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  • Articles in 'Vitamins and Nutrition'

    To Take Calcium Or Not To Take Calcium?

    Ramona Richards is available at Way of Life for free nutritional advice

    What is really the question?

    by Ramona A. Richard, BA, NC

    A decade or two ago we were told to supplement with calcium to prevent bone loss and avoid osteoporosis. We bought a bottle of calcium. Several years later we were told to take magnesium as well; magnesium is needed to help balance calcium in the body. OK. We next bought a bottle of Cal-Mag. Some years later, we learned that we needed vitamin D in order for the calcium to get fully absorbed. We dutifully bought Cal-Mag with D.

    Now we hear that taking calcium is associated with a risk for heart disease! A European study of 24,000 patients, reported in the journal Heart1 in June of this year, linked calcium supplementation with heart attacks. Support my bones or my heart? Are we confused yet???

    In order to make sense of all this, we need to look at the mechanism by which calcium can contribute to heart disease. Indeed, we need look no further than the artery walls. Calcium is known to collect in arteries. This contributes to the plaquing that we know as atherosclerosis, precursor to heart attacks. Meanwhile, our bones are starving for calcium! But to advise that we should stop taking calcium is to miss the larger point. That larger point involves a nutrient known as vitamin K2 or menaquinone. This is the real question: How can we get calcium safely into our bones and keep it away from soft tissues, like arteries? K2 basically funnels calcium into the bones to strengthen mineral density and fight fractures while it prevents and even removes dangerous arterial calcifications. As Dr. Kate Rhéaume-Bleue, Naturopath and authority on vitamin K2 points out, “there is more than a coincidental association between brittle bones and hardened arteries.”

    Vitamin K2 activates a protein in our bones called osteocalcin, whose job is to grab calcium and incorporate it into the bone matrix. Without K2, osteocalcin is not activated and bone density is compromised. K2 also activates a protein in our artery walls called matrix GLA protein, which prevents calcium from depositing in the artery. A deficiency of K2, then, allows soft tissue calcification and weakened bones

    Did our grandmothers have these issues, we might ask? Did they have vitamin K2 available to protect their bones and their arteries? Sources of K2, indeed, used to be abundant in the human diet. Vitamin K2 is found in the fats of animals allowed to graze on green pastures. This includes the marbling of meats from pastured cows, the butter, cream and cheese made from their milk, the egg yolk of chickens allowed to peck freely, the lard of grass-fed animals in general. (It is also found in the Japanese food, natto—a food most Americans find unpalatable.) It is now easy to understand why we are so deficient that osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease are rampant. These are the very foods we have been taught are dangerous to our health! Current scientific literature has, fortunately, debunked the idea that saturated fat produces heart disease. However, our cows and chickens are now raised in confined quarters and fed grains, a situation that does not allow production of K2 in their fats. We have efficiently eliminated this important vitamin from our diets and sadly are paying the price.

    Supplementing with Vitamin K2 has become not only important but critical. (see sidebar for supplements available at Way of Life) K2 supplements come in several forms: menaquinone -7 (MK-7) and menaquinone-4 (MK-4) are the most common. MK-7 is preferable as it stays in the blood stream much longer than MK-4. K2 supplementation is an easy way to correct this significant deficiency, make calcium supplements safe, strengthen our bones and protect our arteries!

    Ramona Richard, BA, NC is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and life-long resident of Santa Cruz County. She owns Radiance, Diet & Nutrition Education, a consulting company and serves as Practitioner at Way of Life, in Capitola. Ramona can be reached at Way of Life at 464-4113 or at ramonaann9@gmail.com

    Ramona will be speaking at the Fall Way of Life Health lecture series on the topic Digging Deeper into the Calcium Supplementation Issue: A comprehensive look at building bone density, Tuesday September 25th 7:30-9:00PM. Save the date!

    1) Li K, Kaaks R, Linseisen J, RohrmannS. (June, 2012). Associations of dietary calcium intake and calcium supplementation with myocardial infarction and stroke risk and overall cardiovascular mortality in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study (EPIC-Heidelberg). Heart,98,920-5.

    2) Rhéaume-Bleue, Kate. (2012). Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox. Ontario, Canada:John Wiley & Sons Canada,Ltd

    Proper Eating is Key to Healthy Neurotransmitters

    By Liz Koch

    Feeling moody, anxious or depressed are normal emotions that come and go with living life — until they become chronic. Insomnia and cravings may be signals of unmet emotional needs until they just won’t go away. Our body sends zillions of messages in an attempt to maintain balance. Given the necessary raw materials, the human brain automatically manufactures the types and quantity of chemicals needed to handle the ups and downs of life, growth, and even exceptional stress. But when symptoms become chronic, they may be a strong indicator that body chemistry needs improving. Seeing a qualified health care professional can be a vital step in finding a solution but there are also everyday steps one can take to maintain a natural balance.

    Our brain uses large quantities of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters keep us alert and action-ready. But due to modern-day stress, lifestyle and dietchoices, our brain can run out of the necessary chemicals needed to maintain healthy functioning. Stress and poor diet can be pinpointed as some of the main culprits.

    Stress is a normal part of the animal world. When a rabbit runs from a fox, his body signals the threat. In an attempt to be efficient, neurotransmitters, in a blink of an eye, put life-protecting reflexes in motion. Flee, fight or freeze are essential survival responses.

    But when an animal flees, it doesn’t stop to smell the lush green grass or taste the juicy berries. All of its sensory perceptions are geared up and focusing on safety. Once safe, recovery begins. Shaking, bathing and a deep state of rest are the body’s means of getting rid of excess and unnecessary chemicals. It is Mother Nature’s way of shifting from the sympathetic (survival mode) back to every day parasympathetic (relaxation mode).

    Lifestyle choices and poor diet disrupt neurotransmitters functions. Where the hunter-gathers stress was primarily physical, our modern-day stress is of a different nature. Traffic, TV, video games and other forms of perceptual stimulants can bombard the body with subtle cues. Exposure to mercury, lead and other heavy metals has been found to have a profound effect on neurotransmitters.
    Recently, researchers at the University Of Calgary Medical School Of Medicine demonstrated via microscopic video how growing brain neurons begin to dramatically wither within 20 minutes after exposure to even minor levels of mercury. Chemical foods such as aspartame, NutraSweet and the multitude of preservatives and additives found in soda, gums, mints and many packaged foods release chemicals that disrupt neurotransmitter functions, according to studies.
    According to Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Mississippi’s medical center and author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills,” aspartate and glutamate (found in the chemically related substance MSG) are neurotransmitters normally found in the brain and spinal cord, but when aspartate reaches certain levels it causes the death of brain neurons.

    Otto Loewi, an Austrian scientist, discovered the first neurotransmitter back in 1921. Built primarily from amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, neurotransmitters are constantly being created. With a limited ability to store proteins, we need a constant source of high quality whole-food proteins to constantly rebuild, repair and function well.

    Adrenaline-pumping substances such as coffee, sugar and chocolate, along with a lack of nutritionally supportive foods, can drive neurotransmitters to dysfunction. Processed fast food consumed on the run may put many people on the fast track to being overwhelmed.

    Feeding our neurotransmitters includes exercising the art of relaxation. A natural soothing environment helps calm high levels of stress. Taking warm baths, an evening walk, enjoying a cup of herbal tea and making time to be with loved ones or simply by our self helps us to regain chemical perspective.

    Slowing down and sitting down is another way to reap the benefits of what you eat. By feeling calm, we are better able to actually assimilate and utilize the food we eat. Most important is eating whole foods rich in protein. If a child goes off to school having consumed a quick bowl of sugar cereal with 2 percent milk, they have ingested a substance not only too high in carbohydrates but too low in proteins. The body will not receive the amino acids essential to fuel let alone rebuild neurotransmitters.

    When eating a salad for lunch, including a hard-boiled egg, whey shake or adding two or three ounces of chicken, turkey, fish, cheese can mean the world of difference to our brain chemistry. For most of us, protein should show up in all three meals.

    Way of Life nutritional consultant and Bauman College of Nutrition instructor Ramona Richard explains, “If we lack adequate protein, our body simply cannot build the neurotransmitters it needs. Rather than needing to rely on chemical drugs such as Prozac, we may be experiencing a deficiency of one or more neurotransmitters. Over time chronic imbalances can even contribute to more serious conditions such as panic attacks, eating disorders and attention deficits.”
    Keeping neurotransmitters in good supply is required if we are to feel content, peaceful, happy and joyful — our birthright as human beings.

    Liz Koch is the Way of Life health education coordinator.

    Gastrointestinal Imbalance – The Root of Dis-ease

    by Dr. Holly German

    The saying you are what you eat is true. The foods you ingest become the cells that make up and fuel your body. Your diet dictates your level of energy, mood, and how easily/quickly you heal from illness. So, why do people who eat a well balanced diet continue not to feel good?

    The reason is that ingestion is only the first step in getting nutrients into your system. After ingestion, your body must digest, assimilate, and distribute those nutrients to all of your cells. When your gastrointestinal health is poor, all the fruits and veggies in the world won’t do you much good because your body can’t access the nutrients.

    Dysbiosis is the term used to describe an imbalance in gut flora. This can mean there is a deficiency of “good” bacteria, such as the stuff in yogurt and fermented foods or an overabundance of “bad” bacteria like candida and H.Pylori.

    There are many causes of dysbiosis – antibiotics, analgesics (like Tylenol), and acid blocking medications are some common causes. Other causes include chronic stress and worry, high sugar/carbohydrate intake, toxins from the environment (such as pesticides in food and chlorine in water), consuming inflammatory type foods, and low acid production in the stomach.

    After years of chronic dysbiosis, the lining of the gastrointestinal tract becomes weak and what is called “leaky gut” ensues. When leaky gut sets in, the body’s immune system begins to recognize foods as foreign invaders instead of nutrients. This sets a chain reaction that results in inflammation and dis-ease.

    Aside from GI discomfort such as gas, bloating, and unhealthy bowel movements, there are many other illnesses associated with dysbiosis: autoimmune disease, arthritis, allergies, mood disorders (anxiety, depression), chronic sinusitis, autistic spectrum disorders, and fibromyalgia to name a few.

    Rebalancing gut flora begins with probiotics. I recommend taking a high dose of quality probiotic daily. If candida or H.Pylori have invaded, these pathogens need to be treated with dietary changes and anti-microbial herbs, such as black walnut and pau d’arco. A stool test can reveal which type of candida is present and which herbs can best be used to eradicate it. Glutamine, slippery elm, and zinc picolinate are proven to help heal a leaky gut lining. Digestive enzymes are also helpful in supporting the body in digestion and nutrient assimilation.

    While there are some good general habits to get into to prevent dysbiosis, treating gastrointestinal imbalance is not a one-size fits all approach. For example, many kids on the autistic spectrum lack an enzyme called DPPIV (dipeptidyl-peptidase IV). This enzyme is necessary to break down wheat (gluten) and dairy (casein). These children will need to also avoid wheat and dairy for their GI imbalance to improve.

    Because we are all unique beings, the best treatment can be found by pinpointing the exact cause of the imbalance for each individual. Only then can we remove the cause of illness and develop a treatment plan to support each individual’s innate ability to heal – mind, body, and spirit.

    Banned Supplements – What’s Really Happening

    Most of us rely on natural supplements and foods to rejuvenate our minds and bodies and strengthen our immune system. To imagine a life without these supplements seems rather drastic, but unless someone takes off the blinders that the FDA is wearing so stubbornly, this could well become a reality.

    As shocking as it sounds, the FDA is on a banning spree, and they’re taking their cues from the EU. A number of natural supplements and traditional herbs such as St. John’s Wort and Valerian were recently banned in UK. The EU has also banned traditional Chinese and Indian medicines, which are known to have some very good restorative properties and can cause no harm if taken in the right proportions.

    If the FDA follows in the footsteps of its European counterpart, chances are that many natural supplements that we’ve been relying on heavily, especially those that were formulated after 1994, could well be shown the door.

    What the FDA is Doing

    The story begins in 1994, when the FDA was forced to stop regulating dietary supplements by the government by the implementation of a law known as DSHEA. This law also required manufacturers of dietary supplements to inform the FDA whenever they used a new ingredient in their supplements. However, it was never quite clear how dietary sup- plement manufacturers were supposed to notify the FDA, and the New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) rules had remained an ignored subsection until recently.

    The FDA has decided to implement NDI very recently, which effectively means that all dietary supplements with new ingredients since 1994 are no longer valid. Armed with the new implementation or enforcement of these old rules, the FDA stands poised to virtually destroy the natural and nutritional supplements industry.

    Already Banned or In The Danger Zone

    Some natural supplements are already in the danger zone and are being touted by the FDA as unsafe. The FDA went as far as to seizing labels and threatening many companies with arrest. Some of the products that have been deemed unsafe by the FDA are:

    • Probiotics – The FDA says that manufacturers of probiotics make false claims regarding treatment or control of possible health issues such as colds, flu, respiratory infections, ulcers, etc.
    • Elderberry juice – According to the FDA, elderberry juice falls under the category of those supplements that wrongfully lead a person to avoid seeking legitimate treatment.
    • Pyridoxamine – This common form of Vitamin B6 has already gone under the hammer in 2009.

    According to the FDA, these nutritional supplements are harmful because they can interfere with other drugs that people might be taking. What probably irks most is the FDA’s assumption that it knows what’s best for the people. Do they really?

    Why the FDA is banning supplements?

    The answer is easy- money. If more people start using natural supplements, they will have better immunity, and fewer people will get sick. A healthy nation rings the death knell for pharmaceutical companies. By implementing this ban, the FDA is trying to ensure the survival of pharmaceutical companies, at the risk of destroying the natural supplement industry. If you know even a little about big league drug companies, you know that they’re all about ‘curing’ diseases, and that no one really cares about ‘preventing’ them.

    On the other hand, natural medicines, herbs, and supplements that are considered as alternative medicine actually cost way less than their chemical counterparts and have fewer or no side effects. However, the FDA has chosen to ignore this important aspect and has taken a strict stance toward natural remedies. In fact, they have started threatening companies selling natural products, seizing some of these products from manufacturers and threatening these practitioners with financial penalties and injunctions.

    If you think this is a conspiracy theory, what would you say about the FDA already changing some of the NDI rules, wherein synthetic drugs do not need any notification or approval?

    Yes, you heard that right. According to the FDA, drug companies that use synthetic copies of natural molecules are exempt from the whole rigmarole of reporting additions of new ingredients to their products. If this doesn’t sound like the selective enforcement of rules, then what does?

    TAKE ACTION!!
    Sign the Petition or Download more information

    References –

    http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/autism/fda-pfizer-chicken-feed-probiotics-alternative-medicine/

    http://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/autism/fda-to-ban-natural-supplements-in-us/

    http://www.naturalnews.com/032912_FDA_dietary_supplements.html

    Homeopathic Remedies for Stressful Times

    by Willa Keizer, CCH Certified Classical Homeopath
    Director, Caduceus Institute

    Homeopathic remedies energetic preparations that are non-toxic and have no side effects. They are inexpensive and have no expiration date. You can keep these remedies around in a 30C potency as each one has multiple uses.

    Aconite – 4 F’s – fear, fright, fast, fever. fear of death-predicts the time. Panic attacks, terror, palpitations, numbness and tingling. Worse at midnight and from dry cold wind. Important remedy in children’s fevers and croup.

    Ignatia – Sudden grief and loss with loud deep sighing, muscle spasms, tics and twitches after grief, lump in throat, short sobs, swallowing, mouth twitching, hysteria. Alert, oversensitive, nervous.

    Arsenicum – Anxious, insecure, restless. World feels out of control, preoccupied with order. Needs control at all times to feel secure. Fear of death, pre-death anxiety in people who are dying. Burning pains, bad cadaverous odors. Useful in many conditions including food poisoning, stomach flu with restlessness and chilliness.

    Stramonium – Terror after life threatening situation. Violent fears, fearful violence. Night terrors, desires light and company, clings to those near. Constant praying. fear of dark, violence, tunnels, animals. Stammering after fright.

    Gelsemium – Confused, dazed, weak, 3 “D”s drowsy droopy and dull after fright or anxiety, drooping eyelids and dilated pupils, extreme weakness. Feels heart will stop beating. Diahrhea after fright, anticipation, bad news.

    Arnica – Physical or emotional trauma, shock, says “I’m okay.” Fear of touch, sore bruised, and lame. Use routinely after traumatic injury, childbirth, overuse of muscles, concussion. Aches as if beaten, bed feels too hard. Historically, used for typhoid and flu. Used postoperatively and after dental procedures for pain and to promote healing.

    Adaptogenic Herbs

    Adaptogenic herbs increase the body’s resistance to physical, biological, emotional and environmental stressors. They balance endocrine hormones and the immune system, and help the body to restore balance.

    Ashwaghandha – use when “wired and tired”, helps to rejuvenate when tired but also promotes serenity and deep sleep. Reduces elevated stress hormones. A great herb for adrenal fatigue, overwork, lack of sleep, and nervous exhaustion. It helps the whole hormonal system. The powder can be taken in milk.

    Holy Basil – reduces stress, enhances stamina, relieves inflammation, lowers cholesterol, eliminates toxins, protects against radiation, prevents gastric ulcers, lowers fevers, improves digestion and provides a rich supply of antioxidants and other nutrients. Tulsi is especially effective in supporting the heart, blood vessels, liver and lungs and also regulates blood pressure and blood sugar. Can be drunk as a tea.

    In addition, Lemon Balm was the favorite herb of medieval alchemist Paracelsus. It revitalizes the body and is of great use in all complaints caused by a disordered nervous system. “Sovereign for the brain, strengthens memory and powerfully chases away melancholy.” Good for colds and flu as well, grows well in Santa Cruz area.

    Valerian – helpful in nervous unrest, allays pain and promotes sleep. Good for sensitive people suffering from nervous overstrain, used in second world war during air raids. Quieting and soothing effect on brain and nervous system without the side effects of narcotics

    Healing Foods help you stay grounded and balanced:

    Avoid simple carbohydrates (white flour and sugar) which put your body into a flight or fight response and cause inflammation.

    Emphasize healthy fats and oils such as coconut oil, which enhances the immune system and provides energy without engaging the insulin response. Grass fed butter is also good for you! Fat soluble vitamins also enhance mineral absorption.

    Get lots of minerals: By the mechanism of selective uptake, calcium blocks or decreases the absorption of strontium-90, calcium-45 and other radioactive isotopes by the skeletal system. Raw dairy products and seaweeds are good natural choices, and the alginate in seaweed removes radioactivity. Pectin in fruit may do the same.

    ♦ Consider iodine supplementation – iodine is used by the thyroid, breast, adrenals, and insulin receptors. 95% of Americans may be iodine deficient. The average Japanese person gets 12.5 mg./day, which is what our body needs. Detox symptoms may result with iodine supplementation as toxic elements bromine, chlorine, and fluorine in the body is replaced by iodine. It is best to start slowly (3 mg.)

    Fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, miso, and yoghurt have increased vitamin content and contain enzymes that help with digestion. These foods, especially miso may help to counteract the toxins from radioactive fallout.

    ♦ Eat a protein/fat combination every two hours if you feel stressed, to protect your adrenal glands and prevent burnout. Nuts, cheese, and eggs are all good choices.

    Eat your greens: The US Army found that broccoli, green cabbage and alfalfa reduced the effects of radiation on guinea pigs by 50 percent! Super green foods like chlorella and spirulina can be helpful to increase resistance to and detoxify from radiation

    Got Vitamin D? It Does a Body Good

    by Jeri Ross, MPH

    A common question that skin care professions get from their clientele is… “I’ve heard recently that almost everyone is deficient in vitamin D, that we are not getting enough from the sun. I thought being in the sun was bad for you.  I mean I’m doing everything right, staying out of the sun to prevent skin cancer and I’m using sun screen.  What do you recommend?”

    What is the way to answer this question? The good news is that you can successfully increase your vitamin D to healthy levels without increasing your risk of skin cancer and the dreaded freckles, wrinkles, and leather look due to sun exposure. The following information about vitamin D is particularly critical for women.  As a Public Health Educator, I have discovered data from numerous credible sources substantiating that women deficient in vitamin D are at greater risk for breast cancer. In fact according to Dr. Cedric Garland, epidemiologist at the University of California San Diego and other prominent vitamin D researchers 58,000 new cases of breast cancer in the United States could be prevented annually by increasing serum vitamin D levels to 52 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter). Because of this newly discovered role Vitamin D plays in reducing cancer risks we have the opportunity to translate this important information in to life style behaviors that will help us have healthier, longer lives.

    Vitamin D Defined

    There’s a paradigm shift going on in medicine as new research reveals a far greater role for vitamin D in humans. Historically vitamin D combined with calcium has been attributed to developing and maintaining strong bones. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin D for years has been 400 IU (international units) which researchers are now saying is far less than is needed to prevent diseases.  Vitamin D is now seen as playing a central role in controlling cellular immunity and inflammation, two vital processes that are tied to a host of age-related disease conditions including cancer. The more current recommendation for optimal cellular functioning and to aid in disease prevention is 40-80 ng/ml.

    When bare skin is exposed to sunlight UVB ultraviolet waves initiate the conversion of cholesterol in the skin to vitamin D which is eventually metabolized in the liver for utilization by the body. Vitamin D really isn’t a vitamin at all. It’s a hormone that regulates cell growth and helps to prevent the kind of wild cell proliferation that leads to cancer.  “Almost every cell in the body has receptors for vitamin D, which means that every tissue and cell needs vitamin D to function maximally,” explains Michael Holick, MD, a vitamin D researcher at Boston University School of Medicine. Research Professor Joan Lappe, PhD, RN says vitamin D enhances your body’s immune response which is the first line of defense against cancer.

    The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that more than 35% of Americans don’t even get the minimum daily value (DV) of 400 IU of vitamin D. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention completed a recent national survey at the end of winter and found that nearly 50% of African-American women ages 15-49 years were deficient.   How did this happen? Perhaps human evolution gives us some of the answers.

    Our ancestors lived naked in the sun for several million years.  Then 50,000 years ago, some of us migrated north and south to places with less sun. We put on clothes that blocked the sun and started working in buildings and living in houses. Cars replaced horses and walking. Now we are avoiding the sun altogether and applying sun block to help prevent skin cancer which prohibits the conversion of UVB to vitamin D.  All this time we have been steadily reducing the levels of vitamin D in our cells and becoming deficient of the most potent steroid hormone in our body which we are now realizing produces anti-cancer properties.

    Aging, Breast Cancer Risks and Vitamin D

    Age is a factor contributing to breast cancer. Seventy seven per cent (77%) of breast cancers are found in women over 50, the same time when our skin’s capacity to synthesize vitamin D from the sun slows down. As time goes by and our cells duplicate over and over, we have more opportunities for cancers to grow. Only 4% of breast cancers are found in women under 40.  According to the Journal of Oncology, breast cancer is diagnosed in women by:

    age  25  1 in 19,608

    age  50   1 in  50

    age  65 1 in 17

    The recent New England Journal of Medicine research report ‘Roads Leading to Breast Cancer’ explains simply that cancer results from the accumulation of mutations in genes that regulate cellular proliferation. Every time a cell divides, slight mutations occur to the genes that regulate cellular proliferation or uncontrolled cell division that characterizes cancer cells. So basic prevention includes doing something about the gene mutation in your cells that make you more vulnerable to contracting cancer with each passing day. That’s where researchers are now discovering the vital role of vitamin D in cancer prevention.

     

    Breast Cancer Prevention, Survival and Vitamin D

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that researchers at Creighton University in a 4 year study of 1,180 postmenopausal women administered 1,000 IU of vitamin D and calcium daily lowered the risk of contracting breast cancer by an astounding 77%. Dr. Pamela Goodwin of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto reported that her studies also linked low levels of vitamin D with breast cancer progression.  She found that women who were deficient were nearly twice as likely to have their cancer recur or spread over the next 10 years, and 73%  more likely to die of the disease.

    Optimize Vitamin D

    Vitamin D occurs naturally in very few foods mostly fatty fishes like salmon, tuna and red meat.  Milk is fortified with vitamin D, however, most people would have to drink three quarts a day to increase levels for disease prevention.  Dr. Holick and others now prescribe at least 1,000 IU daily. Some researchers are advocating 2,000 IU daily. That much is generally considered safe by the American Cancer Society.

    Dermatologists who are focused on preventing skin cancer advise getting D from supplements.  However, vitamin D experts are more convinced that controlled sunlight 10 to 15 minutes at least three times a week with exposing 50 percent of your body (except your face) without sunscreen in midday sun is the best method to get what you need. Multiple studies have proven that these small bursts of sunlight exposure is equivalent to approximately 20,000 IU of vitamin D.   For folks in higher latitudes from Georgia northbound and in winter months from November to March, getting enough intense sunlight for optimal levels is difficult. Also people with darker skin and everyone after the age of 50 convert less vitamin D in the skin.  So a prescribed routine would most often include both sunlight and supplements for year round protection.

    It is recommended by vitamin D experts that you test your blood levels for vitamin D to determine if you are deficient.  Remember optimal levels to give you breast cancer protection are 40-80 ng/ml. Advocates of vitamin D  suggest you test your levels during the winter months when there is less sunshine to get a more accurate reading.

    Conclusion

    October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), an annual health campaign first implemented 26 years ago. The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month organization is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services.  www.NBCAM.org

    During October organizations have a ‘pink day’ when staff wear pink clothing or accessories at work to raise awareness and money to donate to breast cancer care or research.  Spas and clinics are perfect settings to reach women with messages and information that will help them to prevent and survive breast cancer.  Spread the word about vitamin D.  Include breast cancer prevention information in your October monthly newsletters and/or create brochures for your spa/clinic.  Taking control of our breast cancer risks and chances for survival is as easy as having a healthy relationship with none other than our own sun.  Here comes the sun and I say it’s alright.

     

    Your Vitamin D Prescription

    • 10-15 minutes midday sun 50% bare body without sunscreen (except the face)  3 times a week
    • Or 1,000 IU vitamin D supplements daily
    • Winter months 1,000 IU vitamin D supplements daily

    Jeri Ros, MPH, has worked in the medical industry for 115 years as a health educator administrator. She is currently a health educator for Insitut’ DERMed and contributes her research skills to the development of advanced cosmeceutical skin and body care formulation. For more information visit www.idermedbody.com.

    Holiday Gifts: Making Herbal Teas and Blends

    by Liz Koch

    This holiday season make personal winter cordials for warming the soul, opening the heart, and healing the body. Blending herbs and infusing them in brandy or vodka or drinking hot tea blended herbs is an ancient tradition that is beneficial and easy to enjoy. Way of Life offers a wonderful choice of both western and eastern herbs.

    Many times people report that the herbs they chose or were chosen for them, didn’t work. After a few experiences, many people just come to the conclusion that ‘herbs don’t work for me’. According to the energetic system of Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine it is of the most importance to match the energy of the person with the energy of the herbs.

    This is not as straightforward as it may seem as energies can change as herbs are synergistically blended together, or the energy of the person may change according to what is happening with them. For example: Are you, at the present time, running cold, hot or somewhere in between?

    Herbs chosen for a person with a fever will be different than if that same person was shivering with chills.This is why Valerian doesn’t work for everyone (especially menopausal women) because it is very warming and if you are warm already, you will not be lulled to sleep, you can very likely be wired! When you learn the energies of the various herbs, it allows you to have a more intimate relationship with them on a deeper level than just expecting a certain reaction. The true essence of the plant medicine is understood, revered and the medicinal results are greatly enhanced.

    It is also important to balance each tea blend. For instance, a ‘cool’ tea for when you are very hot should still be tempered with at least one warming herb because too much cold would be too unbalancing and the warm herb helps transport or move the cooling qualities where it needs to go (for example the lungs). A helpful rule to remember is: warm & hot “moves,” cool & cold “constricts;” an artful combination will supply the very best blend. And then WOW-you get results!

    Matching the energy of the person with the choice of the herbal blends goes to a whole other level. To get started, you do not have to be a professional herbalist. In the past every kitchen was stocked with herbs known to boost immunity, ease digestion and support wellness. Common garden and daily herbs still offer powerful nutritional support, just as an array of vegetables and fruits do. Although Linda is the first to acknowledge it may not be as straightforward as concocting a salad or soup it is one part intuition and another part getting familiar with herbs.

    “Herbal energies change”, explains Linda. This change occurs both when herbs are synergistically blended together, and/or, when the energy of the person changes according to what is happening with them.

    Way of Life offers an amazing array of dried herbs for both personal use and for gift making. With the Holidays in full swing, giving herbal blended teas and cordials are inexpensive on the budget and refreshingly artful. Placed in a cellophane bag with a ribbon and tag explaining what herbs you have selected and how to enjoy, a tea blend can relax, release stress or strengthen and support. In an expressive glass bottle, corked and sealed with beeswax, a winter tonic chock full of nourishing herbs promotes health and fortifies us into the New Year. For you, the gift giver, making these gifts is so much more than a necessary task; it is shear fun.

    So where to begin: Below are two fresh herbal blended recipes to try at home for you, your family and to serve to your holiday guests.

    Ginger-Rosehips Special Syrup by Linda Vaughan

    1 cup Rosehips

    Handful of fresh, grated ginger

    1 tsp. cinnamon chips

    1 tsp (or a bit more if desired) fresh grated orange rind (dried if fresh is not available)

    3 cups water

    Honey to taste

    Gently simmer rosehips in water for 20 minutes. Add ginger, cinnamon and orange rind and simmer another 10 minutes, keeping pan covered. Turn off heat and allow mixture to cool slightly then strain through a fine strainer (or cheesecloth). Squeeze as much liquid out as possible. Add enough honey to slightly thicken and sweeten the syrup. Stir well and refrigerate. Can be heated (never boil) gently and served over pancakes or waffles. It is very yummy and effective for sore throats. Rich in vitamin C, it is great to have on hand all winter. Children love it too!

    Ginger-Licorice Digestive Tea

    From Jeanine Pollak’s Healing Tonics Published by Storey Books

    1 Part grated fresh Gingerroot

    1 part peppermint leave

    1 part lemon verbena leaves

    1/8 Part Licorice Root

    Make an infusion, enjoy 1-2 cups with or after meals. To make an infusion pour boiling water over the herbs, stir well, cover and steep for 15-20 minutes.

    Liz Koch is the Way of Life Health Educator www.coreawareness.com

    The Way of Tea

    LIZ KOCH – SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL

    The origin of the word “tea” (Te, cha, chai, thea) is Chinese. It has a particular Chinese character and a very specific meaning connected to an exact plant: camellia sinensis. Black tea, green tea, jasmine and oolong are all produced from this one plant. It’s location, conditions and unique processing methods produce the virtually endless varieties and traditions known as whole-leaf tea.

    Tea, its history and meaning, will be discussed by Wayne Brennan at a lecture Thursday at Way of Life.

    Tea emerged from a culturally rich, dynamic and deeply profound way of life. A way of life that our mechanization and modern markets have all but eliminated. It was a world small-farmed, regional and intimately connected to the earth, and tea was an essential part of life.

    Tea was used as the base of the broth that marginal people such as the Eastern Nomads used to create their primary daily source of nourishment.

    What we currently call tea in America is “anything brewed in hot water except coffee,” explains local tea-monk Wayne Brennan. “However we are poised to re-discover what actually the early American colonial and frontiersmen knew well but which now seems so new and exotic to us today.”

    Read more…

    Take your vitamins

    LIZ KOCH – SENTINEL CORRESPONDENT

    Taking a dietary supplement has become a part of mainstream America. Once only available in small nutritional stores, supplements can now be found in today’s supermarkets, chain stores, next to over-the-counter drugs and on the Internet.

    In June 2002, the editors of The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) wrote “Insufficient vitamin intake is apparently a cause of chronic disease.” It stated that most Americans would benefit from a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement.

    To discuss this topic, nutrition consultant Ed Bauman, Ph.D., director of the Bauman College, and natural chef training programs, will appear at Way of Life.

    “Ideally all vitamins, minerals and other nutrients should be obtained from foods,” explains nutritionist Ed Bauman, Ph.D. “This was possible 100 or even 50 years ago when all foods were grown on fertile soils, were unrefined and unprocessed, and contained all the nutrients nature intended them to contain,” he said.

    “But today, the food and soil are loaded with toxic chemicals and the nutritional value is drastically lowered by nutrient-destroying practices such as harvesting the produce before it is ripe,” he continues.

    Read more…

    Proper eating is key

    …to maintain healthy neurotransmitters

    Article Launched: 10/11/2004 12:00:00 AM PDT

    by LIZ KOCH SENTINEL CORRESPONDENT

    Feeling moody, anxious or depressed are normal emotions that come and go with living life — until they become chronic. Insomnia and cravings may be signals of unmet emotional needs until they just won’t go away. Our body sends zillions of messages in an attempt to maintain balance. Given the necessary raw materials, the human brain automatically manufactures the types and quantity of chemicals needed to handle the ups and downs of life, growth and even exceptional stress.

    But when symptoms become chronic, they may be a strong indicator that body chemistry needs improving. Seeing a qualified health care professional can be a vital step in finding a solution but there are also everyday steps one can take to maintain a natural balance.

    Our brain uses large quantities of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters keep us alert and action-ready. But due to modern-day stress, lifestyle and diet choices, our brain can run out of the necessary chemicals needed to maintain healthy functioning. Stress and poor diet can be pinpointed as some of the main culprits.

    Stress is a normal part of the animal world. When a rabbit runs from a fox, his body signals the threat. In an attempt to be efficient, neurotransmitters, in a blink of an eye, put life protecting reflexes in motion. Flee, fight or freeze are essential survival responses.

    But when an animal flees, it doesn’t stop to smell the lush green grass or taste the yummy berries. All of its sensory perceptions are geared up and focus on one intent — safety. Once safe, recovery begins. Shaking, bathing and a deep state of rest are the body’s means of getting rid of excess and unnecessary chemicals. It is Mother Nature’s way of shifting from the sympathetic (survival mode) back to every day parasympathetic (relaxation mode). Lifestyle choices and poor diet disrupt neurotransmitters functions. Where the hunter-gathers stress was primarily physical, our modern-day stress is of a different nature.

    Traffic, TV, video games and other forms of perceptual stimulants can bombard the body with subtle cues. Exposure to mercury, lead and other heavy metals has been found to have a profound effect on neurotransmitters. Recently, researchers at the University Of Calgary Medical School Of Medicine demonstrated via microscopic video how growing brain neurons begin to dramatically wither within 20 minutes after exposure to even minor levels of mercury.

    Chemical foods such as aspartame, NutraSweet and the multitude of preservatives and additives found in soda, gums, mints and many packaged foods release chemicals that disrupt neurotransmitter functions, according to studies.

    According to Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Mississippi’s medical center and author of “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills,” aspartate and glutamate (found in the chemically related substance MSG) are neurotransmitters normally found in the brain and spinal cord, but when aspartate reaches certain levels it causes the death of brain neurons.

    Otto Loewi, an Austrian scientist, discovered the first neurotransmitter back in 1921. Built primarily from amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, neurotransmitters are constantly being created. With a limited ability to store proteins, we need a constant source of high quality whole-food proteins to constantly rebuild, repair and function well.
    Adrenaline-pumping substances such as coffee, sugar and chocolate, along with a lack of nutritionally supportive foods, can drive neurotransmitters to dysfunction. Processed fast food consumed on the run may put many people on the fast track to being overwhelmed.

    Feeding our neurotransmitters includes exercising the art of relaxation. A natural soothing environment helps calm high levels of stress. Taking warm baths, an evening walk, a cup of herbal tea and time to be with loved ones or ourselves helps regain chemical perspective.

    Slowing down and sitting down is another way to reap the benefits of what you eat.
    By feeling calm, we are better able to actually assimilate and utilize the food we eat. Most important is eating whole foods rich in protein. If a child goes off to school having consumed a quick bowl of sugar cereal with 2 percent milk, they have ingested a substance not only too high in carbohydrates but too low in proteins. The body will not receive the amino acids essential to fuel let alone rebuild neurotransmitters.

    When eating a salad for lunch, including a hard-boiled egg, whey shake or adding two or three ounces of chicken, turkey, fish, cheese can mean the world of difference to our brain chemistry. For most of us, protein should show up in all three meals.
    Nutritional consultant and instructor at the Bauman College of Nutrition Ramona Richard explains, “If we lack adequate protein, our body simply cannot build the neurotransmitters it needs. Rather than needing to rely on chemical drugs such as Prozac, we may be experiencing a deficiency of one or more neurotransmitters. Over time chronic imbalances can even contribute to more serious conditions such as panic attacks, eating disorders and attention deficits.”
    Keeping neurotransmitters in good supply is required if we are to feel content, peaceful, happy and joyful — our birthright as human beings.

    Editor’s note: Way of Life offers a free lecture series twice a month on natural remedies to health challenges and alternative approaches to health. Liz Koch is their education coordinator. As with any medical condition, please consult a doctor or trained professional for treatment of specific illnesses. This column contains opinion and is not meant as medical advice
    Liz Koch is the Way of Life health education coordinator.