reports, you might already know that Mercury-contaminated fish had been used in many Omega-3 supplements. That’s not the case with pharmaceutical grade supplements as they commonly exceed the definition of “pharmaceutical grade.” For example, Nordic Naturals exceeds both the Norwegian Medicinal and European Pharmacopoeia standards.
How about globally? According to ConsumerLab in 2002, 5-10% of all supplements were contaminated with lead. Lead in any level is toxic to the body. To have any contamination of such toxic substances as Lead and Mercury is simply unacceptable. Lead and Mercury are listed #2 and #3 respectively, in the 2007 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry‘s toxicity rankings.
All supplements and prescriptions have fillers in them. These fillers are needed, but they can cause many problems with the supplement. First, they can actually inhibit the absorption of the product, leaving the products completely useless. Second, the filler can be toxic to the body. Third, the filler can be a common allergen.
4. Active Form
The key to a good vitamin is not just if the vitamin/supplement is absorbable, but is it absorbable in the active form. Why is this important? One example is the energy required to convert from an inactive to active form. Many of the clients that we see at Seasons struggle with energy production, ATP. The conversion of inactive to active requires enzymes, which requires energy. We conserve energy by giving the supplements in the active form when at all possible.
The most common prescribed vitamin B12 on the market is cyanocobalamine. The body makes cyanide as a by-product of the break down of cyanocobalamine. Obviously, we want to avoid the introduction of any potentially toxic substance to the body. At Seasons, we choose to give the active form of Vitamin B12, methyl-cobalamine, to avoid this toxic by-product. There is no reason to give the inactive form of Vitamin B12.
5. Third Party Testing
A good test of any product, is not what you say about it, but what third parties say. This is one of the big benefits of pharmaceutical grade supplements. They will be tested by third party companies to assure quality, potency, and absence of contamination. Of course, there are some “pharmaceutical grade” companies that don’t follow these standards, and this is the reason to work with your Integrative Medicine physician to ensure that your supplements are of the highest quality.
Even though my 60th birthday is a little over 6 months away, I am planning now for better health, mental acuity, energy, and sense of well-being! My goal is to improve all of the test results that I have previously had at Seasons. You may remember that I did a Telomere test several months ago – a fascinating test revealing how rapidly one ages relative to a normal population. Those results showed that I was above average for my age range; however, there was definitely room for improvement!
For my birthday countdown, I have chosen to begin with a detailed cardiac evaluation measuring specific markers in my blood. My total cholesterol has always been slightly elevated; however, over 50 percent of patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarctions had normal lipid levels as defined by the traditional blood tests. Functional medicine has identified over 400 risk factors, but they are all exacerbated with inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction (chronic infections).
Cholesterol is not the villain portrayed in the statin commercials! It is a biological necessity for creating vitamin D, our steroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as other tasks. High levels are not a sure sign of cardiac disease, nor are low levels a promise of heart health. Our bodies manufacture most of our cholesterol with a smaller amount coming from the food we eat.
Since cholesterol has to travel through the blood which is watery, the body packages it in various “containers” called lipoproteins. Lipoproteins vary according to the amount of protein, fat, and cholesterol they contain. Those with more protein and less fat/cholesterol are called high density lipoproteins or HDL. Those with less protein and more fat/cholesterol are called low density lipoproteins or LDL. A third type carries even more cholesterol and fat with less protein and it is called very low density lipoprotein or VLDL.
The LPP test measures not only the type but also the number and size of all these particles. LDL has at least five types and sizes. The smallest size is the most dangerous while the largest size is least harmful. Obviously the number of these particles is also a risk factor. Lipoprotein (a) or Lp(a) is a type that increases risk of heart disease. Apolipoprotein B (Apo-B) deposits cholesterol in the artery wall which can be a marker for atherosclerosis. HDL is similar in that the larger size is the most protective.
So what did my test reveal and how can I get healthier?
First of all, my inflammatory markers – C (reactive protein, insulin, and homocysteine) were all in the normal ranges; however, the latter was borderline for being too high. My total number of LDL particles was elevated but the sizes were in the normal range. However, my Apo-B was borderline which meant I have a risk for atherosclerosis. My VLDL and my Lp(a) were normal. Whew!
With these results and several inflammatory markers from a recent ION Panel – my plan includes the following:
- Reduce inflammation with Omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that this will also increase my levels of HDL, increase LDL particle size, and decrease LDL particle number.
- Drink more green tea which will decrease oxidation of LDL, decrease Apo-B secretion, and increase HDL
- Increase consumption of Vitamin E (which I get in a customized vitamin mix) to reduce Apo-B and lower LDL and increase HDL.
- Add Niacin (B vitamin) to lower LDL particle number and Apo-B as well as increase HDL.
- Stop smoking (just wanted to see who is still reading this!) I don’t smoke, but I can always improve my diet with less refined carbohydrates.
- Have an occasional glass of red wine which will increase the powerful antioxidant, resveratrol. This has been proven to reduce LDL oxidation, decrease inflammation, and improve the lining of cardiac vessels. Another way to obtain this is with red grapes and purple grape juice (but be careful on the sugar content).
- Exercise during the cold months. I love to be outside. But now that the weather is getting colder, I have made a commitment to go to the gym after work. I’m fine once I get there, but I’ll need some accountability to be consistent. Feel free to ask me!
- Continue with other cardiac tests. Seasons will be getting a Heart Rate Variability Test which every patient will have access to.
- Find joy every day and keep stress levels in balance. Studies have shown that heart disease is linked to depression.
- Retest my cardiac markers in May, 2013!
Helen Keller said “life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” May we live this one life with hearts full of gratitude and wonder for the countless blessings our Creator has lavished on us!