Dr. Myatt and Nurse Mark field a lot of questions from Wellness Club Members – and some of the most frequent concern cholesterol. They have asked me to devote this newsletter to answering some of those questions.
Cholesterol seems to be a subject on everybody’s lips recently, with medical scientists recommending even lower standards for cholesterol, and the pharmaceutical companies promoting an ever-increasing number of powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs. But what is this cholesterol stuff that everyone talks about, why do we have it, do we need it, and what can we do about it?
You might be excused if you think, because of all the “bad press” about the evils of cholesterol that it is a nasty, deadly foreign substance that should be avoided at all costs. Nothing could be further from the truth, let’s get clear on one thing: cholesterol is essential to life. We cannot live without it. It makes up about 80% of our body’s cell walls! This vital substance is synthesized by the liver and is used by the body as a building block for such essential things as steroid hormones, and bile acids in addition to cell membranes. Cholesterol also a precursor to Vitamin D in the skin, and without cholesterol we could not absorb the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K from the food we eat. Cholesterol also gives the skin it’s ability to shed water and is essential to the growth and maintenance of the nervous system. So we really do need cholesterol – it is not the bad thing that some would have us believe it is.
Having said that, it is important to know that there are several kinds of cholesterol.
First is the “bad” cholesterol that we have all heard about, LDL or Low Density Lipoprotein. LDL carries most of the cholesterol in the blood, and this is the stuff that is the main source of accumulation and blockage and damage in the arteries. The more LDL you have, the greater your risk for Coronary Heart Disease (CHD.) Also getting plenty of attention lately is VLDL or Very Low Density Lipoprotein – which does the same things as LDL in terms of transporting fats (triglycerides and cholesterol) from the liver to the body’s cells.
Next is the “good” cholesterol, HDL or High Density Lipoprotein. It might be described as the “anticholesterol” as it’s job is to collect cholesterol in the blood and transport it back to the liver where it ends up being eliminated from the body. HDL can thereby keep LDL from building up on the walls of the arteries. HDL / LDL ratios are considered in many ways a better indicator of “cholesterol health” and CHD risk than simple, overall “cholesterol levels.”
Finally, there are Triglycerides, which aren’t exactly cholesterol – they are a form of fat that is carried through the bloodstream. Most of the body’s stored fat is in the form of triglycerides found in fat tissue. High levels of triglycerides in the blood do not by themselves cause atherosclerosis or CHD, but lipoproteins rich in triglycerides also contain cholesterol – which may cause atherosclerosis in people with high triglycerides. High triglyceride levels may be a warning sign of CHD risks.
Most people create plenty of cholesterol in their liver – remember, it is an important substance for normal body functioning. Conventional medical wisdom would have us believe that we should limit our dietary intake of cholesterol for this reason. That may be partially true, in that if the body is not producing enough HDL or “good” cholesterol to prevent the buildup of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol with it’s atherosclerotic effects or if the LDL receptors in the liver are not functioning properly then it might be wise to limit intake of cholesterols. On the other hand, Dr. Myatt’s research is leading her to believe that much of the “cholesterol problems” we are seeing today are related to dietary imbalances and deficiencies than to simple consumption of foods that contain this substance. In particular, trans fats are being found to be extremely harmful, creating a whole cascade of damaging effects throughout the body.
There are a number of mechanisms that the body uses to control cholesterol production, use, and therefore blood levels of cholesterol. The most important of these is in the liver where there is a chemical receptor that senses LDL, and when it has detected “enough”, tells the liver to stop making any more cholesterol. Damage to this important feedback control mechanism can occur through normal aging which reduces the number and efficiency of the LDL receptors, and several disease states – most importantly diabetes, and also low thyroid function. It is because of this feedback mechanism (when it is functioning properly) that eating foods high in cholesterol need not be risky – the intake of cholesterol in the diet simply tells the liver to stop making it’s own!
What can be done if you have been told that you have “high cholesterol?” First, if a conventional doctor has found your cholesterol levels to be “high” (and there is plenty of differing opinion on what “high” really is!) he or she has probably advised you to start taking a “statin” drug – and probably sent you off with a prescription for whatever is the day’s statin-of-choice and a recommendation to “eat less cholesterol – cut down on the fats!” If you do a little research on your own, you will discover that these statin drugs have some very worrisome side-effects, and that there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of “natural” remedies, all claiming to be “the best” for safely lowering cholesterol levels. Dr. Myatt and Nurse Mark chuckle when they get emails and questions from Wellness Club members asking if they have heard about the latest and greatest pill or potion or “cure” – they’ve heard ’em all! There are a half-dozen or so things that have been well-proven to reduce LDL cholesterol levels, perhaps another half-dozen that might be helpful, and a whole basket-full of poorly-researched, unproven remedies that rely on anecdotal “patient success stories” in their glowingly inflated sales pitches. Beware – there are health hucksters and hustlers out there, preying on people’s fears and hopes!
So, let’s look at the things that we know can positively affect LDL cholesterol levels.
Perhaps the most important is Niacin.This substance has been known since the 1950’s to be a highly effective cholesterol lowering agent. We now know that niacin not only lowers LDL cholesterol, but also Lp(a), triglyceride, and fibrinogen (a blood protein that causes clot formation) levels, while it simultaneously raises beneficial HDL cholesterol levels. The Coronary Drug Project, an intensive and extensive evaluation of cholesterol-lowering drugs demonstrated that niacin was the only cholesterol-lowering agent that actually reduced overall mortality. It’s effects were also found to be very long lived, protecting patients in the study long after they had stopped taking it. Like any substance, niacin is not without it’s problems and cautions. It’s side effects are well known, the most common being a “niacin flush” – an uncomfortable flushing or hot feeling experienced by some people after taking standard niacin. Niacin can also be toxic to the liver when taken in a “time release” form that was developed to avoid the problem of the “niacin flush” that made some patients reluctant to use it. It can also impair blood sugar control, and should be used under medical supervision in people with diabetes. It is also important to monitor both cholesterol levels and liver enzyme levels every three months or so while using niacin. Dr. Myatt recommends a form of niacin called inositol hexaniacinate, AKA No-Flush Niacin as she has found this form of niacin to be very well tolerated. If niacin is so great, why don’t the drug companies sell it, and why doesn’t my doctor tell me to take it you ask? Well, though the evidence supports the use of niacin, it has also been victim of a lot of misinformation – your doctor may be ill-informed about it’s benefits, while he or she has certainly been told all about the “benefits” of the offerings of the drug companies. Niacin is a widely available “generic” substance, meaning it cannot be patented, and the drug companies do not stand to make from it the massive profits that the other cholesterol-lowering drugs have generated for them. As a result, one rarely sees niacin advertised in the way that the expensive statin drugs are. Still, it should be considered as the first choice in a cholesterol-lowering treatment.
Next in importance should be Red Rice Yeast. This substance is actually the result of a fungus that grows on white rice, turning it a red color. It has been known for centuries, and used as a colorant in oriental cuisine, and to make a form of red sake (rice wine.) The active component here is a compound called mevinolin, which is identical to the prescription drug, lovastatin. The drug companies created lovastatin in the laboratory in 1987 using a fungus, Aspergillus terreus. The active ingredient in red Rice Yeast was discovered and isolated a decade earlier. Red Rice Yeast has been proven to be just as effective as the modern statin drugs at lowering LDL cholesterol. Taken in high doses, it can have some of the same risks as the modern statin drugs – namely a risk of liver damage and also of rhabdomyolysis, a condition that includes muscle deterioration. Anyone taking this or any statin drug should have a baseline liver enzyme check and have their liver enzymes checked periodically thereafter. Both risks are small (about 2%) but present. The good news is that it is thought that there is a synergistic effect obtained from other related compounds in Red Rice Yeast which allows much smaller doses to be effective. A typical dose of statin drug would be in the range of 20-80mg/day while a typical dose of Red Rice Yeast would be about 2.5-10mg/day. Neither Red Rice Yeast or statin drugs should be taken with grapefruit juice, as this can cause a dangerous buildup of the statins in the body.
Another well-established and effective cholesterol-lowering agent is garlic. Garlic has a very wide spectrum of beneficial effects, from lowering blood pressure to serving as a highly effective antibiotic and stimulating the immune system. Here however we are interested in garlic’s proven ability to lower LDL cholesterol when taken in appropriate doses of preparations that contains the the ingredient allicin. Allicin is the product of the substance alliin and the enzyme alliinase, and is fragile, dissipating quickly and easily during processing. A minimum therapeutic intake of allicin is considered to be about 4000 mcg. That is the equivalent to about one to four cloves of whole fresh garlic (depending on the size of the clove.) It is true that simply eating garlic (and it’s cousin onion) can have an excellent effect for lowering LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood fibrinogen levels. You must remember though that this cannot be cooked garlic or onion, as cooking quickly destroys the active ingredient allicin. Anyone looking to buy garlic supplements should be aware of the German Commission E, a panel of experts which sets standards for dosage requirements to allow for therapeutic claims. Check the label to make sure the supplement you are considering meets their standards for strength and purity.
Policosanol is a “new kid on the block” in terms of cholesterol control, but is looking promising. “Policosanol” refers to a group of eight solid alcohols derived from sugar cane wax. Octacosanol is the major constituent of policosanol and proponents of this substance claim that Octacosanol is remarkably safe and effective at reducing cholesterol levels, and at reducing platelet aggregation. Dr. Myatt and her team are actively researching this substance, and if it proves to be everything that it claims to be, look for it to be made available through the Wellness Club just as soon as “the dragon lady” – oops, I mean Dr. Myatt – (“the dragon lady” is what our supplement suppliers call her because of her exacting quality standards) – pins down just where to obtain the very highest quality product. For now, it appears that this product might be in a bit of a shortage, and therefore more expensive than it perhaps should be, because the main source of supply is the sugar cane fields of Cuba. The leaves and rinds of citrus fruits also contain octacosanol, as does wheat germ oil – these may prove to be an alternate source for this promising substance.
Vitamin C has a well-studied positive effect at lowering total cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising beneficial HDL levels. Vitamin C supplementation is valuable for many other reasons – it is an powerful antioxidant, and an immune enhancer. If you are considering using higher doses of vitamin C, use buffered vitamin C to avoid stomach upset. You should also know that Dr. Myatt’s Maxi-Multi contains 1200 mg of this important vitamin in the recommended daily dose.
Fiber has a time-honored place in any cholesterol-lowering regimen. High intakes of soluble fiber have been shown time and again to lower both overall and LDL cholesterol levels. Unfortunately, such high intakes of fiber can cause gastrointestinal upset in many people, and this causes them to not take effective doses. Psyllium and oat bran are two of the most-studied, and are easily available to add to the diet. You should NOT take psyllium if you are presently taking the prescription drugs digitalis or nitrofurantoin. Another form of fiber that is demonstrating great promise as a cholesterol-lowering aid is chitosan which is a substance made from the shells of shellfish. Chitosan has the effect of binding fat and cholesterol in the digestive tract. It is so effective at this that it will absorb as much as seven to eight times it’s own weight in fat and bile which are then passed through the bowel and excreted. Because of it’s fat-binding ability, chitosan is valuable as a weight loss aid as well as a cholesterol-normalizing agent. There are just a couple of caveats regarding chitosan: first, like any other fiber, chitosan can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients and trace minerals. These should be taken at times other than when the chitosan is taken. Secondly, because chitosan is derived from the exoskeletons (shells) of shellfish, people with seafood allergies should use caution.
No cholesterol-lowering program would be complete without a discussion of diet. Rather than dire warnings and restrictive regimes that drastically limit fat intake, Dr. Myatt puts her patients on “The Super Fast Diet” for cholesterol control. Her patients find this to be a rich, balanced, satisfying diet, and they are pleasantly surprised to find that not only do their cholesterol levels normalize in short order, but so does their weight. This nutrient-rich diet has people feeling better, looking better, and performing better, and their lab results are the proof of it’s effectiveness.
That is the top half-dozen, proven, tested, effective cholesterol-lowering supplements and agents. They are not the only things in our armamentarium (that’s a medical word for “bag of tricks”!) though. Some of the “lesser lights” are not as well proven, or not as specifically effective at lowering cholesterol, but they may still be very valuable as a part of a coordinated cholesterol-lowering and health improving plan. Some of those include:
Artichoke has been studied since the 1930’s and found to have excellent effects on both atherosclerotic plaque and cholesterol and LDL levels. It is also highly protective, and may even be regenerative to the liver. It also possesses antioxidant properties. It is a valuable addition to a person’s daily supplementation. Dr. Myatt makes this available in combination with Milk Thistle which is a potent liver protector with regenerative properties and a powerful antioxidant and Turmeric which is a marvelous anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, liver-protective (on a par with milk thistle), anti-tumorgenic herb that also helps maintain normal blood viscosity.
Turmeric has been shown in a number of studies to have cholesterol-lowering effects of it’s own. This, in addition to it’s other benefits as described above make it a “must do” in any daily supplementation program. Turmeric also inhibits platelet aggregation (med-speak for blood clotting) and serves as a natural cox-2 inhibitor like the prescription drug Vioxx.
Gugulipid is an ancient remedy that is being “rediscovered” by the western medical establishment. Gugulipid is made from the resin of the commiphora mukul tree of north central India and has been used for thousands of years to alleviate problems associated with obesity, acne, viral infections, and other ailments. It has also been shown in some limited but significant studies to reduce cholesterol and LDL levels and increase HDL levels within three to four weeks. It is certainly worth considering adding this to a cholesterol-lowering regimen.
Green Tea has also been the subject of some promising and even exciting research. Green tea serves as a potent antioxidant, preventing the oxidation of LDL in the arteries. The cholesterol-lowering effects of Green tea have been shown in numerous animal and human studies. Green tea catechins act to limit the rise in blood cholesterol according to a 1996 Japanese study. Further, Green tea has been shown to elevate HDL, and serves as a natural ACE inhibitor, lowering blood pressure. These benefits can be obtained by drinking up to 10 cups of Green tea daily, or taking one to two capsules of Green tea extract daily.
Fish Oil has been shown to reduce high levels of triglycerides by an average of 35%. It does not appear to reduce cholesterol to that extent, but it does offer benefits when as part of an integrated therapy program. Scientific studies have demonstrated that alpha-linolenic acid (from flax or perilla oil) reduces the incidence of atherosclerosis, stroke, and second heart attacks. One study showed a 70% reduction in second heart attacks in those consuming this type of fatty acid.
Vitamin E protects us from more than 80 diseases and illnesses, including protecting us from the inhibiting the effects of oxidation of LDL and the development of atherosclerotic disease. Studies have also shown it to be effective as some hypocholesterolemic (cholesterol-lowering) drugs. Anyone considering adding vitamin E to their regimen should also add Selenium which works with vitamin E to prevent LDL oxidation. Both of these nutrients are found in Dr. Myatt’s Maxi-Multi.
Finally, Soy has been shown to confer numerous benefits through it’s isoflavones, genistein, daidzein, and glycitein. According to a study completed in 1997, “Potential mechanisms by which soy isoflavones might prevent atherosclerosis include a beneficial effect on plasma lipid concentrations, antioxidant effects, antiproliferative and antimigratory effects on smooth muscle cells, effects on thrombus formation, and maintenance of normal vascular reactivity.” Bottom line: if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels, it is worth adding soy to your diet.
So, we’ve talked about the first line, and “the helpfuls”, now let’s talk about the bogus, the time wasters, and the scams.
Coral Calcium – promoted as the cure for every thing from cancer to high cholesterol to bad breath to spiritual weakness. Many of it’s top promoters are facing criminal prosecution. Avoid it. If you need calcium supplements, consider something real, like Calcium D-Glucarate or Calmag Amino+ Vit D & Boron. It won’t do much for your cholesterol levels, but it will help your bones.
Various teas have been touted as total cholesterol cures, no doubt riding on the coattails of accepted Green Tea studies. Don’t believe them – Green Tea is an important part of a cholesterol-control program, but teas are not the whole answer!
The 5 Most Important Supplements For Health and Longevity
Many nutritional supplements and herbs have documented value in maintaining health and possibly also extending lifespan. The following list of recommendations comprises my picks for the 5 most important supplements the average person should take to preserve or reclaim optimum health and vitality. I have chosen this list based on what I call the “preponderance of evidence” (scientific data). Although many substances have proven value for various conditions, this list includes only those that have a substantial amount of scientific study and data behind them. Substances tested for 3 weeks in lab rats do not make my list. Neither do supplements tested in only poorly-controlled or small samplings of people. The supplements and substances on my “A” list have all been thoroughly tested and proven, and the body of scientific documentation leave little doubt as to their importance.
The list is given in order of priority. Please keep in mind, however, that an individual might need a specific nutrient lower on the list or something not on this list at all for the prevention or reversal of a particular illness. For most healthy people, these are the nutrients of highest importance if one is concerned about maintaining health and promoting longevity.
The Five Most Important Supplements For Health and Longevity
1.) Optimal Potency Multiple Vitamin / Mineral / Trace Mineral Supplementation (Maxi Multi)including:
I.) Broad-spectrum vitamin & mineral formula. Many Americans take nutritional supplements for good reason. A wide variety of illnesses have known links to nutritional deficiencies. Adding certain nutrients in supplemental form is an inexpensive insurance policy against some of the worst diseases of modern times. Here are just of few of the known deficiency / disease connections:
A deficiency of antioxidant nutrients (especially beta carotene, vitamins C & E, and selenium) is associated with higher incidence of cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, mouth, lungs and skin. Some researchers believe that antioxidant deficiencies may be related to higher incidence of all cancers.
A mineral deficiency, especially magnesium and potassium but also calcium, is associated with high blood pressure.
Deficiencies of vitamin E, C, B6, B12, folic acid (a B vitamin), and bioflavonoids are associated with cardiovascular disease. The connection between vitamin E and heart health is so well established that conventional medical cardiologists are instructed to recommend vitamin E to their patients.
Healthy bones, and the prevention of osteoporosis, depend on sufficient levels of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin D.
In males, benign prostatic hypertrophy is associated with decreased levels of zinc. Zinc deficiency also correlates to decreased immune function. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and diabetes (high blood sugar) occur more frequently in people who are chromium deficient. After diabetes is present, low levels of vitamin A, C, E, plus zinc, selenium, choline, bioflavonoids and B complex vitamins are associated with more complications from the disease.
This list could go on for pages, but you get the idea. Deficiencies of key nutrients are correlated with disease. Such deficiencies are also common in the modern American diet. Depleted soils result in lowered nutritional content in produce AND Americans eat less fresh produce than ever before. Much of our food is highly processed, removing not only nutrients but also fiber and enzymes.
The best health insurance may not be an expensive medical policy, but the addition of sufficient nutrients to fill in the gaps in our day-to-day nutritional status.
II.) High potency antioxidant formula (“ACES”: vitamins A,C,E, and selenium and bioflavonoids). Antioxidants are molecules which “quench” and render free radicals harmless. Free radicals are unstable molecules that steal electrons from other molecules and thereby cause damage to normal cells. The damage they cause in the body is called oxidation, and it is the body-equivalent to rust on a piece of tin. Free radical damage is linked to heart disease, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, cataracts, macular degeneration, immune suppression and aging in general.
Although the body produces many of it’s own antioxidants (such as CoQ10 and glutathione), exposure to environmental chemicals in food, air and water, plus the effects of stress, smoking excess alcohol and sunlight can generate more free radicals than the body’s antioxidants can “quench.” Internal antioxidant production also declines with age. Since so many diseases are associated with declining antioxidants and numerous studies have proven the benefit of keeping these levels high, it is recommended that a high potency antioxidant formula be a part of every basic supplementation program.
III.) Calcium / magnesium / boron / vanadium (bone nutrients) Calcium and magnesium are the primary minerals comprising bone, and inadequate levels can lead to osteoporosis. In combination with trace mineral boron, vanadium and vitamin D, these nutrient serve to protect bone health. Calcium and magnesium have a much more widespread function in the body than preserving bone health, however.
Calcium and magnesium are necessary for normal heart function and blood pressure. Deficiencies of either can lead to heart disease and high blood pressure. Magnesium is necessary for normal energy processes including nerve function and enzyme activation. Deficiencies are associated with cardiac arrhythmias.
Insufficient calcium has recently been shown to be associated with colon cancer, and people who have generous calcium intakes are less susceptible to this condition.
These two major minerals are frequently insufficient even in a “good” diet. Because they take up a lot of space in a capsule, it is impossible to get an optimal daily dose in any “one-a-day” formula. A suggested daily dose is 1,000 -1,500mg per day of calcium and 250-500mg magnesium for both men and women.
IV.) B Complex vitamins (higher doses than in most multiples). B vitamins are used in the body individually and in combination with enzymes to help release energy from food. They are also of extreme importance to the nervous system. B vitamins are required by the metabolic pathways that generate the energy. Every system in the body depends on these vitamins for their role in energy production, and a deficiency of even a single B vitamin can have widespread and serious health consequences. Unfortunately, the B complex vitamins are routinely deficient from the Standard American Diet, because these nutrients are removed when grains and sugars are processed. Deficiencies of B complex vitamins are too numerous to mention here, but the most serious consequences include heart disease (B6, B12 and folate), depression, neuropathy, high cholesterol, cataracts, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and fatigue to name only a few. Because deficiencies of the b vitamins are so common even in a “good” diet, they higher potency formulas should always be part of a basic multivitamin supplement program.
Recommendation: Maxi Multiis a superior formula of vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, flavonoids and high potency antioxidants that provides the optimal nutritional levels of all four formulas listed above in a single supplement. Whether you take four separate formulas or enjoy the convenience and savings of Maxi Multi, this Optimal Potency Vitamin / Mineral / Trace Mineral program should be the cornerstone of any supplement program because it provides so many well studied nutrients. Dose: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals (9 per day total) or as directed by physician.
2.) Green Food Herbs and Veggies (Maxi Greens)
The Federal government, the USDA and multiple other government agencies are advocating that Americans consume more fruits and vegetables for a healthier life style. As we discussed in the last issue of HealthBeat, however, the nutritive value of these foods has declined dramatically within the last 30 years. In addition to this, few Americans obtain the daily recommended target of 5 fruits and/or veggies.
Plants contain hundreds of non-vitamin, non-mineral substances known as “Phytonutrients” (Phyto=plant). Although not absolutely essential to life like vitamins and minerals are, these plant-derived nutrients never-the-less perform many important functions. Phytonutrients act as detoxifiers, antioxidants, oxygenators, immune stimulators, and anti-mutagenics (Preventing cancerous changes in cells). The typical American diet is far too low in produce, and the produce we do eat is nutritionally deficient, so plant-derived nutrients are often lacking.
Some examples of phytonutrients include:
Indole-3-carbinol (IC3) from cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts). This phytonutrient has been shown to prevent cancer through multiple mechanisms including I.) Protecting the genomic structure of DNA. II.) Converting dangerous estrogens (16-alpha-hydroxyestrone) that cause the development of cancer into safer forms of estrogen (2-hydroxyestrone) that prevent the development of cancer. III.) Blocking estrogen receptor sites on the membranes of breast and other cells. IV.) Inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) of cancer cells. V.) Protecting cells against the effects of pesticides and other environmental pollutants including dioxin that mimic estrogen in the body. VI.) Slowing the propagation of aberrant breast and prostate cells.
Pycnogenols (OPC’s) and resveratrol from grapes seed and skin exhibit 50 times more antioxidant power than vitamin E and 20 times more than vitamin C. They easily cross the blood-brain barrier and prevent free radical damage to the brain and nervous system. OPC’s bind to collagen and help increase elasticity of skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. It also acts as a smooth muscle relaxant in blood vessels. OPC’s have antihistamine effects that make it useful for allergies and asthma.
Catechins from green tea have been shown to neutralize cancer-causing agents and prevent cellular mutations leading to cancer. In addition, green tea prevents abnormal blood clotting, reduces total cholesterol, aids high blood pressure and protects arterioles.
Silymarin from milk thistle has been the subject of over 100 clinical trials. It powerfully protects the liver from the effects of environmental toxins. Is also stimulates liver cell regeneration and is useful for all types of liver disease including the liver-toxic effect of many drugs.
Flavoglycosides in ginkgo biloba are one of the most well-studies herbs for age-related memory changes. ginkgo is a potent antioxidant that increases circulation to small-diameter blood vessels (such as those in the brain and extremities) Studies have verified ginko’s effectiveness in early-stage Alzheimer’s, multiple infarct dementia (“mini strokes”), age-related depression, glaucoma, impotence, vascular insufficiency and MS. It has anti-allergy effects that make it useful for chronic respiratory allergies and asthma.
THIS IS JUST A SMALL SAMPLE of they types of “phytonutrients” found in herbs and vegetables.
Recommendation: Take specific herbs for any medical condition you may have, but for general prevention and health maintenance, Maxi Greenscombines a broad spectrum of these important plant substances. Daily dose: 2 to 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals.
3.) Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids: Max EPA or Flax Oil
On May 27, 2003, The White House urged government health agencies to encourage Americans to increase their consumption of foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and decrease their intake of trans fatty acids. The release from the Executive Office of The President stated:
“Health researchers have found that Americans can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease with a modest change in their diets. The government should make this life-saving information as widely available as possible.”
This Executive initiative is based on the new guidelines of the American Heart Association which now recommends eating cold-water fish at least twice a week and other oils and food sources high in omega-3 fatty acids. (Fish and flax oil are the richest sources). The Office of The President also cited the “growing body of scientific evidence, both experimental and epidemiological, that suggests that consumption of trans fatty acids increases the risk of coronary heart disease.”
Recommendation: Americans eat far too little Omega-3 fatty acids and far too much trans fat (any amount of “trans” is too much). Eating or and/or supplementing Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil and flax oil) is known to help prevent over 60 illnesses including heart disease. Dose: 1 TBS. of flax oil OR 6 capsules of flax oil OR 3-6 capsules of MaxEPA (fish oil) OR 2 TBS. ground flax seed meal daily. Some people lack the enzyme to convert flax oil to EPA & DHA (the “active ingredients” from these oils). These people should use the fish oils (MaxEPA) exclusively.
Coenzyme Q10 is a potent antioxidant produced by the body. It functions as an “energizer” to the mitochondria, the body’s energy producing units. Dr. Michael Murray says to think of CoQ10 as the body’s “spark plugs.” Mitochondria, which produce energy, require CoQ10 to “spark” their production on energy units (ATP). Muscles, and the heart in particular, have high requirements for CoQ10. Although it is manufactured in the body, aging humans produce only 50% of the CoQ10 that young adults do. This finding makes CoQ10 one of the most important nutrients for people over 30. Cholesterol-lowering drugs including statins are known to lower CoQ10 levels.
CoQ10 is beneficial in ALL types of heart disease (mitral valve prolapse, angina, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure, arrhythmia), periodontal disease, immune deficiency, cancer, chemotherapy side-effects, overweight and obesity, muscular dystrophy, fatigue and for enhancing athletic performance. The suggested dose is 50mg per day for health maintenance and 100-400mg per day for heart disease, cancer and weight loss programs.
Recommendations: For primary prevention, 50-100mg CoQ10 daily should be used. Higher doses (100-400mg) are recommended for heart disease, cancer, and overweight/weight loss programs.
Melatonin is a hormone manufactured from serotonin in the pineal gland. This hormone helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle and set the Circadian rhythms (24-hour cycle) of the body. This, in turn, regulates the release of all other hormones.
Melatonin is a potent antioxidant that helps protect the central nervous system from disease, free-radical injury and aging. Melatonin increases the production of immune cells and is used in cancer medicine for its immune-enhancing and antioxidant effects. (DO NOT use in leukemia or lymphoma until more is known). Recent studies have shown that melatonin helps reduce high blood pressure.
Many researchers consider melatonin to be one of the most powerful anti-aging substances available, but like many other hormones, secretion of melatonin declines with age.
Recommendation: A typical preventative dose is 3mg at bedtime, although higher doses are used (10-20mg) in cancer and certain advanced disease states. Anyone with a neurological disease should certainly be taking melatonin.
Do You Really Take All That Stuff ???
I was in a local store today; the owner and I are on friendly terms. In fact, we had given her a Wellness Club Holistic Health Handbook as part of her Christmas gift. Apparently, she has been reading it. She asked me today when I was in, “Do you really take all that stuff you recommend? Can’t you just get adequate nutrition from a good diet?” Good questions, and I was shaking my head “yes” and “no” before she even finished asking.
Yes, I really take a lot of my own Wellness Club “stuff” (more in a minute). In fact, one of the main reason I started The Wellness Club almost 10 years ago was to ensure myself easy access to “the good stuff” (highest quality nutritionals). And “no,” you can’t get adequate, much less optimal, nutrition from diet alone. Here are the reasons I take supplements.
Why a “good diet” is not optimal. First let’s define some terms: “Adequate” means barely enough to sustain life. Yes, you can probably achieve that from an exceptionally good diet. Who eats an exceptionally good diet? But you can’t get “optimal nutrition” — vitamins and minerals at levels known to promote longevity— from even a very good diet.
That’s because our food supply isn’t what it used to be. To see a complete chart of Optimal doses of vitamins and minerals, click here.
Vegetables without Vitamins. The nutritional value of foods is rapidly declining. According to the USDA food tables, most commercial vegetables contain at least 50% less of the nutrients than they did in 1975. For example, broccoli has 50% less calcium than it used to; watercress has 80% less iron, cauliflower has 40% less vitamin C. The National Academy of Sciences reports that it takes twice as many vegetables as it used to to get the same amount of nutrients. The reason for this decline appears related to growing and agricultural practices. That, plus many foods are heavily contaminated with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers instead of the natural nutrients, and picked before their prime (full nutrient content) so they can be shipped to far away places for consumption. If the nutrients aren’t in the soil, they won’t be in the plants grown in that soil. The recommended 3 to 5 servings per day should rightly be changed to 6 to 10 servings per day of fruits and vegetables to get a basic complement of plant-derived nutrients. Do YOU eat this much in a day? Few Americans do.
Meat without Omegas. The Omega-3 fatty acids, along with Omega-6 fatty acids, comprise the “Essential Fatty Acids” (EFA’s), so-called because they must be obtained from diet. The average American diet is far too high in O-6 fatty acids and drastically deficient in O-3 fatty acids. The result is that our immune systems tend to be hyper-reactive in many ways (allergies, autoimmune disease, heart disease, certain cancers and overweight are intimately related to this O-3 deficiency). The primary sources of O-3 fatty acids are meat (especially beef), eggs and seafood, particularly salmon, and flax seed. But even these “good foods” are not what they should be. The way we raise animals drastically alters— for better or worse— their Omega-3 fatty acid content, and therefore their Omega Ratios. [NOTE: as a reminder, a healthy Omega Ratio should be between 4 to 10. Less than 4 is super-healthy, more than 10 is an unfavorable ratio. Many nutritional scientists believe that the healthiest ratio is no more than 4]. Instead of grass-fed beef with an Omega ratio of 2.3, feed-lot and corn-fed beef has a less favorable OR of 8.6 or higher. (Still a decent OR). Feed-lot raised beef is also high in human hormones and antibiotics. Eggs raised from chickens fed a diet of Omega-3 rich grains and allowed to free-range will lay high Omega-3 containing eggs with an OR of 2.6, but most industrially-raised hens today lay eggs with an OR of 13.0. Salmon is by far the superior food for Omega-3 content, but there’s a wide variability in this, too. Wild-caught Pacific salmon has an OR of 0.5 and very low levels of contaminants. New information released this month shows that farm-raised salmon tend to have high levels of contaminants including methyl mercury and PCBs, antibiotics, pesticides, synthetic coloring agents, growth hormones and GMOs. The OR for farm-raised and Atlantic salmon is far less favorable at 6.8. (Still a good Omega Ratio, but is the toxicity worth the risk?).
Even a diet that includes the USDA recommended fruits, vegetables and meats is still unlikely to be “adequate.” Inadequate nutrition plus additional contaminants in the food mean that even a well-meaning diet may be less-than-adequate. But even if it were “adequate,” adequate isn’t good enough for me.
Why “Adequate” isn’t Enough
Much is known about how to keep a human body healthy for life and maximize longevity. The sciences of nutrition, biochemistry, pharmacology, exercise physiology, and psychology have contributed much to improving both quality and quantity of life. Although drugs can be helpful and sometimes curative, they are not the surest option for maintaining good health. I take advantage of those diet and lifestyle methods that have proven to help hedge the bet for a long, healthy life.
Studies have been done on elders (over 60 population) taking a multiple vitamin-mineral supplement. Those on low potency formulas (the “one little tablet per day” variety) did nothing more than placebo, but those taking higher potency formulas had a 60% lower rate of upper respiratory infection plus overall stronger immunity. Optimal, not merely “adequate” doses of various vitamins and minerals have far-reaching effects in the body. Consider the numerous benefits I get just from taking Maxi Multi — my ultimate basic multiple nutrient formula.
A few of the many known deficiency/disease connections:
A deficiency of antioxidant nutrients (especially beta carotene, vitamins C & E, and selenium) is associated with higher incidence of cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, mouth, lungs and skin. Some researchers believe that antioxidant deficiencies may be related to higher incidence of all cancers. Antioxidant deficiency is also associated with cataracts, macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease and premature aging.
A mineral deficiency, especially magnesium and potassium but also calcium, is associated with high blood pressure.
Deficiencies of vitamin E, C, B6, B12, folic acid (a B vitamin), and bioflavonoids are associated with cardiovascular disease. The connection between vitamin E and heart health is so well established that conventional medical cardiologists are instructed to recommend vitamin E to their patients.
Healthy bones, and the prevention of osteoporosis, depend on sufficient levels of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, boron, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin D. Calcium deficiency is also associated with overweight and colon cancer.
In males, benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer is associated with decreased levels of zinc and selenium. Zinc deficiency also correlates to decreased immune function. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and diabetes (high blood sugar) occur more frequently in people who are chromium deficient. After diabetes is present, low levels of vitamin A, C, E, plus zinc, selenium, choline, bioflavonoids and B complex vitamins are associated with more complications from the disease.
Deficiencies of B complex vitamins are associated with heart disease, fatigue, muscle weakness, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and senile (age-related) dementia.
The list above represents only some of the diseases that nutrient deficiency can cause. Studies show that people who do not have nutrient deficiencies have a greatly lowered risk of these diseases. I’m hedging my bet by making up for any gaps in my diet by taking a high quality multiple vitamin/mineral supplement.
What I Used to Take & Recommend for Patients
Some years ago, patients and wellness club members recall that I recommended 4 separate supplements in order to get the solid daily basics of good nutrition. I would use the following nutrients for my “Basic daily formula:
I.) High quality multiple (Usually Tyler’s brand called Nutrizyme; daily dose is 6 capsules)
II.) Extra antioxidants (A formula with higher potencies of Vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C & E, and selenium. I would usually use Carlson’s brand of “ACES” for the extra antioxidants.(1 cap, 3 times per day with meals).
III.) Extra calcium/magnesium and trace bone nutrients (boron, vanadium). I used one of several different formulas to “make up the difference” that the multiple didn’t contain. (3-6 capsules per day).
IV.) Multi-B-Complex: extra-potencies of B complex vitamins, higher than even a good multiple, for the many proven health benefits. (1 capsule, 2 times per day).
All together, this Basic program was 17-20 capsules per day of the finest nutritional supplement available. 4 separate products, but well worth the effort and money in my book. Many agreed with me. Then I decided to make it simpler. It was state-of the-art supplementation. Because this protocol is still valuable today (the individual formulas have been kept up-to-date), this is still a good program to follow. I just decided to make it simpler.
The Best Made Better
That above-listed regimen is the one I followed and recommended for many years, with outstanding results. Still, 4 separate products to achieve Optimal vitamin/mineral supplementation seemed like a lot of work, so I decided to make it simpler. After all, I “take all this stuff” myself, remember? And I knew I intended to continue taking my nutrients for the long-haul, making improvements in my program as new discoveries caused me to make dose or formula changes, but intending to stick with it because many studies also show that the benefits from nutritional supplementation accrue over the long-haul. I took the “optimal dose” list I had constructed from the medical literature and decided to put the “four separate items” into a single formula. That is when Maxi Multi was “born.”
Maxi Multi: The Four-in-One Formula for Optimal Supplementation
Yes, I “take my own stuff.” The benefits of optimal potency supplementation on health and potential lifespan are clear-cut in my medical opinion. I knew I was “in it for the long haul,” and so were many of my patients. In order to make such optimal supplementation easier and more cost-effective, I devised a formula that had these optimal potencies in a single supplement. Maxi Multis have the combined benefits and nutrient levels as the previous four-supplement regimen I was prescribing. There were and still are other benefits to making my own formula, too.
When I new bit of nutritional science is discovered, such as higher doses of vitamin E appear to be better at preventing heart disease, breast cancer and cataracts, I can and do make adjustments in the formula to keep up with the science. I also pick and choose each individual nutrient — it’s form, potency and purity— and I’m a stickler for these ingredients. It’s got to be that way, because there are little quality controls in the health and nutrition industry right now. I am the “Dragon Lady” when it comes to my formulas, because I want them to be the best. Remember, I “take this stuff” myself for health reasons and intend to for life. I want to best, so it will perform as I expect. I take my own stuff. [NOTE: and the newly proposed FDA regulations, the legislation that we’ve been urging you to write to your senators and congressmen about, will not solve this problem, only restrict your freedom to purchase even the high-quality “stuff.” (For more on this legislation see your HealthBeat from December 2, 2003.)
My Personal Protocol for Good Health
I.) Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day with meals, without fail.
II.) Maxi Greens: 2 caps, 3 times per day with meals, without fail.
III.) CoQ10 (50mg): twice per day.
IV.) Flax oil: caps or liquid, daily.
I take additional supplements, but this list forms the basis of my program. Please keep in mind that I do not have any medical conditions that I am treating. If I did, my basic program would reflect additional nutrients and/or herbs targeted to whatever my medical problem was.
2.) Foods: I choose organic fruits and veggies whenever possible. I also look for wild instead of farm-raised salmon and grab organic beef whenever I find it. I search out Omega eggs (available in the regular grocery store). I follow The Super Fast Diet (low carbs, high in Omega-3 essential fats).
3.) Exercise: every day in the outdoors. I live in an area where the air is clean. If I didn’t, I’d have an indoor and car air purifier.
4.) Pure water: 64 ounces a day without fail.
No one can guarantee us a long, healthy life. Some of this “equation” is up to fate: genetics, luck. Much of our health, however, is within our control. We can optimize our “healthspan” (how long we stay healthy) and our lifespan (actual years that we live) by taking reasonable and good care of ourselves. Given what I know about nutrition, basic supplementation in optimal doses seems a small price to pay for the return I anticipate on my investment. So “yes”, I really do take “all that stuff.”
The Ten Most Dangerous Foods: Part II
For those of you who have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, here are the “other five” of my top ten list of most unhealthful foods. If you did not get the first half of this list, please refresh your memory by clicking here: http://www.drmyattswellnessclub.com/HealthbeatV8I7.htm
6.) Margarine: no matter what it’s made from, margarine is largely “trans fat.” (Remember, trans fat is “Franken-fat,” the really bad stuff). Even good oils are converted into “trans” when they are made into margarine. There isn’t much “trans fat” in nature; the body is not well equipped to deal with this strange substance. Corn oil margarine has an Omega Ratio of 88.5, but even “good” margarine made with soy margarine has an OR of 12.9 (not to mention an unknown amount of “trans,” which all margarines have.
SUBSTITUTE: Butter, with an Omega Ratio of 1.5, is an absolute health food. I’m not sure how it got a “bad rap,” but it is totally undeserved. Use butter for a bread spread and for low-heat sautéing. DO NOT use margarine of any kind!
7.) Vegetable Oils: Some oils are bad, some are really bad. Corn oil and peanut oil take the prize for having such an unnatural Omega Ratio (82.9 & infinite, respectively), that the body simply does not have the capacity to use it properly. These high Omega-6 oils create inflammation in the body, predisposing to cancer, heart disease and over 60 other disease processes. Other unhealthy vegetable oils include: soy, sunflower, safflower, cotton seed and sesame. Olive oil is neutral, not healthful. Why use this when you can use flax seed oil with a positive health benefit?
SUBSTITUTE: For salad dressings and no-heat uses: Flax oil (Omega ratio: 0.23) is a health food, so is walnut oil (OR: 5.0) and canola oil (OR: 2.18). Be SURE to use organically processed canola (the label will brag about this). Most commercial canola oils are chemically processed and contain too many chemical residues to make them safe.
8.) White Sugar: This pseudo-food contains NOTHING but simple, “empty” calories. It has no fats, hence no Omega Ratio. (That’s the best news about white sugar). White sugar rapidly elevates blood sugar and taxes the pancreas tremendously. Can you say “hypoglycemia, Syndrome X and diabetes”? The calories in sugar have no food value but are stored rapidly as fat. White sugar requires B complex vitamins for its utilization, creating a B vitamin deficiency. Why does this matter? Low B-6, B12 and folate are major causes of depression, heart disease, ovarian cancer (and probably other cancers), and birth defects.
SUBSTITUTE: “brown sugar” and honey are NOT acceptable substitutes. Their nutritional content is only minutely better than refined white sugar. Try stevia (an herb) or artificial sweeteners, especially saccharine and Splenda.
9.) White flour: With an Omega ratio of 17.7 and no redeeming nutritional value except empty calories, white flour teams with white sugar as the top “white trash” foods. All of the B complex vitamin deficiencies occurring with white sugar also happen with white flour. Now think a minute: why is it white? Because it has been BLEACHED. No fiber, no nutrients (except carbohydrate calories), a huge tax on the pancreas, PLUS bleach. What a bargain!
SUBSTITUTE: whole grain flour (which usually has a lot of refined flour), or skip flour products altogether. Soy flour products make the most tastefully and healthfully acceptable products.
10.) Non-Dairy Creamer: Made from “pseudo-edible oils” (see # 7 above), creamers have a lot of trans fats. Why do I call the “Franken-fats”? “Trans” is the REALLY BAD kind of fat; Franken-fats are from Trans-silvania, get it?
SUBSTITUTE: want cream in your coffee? Use cream! Or half-and-half! With an Omega Ratio of 1.55 and no trans fats, the “real deal” is much more healthful than these “Franken-fakes.”
My New Years Resolutions: Reflections on the Value of Good Health
Happy 2005 from All of Us at The Wellness Club. We wish you and your families one of the best years ever!
This was a sobering holiday season for me in many ways, but it taught me some valuable lessons and helped me make good resolutions for this year. I’ll pass on my story in case it might help you, too.
I was involved in an automobile accident, had to see my family doctor for the aches and pains, was hit with a lawsuit, and then to cap it all off a member of my family passed away. As you might well imagine, this got me to thinking about what is and isn’t important, and about how we pay for the things we see as being important to us.
First, the auto accident: Icy streets, I was able to come to a stop when the light changed, the driver behind me wasn’t. Bang! Fortunately there was insurance all around and I thought all would be well. Of course, the insurance did not reimburse for the fear, pain and inconvenience of the ordeal, but I was sure that because I faithfully paid my insurance premiums all these years (and the other driver did hit me from behind after all!) that everything would be “looked after.” As it turned out, I was naive, and as anyone who has had an auto accident can tell you, it wasn’t so easy! Despite the fact that I’ve been with the same company for many years (long enough to have paid for a new car with all my premiums!) and I’ve been claim free, it was a very difficult and stressful experience, and I’ll never look at insurance companies in the same way again.
Of course, being involved in an MVA (motor vehicle accident) means doctors, x-rays, and prescriptions for muscle relaxers and pain pills. Silly me, I should have known to call Dr. Myatt right away. The muscle relaxers and pain pills did nothing but make me dopey. I guess to some that means feeling better, but after a week of no improvement, I called Dr. Myatt. She explained that the x-rays were necessary to rule out fractures, but that there were better, safer and more importantly effective alternatives to the chemicals that had been prescribed by my conventional doctor. “He has done the best he knows for you” said Dr. Myatt, “but muscle relaxers don’t heal bruised muscles! Now let’s get going with some things that will actually help you feel better and heal faster.” In a couple of days the pain and stiffness were just a distant memory! The conventional treatment and drugs were paid for by my “insurance” but I paid for Dr. Myatt’s fees myself and her advice was a bargain. (Here’s a tip: she recommended Bromelain and Grape Seed Extract, and some special exercises.)
Just as I thought the car accident was behind me, I was notified that the other driver was suing me! I won’t belabor the details, but the whole thing was completely groundless — a bluff on his part because he was the guilty party. As soon as I hired a lawyer to respond to his foolishness the suit was dropped. Still, it cost a pretty penny to hire that lawyer, and I’ll never see that money back. It would have been more expensive not to have hired the lawyer because the other driver had a hungry and aggressive lawyer working for him.
In addition to this, an elderly aunt passed away before Christmas. It was not unexpected, and Auntie had a number of health problems in addition to the cancer which took her. Because we knew her time was near, the family was able to gather at her bedside to celebrate one last Christmas with her. She passed peacefully with friends and family near. What was distressing for me was that I had tried to convince her to arrange a consultation with Dr. Myatt to discuss the options available to her, and get a genuine “second opinion” about how she might deal with her illnesses, but that didn’t happen. I know that Dr. Myatt cannot “cure” advanced cancer, but I also know that she has a number of patients who are confounding their conventional doctors by living long past the brief time that they had been told they have left. At first Auntie refused, saying that she didn’t believe in all that “hocus pocus stuff” of alternative medicine and preferring the traditional white-coated western way of “cut, burn and poison” to treat her cancer. When it became obvious that those methods had failed her, she considered contacting Dr. Myatt until she learned that neither her veterans benefits nor her Medicare would cover Dr. Myatt’s alternative services, so she decided against it. As Auntie remarked, “my insurance pays for all my other treatments.” (Right-o! The ones that aren’t working!). Interestingly, Auntie didn’t object in the least to paying the fees for the lawyer that she called in to help her tidy up her affairs and update her will. She also didn’t object to the huge fees demanded by the funeral home that she made her final arrangements with!
So how does all this tie together, and what does this have to do with my New Years Resolutions? Well, it made me wonder why many people don’t think twice about paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to a lawyer to help them out of some non-life-threatening predicament while they balk at paying a few hundred dollars to a doctor could help them live longer or enable them to enjoy the days they have left free of pain or disability. Auntie suffered quite a bit at the end and was certainly not as comfortable as she might have been if she has allowed Dr. Myatt to help her, but she chose instead to save a few dollars by going with the treatment that was covered by her insurance.
Most people are so accustomed to having medical expenses covered by insurance that they cannot think of any other way, yet these same folks don’t object to spending thousands of dollars for a lawyer or an accountant even though neither of those professionals typically deal with our life or health. Many other people (I have a sister who is one of them) think nothing of paying a cosmetic surgeon thousands of dollars for breast implants or nose jobs – work definitely not covered by insurance. Still others like Auntie will scrimp and save, avoiding potentially helpful advice from someone like Dr. Myatt because the fees are not covered by insurance, and then without so much as a quibble pay many, many thousands of dollars for a lavish funeral. We know that our lawyers, our accountants, our cosmetic surgeons and our funeral homes are not generally covered or paid for by insurance and we pay with little or no objection. Not so with our doctors – we expect them to work for “free” – at least free to us, paid for by some sort of “insurance” program.
So, what are my New Years Resolutions? First, I resolve to love and enjoy my family more. Every day that we are allowed to be together is a gift. Next, I resolve to try to leave my new car and my precious body at home if the streets are icy – no more needless risk-taking for me! I resolve to call Dr. Myatt sooner sooner instead of later for what ails me even though it is a modest but out-of-pocket expense. It was so very worth it to start feeling better the same day I talked to her! Finally, I resolve to take control of my own health instead of leaving it to some insurance company or HMO. I had forgotten how I had done just that a number of years ago when I first met Dr. Myatt and together we got me back on the road to good health. It seemed expensive and “risky” to defy convention then, but today I know it was some of the smartest money I ever spent. And I resolve to book an annual medical review with Dr. Myatt (this can be done on the telephone), and more often if needed, because to me, my good health is priceless.
‘Tis the season… for Colds and Flu!
On a different note, Dr. Myatt asked me to remind everyone that this is cold and flu season, and include some information to help you keep yourself as healthy as possible.
First, make sure your immune system is in the very best shape possible:
- Get regular exercise: exercise stimulates the immune system. Just 10 minutes of good, all-out exercise each day is all it takes!
- Use immune-enhancing herbal formulas – Immune Support is one of the very best.
- Practice stress reduction.
- Use positive visualization and affirmations – Dr. Myatt’s Body / Mind video will help you develop this skill.
- Practice meditation or a relaxation technique.
Give your body the raw materials it needs to keep your immune system fit:
- Eat plenty of protein. The body needs generous protein for maintenance and repair.
- Avoid fruit juices and sugars – sugars suppress the immune system.
- Be sure to use a good multi-vitamin. Dr. Myatt’s MaxiMultiis the very best available.
- Drink 64 ounces (2 quarts) of pure water or herb teas (non-caffeinated) daily.
- Be well-rested.
If you do catch something, start Dr. Myatt’s Acute Immune Protocol right away.
The “acute protocol” should be started for all active infections: colds, flu, other respiratory, skin, dental and internal infections. In many instances, antibiotics are unnecessary. This protocol may also be used alone for acute infections.
- B.A.M. (Broad Anti Microbial):
Suggested dose: 60 to 80 drops, 3 to 4 times per day. Take in a small amount (1 to 2 ounces) of water on an empty stomach (at least 15 minutes before meals or between meals).
- Immune Boost:
1 teaspoon, 3 to 4 times per day. Take with B.A.M.
2 caps, 3 to 4 times per day between meals.
- Vitamin C (buffered):
1,000 mg every two hours throughout the day.
- Whey protein:
2 scoops per day (more if desired). Take in water or other liquid or as a “pudding” (see our recipes).
- selenium: 1,000mcg per day until symptoms subside.
Immune Boost and B.A.M. are potent liquid tinctures that keep indefinitely, so I recommend having them on hand right now. Don’t wait until you need them to place an order! Those two days waiting for them to arrive can make the difference between having a full-blown cold or other infection or staying well! Bromelain, vitamin C and selenium also keep well and should be on hand in your medicine cabinet. I also recommend having a bottle of Inspirol inhalant on hand for colds and sinusitis. This super-powerful inhaler is hard to find in most health food stores but WOW! Does it do a great job of opening the sinuses and clearing your head and lungs!
With these items on hand, colds and other winter infections and ailments don’t stand a chance 🙂
Until next time,
Healthy, Happy New Year to One and All!
Editor, HealthBeat Newsletter
Heart Attack and Stroke: What are Your Real Risks?
Your Risk Factors
Heart disease and cancer are the two leading causes of death for adults who make it past the teen years. Heart disease includes problems with the heart muscle itself (weakness of pumping action, irregular rhythm, and “congestion” due to fluid retention). A leading cause of heart disease and stroke is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. (See page 37-38 in your Holistic health Handbook for a complete discussion of Atherosclerosis).
For years, conventional medicine has focused on total cholesterol levels almost exclusively to tell us who is at risk for such disease, but cholesterol levels alone provide only a very limited answer to this question. A significant number of people suffer from cardiovascular disease who have never had a total cholesterol level above the “normal” range. (Desirable range is below 200). Clearly, other factors besides cholesterol play a role in the development of atherosclerosis.
In spite of the fact that this information is well-known, I find that many doctors, including cardiologists, fail to give patients a comprehensive work-up to determine true risks. Just recently I talked with a patient who has had multiple angioplasty surgeries for blocked coronary arteries. The problem reoccurs within a matter of weeks. Her cholesterol is 150, which is low normal. Obviously, high cholesterol isn’t her problem. In spite of these facts, her doctors are encouraging her to go for a another worthless (in her case) angioplasty, and no doctor before me has mentioned to her that her high triglycerides and high red blood cell count are also risks, even though the results of her tests are plainly abnormal. Further, no one has performed a high speed C-RP (see below in this article), yet this number represent a bigger risk factor for heart disease than cholesterol.
Bottom line? Don’t expect that your doctor, even if he/she is a cardiologist, is doing a thorough job or evaluating you for cardiovascular risk. Putting someone on a cholesterol-lowering drug seems to be a popular treatment today, even for people in whom such treatment is not indicated. In the mean time, we are overlooking other easily tested-for and easily treated risk factors.
Are we playing the fiddle while Rome is on fire? See below for the complete details and tests to evaluate your heart health.
Cardiovascular Risk Factors: “The Rest of the Story”
Don’t let medical complacency and insurance/HMO cost-cutting put you at risk for heart disease and stroke. The following tests are each independent risk factors for cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease. They are standard medical tests, well-proven, inexpensive. For a true look medical evaluation of your risks, these factors should be looked at as part of a comprehensive evaluation for cardiac/stroke risk.
What to do if elevated:
Ketogenic diet*, niacin*,
Red Rice Yeast*, green tea*
the higher the better
Exercise, niacin*, garlic*,
Vit. C & E*, Red Rice Yeast*
see cholesterol and HDL recommendations, above
up to 129
Niacin*, vitamin E*
up to 15 mm/l
below 7 mm/l
Vitamin B6*, B12* and folic acid* (Maxi Multi *covers this)
up to 200 mg/dl
below 100 mg/dl
Ketogenic diet*, niacin*,
Red Rice Yeast*, garlic*
up to 4.9 mg/L
under 1.3 mg/L
aspirin (low dose-81mg/day); vitamin E,* Red Rice Yeast*
up to 460 mg/dl
under 300 mg/dl
Bromelain*, fish oil,*
vitamin C*, niacin*, garlic*
* Please refer to your Holistic Health Handbookfor more information on asterisked items
or visit Dr.Myatt’s Wellness Club website Pharmacy
Minimum work-up for CardioVascular Risk (more than the conventional work-up) for people with no personal history of heart or blood vessel disease and no other known risk factors (see facing page for other risks):
I.) Lipid profile (cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides and cholesterol :HDL ratio)
[NOTE: I do not routinely perform a homocysteine test in people with no other risk factors because this risk is reliably and predicatabley lowered by simply taking adequate doses of vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid, as in Maxi Multi or B complex. Other standard multiples often do not contain sufficient doses of these B vitamins to lower homocysteine].
Additional work-up for someone with a history of heart disease, stroke, or who has other risk factors:
IV.) “Other risks” as listed below.
For those of you who take Maxi Multi as your vitamin/mineral supplement (for health’s sake, I wish this included everybody!), please note that this formula contains the recommended, optimal doses of B complex vitamins & vitamin C & E. You do not need additional supplementation of these nutrients (unless you have a specific complaint to address) if you are taking this formula. “I’ve got you covered”! AND, I make changes to the formula to constantly reflect new findings in medicine, so your multiple will always be up-to-the-minute when it comes to formulation. * See page 105-106 in your Holistic Health Handbook.
C-Reactive Protein: First reported in the medical journals and reported to YOU from ME in 1998, this risk factor for heart disease and stroke risk is just now being reported by many other conventional and holistic medical journals and newsletters. C-Reactive Protein (C-RP) is a protein found in the blood. It is indicative of inflammation. A growing body of evidence shows that it is not just cholesterol that clogs arteries and cuts off blood flow to the heart and brain. Low-level inflammation in the body appears to be an even greater risk factor (see chart below).
This low level of inflammation is so small that it doesn’t cause pain. (Ordinarily, inflammation makes itself known by pain, swelling, or redness of an area). Older C-RP tests are used to monitor certain autoimmune diseases, but the test is not sensitive enough to detect the small elevations of C-RP that lead to heart disease and stroke. Instead, the “new” test is highly sensitive (hence, the “hs”-C-RP designation).
As you can see from the chart at right, elevations of C-RP are more predictive of heart attack and stroke than any other blood risk factor commonly evaluated for. Because of this, it may be more important to look at hs-C-RP than cholesterol.
The test is inexpensive ($20-30) and my prediction is that it will become a routine part of cardiac risk testing, performed right along with the cholesterol profile, within the next several years. But don’t wait until your insurance pays for the test. Ask your doctor to order it next time you have a cholesterol check.
Amount of Increased risk above normal if elevated:
Source:New England Journal of Medicine, 342:841, 2000, based on studies conducted by Dr. Paul Ridker at Bringham and Women’s Hospital.
“Other” Risk factors (The ones your doctor didn’t tell you about)
Any factor that increases blood viscosity (thickness) can put additional stress on the vascular system and trigger a myocardial infarction (“MI”; an “attack” of the heart due to decreased blood flow) or stroke. I frequently see one or several of these factors elevated on a patient’s medical records, with the doctor’s note at the bottom of the page saying “all normal.” The patient often never hears about those lab values and risks that are indicative of increase blood viscosity, and therefore, an opportunity is lost to correct a risk factor. Additional risk factors that are easily identified through routine lab work include :
1.) Elevated RBC (red blood cell) count
2.) Elevated platelet count
3.) Elevated serum iron or ferritin (storage iron)
4.) Elevated fasting blood sugar
Lifestyle factors that influence blood viscosity:
1.) Overweight & obesity (associated with increased cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and C-RP).
2.) Dehydration. Yes, a simple lack of water causes the blood to thicken, increasing risk. Drink water!
3.) Smoking: this is SO risky for the circulation that I refer readers to page 26 in the Holistic Health Handbook for a full disclosure.
4.) Dietary fats (especially animal fats)
“Action Steps” to take to alleviate these risks:
For high RBC and/or platelet count: be generous – donate blood! Phlebotomy (having blood drawn) is an easy way to decrease platelet and RBC count. You doctor can help you know how often to give blood based on your repeat Complete Blood Counts (“CBC,” a standard test that tells numbers of red and white cells, platelets, and how much iron the RBC’s contain. It is a very inexpensive and routine blood test and should probably be used more often than it is).
For high iron: this one is tricky, because it depends on whether or not your body is using iron correctly. However, iron excess is far more common than iron deficiency in adults (women of menstrual age excepted). Be sure your supplements DO NOT contain iron unless you are told to take iron by a doctor. Your Maxi Multi does NOT contain iron for this very reason.
To offset the effects of dietary fats: Fat in the diet (animal fat and vegetable Omega-6 fats; see page 16 in your Holistic Health Handbook) makes red blood cells stick together for hours after a meal is eaten. Vitamin C & E, taken with meals, “erases” this “sticky” effect and RBC’s behave as if no fats were eaten. That is why I recommend Maxi Multi (with optimal vitamin C & E doses), be taken with each meal instead of just once or twice per day!
Herbs & Blood Viscosity: Nature’s Blood-Thinning Remedies
Conventional medical blood thinning is accomplished by coumadin compounds, which prevent platelet aggregation. This therapy is reserved for people with severe cardiac arrhythmias and other serious problems, because the blood-thinning effects of therapy can have serious consequences. (Coumadin is used as rat poison. The rats eat it, and bleed to death internally). There are some circumstances where this type of blood thinning may be advisable, but treatment must be carefully and frequently monitored by blood testing. Furthermore, coumadin therapy only prevents platelet aggregation. According to conventional medical sources (the Merck manual, 17th edition), only 1/3 of all causative agents of abnormal blood clotting are prevented by the administration of this drug. Bottom line: coumadin is useful in very limited circumstances and must be carefully monitored. So what is the “average Joe or Jane” (without a history of serious blood viscosity problems) supposed to do to help keep the blood flowing smoothly? Mother nature has given us a number of healthful choices.
There are many herbs that act to normalize blood viscosity at different points. A combination of these herbs can actually have a broader “coverage” of clotting risk factors than coumadin alone. The difference is that the herbs are safer than coumadin, can be taken without medical supervision, and can be used in a preventive fashion. The only caution (and this is minor), is to tell your doctor that you are using these herbs IF you are on or going to begin coumadin therapy OR if you are scheduled for surgery. (Blood tests can and should be conducted before surgery to see how viscous your blood is anyway, so blood-thinning herbs aren’t “risky” as some conventional medical sources have portrayed).
Blood Viscosity-Aiding Herbs: The Short Course
1.) Garlic: decreases platelet aggregation, increases HDL cholesterol, decreases triglycerides and decreases fibrin.
2.) Ginkgo: prevents blood platelets from aggregating.
3.) Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory, so may lower C-RP. Turmeric also has other blood viscosity-normalizing effects that are beyond the scope of this article. (Please refer to page 89 in your Holistic Health Handbook for more information).
4.) Bromelain: Anti-inflammatory, anti-fibrinolytic. This herbal substance from pineapple is a well-researched, unsung hero. It has a broad range of utility. Everyone should have this on hand whether you take it daily or only on an “as needed” basis. (see pages 19, 89, 114, 122 in your Handbook for info.)
5.) Bilberry: decreases platelet aggregation in a manner similar to ginkgo. Also has potent antioxidant effects and strengthens blood vessel integrity, making it useful for varicose veins, capillary fragility and venous insufficiency.
6.) Grape seed Extract: potent antioxidant, decreases platelet aggregation.
7.) Green Tea:inhibits oxidation of LDL and prevents platelet aggregation.
Other proven anti-clotting herbs include: ginger, gugulipid.
Nutritional Factors Influencing Blood Viscosity
Be SURE to get the following nutrients for their helpfulness in maintaining normal blood flow and minimizing stroke/heart attack risk:
I.) Vitamin C & E (with every meal; included in Maxi Multi or take separately.
II.) B6, B12 and folic acid: daily. Included in Maxi Multior take separately as Multi B Complex.
III.) Omega-3 fats: (found in fish and flax seed). Unlike other fats which cause red cells to “clump,” Omega-3 fats have an anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting action. (see page 16 in your Holistic Health Handbook or click here to learn more about Omega-3 Fatty acids). Best sources: eat fish (especially salmon) twice a week and take 2 teaspoons of flax seed meal daily (see page 119 in your Holistic Health Handbook).
Wellness Club brand formula Maxi Greenscontains Bilberry, green tea, grape seed extract and bromelain, plus many other “green foods” and herbs, offering broad-spectrum coverage for blood viscosity. (Maxi Greens has many other health benefits besides this. Please see page 109-110 in your Holistic Health Handbook for complete information.
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant and oxygenator made by the body. It is universally deficient in people with heart disease, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias and cancer. The correlation between heart disease and CoQ10 is now so well known that even conventional cardiologists often recommend it to their patients. Further, cholesterol-lowering drugs deplete CoQ10. Although it is not known to specifically impact blood viscosity, it’s role in oxygenation of heart and muscle tissue is vitally important. ANYONE with ANY cardiac risk should be taking supplemental CoQ10. Supplemental CoQ10 is also necessary for anyone on a cholesterol-lowering drug.
Please refer to page 111 in your Holistic Health Handbook for more information about this nutrient.
Magnesium is a mineral which plays a key role in energy production. It is found in high concentrations in the brain, heart, liver and kidneys. It is also a crucial component of bone.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, magnesium is the most common nutrient deficiency in the American diet. That’s unfortunate, because without sufficient magnesium, the heart fails to beat correctly. in fact, magnesium is rightly known as “Nature’s calcium channel blocker.” Deficiencies of this mineral can lead to heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, cardiomyopathy and acute MI (heart attack). [NOTE: magnesium is used IV in emergency cardiac medicine in many European countries, but not here].
Like CoQ10, magnesium supplementation is extremely safe and vitally important for heart health. (Maxi Multi contains a generous 500mg per day). See page 14 in your Handbook.
An “Action Plan” for Protecting Your Heart and Circulation
For those with no elevated risk
1.) Maxi Multi: 3 caps, 3 times per day supplies optimal, “heart-protective” doses of Vitamins C & E, B complex (including target doses of B6, B12, and folic acid), and magnesium.
For those with one or more elevated risk factors of already-established disease:
1.) Maxi Multi: as above.
2.) CoQ10: 100-400mg daily (see page 111 & 117) in your Holistic Health Handbook).
3.) Specific herbs or nutrients as indicated:
I.) For normalizing blood viscosity: Bromelain and/or Maxi Greens and/or any of the herbs listed in this article.
II.) For decreasing cholesterol: Niacin or Red Rice Yeast or both (they can be taken together if needed for resistant cases).
III.) For high blood pressure: additional magnesium to total 800-1,000mg daily.
What I take for heart and cardiovascular health :
1.) Maxi Multi 2.) Maxi Greens 3.) CoQ10
Here’s to Your Healthy Heart!
The Ten Most Dangerous Foods: Part I
There are some foods that are unhealthy for various reasons, and then there are foods that are SO unhealthy that they shouldn’t even be considered edible. Here are some of the major criteria I used in accessing the most dangerous foods: 1.) Omega Ratios (ratio of “Omega-6” to “Omega-3” Essential Fatty Acids). Remember that a desirable Omega Ratio is anything under 10. Ten to 15 is OK if consumed on occasion and things higher than 15 should be eaten only rarely if at all. 2.) “Trans” fats: these are the “Frankenstein’s” of the fat family. Even small amounts can cause serious abnormalities at the cellular level. The proof is so overwhelming that the government has mandated all food labels to start carrying information about the “trans” fat content beginning this year. 3.) Toxins: while it’s true that much if not most of our food supply contains at least some contaminants, certain foods are worse than others for the toxic compounds they contain. 4.) High simple sugars: as little as one teaspoon of sugar suppresses the immune system for 4 hours or more. And—surprise!—- even fruit sugar (fructose) has this effect.
These foods are on my “hit list” and represent my top ten picks for the most dangerous “pseudo-foods.” For every food that should best be avoided, I’ll tell you about a happy, healthy alternative that makes a great substitute.
1.) Potato chips and French Fries: with an Omega ratio of 63, America’s favorite snack foods pack a huge dose of Omega-6 fats, enough to seriously imbalance the body’s essential fatty acid ratio, even when consumed in small amounts. (Does anyone really eat “small amounts” of potato chips?). But that’s not the worst of it. Heating starches produces acrylamides – known neurotoxins and carcinogens capable of damaging DNA. The more you heat starches, the more acrylamides you end up with. Products like normal potato chips contain so much acrylamides that they exceed the World Health Organization’s daily allowances 2000-3000 thousand fold.
This news was downplayed in the USA. On CNN they said “It’s just one study,” “More research is needed,” (After all, let’s not go to extremes and start thinking we really need to tell people about dangerous chemicals in their food supply—- especially when these foods are Big Business).
Potato chips and French fries are the worst foods when it comes to acrylamides, with “foods” like cookies, bread and other starchy foods containing lesser, though still problematic amounts, of this carcinogenic, nervous-system toxic substance.
SUBSTITUTE: Fried pork rinds have an Omega Ratio of 12.9 and no acrylamides, making them a much healthier, still crisp-and-crunchy snack food for dipping and chipping.
2.) Peanuts: with an Omega ratio of 201, this “not really a nut” (it’s a legume) packs a huge dose of Omega-6 fats, again enough to seriously imbalance the body’s essential fatty acid ratio, even when consumed in small amounts. (Does anyone really eat “small amounts” of peanuts either?). But that’s not the worst of it. Peanuts tend to harbor a fungus called aflatoxin. Aflatoxins are potent carcinogenic and immunosuppressive agents. Exposure is difficult to avoid because fungal growth in foods is not easy to prevent. Though heavily contaminated food supplies are not permitted in the market place in developed countries, concern still remains for the possible adverse effects resulting from long-term exposure to low levels of aflatoxins in the food supply. In 1988, the IARC placed aflatoxin B1 on the list of human carcinogens. This is supported by a number of epidemiological studies done in Asia and Africa that have demonstrated a positive association between dietary aflatoxins and Liver Cell Cancer (LCC).
SUBSTITUTE: While true nuts do not tend to harbor aflatoxin like peanuts do, most have an Omega Ratio of 20-100+. The exception is English walnuts, an absolute health food with an Omega Ratio of 1.7.
3.) Crisco: (Crisco= Crystallized Cottonseed Oil). In 1907, candle-make William Proctor and his soap-making brother-in-law James Gamble (Proctor and Gamble), discovered a way to use cottonseed oil to make cheaper candles and soap (the beef tallow processors of the time were driving prices quite high). The process takes cotton seed oil, with an Omega Ratio of 257, and makes it into a solid by converting many of the Omega-6 fats to “trans” fats. This pseudo-food is beyond bad, and not fit for human consumption. Crisco should have remained where it started: as a raw material for making candles and soap.
SUBSTITUTE: Lard or butter. (Butter is a health food).
4.) Vegetable oils: Corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, ALL except those listed below. Their Omega Ratios are terrible —- from 80-120+. Nature didn’t intend for us to concentrate the oils from certain foods like corn and peanuts.
NOTE on Olive Oil: Although Olive Oil has an acceptable Omega Ratio (11.61), it contains a high Omega-9’s, fats which are non-essential and interfere with the body’s utilization of the “good fat,” Omega-3. Olive oil has a healthful reputation that far exceeds the reality of its worth. Use flax oil for salad dressings and such (Omega Ratio 2.18), and butter for low-heat frying (Omega Ratio 1.55).
SUBSTITUTE: For high-heat frying, use coconut oil or non-solvent processed canola oil. For low-heat frying (sautéing), use butter, ghee (clarified butter) or walnut oil. Use flax oil only for salad dressings and in baked goods; do not fry with it in order to preserve the Omega-3 fatty acids.
5.) Fruit Juice: Oh Gosh! And now you’re thinking I’m probably against the American flag and motherhood and apple pie…
Freshly made fruit juice contains high levels of vitamin C and enzymes. Processed juice, which has been pasteurized, loses all vitamin C and enzymes. The result? Fruit-sugar (fructose) water. If processed juice contains vitamin C or calcium, it is because these nutrients have been added back in “enriched.” But the levels are low compared to simple supplementation, and not worth the immune-suppressing effects of sugar.
SUBSTITUTE: Want fruit? Eat the “real deal” in its whole form and enjoy the enzymes, vitamins and fiber. Red Alert and Greens First provide the equivalent of 10+ servings of organic produce without the high sugars (and they taste great). If you need more vitamin C (remember, you get a hefty 1,200mg from your daily dose of Maxi Multi), then take an additional vitamin C supplement. If you drink cranberry juice to prevent urinary tract infections, take cranberry capsules instead. No sugar, but all the health benefits.
Next Issue: the “other five” deadly foods on “Myatt hit list”!
Why Alternative Medicines Don’t Work
by Dr. Dana Myatt
North Americans spend over $30 billion annually on Complementary and Alternative Medicine according to the office of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM). Still, many skeptics believe that Alternative Medicines don’t work. As an holistic physician trained in alternative medicines, I must agree. Here’s why.
Although many alternative medicines available today have been better-researched than a number of FDA-approved drugs, the failure rate of alternative medicine remains high. If these alternative medicines are well-researched and proven, why the failure of many alternative treatments to produce the desired healing results? The problems may not be in the remedies themselves, but in mistakes made in their use. I offer these five reasons for the failure of alternative medicines and treatments:
1.) Lack of a treatment plan. In medical practice, doctors are supposed to develop a treatment plan that serves a specific purpose. Many laymen tell me they have “a bunch of vitamins and herbs in my cupboard — I could start my own pharmacy.” And therein lies a problem. People purchase a number of disjointed vitamin supplements and herbs with no definitive treatment plan or strategy. Just because someone has twenty bottles of vitamins in their cupboard that are supposed to be good for arthritis is no certainty that these supplements will work together to effect the desired condition. “A bunch of stuff” doesn’t cut it, not with alternative medicines and not with drugs. Patients need to have a concerted plan for health improvement, regardless of the chosen form of treatment.
2.) Buying inferior products. The FDA could do something helpful when it comes to nutritional supplements and herbs: they could oversee quality control. As it stands today, the FDA’s only mission is to outlaw all nutritional supplements, not keep them legal and verify quality. There is no “watchdog” group or bureau that oversees quality control in the alternative medicine industry, and this is a second major problem. What the label on your supplement or herb bottle says and what you may actually have can be two very different things. Consume Reports proved this in spades a few years ago when they “spot tested” supplements from the health food store shelves. The bottom line: buyer beware. Some natural and alternative products are cheap for a good reason. Know your source or take your chances.
3.) Not taking products as recommended. This is a perpetual problem in medicine, whether we’re talking about alternative medicines or drugs. If studies show that taking 1,000mg of a substance produces positive results, and the patient takes 500mg per day with no results, the problem may not the remedy but the patient. If a medical study shows that glucosamine sulfate produces beneficial results in arthritis and the patient instead takes glucosamine hydrochloride, again, it may be the patient and not the remedy that is the problem.
4.) Getting medical advice from the dog-catcher (or the butcher, baker or candlestick maker). There is a reason that doctors are required to attend school for 8+ years after high school in order to be licensed as physicians. Diagnosis and treatment of the human body is intricate work. When patients get spurious medical information from their next door neighbor (who has no medical or science background), the dog-catcher, country-western singers (this really happened), or anyone else without medical training, it’s anyone’s guess as to the outcome. Most people wouldn’t dream of taking their Caddy or BMW to anything less than a trained professional for care, yet people rely on untrained friends, family and people they don’t even know for health advice. Go figure.
5.) Using unproven remedies. There are so many alternative medicines that have more scientific study than drugs that it is difficult for me to understand why people choose to use unproven natural remedies. Perhaps it has to do with clever marketing combined with laymen naiveté. Whatever the cause, there are in fact many bogus “natural cures” around, diluting the importance of the true and proven alternative treatments and delivering disappointing health results.
6.) Expecting alternative medicines to work like drugs. For the most part, drugs treat symptoms, not problems. No one suffers from depression because of a Prozac deficiency, or a headache because of a Tylenol deficiency. Drugs don’t attempt to correct the underlying causes of illness, they are designed to give symptom relief — and many do so quite quickly. As soon as the drug wears off, the problem remains.
Although they can be used like drugs, alternative medicines are best used to correct the underlying cause of illness. They may not necessarily give symptom relief in one or two doses, but when they finally do their work, the problem is corrected, not simply masked. Patients who take one or two doses of an alternative medicine and quit because they do not experience symptom relief misunderstand the corrective action and benefit of this form of treatment.
So, I totally agree with skeptics who question the positive effects of alternative medicines. There is indeed an arguable failure rate, but this is due in large part to how these “medicines” are used, not in the medicines themselves. When used correctly, alternative medicines are the preferable way to prevent and treat disease. Isn’t a true correction better than a band-aid?
In This Issue:
7 Simple Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk. Modern science knows a lot about what causes cancer. Here are seven proven measures you can take to greatly decrease your risk.
Six- Month Study Shows Low-Carb Diet is More Effective Than Low-Fat Diet for Weight Loss. Reported April 29 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Websites Worth Knowing. Both excellent AND foolish health websites abound on the Internet. Here are some of the top health and wellness websites you should know.
7 Simple Ways to Decrease Your Cancer Risk
Modern medical science knows a lot about the causes of cancer — more, in fact, than we know about its cure. “Carcinogens,” or factors that cause cancer, abound in the environment. Here are some of the leading causes of cancer that you can easily avoid to protect yourself from this disease:
- Environmental exposure: cancer-causing agents are all around us; some a man-made, some naturally occurring. Evaluate your surroundings for these known cancer-causing substances:
A.) Radon: a naturally occurring, odorless gas that comes out of the ground and can infiltrate a house through the basement. If you have a basement in your home, inexpensive tests will tell you if your level is above 4 picocuries per liter (the minimum safe level). Correction is as easy as ensuring adequate ventilation. Radon causes lung cancer.
B.) Asbestos: Homes built before 1980 may have asbestos insulation. Either leave it alone or have it removed by a qualified contractor. Asbestos causes lung cancer.
C.) Workplace hazards: If you work with chemicals, including construction materials (paints, thinners, etc.), be sure to wear protective masks, gloves and other clothing. If you are unsure of your exposure, find out what chemicals you are handling and take appropriate precautions.
- Water. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: water is a common source of carcinogens and other disease-causing contaminants. Check your water report yearly. If you use city-supplied water, ask for a water report that will be provided for free. If you use well water, have your water tested annually. Go to www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/sco.html to find a local lab for water testing. This service is inexpensive and well (!) worth the cost!
- Don’t smoke! (Or chew). Cigarette smoke is associated with a LONG list of diseases, including bladder, bowel, pancreatic, cervical and uterine cancer— oh yes, and lung cancer. (See page 26 of your Holistic Health Handbook for a complete list of problems caused by exposure to tobacco smoke. Even second-hand smoke increases these risks. Stop smoking and avoid breathing second-hand smoke.
- Limit sun exposure. A little sunshine is a good thing because sunlight causes natural production of vitamin D in the body. It also serves to normalize endocrine function. Too much, however, is highly associated with skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. Use a sunscreen of SPF15-30 when you are outdoors for more than 20 minutes in bright light, and use even on cloudy days and burning rays still filter through clouds. Do NOT let yourself burn and don’t aim for a “god/goddess-like” suntan!
- Maintain a normal weight. Statistics released April 2003 by the American Cancer Society estimate that at least 90,000 cancer deaths annually are attributable to overweight and obesity.
- Take nutritional supplements. Numerous nutrient deficiencies are associated with increased cancer risk, including vitamins A,C,D,E, beta carotene, B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, calcium, zinc, and selenium. Since it is difficult if not impossible to obtain optimal levels of these nutrients from food, be sure to take an optimal-potency multiple vitamin/mineral supplement daily. (I recommend our Wellness Club brand, Maxi Multi, because it contains all these essential nutrients in optimal doses. Please refer to your Holistic Health Handbook or visit us online at for more information.
- Eat “Super Foods.” Some foods are especially high in cancer-preventing nutrients. Be sure to include as many servings of these foods daily as you can muster! “Super Foods” include: cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts), garlic and onions, soy beans and soy products, flax seed (ground to a “meal”), salmon, shiitake mushrooms, lemon (especially “lemon zest,” the rind), and green tea.
Low-Carb Diet is More Effective Than Low-Fat Diet
A sixth-month study, reported in the April 29th in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed that women on a low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight than those on a low-fat diet even though calorie intake was similar. The low-carb group lost more weight and more body fat during the trial. No differences were noted in cholesterol, triglyceride, and insulin levels between the two groups. In other words, a low carb diet which was presumably higher in fat and cholesterol did NOT adversely affect cholesterol or other levels as some arm-chair critics have hypothesized it might.
Health Websites Worth Knowing.
Beware of many non-informative and downright incorrect health websites. Some sites appear to be government-sponsored or service-related and yet are either a waste of time, dangerous, or both. Here are some of the best health and wellness websites you should know:
www.webmd.com easy to look up disease facts, recent studies, recipes, charts, and recently published medical studies.
www.nhlisupport.com/bmi this site has an automatic calculator for Body Mass Index (BMI). Find out if you are at your healthiest weight. Also discusses the relationship of overweight to heart attack and stroke.
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi More than 9 million scientific studies are published here. This is the largest database of published medical research in the world.
www.healthfinder.gov the government’s fast entry to lots of useful information. Includes diseases, screening/diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.
www.drmyattswellnessclub.com Oh, come on! You knew I had to say it! We’re one of the most authoritative holistic health websites on the ‘Net.