Eating fish lowers reduces stroke risk and lowers blood pressure

A fascinating study has highlighted how different dietary proteins affect the blood pressure when taken as part of the normal diet. Following an analysis of 7 previous studies involving over 250,000 individuals it was discovered that while a diet high in animal proteins appeared to be linked to an increased risk of elevated blood pressure and stroke a diet high in fish protein was actually associated with a lowered stroke risk and lower blood pressure. Naturally, the solution proposed by the authors is simply to replace meat based meals with fish. While it is unclear how fish protein protects against stroke theories have been proposed that include a lowering effect of fish protein on blood fats (such as cholesterol. LDL’s and triglycerides) but the authors of the study feel that the stroke protective effect is more likely to involve the direct effect of fish proteins on the blood pressure itself. Fish protein is only one aspect of a meal and tends to be associated with nutrients with established blood pressure lowering actions such as potassium, magnesium and dietary fibre but once the effects of these were removed from the stroke risk calculations the protective effects of fish proteins still remained reinforcing the importance of this component of the diet in isolation of other factors. This study also supports the use of a natural food supplement (PeptACE produced by the Canadian manufacturer Natural Factors) made from a specific mixture of 9 small peptides (proteins) isolated from the Bonito fish, a relative of the Tuna. Studies into the effects of the PeptACE Fish Peptides show that it exerts its blood pressure lowering actions in a similar way as the drugs used to treat high blood pressure known as ACE inhibitors which block a key pathway involved in regulating blood pressure. In a similar way, PeptACE Fish Peptides reduce the blood volume and relax the artery walls and, in so doing, reduce the blood pressure. However, unlike the drug based versions of ACE inhibitors the PeptACE Fish Peptides are free of unwanted side effects because they do not actually inhibit (block) the ACE enzyme but react with in in a beneficial way. Knowledge about the effects of the 9 specific fish peptides in PeptACE may also help explain the observations noted in this key study published this June in the Journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

 

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Regulate the bowel and the body will follow

When considering digestive health its interesting to note that for as long as medical writings have been in existence the concept of ‘health starting in the colon’ has always been around. We know that a healthy bowel (colon) is essential for a healthy body but we do expose our gut to a daily barrage of potentially damaging toxins and harmful organisms. In a way, its testament to the effectiveness of gut and its immune system that we are all not ill on a daily basis but we all could do a lot to help this system along and reduce some of the detoxification burden. Its worth considering that an over-burdened intestinal tract is often the trigger for a flare of IBS which in turn can have wider implications on the healthy functioning of the immune system and any background inflammatory conditions that may co-exist. Bowel ‘toxicity’ can be related to poorly digested foods that decay in the colon. This process inevitably aggravates the delicate balance of bowel microbes and can shift the digestive process to one of breakdown too fermentation. Over time, the absorption of nutrients can be impaired and the overgrowth of opportunistic gut organisms such as Candida albicans can occur.

In order to help this process reverse and stimulate healthy digestion over the more unhealthy fermentation process digestive enzymes can be used with great effect. For example, when polysaccharides (the starchy or fibrous part of vegetables) enter the digestive system and are not correctly processed they arrive in the lower bowel (colon) where bacteria and other fermentation orientated organisms set about generating gas as an end product of their actions. Abdominal bloating, colicky cramps and upset bowel actions can be a direct result of this process. Using a specific enzyme that splits up the indigestible type of polysaccharide that is found in dietary fibre, for example, will help reduce the amount reaching the lower bowel and ease the IBS symptoms. These enzymes are known as hemicellulase and cellulase. What makes the story interesting is the fact that the human gut does not make any cellulase which is the reason why cellulose (plant fiber) based foods, although being ‘healthy’ do not digest well in some people. However, certain bacteria within the human bowel actually produce the enzyme known as hemicellulase. Bowel toxicity is a common environmental change that can damage these bacteria to a point where the enzyme is almost absent within the bowel. This, along with other digestive issues can be viewed as another contributing factor causing an aggravation of IBS symptoms.

In addition to the fiber splitting enzymes another specialist ingredient, also an enzyme, can help prevent the inevitable Candida overgrowth that accompanies a toxic colon. Known as chitosanase, the enzyme specifically breaks down chitin, a key structural component that forms the cell wall of fungi and years including Candida. By punching holes in the cell wall chitosanase and other enzymes may effectively digest and eliminate these organisms. Enzyme actions can also go further than the digestive process by beneficially influencing the inflammatory reaction that can occur within the body. A protein splitting enzyme called Peptizyme SP (serratia peptidase) can exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that not only eases digestive inflammation but can ease the inflammation related to arthritis and even some skin inflammations such as acne and rosacea.

Supporting enzymes also play an important part in overall digestive efficiency. Adequate levels of fat splitting enzymes (lipase) are required to help process even the small amount of fat found in the leanest of meats. If you are a vegetarian the oils found in nuts and dressings (eg olive) may be healthier options but still require lipase to digest them effectively. Proteins commonly accompany fats in a meal so the need for proteases (protein splitting enzymes) along with sugar splitting enzymes (amylase) is important in a balanced enzyme supplement.

Most enzyme preparations are considered safe to use but following the manufacturers instructions is important since potency and blends will change from brand to brand. Colon ClenZyme (from the Canadian manufacture Natural Factors) contains all the key enzyme ingredients mentioned above; hemicellulase, cellulase, chitosanase, Peptizyme SP along with amaylase, lipase and protease. The vegetarian capsules can be taken with meals or opened so that those who find swallowing capsules difficult can sprinkle the enzyme powder on their food. Adjusting the level of enzyme needed can be quite a personal thing. Starting off with 1 capsule with small-medium sized meals would be a start. This can be increased to 2 capsules if needed or if the meal is larger. Enzymes only have an action for that meal. Once they have passed through the digestive tract they are naturally broken down and eliminated, they do not accumulate over repeated use. Unless otherwise stated, enzyme supplements are suitable for daily and long term use.

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Don’t lose your hair

by Marcus Webb

 

Out of 1000 women surveyed, 33% reported to suffer from noticeable hair loss, that’s around one in three. We tend to take hair for granted but when it starts falling out who do you turn to for help?

It’s interesting how we can be unaware that our hair can be saying a lot about us simply by how we choose to style it. Hair is often a good predictor of our self-image and chosen lifestyle. Hair that is cut short and carefully styled may reflect a hidden artistic personality while hair that required regular cuts, colouring and maintenance suggests that the person cared deeply about their appearance which in turn could signify inner insecurities. More radical hair styles and colours also indicate an artistic aspect to the persons personality combined with more adventurous, rebellious tendencies sometimes spiced with a desire to taunt authority figures such as parents or employers. Hair has always been an important statement of health and status so when we start loosing our hair deep set worries besiege us; will I go bald, will it ever grow back, how can I go our in public, will my partner still love me? These are all very real anxieties and worries that those suffering hair loss face and often deal with for a long time before seeking advice.

Hair basics

Humans are all very individual and the same can be said about our hair. So many things influence hair growth ranging from ethnic differences and genetics through to less well-understood influences like stress and even seasonal changes. When we look at the effects of ethnic differences its becomes clear that the three major geographical origins (Asian, Caucasian and African) all reflect variations in hair type, growth and character. For example, African hair is known to be more fragile than Asian or Caucasian, probably because of the thin ribbon-like cross sectional structure of the follicle that underlies the more tightly curled appearance of this hair type. African hair typically needs careful maintenance to avoid unnecessary damage and premature loss.

As in so many aspects of our life and health genetics plays a powerful controlling part. A BBC news story in December 2009 highlighted this following the reports that scientists have been studying the genes that underlying hair greying in twin sisters. The results of the study confirm that genes do significantly influence hair greying in identical twins who share the same genes compared to non-identical twins where there are differences in the genetic code. The twins studied were aged between 59 and 81. The effects of genes on hair colour were also seen to be independent to levels or stress and type diet.

When it comes to stress the research is shakier as to the exact cause and mechanism but the reality is clear to see. Stress and hair loss go hand in hand! We know that the hair follicle is surrounded by a dense network of nerves – just try and pull one hair out and see how sensitive it is! All nerves, no matter how small, connect up with the spinal cord and all roads lead to Rome; the brain. Stress, anxiety and depression are brain centred issues that ultimately effect the nervous system in general. One known effect of stress affects the oil producing glands of the scalp known as the sebaceous glands. Hair becomes oiler when a person is stressed. Continued stress causes the hair follicle to age quicker and forces it into a ‘resting’ phase during which no more growth occurs. This may be seen as hair loss when infect its more likely to reflect a reduction in growth than an actual loss. The good news is that once the stress passes the hair follicle wakes up and starts growing again. In health, around 10% of our hair follicles are always in the ‘resting’ phase that lasts around 3 months after which new hair starts growing and the old ‘rested’ hair shaft falls out. The hair cycle, as it is known, is carefully controlled by the nerve networks at the base of the follicle along with a delicate orchestration of hormonal influences any one of which could alter the growth cycle.

The dreaded hormones…

It has been said that we are slaves to our hormones and this is very true in the case of hair growth. Even though the fundamental biology of men and women are characterised by testosterone and oestrogen respectively both sexes have biologically significant amounts of the other genders hormones to make things difficult for the hair if the levels go out of balance. This can be seen in men who need oestrogen hormone therapy for prostate cancer. In this case hair growth is boosted. In men and women however, an excessive amount of testosterone can cause problems.

Biologically active testosterone, known as dihydrotestosterone, or DHT for short, is produced by the action of a key enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase that is found in the hair follicle. The conversion of testosterone to DHT is a toxic reaction to the hair follicle which shrivels up over extended exposure to DHT and dies causing hair thinning and eventually hair loss. However, help could be at hand in the form of a herbal remedy known as saw palmetto. The way it works is simple, saw palmetto lowers levels of DHT in the body by blocking the key enzyme that fules the conversion of testosterone to DHT; 5-alpa-reductase. The other effect of saw palmetto is more direct, it appears to blocks the effects of DHT on the various DHT sensitive cells of the body. Saw palmetto has not been studies as a remedy for testosterone related hair loss but one could assume that there is compelling evidence for trying it!

The other key player in the hormonal effects on hair is the thyroid hormone known as thyroxin. As a major regulator of metabolism thyroxin deficiency slows our ‘tick-over’ and slows hair growth by forcing the follicle into an extended resting phase. Only when this hormone deficiency been corrected will the follicle wake up again. Border-line low thyroid function could be addressed with the use of certain nutrients that are known to help support the glands function before thyroid hormone replacement is needed. In essence, the thyroid needs an adequate supply of iodine, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese and molybdenum along with vitamin B12 and amino-acids.

Feeding your hair

Just like any other tissue in the body your hair is active and the follicle is living and needs plenty of high quality nutrients for optimal health. Ill health, fad diet’s and generally poor eating habits will take it’s tole on hair health. The food supplement Maxi-Hair was developed to support the general nutritional requirements of hair. It’s formula boasts a range of ingredients including vitamin B6, B12, folic acid along with the trace minerals copper, manganese and selenium. However, one key nutrient that can be over looked is iron. While it is true that iron can be highly toxic it is also true that a low level of iron can have equally devastating effects of health. Iron deficient anaemia is the common association we have when talking about low levels of iron. A simple blood test soon detects this and a course of iron restores the blood so long as nothing else is underlying the problem. However, it’s important to remember that our tissues also need iron but in a different form. This form is stored iron known as ferritin. It is possible to have adequate blood iron (haemoglobin) but only at the expense of drawing on our iron stores (ferritin) to re-dress the bloods deficiency. By topping up the blood levels we tend to deplete the iron store to the point where other tissue that depend on stored iron for health and growth suffer; the hair follicle. This situation can hit women between the ages of 18-50 when their follicles are especially sensitive to ferritin deficiency. Unless a blood test is performed specifically to measure ferritin levels regular blood profiles will only measure haemoglobin. As explained above, this may be well balanced but only at the expense of a depleted ferritin store. There is nom link between low haemoglobin and hair loss unless the low haemoglobin is accompanied by a low farritin as well. In general a low ferritin level usually result from the loss of blood during menstruation, which is just enough to cause a gradual depletion of iron stores in the body. Additionally eating a diet containing little or no red meat is likely to give rise to a lower amount of available iron since the iron in vegetables is often difficult to absorb.

If you obtain a serum ferritin blood test it’s always good to do so along with a general profile covering red and white cells and hemoglobin known as a basic hematology profile. At the same time requesting a serum vitamin B12 levels is a good idea. According to a key study published in the journal Dermatologic Clinics optimal hair growth your results should look something like this; serum B12 between 300 & 1000 ng/L, hemoglobin level of 13.0g/dL or over and a serum ferritin of 70ng/mL or greater. If your ferritin needs a lift and you do not want to increase your red meat intake consider a 6-9 month course of Florisene. This supplement has been formulated specifically for ferritin deficient hair loss. It contains vitamin C, B12, iron (as ferrous glycine sulphate) and the amino acid L-lysine. Because of the dose and type of iron used Florisene is unlikely to cause gut upset.

In general, hair loss can be managed naturally and safely but there can be some underlying medical causes not discussed in this review. Professional advice is always recommended in the first instance to help you follow the right pathway and exclude other more complex causes.

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Watch out for Gout – it’s more common than you think

Gout is one of those conditions that we probably associate with our grandparents or a scene from a Victorian print depicting an old man bursting out of his waist coat with his foot bandaged up and resting on a stool while he sips on a glass or port. However, the reality is quite different in Europe where gout has been steadily on the rise for the past 16 years with around 1.6 million sufferers in the UK alone and that number is rising by 4% each year. Gout is still one of the most common inflammatory joint diseases (caused by an accumulation of needle-like uric acid crystals within the joints) but it looks like it’s being rather neglected. Luckily, there is a lot that can be done to help yourself and minimise your personal gout risk. The first step is to check your weight and see if you need to drop a few pounds. If you are partial to a few pints of beer it’s generally advised to cut this and avoid other alcoholic tipples such as spirits and red wine. Although it sounds like a mixed massage regarding the red wine which is generally lined to better heart health in those prone to the metabolic errors that cause uric acid to rise unusually high red wine is best avoided. Sadly, the same can be said for other ‘healthy’ options such as oily fish; in those who are gout prone these foods (and shellfish) can trigger flares. Finally, try and keep high fructose drinks (fruit juices for example) and yeast extracts low along with offal meats such as liver. Increasing your intake of cherries can help the body eliminate excessive uric acid (or cherry supplements such as CherryBomb if the actual fruits are hard to find) and dosing up on fish oil capsules (to get the best from the omega 3,6 and 9) to help make up for the lack of oily fish in the diet. If you suspect you may have a touch of gout its best to get it checked at your doctors, all that is needed is a simple blood test to determine your uric acid levels.

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Read on if you need an antidote to the negative press regarding health products

This is worth a read if you are fed up with the ill informed poorly researched commentary in the press regarding health products we all know actually help to improve health and well being http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-r-gaby-md/vitamins-study_b_4481739.html

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The Mind-Skin Connection

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Christina offers Counselling and Psychotherapy at Hadley Wood Healthcare

For many people suffering from dermatitis or eczema the exact cause of their problem can be a mystery. Despite following restricted diets, undergoing allergy testing and numerous drug and natural therapies the skin problem continues… if this rings bells with you or someone you know may be its time to take a closer look at the emotional aspects of your life and consider how this may be maintaining your skin problem. Many doctors agree that stress can trigger and aggravate eczema but few offer any real practical solutions other than anti-depressant medication. This is where talking therapies come into their own.

What is eczema 


Eczema is a condition and general term for many different types of inflammation of the skin. There may be many factors which cause eczema such as  sensitive skin to soaps, cosmetics, detergents as well as psychological stress and anxiety. 

Causes of eczema – how stress impact your skin
Your skin is an organ, just like your heart is. Your heart responds to stress and anxiety by beating faster, the stomach responds to stress by creating ulcers or other digestive problems. The skin is no different – it is sensitive to emotions and situations – shock may turn your skin pale, embarrassment makes you blush, and stress and anxiety can trigger skin problems such as eczema. When you become stressed, the level of cortisol (stress hormone) rises in the body which causes oil production to increase which flows to the skin. Cortisol also stops the water production in the skin, so this reduces the skin’s ability to repair itself.

Mind and body connection – Your thoughts do have a direct impact upon your body, and your body has a direct impact on your thoughts. The mind and body also responds to emotions. So it is important to build a bridge linking the mind and body connection and your inner emotions to help develop a stronger inner and outer you.

Counselling – Eczema may be your body’s way of expressing and releasing something which you may find difficult to do, perhaps it is stress, anxiety or related to a stressful incident or traumatic experiencing. Therapy helps to create awareness, understanding, process and movement which helps to facilitate long-lasting change.

Relaxation – By combining relaxation, breathing and stress management into your life, you will start to feel calmer and much more stronger to be able to cope with life’s ups and downs. When you feel calm, your skin and body relaxes too.
I recommend a book by, Louise Hay, ‘You can Heal your Life’

You can contact and consult Christina at Hadley Wood Healthcare on 0208 441 8352

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Elderberry and Immune Health

Did you know that elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis. It has also been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. A study published back in 2004 (J Int Med Res. 2004 Mar-Apr;32(2):132-40) demonstrated its efficacy and safety when used to treat influenza A and B infections. The study involved 60 patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less. They were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999-2000 in Norway. Patients received elderberry or placebo four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier than the placebo group. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. However, as in all good studies, these findings need to be confirmed in a larger study.

Product Link: Elderberry Berries and Flowers

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