Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fixing Faulty Fatloss Fables

The weight loss industry grows by 6% a year and yet the incidence of obesity also increases by 6% every year! Obviously something is not working.

To make matters worse, we are deafened by a cacophony of conflicting dietary advice from the Cookie Diet to the Cabbage Soup Diet and everything in between.

If you’ve found it hard to maintain or lose weight, you need to go beyond the familiar “diet and exercise” mantra.

There are three hidden causes for the obesity epidemic.

  1. The “Overfed / Undernourished” Syndrome

Depleted soil conditions and refining give us nutritionally bankrupt foods which ‘fill’ us without ‘nourishing’ us. This leads to constant hunger at the cellular level.

Solution: Turn to ‘Superfoods’ such as wheat grass and alfalfa sprouts to satisfy your 'cellular' hunger. Voila! You will eat less and feel more satisfied without dieting!

  1. The “Craving-for-Refined-Foods” Syndrome
It is not the lack of willpower, but undiagnosed food allergies that make you crave processed foods high in sugar, flour, yeast or fat. Such foods force the body to protect itself from symptoms such as fatigue and digestive upset by releasing narcotic-like chemicals called opioids that give you a pleasurable feeling. You get addicted to this feeling and unknowingly seek out foods that make you euphoric.

To protect you from these invading food allergens, your fat cells bloat up and act as buffers between the 'toxic' chemicals and your organs.

No amount of dieting will get rid of that stored fat!
Solution: Identify food allergies and get rid of some common culprits such as white flour, white sugar, dairy products, soy products and wheat/gluten.

  1. The “Clogged Liver” Syndrome
Years of eating processed foods clogs the liver, slowing it down, making it hard to perform its vital digestive and energy-balancing functions efficiently.

Solution: Cleanse, detoxify and flush the liver. One simple way is to go on a vegetable juice “fast” for 3 to 5 days. Good vegetables to juice are: carrots, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, green beans, cucumbers, etc. (See a naturopath for more elaborate ways to cleanse the liver).

By including ‘Superfoods’ in your diet, breaking the ‘opioid cycle’ and maintaining a clean liver, you’re health will improve dramatically and the weight will come off effortlessly!

Remember, weight loss should be a pleasant side-effect of getting healthy...and not a goal in itself.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

How to Raise Your ‘Good’ Cholesterol Levels

While cholesterol is a complex substance, most of us are familiar with two of its primary components: LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol).
So far, both doctors and their patients have focused on reducing LDL cholesterol as a key part of their treatment regimen. However, new research at Baylor College of Medicine shows that having too little HDL cholesterol may be more damaging and may even be more predictive of heart disease than LDL.
In fact, in people with heart disease, the most common cholesterol problem is too little HDL.
"Even if their total cholesterol and LDL levels are normal, people with reduced levels of HDL have an increased risk of early coronary artery disease," says Richard N. Fogoros, M.D.
Some good news
Even a slight increase in HDL goes a long way. It's estimated that for every 1 mg/dl increase in HDL cholesterol, there is a 2% to 4% decrease in your risk of coronary heart disease.
Should you use drugs to raise HDL cholesterol?
Drug therapy has been less successful at raising HDL than at reducing LDL cholesterol. Statins in particular, are often quite poor at increasing HDL levels. While some newer statins may increase HDL, these drugs might not be good for people whose LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol levels are normal because, while raising the HDL, the drug will lower normal LDL and total cholesterol levels.
Before resorting to drugs, first try these proven, natural methods…
12 Strategies to Increase Your HDL
Exercise: Aerobic exercise and strength training can increase your HDL if done correctly and regularly.
Maintain optimal body weight: Obesity can increase LDL cholesterol levels while reducing HDL. Losing weight can help increase HDL.
Don't eat ‘trans fats’: Avoid these unhealthy, artery-clogging fats found in margarine, vegetable shortening, fried foods like French fries and fried chicken, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and crackers.
Eat more monounsaturated fats: Increase intake of fats such as olive oil, homemade peanut butter, avocados, etc.
Eat soluble fiber: Found in apples, oranges, berries, seeds, nuts, oat bran, vegetables, etc.
Reduce refined carbohydrates: Like white sugar, white flour and white rice.
Feast on raw onions: Half a raw onion a day may raise HDL levels by as much as 30%.
Alcohol: One or two drinks a day may help to increase HDL levels. An ideal choice is red wine which is rich in antioxidants.
Warning: More than one or two drinks will do more harm than good. Be smart about alcohol…if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it!
Do NOT go on an ultra low-fat diet: Too little fat can be as bad as too much fat in your diet (by creating a deficiency in essential fatty acids). Low-fat diets have been linked to significant reductions in HDL cholesterol. For best results, eat a variety of healthy fats and avoid the bad ones like ‘trans fats’.
Quit smoking: This will increase your HDL levels.
Consider taking niacin: Several studies have found that niacin (vitamin B3) can increase HDL by 30% while lowering total cholesterol by 10% to 25%.
Get lots of omega-3: This essential fatty acid, found in fish, flaxseed and walnuts, can dramatically increase HDL cholesterol.
Increase your HDL levels by using some or all of the above methods. Strive for a HDL level above 60.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Silent Heart Attack

Most of us are familiar with the classic symptoms of a heart attack: chest pain, numbness in the left arm, shortness of breath, etc. Sometimes the symptoms are very strong and obvious and sometimes they are more subtle, resembling heartburn or angina.

But what if the heart attack produced absolutely no symptoms? A silent heart attack is not only possible, it's fairly common.
People who have had a silent heart attack are fortunate to be alive because it is one of the most deadly types of heart attack you can suffer. Twice as many people die from them compared to those who experience chest pain during a heart attack. Silent heart attacks are caused when your arteries narrow and you don't get enough oxygen to your heart. Chronic lack of oxygen normally just results in a condition called angina. But in 25-30% of cases, lack of oxygen can produce a heart attack that doesn't have any symptoms.

The absence of pain doesn't mean there's an absence of damage to the heart muscle. And, because they go untreated, silent heart attacks can be deadly. They also increase your odds of having a second heart attack, which would be more likely to kill you.

While most physicians believe the heart is permanently damaged during a silent heart attack, there is hope. With the right approach you can actually rebuild your heart muscle after a heart attack.
And doing so will help you avoid another attack.
What can be done to rebuild the heart muscle

If you've suffered a heart attack, you have to flood your heart with the right nutrients. The most crucial nutrient you need is oxygen. Providing your heart with oxygen will allow your heart muscle to regenerate.

  • The best way to get more oxygen to your heart is through bio-oxidative therapies administered by a healthcare practitioner skilled in these methods.
  • The patient also needs to take heart-specific nutrients such as the amino acid L-Carnitine, Coenzyme Q10, Magnesium, etc.
  • Keeping in mind that the heart is a muscle, a protein-rich diet and strength-building exercises are essential.

A few simple steps such as these can either protect you from a heart attack or prevent a second attack if you’ve already had one.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Healing Heartburn Naturally

When stomach juices including hydrochloric acid and pepsin (a digestive enzyme), back up into the lowest part of the esophagus (where they don’t belong), heartburn is the result. The fiery pain and pressure beneath the breastbone can be so severe sometimes that it is mistaken for a heart attack.

How heartburn happens
The esophageal sphincter (the muscular ring separating the esophagus from the stomach), fails to keep the stomach contents down where they belong. This can happen due to several reasons.
What causes heartburn?
Some foods can relax the sphincter muscle causing acid reflux. Other foods can increase the acidity of the stomach juices. Still others can irritate a damaged esophagus through direct contact.
Foods that have a reputation for causing heartburn:
Onions, garlic, spicy foods, fatty foods, fried foods, tomatoes, citrus fruits, chocolate, coffee, milk and alcohol.
Eating habits
Eating too fast or too much can overfill the stomach, forcing the sphincter muscle to open. Lying down (especially on your right side) after a big meal encourages the sphincter to open. Having a huge belly also puts pressure on the sphincter, promoting reflux.
Stress contributes significantly to heartburn by reducing the stomach’s ability to protect itself from its own acid. A high-pressure career, stressful family situation or major life event, such as changing jobs or purchasing a home, can trigger heartburn.
Prescription drugs – yet another source of heartburn
This may surprise some people, but the drugs you take can lead to indigestion and heartburn.
  • Aspirin and Ibuprofen
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (including death from sudden gastric hemorrhage).
  • Calcium-channel blockers
  • Asthma drugs
  • Beta-blockers (used to lower blood pressure)
  • Parkinson's Disease medication
  • Birth control pills…and the list goes on
Note: Nicotine in all its forms can cause heartburn.
The downside of antacids
Antacids are one of the most-prescribed medicines worldwide.
While antacids "block" stomach acid, they also block the absorption of nutrients, hindering proper digestion. Insufficient hydrochloric acid in your stomach means your body cannot breakdown proteins into usable amino acids.
Many popular antacids contain:
  • Aluminium compounds which cause constipation
  • Magnesium compounds which cause diarrhea
  • Sodium bicarbonate which causes gas and bloating
  • Calcium bicarbonate which can cause the stomach to create more acid than normal (once the antacid wears off).
A popular heartburn drug used in the US since 1993 has caused 70 deaths and 200 other incidents of heart problems. The US government now says it should only be used as a last resort.  
What to do first
Get your doctor’s support to try this effective, natural approach before resorting to antacids:
  • Reduce fat. Eat more complex carbohydrates and lean proteins
  • Go easy on chocolates, coffee, alcohol and foods such as raw onions
  • Reduce citrus fruits and spicy foods (if you are sensitive to them)
  • Get rid of your abdominal ‘spare tire’
  • Don’t lie down for at least 2-3 hours after a meal (that includes dinner!)
  • When sleeping, lie on your left side rather than your right
  • Do not go to bed soon after drinking alcohol
  • Drink water half an hour before meals (and when you feel heartburn coming on)
  • Do not overeat
  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly
Do not suppress stomach acid. Keep it where it belongs!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Heart Disease – Know Your Options

Every year, millions of people are asked to go in for angiograms – some may have no symptoms and others may exhibit discomfort or breathlessness during exertion.

The angiogram will inevitably show blocks in one or more arteries because atherosclerotic plaque begins accumulating before the third decade of life. Many men and women who are symptom-free and healthy have been found to have 75% or more arterial blockage when autopsied after accidental death from causes unrelated to arterial disease.

Based on the angiogram findings, you may be told you must have angioplasty/stents or bypass surgery because your coronary arteries are blocked and you are at risk for a heart attack. You may also be told that angioplasty or bypass surgery is the only option and it must be carried out immediately.

Research shows that surgery is rarely necessary, and even when necessary, doesn’t need to be carried out immediately.

Consider the following...

Limitations of an angiogram
The coronary angiogram is the "gold standard" of cardiovascular diagnosis and cardiologists consider it the final word in determining if bypass surgery is needed.

However, the patient must realize that angiograms cannot pick up the small arteries that make up the heart's microcirculation. An artery may appear to be obstructed, but the heart muscle it feeds often functions normally and is in no danger because its blood supply comes from the microcirculation or from collateral vessels too small to be imaged by the angiographic technique. (Collaterals are small capillary-like branches of an artery that form over time in response to narrowed coronary arteries).

Some facts about bypass surgery

The Coronary Artery Surgery Study (CASS) reported that regardless of whether one, two or more of the major coronary arteries were blocked—patients progressed very well without surgery, having the low fatality rate of 1.6% per year and a corresponding survival rate of 98.4%. During the same time period (over 2 decades), those who received bypass surgery had a fatality rate of slightly over 10%, or about one death for every 10 operations.
The same study showed that the most critical factor in determining whether or not a person will benefit from bypass surgery seems not to be the number or extent of blockages, but rather how well the left ventricular pump is functioning. This is assessed by measuring the total amount of blood pumped with each beat, known as the ejection fraction. A healthy heart generally has an ejection fraction of 50% or greater. Studies have shown that almost 90% of all bypass surgeries are performed on patients whose ejection fraction is over 50%.
Cardiac bypass procedures can lead to long-term cognitive brain impairment. In addition to this, because bypass surgery alters arterial blood flow, that portion of the artery upstream from the bypass graft site accumulates plaque at 10 times the rate of an un-grafted artery. Because of this, bypass patients must also face the possibility that one operation may not be enough. Reports indicate that 15% to 30% of vein grafts become re-blocked within one year of surgery.
Lastly, let’s not overlook the psychological trauma. It would be difficult to find anyone who is not terrorized by the operation.
Because of these facts, rushing patients in for emergency surgery because of a severely narrowed coronary artery is usually unwarranted and needlessly frightens patients and their families.
The good news is that the disease can be treated with non-invasive approaches.

Comparision of Invavsive vs. Non-Invasive Therapies
There are 39 major studies comparing bypass surgery or angioplasty with conservative medical treatment using only drugs. Many of the studies have what is called a selection bias (i.e. the patients were selected in such a way so as to favor a predetermined type of treatment).
In spite of these selection biases heavily favoring surgical intervention, almost every single study clearly and unequivocally demonstrates that invasive treatment, be it bypass surgery or angioplasty, fails to reduce heart attacks and mortality when compared to patients who have been conservatively treated with medication. In addition, there is a clear increase in mortality, heart attack rate, cardiovascular events, repeat angioplasty and bypass surgery in the invasively treated patients.
Still, many doctors scoff at non-interventional approaches because these methods are unable to eliminate or unclog the obstructed coronary artery.
But you don't have to unclog arteries. Proper medication can restore blood flow to that section of the heart by dilating other blood vessels in the same area that are not blocked while other medicines simultaneously reduce the workload of the heart so that the heart muscle requires less blood.
Removing the block becomes IRRELEVANT. Moreover, atherosclerosis is a systemic disease. It occurs throughout all the coronary arteries. If you fix one segment, a year later it may be another segment that leads to a heart attack. So systemic therapy, with medication has the potential to do a lot more.
Once blood flow is adequate for the work load of the heart, chest pains will disappear. So will the risk of a heart attack or death. (A non-interventional cardiologist can be your best bet).
Choose your treatment based on knowledge, not on fear.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Does Conventional Medical Advice Protect Us From Sudden Heart Attacks?

Late last year, health enthusiasts in Bangalore were stunned by the sudden death of a local doctor. He had no history of heart disease, maintained a healthy lifestyle and was a fitness freak who never missed a workout. Yet he collapsed while jogging on the treadmill and died of a massive heart attack shortly afterwards. He was only 43 years old.
Cardiologists say there is nothing one can do in such cases since the attack comes without warning. They also say angiograms cannot pick up the blocks that cause such sudden attacks. And yet fitness experts insist we should have regular checkups. They also say people over 40 should be “practical” and not go overboard with their workout. This is how the experts explained away the tragedy.
Since the victim was a doctor and extremely health-conscious, we can safely assume that he had regular checkups, stuck to a healthy diet and was “practical” about his “cardio” workout routine.
This raises an important question: How could someone who diligently followed expert advice with checkups, diet and exercise succumb to the very disease he worked so hard to avoid? Is it just bad luck or is there a missing piece to this puzzle?
Here are some possible answers...
The “risk factors” that doctors focus on in standard tests, often miss the real underlying causes of heart disease.
The “one-size-fits-all” low-fat diet that experts recommend does not build a healthy heart.
Long duration exercise such as cardio, creates over-trained, under-fit, immune-compromised “exerholics” with reduced heart and lung reserve capacity.
Note: While the above statements may sound incredible and contrary to everything you’ve been told, they are based on sound science and worth considering if you don’t want to be caught off guard like the unfortunate doctor.
Let’s take each of the above in turn
Standard Health Checkups and Subsequent Treatment Give a False Sense of Security
Undue attention is placed on cholesterol while far more important risk factors are ignored. This is in spite of knowing that...
“Half of all heart attack victims have normal cholesterol levels”
- The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide

A study reported on August 22, 2011 in the journal ‘Atherosclerosis’ where 82,000 adults in the UK were followed for an average of 8 years concluded that:
  • Higher total cholesterol levels were NOT associated with an increased risk of death due to heart disease.
  • Higher total cholesterol levels were actually associated with a REDUCED risk of death due to stroke.
Researchers in The Fukui Study, Japan, classified 22,971 participants into groups according to their cholesterol levels. They concluded that:
Those in the 160-169 mg/dl group (both sexes), suffered significantly HIGHER all-cause mortality than those in the 240-259 mg/dl category.
High Blood Pressure Is Not Caused By A Blood Pressure Drug Deficiency
Doctors consider 95% of high blood pressure cases to be of unknown cause. Yet there are real reasons for high blood pressure. Here are some root causes:
When scientists need lab animals with high blood pressure for experimentation purposes, they inject healthy animals with sugar because glycosylation leads to high blood pressure. Hormonal imbalances, infections, mineral deficiencies, repressed emotions and exposure to chemicals or heavy metals can also do the trick.
Because blood pressure readings reflect body mineral and electrolyte balances and toxicity levels, as well as kidney and cardiovascular function, discovering the root causes for malfunction can be a complex and challenging endeavor. It is rare to find a practitioner who properly monitors blood pressure (taking comparative readings in both arms, calf and ankle areas and measures central arterial pressure). Rarer still is the practitioner who will properly test for, and treat underlying causes, as opposed to masking symptoms with drugs.
One thing is for sure: this epidemic was not created by a shortage of blood pressure medication. In fact, most drugs prescribed for the condition merely exacerbate its underlying causes while creating additional serious problems that should alarm any patient.
Warning: Relying exclusively on standard health checkups to protect you from heart disease is like crossing a two-way street while looking in only one direction. You are bound to get run over.
Time for doctors to order better predictive tests
Cardiologists must look at other risk factors for coronary artery disease that may have more significance than the usual cholesterol, hypertension and family history.

Here are some important indicators to look for:

High Fibrinogen
High Insulin (whether the patient is diabetic or not)
Low Testosterone
High C-reactive protein
High Homocysteine
High Ferritin
Low Magnesium
High (or Low) Cortisol
Low Coenzyme Q10 (especially for those on Statins)
Low 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D3
Other predictive tests worth looking at are: N3/N6 Ratio and Blood Viscosity.
Optimizing each of these risk factors can dramatically reduce heart attack and stroke. This approach goes far beyond just taking pills to suppress cholesterol and blood pressure.

Low-Fat Diets Do Not Protect Against Heart Disease

Last September, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition carried a remarkable overview of studies that have examined saturated fat intake. Here are some of the results found by researchers with the Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis (UC):
  • One analysis of 50 years of research on the link between saturated fat intake and heart health found no evidence that a low-fat diet prolongs life
  • Results of studies on the association of saturated fat intake with atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease were found to be "inconclusive or even contradictory"
  • To state flatly that saturated fat causes heart disease is to ignore the many common factors that have been shown CONCLUSIVELY to contribute to heart disease, such as an intake of carbohydrates with high glycemic index, smoking, obesity, diabetes, high homocysteine, high C-reactive protein, lack of exercise and oxidative stress
  • Abstaining from saturated fats has not been shown to lower the incidence of coronary disease or total mortality
And finally, it is worth noting that fatty acids are essential to all the tissues of the body.

Cardio Does Not Strengthen Heart and May Expose You to Sudden Attacks

The Harvard Health Professionals Study followed over 7,000 people and found that the key to exercise is NOT length or endurance but intensity: The more intense the exertion, the lower the risk of heart disease. Contrary to popular belief, high intensity exercise is also safer.
The Harvard Alumni Health Study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association came to the following conclusions:
Those who performed more vigorous exercise had a lower risk of death than those who performed less vigorous exercise.
Aerobics, jogging and marathon running are low-intensity, long-duration exercises. The Harvard study clearly shows that this kind of exercise increases your risk of heart disease and death.
Here’s why: When you exercise for long periods at a low to medium intensity, since there is no demand for high energy output, you train your heart and lungs to get smaller in order to conserve energy and increase efficiency at low intensity.
Action Steps for Better Heart Protection
As you can see, one needs to go way beyond conventional medical advice in order to achieve optimal wellness.
Ask your doctor to focus on better predictive tests as described above in addition to the usual tests.
Once you isolate true risk factors, work to correct underlying causes rather than to go on medication to suppress symptoms.
Don’t be afraid of fat. Learn to distinguish between good, bad and ugly fats. Eat a diet rich in good fats and notice the dramatic difference.
Focus on short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by periods of recovery to build a strong heart and powerful lungs.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Downside of Antibiotics

While the proper use of antibiotics can save lives, many health authorities are beginning to admit that antibiotics are over-prescribed, creating problems that are worse than the original condition they are used to treat.

The widespread abuse of antibiotics is based on some false beliefs:

False Belief #1: Antibiotics are responsible for the decline in infectious disease
Researchers traced the incidence of the major infectious diseases from 1900 to 1973. Their conclusion? “All were in decline for several decades before the introduction of antibiotics or vaccines”. Further research at Boston University concluded that improved nutrition, improved sanitation and hygiene were far more important than the 'wonder drugs' or vaccines in reducing these diseases.

False Belief #2: Antibiotics are useful against colds and flu
Even though antibiotics kill bacteria and not viruses, many physicians continue to prescribe them for viral conditions such as colds and flu. The rationale is to prevent secondary bacterial infection. This starts a vicious cycle.

False Belief #3: Antibiotics are harmless
This myth leads to over-prescribing and blinds physicians and patients to the dangers of antibiotics.

So what’s the big deal with taking antibiotics?   
The list of problems is quite long. Some are common and well known. Others are subtle but equally important.

  • May cause allergic reactions   
  • Destroy friendly bacteria in the digestive system   
  • Give rise to drug-resistant bacteria (super bugs)
  • Suppress the immune system (creating recurrent infections)
  • Creates an overgrowth of candida albicans (yeast infection)
  • Puts you at risk for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Creates nutrient loss
The famous Dr. Pasteur insisted that germs are the cause of disease. His colleague, Beauchamp, insisted that the health of the host was more important than the germs. On his death bed, Pasteur was said to have declared that Beauchamp was correct: "The host is everything, the germs are nothing".  

Allopathic medicine, however, embraced Pasteur's view and ignored Beauchamp.  

It is time to focus more on the person and less on the germs.
Why? Because research shows healthy people do not get many infections.   

Preventing Infections
  • Cleanliness matters
  • Wash your hands several times daily
  • Dress properly in cold weather
  • Get adequate rest and sleep
  • Reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals in food and environment
  • Drink pure water
  • Discard toxic cleaning agents and solvents
  • Avoid silver amalgam dental fillings and opt for composites
  • Get plenty of vitamins A, C, E, selenium and zinc from fresh, natural foods
  • Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
  • Positive thoughts have a beneficial effect on the immune system
  • Deep breathing is beneficial to the immune system
  • Saunas, steam baths and yoga help prevent infections

Alternatives for Treating Infections
When ill, reducing food intake, liquid fasts, sponging with water and alcohol and bed rest are simple measures that are often forgotten in the belief that 'wonder drugs' will take care of everything.

    An Ounce of Prevention

The ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha is very effective at boosting immune function. Turmeric and ginger are effective anti-inflammatories.  
The Bottom Line
If an infection occurs, apply harmless and simple measures any naturopath can teach you. Reserve antibiotics for when they are appropriate…in life-threatening situations.