Monday, September 17, 2007

Thinking About Magnesium

With Steve's family history of heart disease and migraines, and his own arrhythmia, magnesium is an important mineral around our house. Did you know that 42% of migraine sufferers are deficient in magnesium or that IV magnesium sulfate rapidly relieves headaches of all kinds?

I was talking to Tess last week and it was interesting to learn how many people land on our site when they are searching for magnesium. Perhaps it's mostly related to heart health research, as this is our biggest category.

My fascination with all things cellular these days has reminded me of the many benefits of magnesium, particularly for cell signalling and cell membrane integrity. Once I'm paying attention to anything, of course it shows up everywhere. And so it is with magnesium, the mineral that supports practically all things metabolic.

Today, I came across a recent article from the Archives of Internal Medicine that makes the case for higher intake of cereal fiber along with magnesium to lower risks of type 2 diabetes.

Then, there's the University of California, California Agriculture study (July-September 2007 issue) linking low magnesium intake and obesity with higher levels of asthma.

Older studies include correlations between low magnesium levels and the dreaded metabolic syndrome, depression, and more.

The Linus Pauling Institute states that marginal magnesium deficiencies may be more common than most people think:

"A large U.S. national survey indicated that the average magnesium intake for men (about 320 mg/day) and the average intake for women (about 230 mg/day) were significantly below the current recommended dietary allowance. Magnesium intakes were even lower in men and women over 70 years of age."

So, to all of you who found us through a magnesium search, may I say "thank you" for appreciating this little mineral with so much to offer.

To everyone else, I encourage you to check out the benefits of magnesium once again!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Fiber 35 Diet: Nature's Weight Loss Secret

I know, we often look for things that confirm our own perspectives, and I'm no different.

I have always emphasized "more vegetables" and "more fiber" and not dieting per se. Instead of working on limiting things, I like to think about increasing intake of healthy items (what we need more of).

The Fiber 35 Diet, by Brenda Watson, has some of the hype phrases like "the revolutionary way to lose weight" and "the miracle ingredient" but I'll forgivingly chalk that up to editorial investments in creating a best seller. I actually like this diet book (and most, I wouldn't use for more than kindling!).

Watson writes in her opening chapter on dieting and fiber:

"the difference between those who succeed and those who don't boils down to those who can control their appetite and those who cannot...This is where the power of fiber begins. Fiber will help you control your appetite in a natural way that is almost magical. It's as close to a magic pill as you're going to get, and it does a whole lot more than suppress your appetite."

Watson goes on to extol the following virtues of fiber.

First, fiber curbs your appetite, thus helping you reduce intake. In essence, fiber "turns on your antihunger hormone" otherwise known as cholecystokinin, which is the messenger in your small intestine that signals fullness. So, it's not just the bulking activity of fiber that helps you feel full, fiber also supports the biochemistry side of feeling full.

Second, fiber helps reduce absorption of calories from the food you eat, what Watson calls the "fiber flush effect." Who knew that consumption of 36-50 grams of fiber per day "leaves 130 calories unused in the stool?!"

I think I've heard that a mere 50 extra calories a day packs on an extra 10 pounds a year, so this "fecal energy excretion" from fiber intake seems far from insignificant (Watson argues that you can lose up to 26 pounds a year through this fiber flush effect).

Third, fiber-rich foods are considered low-energy-density foods. Well, duh, carrots and celery obviously fall into this category. High in water, low in fat, low in calories. Yeah, yeah, we all know this one, but consider it rather, um, unfulfilling, at times.

Finally, Watson describes how fiber slows down your body's conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, thus supporting blood sugar stability. Without wild blood sugar swings, you can more easily stay on a diet and even reverse problems with insulin resistance.

I liked Watson's section on toxins and obesity (Dr. Rodier often talks about the link between toxins and obesity), which makes the case for toxins slowing down your metabolism. When toxins are released into your blood, your resting rate of metabolism drops, which works against weight loss. Watson reviews the seven channels of detoxification (lungs, liver, colon, kidneys, skin, blood, and lymph) and emphasizes the role of saunas and exercising (sweating) as well as cleansing (diet, herbs, supplements).

The book is easy to read, well organized, with handy references and facts about fiber, including:

  • Amaranth packs a whopping 17.2 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup compared to brown rice with only 4 grams.
  • One medicum banana trumps three apricots in fiber (4 grams compared to 2.5 grams).
  • Acorn squash yields 4.5 grams for every 1/2 cup compared to spinach with 2 grams.
  • Red beans top the legumes list with 9 grams per 1/2 cup compared to 4 grams for green peas and only 2 grams for green beans.

Meanwhile, true tales from my kitchen counter? I keep experimenting with various fibers in my morning shakes (acacia gum, guar gum, apple pectin) as I don't really do so well with psyllium or wheat bran.

This morning, I opted for eggs instead of a shake, but felt guilty, so stirred some apple fiber with guar gum in a little bit of rice milk ("little bit" is the operative phrase). Quickly, I had a gummy paste, which I gamely spooned out and ate without a whole lot of enthusiasm, much to Steve's chagrin.

Finally, Steve couldn't stand it and took the remainder away, rinsing my cup and shaking his head. I had to laugh. Some experiments just shouldn't be witnessed!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Anti-Aging Secrets of Alpha Lipoic Acid

Aging. Degenerative disease. People make millions (billions) every day playing to fears about aging and market faddish "anti-aging" products.

Supplement fanatics (our members most certainly included) are typically anti-aging fanatics as well. I often recall Scott Ferguson's comment about his supplement cabinet being his "fountain of youth." :-)

And, with my 47th birthday fast approaching (September 21st), I'm more and more interested in "anti-aging" myself.

At the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI), they study micronutrients for optimum health and the effects of micronutrients on aging processes and degenerative disease. In a May 2007, at the LPI "Diet and Optimum Health Conference," LPI researcher and Oregon State University associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, Tory Hagen was quoted as saying:

"Our studies have shown that mice supplemented with lipoic acid have a cognitive ability, behavior, and genetic expression of almost 100 detoxification and antioxidant genes that are comparable to that of young animals. They aren't just living longer, they are living better -- and that's the goal we're after. We never really expected such a surprising range of benefits from one compound.""

Alpha lipoic acid promotes health (and anti-aging) in two primary ways:

  • It restores healthy cell signaling (lipoic acid essentially "kick starts" declining function in cells)

  • It improves glutathione levels (glutathione is responsible for protecting against cellular damage from free radicals and inflammation while also detoxifying heavy metals and toxins from the body

I've taken Alpha Lipoic Acid for the last few years, and I have found that I need to take it with meals to prevent an uncomfortable acid feeling in my stomach.

For reference, the Linus Pauling Institute recommends 200-400 mg of alpha lipoic acid daily, with 600 mg daily for diabetic neuropathy. Our product contains 300mg.

Cancer, Collagen & Connective Tissue

I wrote about my little "slice of skin cancer" last month, how I'm genetically challenged (a bit of delicate Irish skin in the mix) and had way too many sunburns growing up. I believe my first answer (tactical - get rid of the basal cell carcinoma with minimal scarring) is MOHS surgery.

Long-term, however, I'm interested in some new things, like the connection between cancer, collagen, and connective tissue. As Matthias Rath writes in an article about nutrients that inhibit the spread of cancer cells:
  • Cancer cells develop in the body as a result of damage to cellular DNA, which destroys the control mechanism of cell replication, allowing unchecked spread of cancer cells.
  • All healthy cells are surrounded by collagen and connective tissue.
  • Excessive disintegration of connective tissue in cells accompanies pathology.
  • Certain nutrients -- a combo of vitamin C, l-lysine, l-proline, and a polyphenol fraction of green tea known as Epigallocatechin Gallate or EGCG -- can inhibit destruction of collagen and connective tissue in cells and thus inhibit cancer cell proliferation.

Rath's laboratory has conducted research over the years to find the specific combo that works best against cancer. He cites information on breast cancer cell inhibition (100% with this combo of four nutrients), colon cancer inhibitiion (91%), and, get this, melanoma (100%).

That's practically a miracle, as melanoma is one of those cancers that is considered extremely hard to treat, with horrific fatality rates.

I've heard about Rath's research many times over the years. I just didn't think it really applied to me. You could say, I didn't care (enough).

Rath's research findings have always been compelling. Our interview with Janae Weinhold was all about Cancer and combining our Heart Plus (vitamin C, l-lysine, l-proline) with Green Tea Extract for cancer victims in the Ukraine. And, Bill Henderson, of Beating Cancer Gently, repeatedly recommends our Heart Plus and Green Tea combo to his subscribers with cancer.

But now it's different. I have skin cancer (surgery is still ahead) and a high risk for future skin cancer and even melanoma. I care about cancer now. And, I care about the connection between cancer, collagen, and connective tissue in cells.

So, yes, I'm adding Green Tea Extract to my Heart Plus. And, I am interested in working on our new Heart Plus Powder (with green tea extract,coming this fall).

The older I get, the more I learn from (and appreciate) folks who started caring about cancer at least a few years ahead of me!