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Common Nutrient Supplementation May Hold The Answers To Combating Alzheimer’s Disease

Summary:
In a new study, researchers reveal that a lifelong dietary regimen of choline holds the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

In a new study, Biodesign researchers reveal that a lifelong dietary regimen of choline holds the potential to prevent Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Choline is a safe and easy-to-administer nutrient that is naturally present in some foods and can be used as a dietary supplement. Lead author Ramon Velazquez and his colleagues at the ASU-Banner Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center (NDRC) looked into whether this nutrient could alleviate the effects of Alzheimer’s.

Earlier this year, Velazquez and colleagues found transgenerational benefits of AD-like symptoms in mice whose mothers were supplemented with choline. The latest work expands this line of research by exploring the effects of choline administered in adulthood rather than in fetal mice.

The study focuses on female mice bred to develop AD-like symptoms. Given the higher prevalence of AD in human females, the study sought to establish the findings in female mice. Results showed that when these mice are given high choline in their diet throughout life, they exhibit improvements in spatial memory, compared with those receiving a normal choline regimen.

Notably, findings published in July 2019 from a group in China found benefits of lifelong choline supplementation in male mice with AD-like symptoms. “Our results nicely replicate findings by this group in females,” Velazquez says.

Intriguingly, the beneficial effects of lifelong choline supplementation reduce the activation of microglia. Microglia are specialized cells that rid the brain of deleterious debris. Although they naturally occur to keep the brain healthy, if they are overactivated, brain inflammation and neuronal death, common symptoms of AD, will occur.

The observed reductions in disease-associated microglia, which are present in various neurodegenerative diseases, offer exciting new avenues of research and suggest ways of treating a broad range of disorders, including traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

The findings appear in the current issue of the journal Aging Cell.

Supplementing the brain with additional choline

Choline acts to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease in at least two ways, both of which are explored in the new study. First, choline blocks the production of amyloid-beta plaques. Amyloid-beta plaques are the hallmark pathology observed in Alzheimer’s disease.

Secondly, choline supplementation reduces the activation of microglia. Over-activation of microglia causes brain inflammation and can eventually lead to neuronal death, thereby compromising cognitive function. Choline supplementation reduces the activation of microglia, offering further protection from the ravages of AD.

Mechanistically, the reductions in microglia activation are driven by alteration of two key receptors, the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine and Sigma-1 receptor. A new report this year found that choline can act as an agonist for Sigma-1 receptors. These results confirm that lifelong choline supplementation can alter the expression of the Sigma-1 receptor, which thereby attenuates microglia activation. (An agonist is a substance that activates a given receptor.)

The devastating decline

In the scientific community, it is well understood that Alzheimer’s disease causes harm to the brain long before clinical symptoms are made evident. And once these symptoms are identified, it is too late — the disease has become irreversible. In addition to causing disorientation and memory loss, the disease causes loss of motor control in those who are afflicted.

Approximately 6 million individuals are living with AD in the U.S. currently, and the disease is projected to afflict 14 million Americans in the next four decades. Economically, the costs associated with managing Alzheimer’s are expected to exceed $20 trillion in the same time span.

To develop more effective treatments, we first need to understand the disease itself, which is one of the tallest orders facing modern medicine today.

Women are at a particular increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. This study shows that the simple addition of choline in the diet throughout life may reduce AD pathology in those most affected by the disease. Additionally, these results have implications for other neurodegenerative afflictions where activated microglia are rampant says Velazquez.

Guidelines for dietary choline

Prior research concerning Alzheimer’s has indicated that there is no one factor at play. Rather, a multitude of factors that are believed to contribute to the development of the disease, including genetics, age and lifestyle. Additionally, studies suggest that diet can have a significant effect in increasing or lowering the risk of cognitive decline.

A recent report suggested that plant-based diets may be determinantal due to the lack of important nutrients, including choline. Another recent report found that the increase in cases of dementia in the United Kingdom may be associated with a lack of recommendations for choline in the diet throughout life. In fact, as of August 2019, AD and other forms of dementia are now the leading cause of death in England and Wales.

The current established adequate intake level of choline for adult women (>19yrs of age) is 425mg/day, and 550mg/day for adult men. A converging line of evidence indicates that even the current recommended daily intake (RDI) may not be optimal for a proper aging process, especially in women. This is relevant, given the higher incidence of AD seen in women. This suggests that additional choline in diet may be beneficial in preventing neuropathological changes associated with the aging brain.

The tolerable upper limit (TUL) of choline unlikely to cause side effects for adult females and males (>19yrs of age) is 3500mg/day, which is 8.24 times higher than the 425mg/day recommendation for females and 6.36 times higher than the 550mg/day recommendation for males. “Our choline supplemented diet regimen was only 4.5 times the RDI, which is well below the TUL and makes this a safe strategy,” Velazquez says.

Choline can be found in various foods. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), high levels of choline are found in chicken liver (3oz; 247mg), eggs (1 large egg with yolk;147mg), beef grass-fed steak (3oz; 55mg), wheat germ (1oz toast; 51mg), milk (8oz; 38mg), and Brussel sprouts (1/2 cup; 32mg). Additionally, vitamin supplements containing choline, for example choline bitartrate and choline chloride, are widely available at affordable costs. The vitamin supplements containing choline are particularly relevant for those who are on plant-based diets.

Effects of choline

All plant and animal cells require choline to maintain their structural integrity. It has long been recognized that choline is particularly important for brain function.

The human body uses choline to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for functioning memory, muscle control and mood. Choline also is used to build cell membranes and plays a vital role in regulating gene expression. Additionally, a new report in Jan 2019 found that choline acts as an agonist for Sigma-1 receptors, which are implicated in AD pathogenesis.

In this study, researchers used a water maze to determine whether the mice with AD-like symptoms that received lifelong supplemental choline exhibited improvements in spatial memory. It was found that this was indeed the case, and subsequent examination of mouse tissue extracted from the hippocampus, a brain region known to play a central role in memory formation, confirmed changes in toxic amyloid-beta and reductions in microglia activation, which reduces brain inflammation.

Due to alterations of key microglia receptors induced by choline, the improvements in behavior may be attributed to reduced microglia activation. “We found that lifelong choline supplementation altered the alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine and Sigma-1 receptor, which may have resulted in the reduction of diseased associated activated microglia,” Velazquez said. These receptors regulate CNS immune response and their dysregulation contributes to AD pathogenesis.

The study’s significance establishes beneficial effects of nutrient supplementation in females throughout life. “Our work nicely complements recent work showing benefits in male AD-mice on a lifelong choline supplementation regimen.” “No one has shown lifelong benefits of choline supplementation in female AD-mice.” “That’s what is novel about our work.”

Choline is an attractive candidate for prevention of AD as it is considered a very safe alternative, compared with many pharmaceuticals. “At 4.5 times the RDI (recommended daily intake), we are well under the tolerable upper limit, making this a safe preventive therapeutic strategy.”

Although the results improve the understanding of the disease, the authors suggest that clinical trials will be necessary to confirm whether choline can be used as a viable treatment in the future.

Source:
Materials provided by Arizona State University. Original written by Richard Harth. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:
Ramon Velazquez, Eric Ferreira, Sara Knowles, Chaya Fux, Alexis Rodin, Wendy Winslow, Salvatore Oddo. Lifelong choline supplementation ameliorates Alzheimer’s disease pathology and associated cognitive deficits by attenuating microglia activation. Aging Cell, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/acel.13037

ScienceDaily,         27 September 2019. 

 

The Best Supplements

 

These Are The Supplements Health Experts Actually Use

Rule number one: ignore hype.

Taking supplements you don’t need can be dangerous.

Flick through social media and you’ll come across countless supplements that people swear by — turmeric pills, maca pills, goji berry juice powder, spirulina, kale powder — you name it.

With so many supplements out there which are simply gimmicks, it’s tricky knowing the good ones from the useless ones.

Well, we asked four health experts which supplements they actually use and recommend, and importantly, in what circumstance you truly require them.

According to Alexandra Parker and Anna Debenham, accredited practising dietitians from The Biting Truth, the first and best way to get nutrients is from your food.

“As dietitians who focus on wholefoods for optimal nutrition and wellbeing, vitamins and micronutrient supplementation are not generally our initial recommendation,” Parker told The Huffington Post Australia.
Get your nutrients from whole foods first, then supplement if required.
“Food first, always. Food provides vitamins in the most biologically available form, in the right quantities and combined with other complementary nutrients.”

“We’re big believers that if you’re otherwise healthy, a healthy eating pattern should never be replaced by a supplement. More and more often we’re seeing people who are eating a poor diet, drinking and smoking, and believe everything will be okay if they take a supplement.”

Pharmacist and personal trainer Holly Vogt, The Fit Pharmacist, agrees.

“Vitamin supplements should not be used as a substitute for a balanced diet and if you do take them, make sure you do not exceed your daily requirement. Choosing a good health supplement should be an informed and wise decision,” Vogt said.

Food first, always. Food provides vitamins in the most biologically available form, in the right quantities and combined with other complementary nutrients.

Although supplements may be marketed as ‘magic bullets’, unfortunately they don’t provide equal nutrients to those found in foods, nor do they counteract a poor diet.

“A piece of fresh fruit, for example, contains antioxidants, phytochemicals, fibre and many other nutrients that do not make it into the vitamin jar but play a huge role in our health,” Debenham told HuffPost Australia.

“Saying that, there is a time and a place for supplements and there’s good evidence to suggest that if a vitamin or mineral supplement replaces a deficiency, it will have beneficial outcomes. But aside from a few specific groups of people and situations, most people who eat a balanced diet have no need for supplementation.”

Who needs supplementation?

The main instances and stages of life where people may need to genuinely supplement is when food alone is simply not enough to meet an individual’s nutrient needs, and supplementation becomes integral to that person’s wellbeing. Some examples include:

  • Those trying to conceive and pregnant women (one month prior to conception and three months after) — folate has been shown to reduce risk of neural tube defects.
  • People on a strict vegan or vegetarian diet, and elderly people who may be eating poorly and/or absorbing less from their food — iron, and vitamin B12 as this is found almost exclusively in animal products.
  • People with an allergy or intolerance such as lactose intolerance — calcium
  • Autoimmune disease e.g. Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis or coeliac disease — supplementation may be required at some stage to correct any nutrient deficiencies.
  • People who did not receive enough sunlight (e.g. bed bound, elderly, covered/veiled women and men) — vitamin D
  • Following a course of antibiotics — probiotics may be beneficial in restoring gut health after a round of antibiotic treatment.
  • People with specific hormonal imbalances such as PCOS.
  • – Parker and Debenham.

“It is important to note that we all have specific nutritional requirements and health concerns at different stages of life, and it is ideal to choose supplements that target those specific needs,” Vogt said.

So, how do you tell when you need to supplement?

“If you are fatigued, training hard, have a restricted diet or limited food options available, say, when you are travelling, this is a good time for supps,” celebrity trainer Tegan Haining said.

“When it comes to supplements, it’s often difficult to decipher which protein powder, omega 3 oil or multivitamin to trust. It’s very important to understand that supplements should not be a free-for-all,” Parker explained.

These Are The Supplements Health Experts Actually Recommend

“It’s best to avoid going to the supermarket or searching online when you don’t know what you’re looking for or if you’re self-diagnosing.

“Blood tests can be useful, however are not always necessary. We highly recommend speaking to your doctor or accredited practising dietitian to determine your need for supplementation.”

On top of this, not all supplements are required to be taken long term and dosages will vary depending on your specific needs.

“Some supplements have adverse effects, like toxicity or interference with nutrient absorption when taken in excess. For example, vitamin A, B or zinc,” Parker said.

A few key things to consider when purchasing supplements:

  • Start out with the low dosage recommendation first and increase as required.
  • Look for supplements without added fillers, colours or unnecessary ingredients.
  • Think of supplementation as an investment to your health and always choose quality. Try not to choose a product for its logo, price or marketing.
  • Ensure you continue to eat real food.

– Parker and Debenham.

Here are five supplements health experts actually use.

1. Fish oil

“One of the key nutrients many of us don’t get enough of is long chain omega 3 fats (which are found naturally in oily fish, for example, salmon),” Debenham told HuffPost Australia.
“There is solid evidence to show that omega 3 fatty acids are necessary for a healthy heart and brain, and play a role in reducing inflammation throughout the body.”

Fish oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

“We cannot produce these in our bodies so it is essential that we receive them through our diet or supplementation,” Vogt said. “Ensure that you choose a supplement with a high concentration of EPA and DHA, and one that has purity and sustainability certifications.”
“I also like cod liver oil tablets, which are high in Vitamin D and A,” Haining added.

Flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts and chia seeds are other good sources of omega 3s.

2. Probiotics
Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that line our digestive tracts and support our body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight infection.

“I always take a probiotic to ensure my gut health,” Haining said.
“There is mounting scientific evidence to show that the health of our gut directly affects our immune system. Taking a daily probiotic can be a simple way to help keep your gut healthy and your immune system strong,” Parker said.

“Whether you take it as a capsule, drink or powder, the choice is yours. If you’ve taken a course of antibiotics, supplementing with probiotics will also be beneficial to your gut.”

It’s important to note that there are different types of strains of probiotics, Vogt explained.

“Certain strains of probiotics support immunity, others digestion, and some even help to regulate weight and balance hormones,” Vogt said.

Kombucha, yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh all contain probiotics.

3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for strong bones, muscular and overall health.

“Vitamin D is a fat soluble nutrient and is one of the 24 micronutrients essential for human survival. Due to the increasing rates of vitamin D deficiency and the implications, supplementation is encouraged if optimal levels are not present in the body,” Vogt said.

“Most of us probably get enough vitamin D from the sun during the summer months (you only need about 15-20 mins of exposure). However, during winter, if you tend to spend a lot of time indoors, some of us may benefit from a vitamin D supplement,” Parker added.

4. Magnesium
Magnesium is an important nutrient which plays a role in hundreds of enzymatic bodily reactions, including metabolising food, synthesis of fatty acids and proteins, and transmission of nerve impulses.

“Magnesium is also great to take in the evening for a better night’s sleep and managing stress levels,” Haining said.

5. Protein
While most people can obtain adequate protein through their diet (it’s found in both plant-based foods and meat), select population groups can benefit from protein supplementation — namely athletes or those who have an intense training regime.

“When it comes to muscle gain and fat loss, protein is the king of nutrients. Protein has been proven to help weight loss by boosting metabolism and reducing hunger and appetite,” Vogt said.

“Whey protein is ideal, however if you have issues with lactose intolerance, then plant-based proteins are still highly effective.”

 

By Juliette Steen          10/01/2017
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The Dangers Of Dietary And Nutritional Supplements Investigated

What you don’t know about these 12 ingredients could hurt you

We North Americans do love our dietary supplements. More than half of the adult population have taken them to stay healthy, lose weight, gain an edge in sports or in the bedroom, and avoid using prescription drugs. In 2009, we spent $26.7 billion on them, according to the Nutrition Business Journal, a trade publication.

What consumers might not realize, though, is that supplement manufacturers routinely, and legally, sell their products without first having to demonstrate that they are safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration has not made full use of even the meager authority granted it by the industry-friendly 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

As a result, the supplement marketplace is not as safe as it should be.

  • We have identified a dozen supplement ingredients that we think consumers should avoid because of health risks, including cardiovascular, liver, and kidney problems. We found products with those ingredients readily available in stores and online.
  • Because of inadequate quality control and inspection, supplements contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, or prescription drugs have been sold to unsuspecting consumers. And FDA rules covering manufacturing quality don’t apply to the companies that supply herbs, vitamins, and other raw ingredients.
  • China, which has repeatedly been caught exporting contaminated products, is a major supplier of raw supplement ingredients. The FDA has yet to inspect a single factory there.

The lack of oversight leaves consumers like John Coolidge, 55, of Signal Mountain, Tenn., vulnerable. He started taking a supplement called Total Body Formula to improve his general health. But instead, he says, beginning in February 2008, he experienced one symptom after another: diarrhea, joint pain, hair loss, lung problems, and fingernails and toenails that fell off. “It just tore me up,” he said.

Eventually, hundreds of other reports of adverse reactions to the product came to the attention of the FDA, which inspected the manufacturer’s facilities and tested the contents of the products. Most of the samples contained more than 200 times the labeled amount of selenium and up to 17 times the recommended intake of chromium, according to the FDA.

In March 2008 the distributor voluntarily recalled the products involved. Coolidge is suing multiple companies for compensatory damages; they have denied the claims in court papers. His nails and hair have grown back, but he said he still suffers from serious breathing problems.

The dirty dozen

Working with experts from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent research group, we identified a group of ingredients (out of nearly 1,100 in the database) linked to serious adverse events by clinical research or case reports. To come up with our dozen finalists, we also considered factors such as whether the ingredients were effective for their purported uses and how readily available they were to consumers. We then shopped for them online and in stores near our Yonkers, N.Y., headquarters and easily found all of them for sale in June 2010.

The dozen are aconite, bitter orange, chaparral, colloidal silver, coltsfoot, comfrey, country mallow, germanium, greater celandine, kava, lobelia, and yohimbe. The FDA has warned about at least eight of them, some as long ago as 1993.

Why are they still for sale? Two national retailers we contacted about specific supplements said they carried them because the FDA has not banned them. The agency has “the authority to immediately remove them from the market, and we would follow the FDA recommendation,” said a spokeswoman for the Vitamin Shoppe chain.

Most of the products we bought had warning labels, but not all did. A bottle of silver we purchased was labeled “perfectly safe,” with an asterisked note that said the FDA had not evaluated the claim. In fact, the FDA issued a consumer advisory about silver (including colloidal silver) in 2009, with good reason: Sold for its supposed immune system “support,” it can permanently turn skin bluish-gray.

Janis Dowd, 56, of Bartlesville, Okla., says she started taking colloidal silver in 2000 after reading online that it would keep her Lyme disease from returning. She says her skin changed color so gradually that she didn’t notice, but others did. “They kept saying, ‘You look a little blue.'”

Laser treatments have erased almost all the discoloration from Dowd’s face and neck, but she said it’s not feasible to treat the rest of her body.

Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), it is difficult for the FDA to put together strong enough evidence to order products off the market. To date, it has banned only one ingredient, ephedrine alkaloids. That effort dragged on for a decade, during which ephedra weight-loss products were implicated in thousands of adverse events, including deaths. Instead of attempting any more outright bans, the agency issued warnings, detained imported products, and asked companies to recall products it considered unsafe.

No scientific backup required

Of the more than 54,000 dietary supplement products in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, only about a third have some level of safety and effectiveness that is supported by scientific evidence, according to a review by NMCD experts. And close to 12 percent have been linked to safety concerns or problems with product quality.

Consider the path to market of Go Away Gray, a product that is claimed to “help stop your hair from turning gray.” Cathy Beggan, president of the supplement’s maker, Rise-N-Shine, based in New Jersey, said that her company has not had to provide product information to the FDA. Nor did it conduct any clinical trials of the supplement, which includes a natural enzyme called catalase, before putting it on sale. Beggan pointed us to a study by European researchers published in the July 2009 issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal. The study found that gray hair had lower-than-normal levels of catalase but did not prove that taking that enzyme by mouth would stop hair from turning gray. “We are working on getting an actual clinical trial going because the results have been so amazing, and it would just be good to have some concrete data behind it,” Beggan said.

Consumers in the dark about dangers

In March 2008, Marques Parke, 29, a plumber from Janesville, Wis., took a weight-loss supplement called Hydroxycut because he wanted to lose 5 pounds, he said. Within weeks he was stricken with acute hepatitis and jaundice. He is suing the manufacturer and others. An attorney representing the defendants said they intended to contest the claims.

The FDA had received its first adverse-event report about Hydroxycut in 2002, long before Parke started taking it. In May 2009, by which point Parke’s liver was already damaged, the agency warned consumers to stop using Hydroxycut, and the manufacturer, Iovate Health Sciences, voluntarily recalled some of its products, its attorney said.

The company had frequently reformulated the product, according to the FDA, which said it didn’t know which ingredients produced the liver toxicity. The FDA said that Hydroxycut presented “a severe, potentially life-threatening hazard to some users” and had been linked to two reported deaths. Hydroxycut has been reformulated and is on the market again. An FDA representative told us the agency considers the new version acceptable.

Amazingly, for the first 13 years after the enactment of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), supplement makers didn’t have to inform the FDA if they received reports of serious adverse events, an obligation that’s required for prescription drugs. A law that took effect in December 2007 closed that loophole, and in 2008 and 2009 the FDA said it received 1,359 reports of serious adverse effects from manufacturers and 602 from consumers and health professionals. But even with the new law, consumers can’t easily find out which products are involved because the FDA doesn’t routinely make those reports available to the public.

Exaggerated claims

It’s against the law for companies to claim that any supplement can prevent, treat, or cure any disease except some nutrient-deficiency conditions. But in the past two years, the Federal Trade Commission has filed or settled 30 cases against supplement marketers, charging that they made exactly those kinds of claims. It reached a $7.5 million settlement with the QVC home-shopping channel. And the FDA has recently taken legal action against a few supplement manufacturers that claimed their products could prevent or treat a disease.

Undercover investigators from the Government Accountability Office, posing as elderly consumers, caught salespeople on tape dispensing potentially harmful medical advice. In one case, a salesperson told an investigator that a garlic supplement could be taken in lieu of high blood pressure medicine.

What you can do

The FDA and Congress have recently taken some action to strengthen the agency’s oversight, such as passing a law requiring that companies report serious adverse events. But much more needs to be done to keep consumers safe. In the meantime, here are steps you can take to make sure the supplements you use are safe and beneficial.

Consult your doctor or pharmacist. Even helpful products can be harmful in some situations, such as when you’re pregnant or nursing, have a chronic disease, or are about to have elective surgery. And some supplements might be fine on their own but interact with certain prescription drugs. Your doctor or pharmacist can steer you away from such problems only if they know what supplements you’re taking or plan to take.

Beware of these categories. Supplements for weight loss, sexual enhancement, and bodybuilding have been problematic, the FDA said, because some contain steroids and prescription drugs. Lose weight through diet and exercise, get fit through training, and consult your doctor if you need help in the bedroom.

Look for the “USP Verified” mark. It indicates that the supplement manufacturer has voluntarily asked U.S. Pharmacopeia, a trusted nonprofit, private standards-setting authority, to verify the quality, purity, and potency of its raw ingredients or finished products. USP maintains a list of verified products on its website.

Don’t assume more is better. It’s possible to overdose even on beneficial vitamins and minerals. Avoid any product that is claimed to contain “megadoses.”

Report problems. Let your doctor know if you experience any symptoms after you start taking a supplement. And if you end up with a serious side effect, ask your doctor or pharmacist to report it to the FDA, or do it yourself at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch or by calling 800-332-1088.

Research in the right places. Be skeptical about claims made for supplements in ads, on TV, and by sales staff. If a claim sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Instead, try these sources:

  • The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.
  • The FDA, for alerts, advisories, and other actions.
  • Consumer Reports Health’s dietary supplements and natural health products information.

Your ‘all natural’ supplement might contain drugs

Consumers might be attracted to dietary supplements because they’re “all natural” and don’t contain the synthetic chemicals found in prescription drugs. But they might be getting fooled.

In the past two years, according to the Food and Drug Administration, manufacturers have voluntarily recalled more than 80 bodybuilding supplements that contained synthetic steroids or steroid-like substances, 50 sexual-enhancement products that contained sildenafil (Viagra) or other erectile-dysfunction drugs, and 40 weight-loss supplements containing sibutramine (Meridia) and other drugs.

Unwitting purchasers

“We’re talking about very serious risks and injuries that can happen to people—and often young people—who do not understand that they’re taking prescription drugs and steroids,” Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, told the U.S. Senate’s special committee on aging in May 2010.

In 2005, eager to make the most of his baseball scholarship at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., Jareem Gunter started taking a supplement he found online that promised to improve his athletic performance and claimed to be “legal,” he recalls. But he soon began feeling fatigued, and when the whites of his eyes turned yellow, he said, he went to the hospital. “I woke up in the morning and the doctor was sitting by my bedside,” Gunter said. “He told me, ‘Your liver’s failed. You only had a couple of days left to live if you hadn’t come in.'” The supplement turned out to contain a synthetic steroid, which cost Gunter his scholarship, he claimed in a lawsuit that was settled before the trial date, according to public court documents. He’s now 27 and living in Oakland, Calif. His health is much improved and he is working for a charitable organization and playing baseball in his hometown league.

Use with caution

Hazardous ingredients have been known to turn up in dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, bodybuilding, and sexual enhancement. And in light of the potentially serious health risks—including dangerous changes in blood pressure, serious liver injury, kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke—we think consumers should be extremely cautious with those categories of products or avoid them.

12 supplements you should avoid

These supplement ingredients are among those linked by clinical research or case reports to serious side effects. We worked with the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent research group that evaluates the safety and effectiveness of nutritional supplements, to develop this list. We think it’s wise to avoid all the ingredients on it. Unless otherwise noted, there’s insufficient evidence to rate their effectiveness for their purported uses. Dangers listed are not meant to be all-inclusive.

Name
(also known as)
Purported uses Possible dangers Comments
ACONITE
(aconiti tuber, aconitum, radix aconiti)
Inflammation, joint pain, wounds, gout. Toxicity, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, respiratory-system paralysis, heart-rhythm disorders, death. Unsafe. Aconite is the most common cause of severe herbal poisoning in Hong Kong.
BITTER ORANGE
(aurantii fructus, Citrus aurantium, zhi shi)
Weight loss, nasal congestion, allergies. Fainting, heart-rhythm disorders, heart attack, stroke, death. Possibly unsafe. Contains synephrine, which is similar to ephedrine, banned by the FDA in 2004. Risks might be higher when taken with herbs that contain caffeine.
CHAPARRAL
(creosote bush, Larrea divaricata, larreastat)
Colds, weight loss, infections, inflammation, cancer, detoxification. Liver damage, kidney problems. Likely unsafe. The FDA advises people not to take chaparral.
COLLOIDAL SILVER
(ionic silver, native silver, Silver in suspending agent)
Fungal and other infections, Lyme disease, rosacea, psoriasis, food poisoning, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS. Bluish skin, mucous membrane discoloration, neurological problems, kidney damage. Likely unsafe. The FDA advised consumers about the risk of discoloration on Oct. 6, 2009.
COLTSFOOT
(coughwort, farfarae folium leaf, foalswort)
Cough, sore throat, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma. Liver damage, cancer. Likely unsafe.
COMFREY
(blackwort, common comfrey, slippery root)
Cough, heavy menstrual periods, chest pain, cancer. Liver damage, cancer. Likely unsafe. The FDA advised manufacturers to remove comfrey products from the market in July 2001.
COUNTRY MALLOW
(heartleaf, Sida cordifolia, silky white mallow)
Nasal congestion, allergies, asthma, weight loss, bronchitis. Heart attack, heart arrhythmia, stroke, death. Likely unsafe. Possible dangers linked with its ephedrine alkaloids banned by the FDA in 2004.
GERMANIUM
(Ge, Ge-132, germanium-132)
Pain, infections, glaucoma, liver problems, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, cancer. Kidney damage, death. Likely unsafe. The FDA warned in 1993 that it was linked to serious adverse events.
GREATER CELANDINE
(celandine, chelidonii herba, Chelidonium majus)
Upset stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, liver disorders, detoxification, cancer. Liver damage. Possibly unsafe.
KAVA
(awa, Piper methysticum, kava-kava)
Anxiety (possibly effective). Liver damage. Possibly unsafe. The FDA issued a warning to consumers in March 2002. Banned in Germany, Canada, and Switzerland.
LOBELIA
(asthma weed, Lobelia inflata, pukeweed, vomit wort)
Coughing, bronchitis, asthma, smoking cessation (possibly ineffective). Toxicity; overdose can cause fast heartbeat, very low blood pressure, coma, possibly death. Likely unsafe. The FDA warned in 1993 that it was linked to serious adverse events.
YOHIMBE
(yohimbine, Corynanthe yohimbi, Corynanthe johimbi)
Aphrodisiac, chest pain, diabetic complications, depression; erectile dysfunction (possibly effective). Usual doses can cause high blood pressure, rapid heart rate; high doses can cause severe low blood pressure, heart problems, death. Possibly unsafe for use without medical supervision because it contains a prescription drug, yohimbine. The FDA warned in 1993 that reports of serious adverse events were under investigation.

Clarification: Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Professional Version, June 2010 

11 supplements to consider

These popular supplements, listed in alphabetical order, have been shown to likely be safe for most people and possibly or likely to be effective in appropriate doses for certain conditions. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting any supplement. Most supplements haven’t been studied in pregnant or nursing women. The list of interactions and side effects is not all-inclusive.

Name
(also known as)
Efficacy for selected uses Selected potential side effects Selected drug interactions
CALCIUM
(calcium carbonate, calcium citrate, calcium gluconate)
Likely effective in combination with vitamin D in preventing and treating bone loss and osteoporosis. Taken daily, appears to reduce some PMS symptoms. Belching, gas. Calcium can decrease the effectiveness of certain antibiotics, osteoporosis drugs, and thyroid drugs.
CRANBERRY
(American cranberry, large cranberry, cranberry extract)
Possibly effective for preventing recurrent urinary-tract infections. Large amounts can cause stomach upset, diarrhea. Might increase the effects of the blood thinner warfarin.
FISH OIL
(EPA/DHA, omega-3 fatty acids, PUFA)
Effective for reducing triglyceride levels. Likely effective for decreasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and progression of hardening of the arteries in people with existing heart disease. Fishy aftertaste, upset stomach, nausea, loose stools. High doses can increase levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in some people or increase the chance of bleeding. Might increase the effect of blood-thinning drugs and high blood pressure medications.
GLUCOSAMINE SULFATE
(G6S, glucosamine sulfate 2KCl, glucosamine sulfate-potassium chloride)
Likely effective treatment for reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Might also help slow progression of osteoarthritis. Nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, headache. Might increase the blood-thinning effect of warfarin and cause bruising and bleeding.
LACTASE
(beta-galactosidase)
Likely effective for reducing gastrointestinal symptoms in lactoseintolerant people when used before consuming lactose or when added to milk. No reported side effects. None known.
LACTOBACILLUS
(acidophilus, acidophilus lactobacillus, probiotics)
Possibly effective for preventing diarrhea while taking antibiotics. Gas. People with poor immune function should check with their doctor first. Might cause infection in people taking immunosuppressant drugs.
PSYLLIUM
(blond plantago, blonde psyllium, plantago, isabgola)
Effective as a bulk laxative for reducing constipation or softening stools. Likely effective for lowering cholesterol in people with mild to moderately high cholesterol. Gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea. Some people can have a serious allergic response that requires immediate medical attention. Might decrease the effectiveness of carbamazepine, an antiseizure drug; digoxin, a heart drug; and lithium, for bipolar disorder. Might cause low blood sugar when taken with some diabetes drugs.
PYGEUM
(African plum tree, African prune, Prunus africana)
Likely effective for reducing symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Nausea, abdominal pain. None known.
SAMe
(ademetionine, adenosylmethionine, S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine, sammy)
Likely effective in reducing symptoms of major depression, reducing pain, and improving functioning in people with osteoarthritis. GI symptoms, dry mouth, headache, mild insomnia, anorexia, sweating, dizziness, and nervousness, especially at higher doses. It can make some people with depression feel anxious. Might lead to a toxic reaction when taken with the cough suppressant dextromethorphan, certain antidepressants, or narcotic pain relievers. Might worsen symptoms when taken with the Parkinson’s drug levodopa.
ST. JOHN’S WORT
(Hypericum perforatum, Saynt Johannes Wort, SJW)
Likely effective for improving symptoms of some forms of depression. Insomnia, vivid dreams, anxiety, dizziness, headache, skin rash, and tingling. It can cause skin to become extra-sensitive to the sun. Can decrease the effectiveness of a wide range of drugs, including birth-control pills, heart medications, HIV/AIDS drugs, and warfarin. Might also increase the effects or side effects of certain antidepressants.
VITAMIN D
(Cholecalciferol, vitamin D3, ergocalciferol, vitamin D2)
Likely effective when taken with calcium to help prevent osteoporosis. Might help reduce falls in people with vitamin D deficiency and bone loss in people taking corticosteroids. Extremely large amounts might cause weakness, fatigue, headache, and nausea, though side effects are rare. Might reduce the effectiveness of some medications, such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), other heart medications, birth-control pills, HIV/AIDS drugs.

Clarification: Source: Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, Professional Version, June 2010 

September 2010                 source: www.consumerreports.org


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This Mineral Fights Depression — And It Is Cheaper And Safer Than Drugs

The supplement starts to take effect after only two weeks, the researchers found.

Over-the-counter magnesium is a safe and effective way to treat mild to moderate depression, a new study suggests.

The mineral magnesium has already been linked to lower inflammation and improvements in depression.

Now a new randomised controlled trial has tested the effects of magnesium chloride supplements compared with no treatment.

For the research, half of 126 people with mild to moderate depression were given 248 mg of magnesium chloride per day for six weeks.

After just two weeks, some positive effects of the supplement could be seen.

Those taking magnesium had clinically significant improvements over the six weeks.

People did not have any problems taking magnesium and there were no differences based on sex, age, whether people were also taking antidepressants, or other factors.

More than half of the people in the study said they would continue to take magnesium to help them with their depression.

Ms Emily Tarleton, the study’s first author, said:

“This is the first randomized clinical trial looking at the effect of magnesium supplementation on symptoms of depression in U.S. adults.
The results are very encouraging, given the great need for additional treatment options for depression, and our finding that magnesium supplementation provides a safe, fast and inexpensive approach to controlling depressive symptoms.”

Ms Tarleton says that the next stage is to move on to larger populations to see if the results can be replicated.

While many more studies have investigated antidepressant medications, there is also much evidence of their side-effects.

A survey of people taking antidepressants has found higher than expected levels of emotional numbness, sexual problems and even suicidal thoughts associated with the medication.

Of the 20 adverse effects to antidepressants that people were questioned about:

  • 62% said they had ‘sexual difficulties’,
  • 52% said they ‘didn’t feel like themselves’,
  • 42% noticed a ‘reduction in positive feelings’,
  • 39% found themselves ‘caring less about others’,
  • and 55% reported ‘withdrawal effects’.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE (Tarleton et al., 2017).

 
JULY 12, 2017
source: PsyBlog


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7 Essential Vitamins You Need After Age 40

Think of vitamins and nutrients as an army that will fight off age-related ailments. And the best way to build this army is by eating a healthy, well-rounded diet, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition programs at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. While it’s always important to eat well, it becomes especially essential around age 40 because that’s when the rules start to change, she says.

“Your body probably isn’t working the same way at 40-plus as it was at 20,” she says. Muscle mass starts to deteriorate, we’re much more likely to put on weight, menopause may (or may soon) start, and risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes begins to increase—which means your battle plan needs to start looking a little different.

One solution is getting enough of the right vitamins and nutrients, which is possible through healthy eating—and food sources are typically (but not always) a better bet than supplements because they’re better absorbed, Kirkpatrick says. Below, the key nutrients to look out for, and the best ways to get them.

Vitamin B12

Once you turn 40 (and definitely after turning 50), vitamin B12 should be on your radar. It’s essential for normal blood and brain function, Kirkpatrick says. And while children and younger adults are likely to get the B12 they need from food—it’s in meat and animal products including chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs—B12 is more poorly absorbed as the body ages, typically starting around 50 because that’s when stomach acid levels deplete. (Check out The Power Nutrient Solution, the first-ever plan that tackles the root cause of virtually every major ailment and health condition.)

Any time after 40 and before turning 50 is a good time to start getting B12 from a supplement or multivitamin. Aim for 2.4 mg per day (the current recommended dietary allowance), though there’s no need to worry about taking too much, Kirkpatrick adds. Because it’s a water-soluble vitamin, you pee out what you don’t need.

Calcium

It’s hard to know what to think about calcium: A recent analysis of 59 studies designed to measure the role it plays in preventing fractures for men and women older than 50 found that increasing calcium intake—either from foods or supplements—was not likely to significantly reduce fracture risk. And other research has linked calcium supplements to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac death for postmenopausal women.

But even though our bones absorb most of the calcium they need earlier in life (typically before age 30), the nutrient does play a role in maintaining bone health later in life, too, according to Kirkpatrick. The nutrient is needed for other basic body functions like muscle contraction, nerve and heart functioning, and other biochemical reactions—and if you’re not getting enough calcium from your diet, the body steals calcium from your bones (and weakens them).

The bottom line is that you do need calcium at 40 and beyond, but these latest findings tell us you don’t need to go overboard, because more calcium does not necessarily mean more benefit, and may even be harmful to heart health, she says. Most women can get the calcium they need—1000 mg a day for women 40 to 50, and 1200 mg for women older than 50—if they eat a well-rounded diet with calcium-rich foods like dairy, tofu, sardines, broccoli, almond, and spinach.

Vitamin D

D is a biggie, Kirkpatrick says—and especially after 40, because it helps protect against the age-related changes that start to kick in. Deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and breast and colorectal cancers—all of which are more likely to crop up the older you get. Plus, D is essential for absorption of calcium in the body, she says.
Dietary sources include fish and fortified dairy, grains, and cereals, but generally the D you get from food is poorly absorbed. The sun is the best source of the vitamin, but not everyone lives close enough to the equator to be exposed to the strong rays that will actual deliver the D you need, Kirkpatrick explains.

“If you’re living anywhere above Georgia, you’re probably not getting enough vitamin D from the sun,”she says. Plus you don’t absorb it with sunscreen on—and you definitely don’t want to be hanging out in the sun without sunscreen (despite any vitamin D benefits). She recommends a D3 supplement (D3 being the type of vitamin D closest to what you would get from the sun). You should be getting at least 600 IU per day (and 800 IU per day after 50) according to current National Institutes of Health recommendations. Though the recommendations note the tolerable upper limit (i.e. the amount that will not cause harm) is as much as 4,000 IU per day.

suppliments

Magnesium

A key function of magnesium is to help regulate blood pressure, which is especially important for women 40-plus, who are already at risk of high blood due to normal aging. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and inflammation, Kirkpatrick adds. Plus, it helps the body absorb calcium and plays a role in muscle, nerve, and heart function, as well as blood glucose control.

Your doc can run your magnesium levels if you think you might be deficient (and would need a supplement). But if you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, you’re likely to get all the magnesium you need (320 mg a day for women 40 and up) from food, Kirkpatrick says—it’s found in dark leafy greens, beans, soy, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Too much magnesium does not necessarily pose health risks, but may cause diarrhea, nausea, or cramping.

Potassium

Potassium plays a key role in keeping blood pressure in check, no matter your age, Kirkpatrick says. And in post-menopausal women, research has linked higher intake of potassium from food to decreased risk of stroke—though “high” intake was considered approximately 3.1 g, which is still lower than the recommended 4.7 g per day. And the benefits were seen in those getting as little as 2 g per day, says study author Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, PhD, professor in the department of epidemiology & population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Potassium is definitely a nutrient you want to be getting enough of, but unless your MD prescribes it for another medical condition, Kirkpatrick cautions against taking potassium supplements. Too much potassium can damage the gastrointestinal tract and the heart, and can cause potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Most people can get the potassium they need by eating a varied, healthy diet including bananas, sweet potatoes, chard, beans, and lentils—and you’re really unlikely to get enough potassium in your diet to be dangerous, Kirkpatrick says. If your doctor does prescribe supplements, she should be carefully monitoring how they’re affecting you, she says.

Omega-3s

Technically not a vitamin, omega-3 fatty acids still deserve a place on this list because of their myriad health benefits, Kirkpatrick says—and especially because they help counteract some of the negative changes that come with aging, like increased heart disease risk and cognitive decline. Research has shown that omega-3s help lower blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, and play a role in keeping memory and thinking sharp.

In fact, a recent study found that people who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids had larger brains and performed better on memory tests, planning activities, and abstract thinking than individuals who had lower levels of omega-3s in their blood—which suggest omega-3 fatty acids play a role in maintaining brain health through aging in addition to the other known benefits, says the study’s lead author Zaldy S. Tan, MD, MPH, medical director of the Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program at UCLA.

Though you can get omega-3s from foods like fish, walnuts, flax seeds, and leafy vegetables, taking a supplement is a good way to make sure you’re getting enough, Kirkpatrick says. Either way, aim for 500 mg if you’re healthy, 800 to 1,000 mg if you have heart disease, and 2,000 to 4,000 mg if you have high triglycerides. And be sure to ask your doctor about the right dose if you’re taking anti-coagulant drugs, which can have serious side effects.

Probiotics

Probiotics are not technically vitamins or minerals either, but when it comes to talking about the essentials for women 40 and up, they’re really important, Kirkpatrick says. Mounting evidence suggests probiotics play a role in keeping the gut healthy and weight down, and even lowering risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke—all of which is especially important around 40 when muscle mass starts to decrease, making it easier to put on weight and develop insulin resistance.

And though you can get probiotics in some dairy and fermented soy products like seitan, foods typically will not contain as many strains as a supplement—and each strain comes with its own benefit, some for helping to control weight, others for helping prevent diarrhea. Plus, because probiotics are actually live and active cultures, you won’t be able to get them from foods that are cooked or heated.

By SARAH DIGIULIO   OCTOBER 21, 2015
source: www.prevention.com


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The Supplements You Absolutely Need To Take

“I eat a healthy, plant-based, balanced diet, so why do I need to take supplements?”

I know, I know. I was singing the same tune myself not so long ago. There’s no definitive answer, as every body is vastly unique, and there are many people who can get away with taking no supplements at all. The truth, though, is that we’re all quite deficient in certain areas without evening knowing it.

There are two “golden supplements” that I personally recommend in addition to a plant-based, intuitive eating plan.

  1. A high-quality fish oil (or vegan alternative).
  2. A high quality probiotic.

“I eat fish, why do I need to take fish oil?”

The answer is that a high-quality fish oil supplement provides concentrated, clean nutrition that supports healthy cholesterol levels, eye health, cardiovascular health and joint health, to name a few.

I’m not going to recommend a particular fish oil because, again, our bodies are different as are our budgets and physical needs. What I will give you are some MUSTS in terms of selecting a fish oil supplement:

  • Third Party-Tested Product (preferably IFOS, International Fish Oil Standards, tested). This guarantees that the fish oil you’re consuming is pure, and that the peroxide, anisidine, PCBs, heavy metals, lead and mercury levels, among other things, have been tested and deemed low or practically nonexistent.
  • Concentration. Check the labels. Do you need to take five capsules of one brand to get the same amount of omega-3s you’d get in one capsule from another brand? The labels are tricky. All in all, you end up getting the same bang for your buck but with a lower quality product. So investigate the numbers and don’t be afraid to hound the health food store staff with your questions!
  • Enteric Coated. Having an enteric coating on your fish oil capsules ensures that the supplement will make it into the intestines, where it can be assimilated by the body. This coating protects our stomach acid from dissolving the capsule before it ever makes it to the small intestine. Without this coating the capsule is obliterated by the body’s powerful stomach acids and you’re not only losing out on the nutrients, but you’re wasting your money!

 

fish oil

Ok, so we have fish oil covered. Now, why take a probiotic? 

It’s simple. To improve digestive health. Probiotics are known to support the immune system, yeast balance, and balance ailments such as constipation, indigestion, gas, bloating, yeast infections, candida and the side effects of antibiotics.

Eighty percent of our immune support resides in our gut. There are three times the number of bacteria in our tummy alone (trillions) than there are cells in our entire body!

So, how do you go about choosing a probiotic?

First and foremost, there are shelf-stable probiotics and there are refrigerated probiotics. Typically, the difference in these two is potency. Refrigerated probiotics will have higher potency, typically 5-200 billion CFUs (colony-forming units), while shelf-stable probiotics will offer anywhere from 1-10 billion CFUs.

When you look at the plethora of toxins many of us have been exposed to through food, medication and environment throughout our lifetime, we can really use all the digestive support we can get. Even the most health-conscious clean eater would benefit immensely from the lowest strain probiotic. Proper digestion is truly the key to our overall health.

When selecting a probiotic to help balance your digestive health, be on the lookout for these MUSTS:

  • Guaranteed potency THROUGH the expiration date.
  • High CFU (colony-forming units).
  • Multiple strains (the more L’s, Lactobacillus strains, and more B’s, Bifidobacterium strains, the better).

A good recommendation for someone on a tight budget would be to splurge on a refrigerated, high-potency probiotic to jumpstart the digestive system, then transition to a less expensive, but still high quality (potentially shelf-stable) probiotic for maintenance. Again, this depends entirely on your own body and needs.


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9 Self-Care Essentials To Add To Your Life

BY TRISH ALLAN   NOVEMBER 10, 2013 

There’s been a long-held belief that people are worthy of respect when they put others before themselves. People have often evaluated their own worth (and the degree to which they deserve value in society) by their ability to contribute and place the needs of others before themselves.

Along with this belief is the idea that self-care is self-indulgent. However, we can only sustain physical health and emotional health when self-care is a priority. (This is true for both women and men, despite some old-fashioned gender stereotypes!) When your needs are met, and self-care is a non-negotiable priority, you can come to the world as the best version of yourself; fully nourished and ready to nourish those around you.

In fact, giving yourself permission to take care of yourself is probably the best thing you can do for the people in your life. Not only will you be happier and healthier, but those around you will be, too.

1. Feed yourself the best foods when possible.

Often when we are busy fulfilling our responsibilities, part of the way we make more time is to neglect our own dietary needs. Instead of fully nourishing ourselves, we rely on packaged, microwavable or takeout foods, which lack nutrients and often have an abundance of substances that are detrimental to our health.

Decide to make food a priority for yourself; even for just a short while. Chances are, you’ll feel better at the end of that process, with increased energy and clarity. You can start slowly here, evaluate where you are now, and make plans for small steps. As you learn new strategies for sustaining healthy eating as a regular part of your life, you’ll make more changes and your progress will be exponential.

2. Move everyday.

Our bodies are made for movement. Find time to move daily and to exercise three days a week. Daily movement could be in the form of a walk or gentle yoga. Your three-times-a-week exercise could take whatever form resonates with you most: the gym for cardio, core work and resistance training, swimming, running or power yoga.

3. Make sleep a priority.

For a myriad of reasons, our society is becoming increasingly sleep-deprived. Sleep is significant in our body’s ability to be well. While sleeping, we repair damaged tissues and organs, we metabolize hormones our body no longer needs, and our brains use this time to organize our thoughts and experiences, and to make permanent neurological links (memories) for the learning we experienced that day.

4. Develop a breathing & meditation practice.

When we breathe fully, using our diaphragm, the parasympathetic nervous system becomes engaged. This is the rest and relax system of the body, the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system, which engages during times of crisis or arousal, and which for many people is on much of the time. Allowing the body and mind to believe that all is okay and that it can rest and relax comes with breathing deeply and provides an opportunity for significant repair to the body. Meditation enhances this process further as it allows the brain to change its activity and release calming neurotransmitters.

meditate

5. If possible, do something you really enjoy daily.

If that isn’t sustainable, try weekly, or as often as you can. Take a bath with some Epsom salts and essential oil, write in your journal, buy yourself some flowers. Whatever activity you choose to do, don’t feel guilty about taking the time to do it; remember it’s feeding your soul and increasing your joy.

6. Tweak your supplement routine.

Consider speaking to a healthcare professional such as a nutritionist or naturopath to determine if there are supplements that would enhance your overall health. Many people are lacking in Vitamin D3, iron, digestive enzymes, probiotics, omega-3 or other key nutrients. Using specific foods or supplements will enhance your feeling of wellness and energy.

7. Get outside.

Time in nature is extremely restorative. Visually feasting on the beauty and wonder of nature, placing our feet on the earth, our body in water, and breathing in fresh air is a great act of kindness towards out bodies and minds. If you find time outside healing and pleasurable, make time for it as often as possible.

8. Make time to be alone.

Just as a sense of community is paramount for people, so too is time alone. Often there are feelings of guilt associated with taking time alone, but it is essential for everyone, particularly people who are introverts. Time alone allows people to process their thoughts and experiences and to rejuvenate.

9. Develop a gratitude practice.

Begin your morning with an affirmation, something that builds resiliency in your mind and heart. Perhaps you have a meeting or family responsibility that day that will require some extra effort from you; build your affirmation around the idea that you’ll be successful in that endeavor. For example, “My mind and heart dissolve all fear, doubt and anxiety in me now, I am magnetic to my highest purpose and move through my day with ease and grace.”

Beginning your affirmation with an intention is also very powerful. Then, end your day with gratitude. Write down three things you are grateful about from the day, and reflect on why they were meaningful to you.

Think about what brought you joy or pleasure, what did you appreciate in someone or something. Doing this regularly will change your perceptions of your life, the people in it and your responsibilities.


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How to Treat Cold and Flu Symptoms

Natural Ways to Kick a Cold

WebMD Feature     By Paige Axel      Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

Trying to get over a cold? There are lots of things you can do to ease the symptoms as you get better. Here some easy ones.

Turn Up the Heat

When a cold strikes, chicken soup and hot tea can ease your symptoms. The reason: heat. As the warmth moves down your throat toward your stomach, it helps loosen mucus, making it easier to cough out.

Steam works the same way. Sitting in the bathroom with a hot shower running can relieve your stuffy nose and head.

Stay Hydrated

When you have a cold, your body makes more mucus. Making mucus uses up your body’s moisture.

Getting extra fluids thins out mucus and makes it less sticky, which makes it easier blow or cough out. Limit drinks with caffeine and alcohol, as they can be dehydrating.


Soothe Your Skin

You blow your nose a lot when you have a cold. The result can be red, chapped skin on and beneath your nose.

Add a dab of petroleum jelly to the raw area, or use facial tissues that contain lotion.

Gargle Salt Water

If you have a sore throat, make a salt-water gargle by mixing a teaspoon of salt in a small glass of warm water. The salty-warm combo provides short-term relief.

Consider Supplements

Some supplements have been found to shorten — but not cure — colds. Ask your doctor about zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea.

Tell your doctor before starting any new supplement or medication. Your doctor will make sure it won’t interact with any other drug you’re taking.

Prevent the Spread

You should stay home while you’re getting over your cold. If you have to go out, try to limit the number of people you come in contact with.

Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze to keep from getting germs on your hands. A little courtesy goes a long way.

Hang in there. The common cold usually goes away in about a week, so take it easy, take care of yourself, and you’ll be back to normal before you know it.