Nutrition

Nutrition

The Magic of Manganese

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of the least well-known essential trace minerals is manganese. This metallic nutritional element, which derives its moniker from the Greek word for magic, is present in almost all diets in low concentrations. Although these days it is mostly used as an alloy in stainless steel for its rust protection properties, manganese’s essential role in human nutrition should not be overlooked.

The Magic of Manganese

Black-Eyed Peas Curry, rich in manganese. (akshayapatra.blogspot.com)

The average human body contains about 10 milligrams of manganese, mostly concentrated in the liver, bones and kidneys. While deficiencies of manganese are typically uncommon, its highly charged electrical nature make this critical mineral unstable to milling of grains and other modern food processing techniques. According to Dr. E. Blaurock-Busch of Trace Minerals International, patients being fed intravenously may also be at risk for manganese deficiency, although some say there is some controversy surrounding the inclusion manganese to parenteral protocols. High doses of Manganese have been associated with neurotoxicity and Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms and current opinion regards the addition of manganese to parental solutions as unnecessary.

What is not open to debate, however, is the issue of the loss of manganese due to soil depletion. An unfortunate by-product of modern agricultural technology, mineral impoverishment of farmlands must be considered as foods grown in soils with low levels of the silvery-grey essential nutrient may have their manganese content reduced.

Manganese is absorbed into the blood through the small intestine, so patients with a history of digestive distress may be at risk for manganese deficiency. Absorption of manganese may also be adversely affected by diets high in iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and soy protein. Deficiencies of this important mineral may result in impaired growth, poor wound healing and other skin issues, as well as loss of hair color or reduced hair growth. Women with osteoporosis have been shown to have low levels of plasma manganese. And, it’s been known for almost 50 years that many epileptics are at risk for manganese deficiency.

Manganese functions as a critical co-factor for several vitamins. Under deficiency conditions, Vitamin C and some of the B-vitamins, including Vitamins B1, biotin and choline cannot be used efficiently. Manganese also has a function in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. And, several reports indicate involvement of manganese in the synthesis of steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Manganese may also play an important role in the health of diabetics.

In their chapter in the highly regarded textbook, “Manganese in Health and Disease”, Doctors Baly, Walter, Jr., and Keen suggest a relationship between manganese and carbohydrate metabolism. One anecdotal report which they discuss involved the case of an insulin resistant diabetic patient who dramatically reduced his blood glucose levels from 350 mg/dl to 100 mg/dl by drinking manganese containing alfalfa tea. Further research showed that intravenous manganese chloride also lowered blood glucose levels rapidly.

Manganese functions as a structural constituent and activator of numerous enzyme systems, including those involved with energy production, protein metabolism and detoxification. And, its link to enzymes associated with lipid metabolism, are responsible for its aforementioned importance in helping the body maintain adequate levels of cholesterol and fatty acids and steroid hormones. Finally, manganese is an important actor in the production of enzymes involved in collagen synthesis and thus may have a part to play in anti-aging nutrition.

The best manganese-containing foods include liver and other organ meats. Pecans and almonds, brown rice, pineapples, and navy beans are good vegetarian sources of manganese and teas of all kinds are especially good beverage sources. Manganese is also available in supplemental fashion and most often found in combination with other nutrients in joint health and bone-building formulations.

History
The origin of the name manganese is complex. In ancient times, two black minerals from Magnesia (located within modern Greece) were both called magnes from their place of origin, but were thought to differ in gender. The male magnes attracted iron, and was the iron ore now known as lodestone or magnetite, and which probably gave us the term magnet. The female magnes ore did not attract iron, but was used to decolorize glass. This feminine magnes was later called magnesia, known now in modern times as pyrolusite or manganese dioxide. Neither this mineral nor elemental manganese is magnetic. In the 16th century, manganese dioxide was called manganesum (note the two Ns instead of one) by glassmakers, possibly as a corruption and concatenation of two words, since alchemists and glassmakers eventually had to differentiate a magnesia negra (the black ore) from magnesia alba (a white ore, also from Magnesia, also useful in glassmaking). Michele Mercati called magnesia negra manganesa, and finally the metal isolated from it became known as manganese (German: Mangan). The name magnesia eventually was then used to refer only to the white magnesia alba (magnesium oxide), which provided the name magnesium for the free element when it was isolated much later. [Wikipedia]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Zinc’s Powerful Hormone Balancing

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

We’ve discussed all the ways zinc and the lack of it can affect the body: skin health, bone, health and immunity are just some ways this essential nutrient can impact health. taking a daily 50mg dose of Zinc can prevent colds, eliminate acne and improve eczema. Zinc’s powerful hormone balancing properties can help improve prostate health and prevent male pattern baldness. All in all, for hundreds of different biochemical reactions, this stuff is amazing!

Zinc's Powerful Hormone BalancingThis is what I mean when I talk about the importance of nutrition supplementation. Think about the leverage here: one little pill with 50mg of Zinc in it (about the amount of zinc that would fit on the head of a pin) can control and stabilize and spark several hundred chemical processes in the body. Now that is some serious clout! And the most incredible part how little 50mg
of Zinc costs. What would you expect to pay for a (magic) pill that could keep hair on your head, cure your acne, strengthen your bones, build your immunity, enhance your digestion, strengthen your heart and make you think better?

And, with no down side when taken as directed. Would you expect to pay 100 dollars for a month supply? It would be worth it! In fact, for all those benefits, 100 dollars would be an incredible bargain. Well, surprise, surprise! A 30 day supply at a health food store will typically cost less than 5 bucks!

You can tell if you’re deficient in zinc by doing the “Zinc Taste Test”. You can use a solution of zinc sulfate and water (available online) or you can place a zinc sulfate tablet on your tongue. If you are not instantly repelled by a strong metallic taste chances are pretty good that you’re suffering from a lack of zinc.

The best way to get zinc is supplementally in the picolinate and monomethionine forms. These are available in most health food stores, but they are harder to find at drug stores where the typical forms available are zinc gluconate and zinc sulfate. The bioavailability of these cheaper zinc varieties is less than satisfactory and many people find that they can cause nausea or other digestive distress. A good daily dose is 50mg a day. Interestingly the signs of zinc deficiency (such as acne, hair loss, frequent colds and flues) can be duplicated by taking too much zinc (100mg a day or more). It’s also important to note than there is an antagonistic relationship between zinc and copper and it’s probably a good idea to take 2 mg of copper with every 50mg of zinc.

Look for chelate or glycinate forms of copper which are easily handled by the body. For those of you who want to try to obtain zinc through diet, in addition to the aforementioned oysters and the Rocky Mountain variety, the best sources include liver, lamb, venison, and seseme and pumpkin seeds. However, it should be noted than even the highest zinc concentration foods provide 10mg or so per serving.

SUMMARY:
– Zinc deficiency is relatively common.
– It’s important for hundreds of different biochemical systems to work effectively
– Deficiencies can show up in dozens of different ways including depressed immunity, bone problems, skin rashes and acne, digestive distress and hormone issues.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Phospho-lipid Phun!

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Cell membranes are largely composed of fats (along with some proteins). There are two main types of cell membrane fats, cholesterol and phospholipids. We’ll discuss cholesterol in a later post. For this article we will be addressing phospho-lipids.

Phospho-lipids are interesting chemical structure with a watery end which contains the mineral phosphorus (phospho-) and a fatty end (-lipid). Phospho-lipids help cell membranes maintain their integrity and structure. They also conduct electrical energy which helps the membrane maintain its battery-like charge. This electrical activity is important for the health and function of the internal cell environment. Nutrients enter in the cell in part via pores and channels on the membrane. The openings dilate or constrict at least partially in response to phospho-lipid generated electrical energy. They have a voltage-sensing property which allows them to open and close pores on cellular demand.

Phospho-lipid
The electrical nature of phospho-lipids makes them especially important for brain and nerve cells (neurons), which are highly electrical in nature. Phospho-lipids are also important for skin health and play a particularly important role in maintaining skin softness and hydration.

Because phospho-lipids have a watery and fatty nature, they can help disperse dietary fats into digestive fluids. Bile is largely composed of phospholipids. The fats in cell membranes are protected from oxidation (rancidity) by phospho-lipids which bind the very active and oxidation-inducing metals iron and copper.

Because of the relationship of diseases to cell membrane health, taking advantage of phospho-lipid nutrition is an important step in the return to or the maintenance of health. While the body can make its own phospho-lipids, they do require the use of precious enzymes and energy so including them in the diet can be a helpful health strategy.

Also, if you have fat malabsorbtion, liver health issues or have had a gall bladder removed you may want to consider supplemental phospho-lipids to take advantage of their fat dispersing properties mentioned above. The same is true if you have neural problems such as Parkinson’s disease or cognitive issues such dementia, memory problems, or learning disorders. Up to 60% of the brain by weight is composed of phospho-lipids and similar compounds.

By far the best source of dietary phospho-lipids is eggs. Muscle and organ meats are good sources too as are wheat germ and peanuts. The fatty components of soy (not the protein) also contain phospho-lipids.

Supplemental phospho-lipids can also be obtained by using lecithin, either in its powder or liquid form. Taking 200 to 300 mg a day of choline and inostitol may also help improve the production of phospho-lipids.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

55 Pounds of High-fructose Corn Syrup

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The average American consumes 55 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup each year topping a list of 42 countries according to a paper published in the journal Global Public Health. Second highest consumption according to the report occurs in Hungary (46 pounds) fructose, followed by Slovakia, Canada and Bulgaria. And, according to the article, the countries with the highest consumption suffered significantly increased prevalence for diabetes independent of ordinary sugar intake and diabetes. And, the health disaster monster that the large intake of high fructose corn syrup represents has long tentacles that ultimately affect every system of the body.

Corn SyrupOne example involves fructose’s relationship with the amino acid tryptophan. Fructose can complex with the important mood enhancing amino acid tryptophan. This makes tryptophan unavailable to the brain when that happens BIG trouble can follow! Tryptophan is mega-mega important for mood and wellbeing. It gets turned into melatonin and serotonin which are arguably the two most important chemicals in the brain. You can think of tryptophan as natural Prozac and for many people fructose will be blocking it from access to the brain.

Here’s where it gets really interesting from a biochemical perspective. The brain has an appetite area, that initiates hunger sensations and a satisfaction area that shuts these sensations down. And it uses tryptophan to determine which center will be activated. All day long it is scanning the blood for this important amino acid. When tryptophan levels rise, activity in the satisfaction center is turned on and hunger ceases. Low tryptophan levels on the hand stimulate brain activity in the appetite or hunger center. If fructose is complexing with tryptophan, preventing it from getting into the brain it will take ingestion of a lot of tryptophan for the brain to to activate satisfaction centers vs. the “go get us a Coke or an ingestion apple or some other kind of sugar” center.

If you find yourself unable to stop eating AND you’re ingesting lots of high fructose corn syrup, or table sugar, which is 50 percent fructose, you may want to try switching sweeteners. Especially if you are dealing with diarrhea, loose stools, gas cramping or bloating after ingesting processed foods, fruits or fruit juices. Stevia and xylitol are probably the best choices you can make, and I like to use coconut water which a bit expensive, but can provides electrolytes and vitamins not available in other sweeteners. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to add a little daily supplemental tryptophan to your supplement program. You can use 200mg of 5HTP daily or 500-1000 mg of tryptophan. Take it at bedtime, though, it may make you drowsy.

Article cited:
Goran, M., Ulijaszek, S. and Ventura, E. (2012). High fructose corn syrup and diabetes prevalence: A global perspective. Global Public Health. Published online Nov. 27, 2012.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Bone Soup: Miracle Food

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

It’s no secret that most people don’t get adequate nutrition through their daily food consumption. I spend much of my time educating folks about the nutritional supplementation we need to add to our diets to achieve longevity and vitality. There are a few foods, however, which stand out for their nutritional value, that I consider to be “superfoods”, and that can be included generously in the diet to great effect. One of my favorites is Bone Soup.

Bone Soup

Chinese Pork Bone Soup (Gar Dook Mu On Tom Made Bur).

Bone Soup, made from chicken, beef, lamb or turkey, is a traditional food found in many cultures with a long history as a source of nourishment. While it is most commonly known as “Jewish Penicillin,” because of its powerful cold and flu-fighting powers, there are numerous health benefits received by consuming bone soup that make me wonder why people don’t drink it every day.

Bone Soup contains vitamins and minerals that have been shown to give the immune system a significant boost. In addition, long chain saccharides, the healthful kind of sugars, within the soup are perfect to ease all ailments of the joints and muscles. This makes bone soup especially helpful when healing from surgery or broken bones, and a perfect recovery food for athletes, and everyone else who ever has muscle aches. Bone stock also contains healing substances that soothe, coat and rebuild the digestive tract, which is perfect for treating ulcers and intestinal problems. Finally, the broth contains skin-friendly amino acids and moisture factors that reduce wrinkle formation and keep skin soft and hydrated from within.

Basically, Bone Soup is a liquid food derived from the dissolution of animal bone, tendon and meat components in water. Prolonged simmering, known by culinary experts as “reducing,” allows cartilaginous factors of the animal parts to solubilize in the broth. In this process, long chain sugars co-mingle with protein-sulfur components to create glucoseaminoglycans, and form a gel matrix within the water. This process traps the minerals released from the bone, which include calcium, magnesium and potassium, into a type of suspension called a colloid. This colloidal gel system has an electrical nature that vivifies the liquid and enhances the biological value of the nutrients carried within it.

Bone soup is easy to make. To get the maximum benefit from bone soup, it’s best to prepare the soup with oils, spices and vinegar. One way to start the soup is to place your favorite spices and some oil or butter in the bottom of a large soup or spaghetti pot. Apply very slight heat until the spices dissolve within the oil. This allows active components in the spices to release into the oils, enhancing the medicinal properties of the oil.

Drop your bones into the pot and top them off with water. You can use just bones or a whole cooked chicken or turkey, if you want to add more protein. Add a splash of vinegar, or lemon or lime juice, to help release the nutrients from bones. Cover and simmer for several hours. Fish requires only a few hours of simmering, while chicken bones can be stewed up to 12 hours and thicker bones of beef shank may be rendered for 24 hours. If you use a pressure cooker you can save time.

Next, strain the soup to discard the bones and parts you don’t want to consume, and salvage the broth. Next you may add vegetables or more spices, and that’s it. If you make extra broth, it can easily be frozen and saved for later.

Bone soup is as much a nutritional supplement as a delicious food. It’s a considerable source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, proteins and anti cancer compounds, all in a bio-electrically active, easy to absorb form. All told, it’s nutritionally packed, inexpensive, easy to make and a valuable, tasty part of a healthy lifestyle.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

B-Vitamin Choline

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The B-vitamin Choline is one of the most important vitamins you’ve never heard of.  It’s a critical component of the body’s fat metabolizing machinery and may be one of the most important supplements to take for preventing fatty liver disease.  The best food sources are egg yolks, meats (especially liver), fish, and lecithin. Choline is also an important component of acetylcholine which plays a significant role in memory, intelligence and overall brain health.


Wikipedia

Choline is a water-soluble vitamin-like essential nutrient. It is a basic constituent of lecithin, which is present in many plants and animal organs. The term cholines refers to the class of quaternary ammonium salts containing the N,N,N-trimethylethanolammonium cation (X− on the right denotes an undefined counteranion).

B-vitamin CholineThe cation appears in the head groups of phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin, two classes of phospholipid that are abundant in cell membranes. Choline is the precursor molecule for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in many functions including memory and muscle control.

Some animals cannot produce choline, but must consume it through their diet to remain healthy. Humans make choline in the liver. Whether dietary or supplemental choline is beneficial or harmful to humans has not been determined. Possible benefits include reducing the risk of neural tube defects and fatty liver disease. It has also been found that intake of choline during pregnancy can have long-term beneficial effects on memory for the child. [Source]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

The Paleo Diet: A Second Look at Grains

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

According to the Romans, it was Ceres, the Goddess of Agriculture, who gave us grains. Many agriculture experts say human health hasn’t been the same since. The highly regarded anthropologist Jared Diamond calls agriculture the “worst mistake in the history of the human race”. Without resorting to a debate about the merits of his claim, we can certainly all agree that the decline of human health is at the least correlated, if not directly, to the effect of man’s post-ice age, grain-based caloric dependence on grains.

Paleo DietGrains are technically unnatural in the sense they have had their genetics dramatically modified to meet specific human needs, many of which were and are economic.

Today’s modern cereal grain would be practically unrecognizable to its Paleolithic plant ancestor. Proto-maize, corn’s progenitor was a tiny little nub that bears little resemblance today’s modern, bright, full ears of corn. What has remained mostly the same over the centuries, however, is the human digestive tract – and therein lays the problem.

Human physiology was and is largely based on many thousands of years of hunter/gatherer-derived genetics. Meat and protein and seed were the larger components of Paleolithic man’s diet. There simply weren’t dense carbohydrate-rich grains for our caveman ancestor to feast on. There wasn’t an evolutionary survival imperative to develop the digestive chemistry to process grains. Consequently, the proteins in grains are difficult for some human digestive tracts to process.

And there are some genetic immune variables that play a role as well. Gluten and other protein components of grains can cause allergic reactions in a significant percentage of the general population. In some people these can result in the initiation of an autoimmune response that can show up as digestive, skin and respiratory symptoms.

Then there are the caloric and insulin-spiking aspects. Modern grains are typically high calorie. They have a relatively low nutritional density and they can cause elevations in blood sugar and insulin that can negatively impact health. While some grains are less problematic, generally speaking, exchanging grain calories for protein ones (especially whey or hemp seed protein) can help benefit health in many ways. For example, the improvement in the fundamental three facets of wellness (the digestive system, blood sugar system, adrenal stress system) is sometimes quite dramatic. (I suggest you look for non-sticky grains; quinoa comes to mind.)

Try making a small protein drink with 2-3 tablespoons of a quality protein powder supplement. Try to get 15 to 20 grams of protein. Read the labels. If you’re near a blender, you can crack in an egg, blend in some frozen organic fruit, add some good oil and sprinkle in some stevia powder or xylitol for a little sweetness. Protein is quite satisfying and you’ll find the need for carbohydrates to be considerably weakened.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Some Thoughts on Vitamins

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

When the subject of nutrition comes up, oftentimes the conversational spotlight gets focused on the term vitamins, which gets tossed around as an all-inclusive, catch-all term for all nutritional supplements. In the interests of accuracy, it’s important to keep in mind that the term vitamins refers only a single component of the nutritional supplement world, which includes protein, essential fats, minerals, water, fiber, and carbohydrates, and accessory nutrients like NAC and alpha lipoic acid and probiotics.

Vitamins
The word vitamin is actually a slang term for nutritional substances that are more technically called “co-enzymes”. These being biomolecules that assist enzymes in their work of making biological chemistry happen.

The body is a seething, bubbling factory of chemical reactions. Every cell in the body, of which there are many trillions is capable of producing somewhere on the order of 10 thousand to 100 thousand chemical reactions per second!! To put it in even more dramatic, (if incomprehensible) terms there are quadrillions (!) of individual chemical reactions occurring in our bodies every minute we are alive. And each one of these chemical reactions depends on the action of enzymes and, in-turn, each one of these enzymes requires the assistance of coenzymes some of which are the vitamins. Considering most of our vitamin needs are met by foods or supplementation, in other words, they are not made by the body, the stupendous importance of making sure we are giving our body generous quantities of these critical molecules through the diet and through nutritional supplements become obvious.

There are two classes of vitamins, those that dissolve in water and those that dissolve in oil, the so-called water soluble vitamins, which are the B-complex and Vitamin C and the fat soluble vitamins, D, E, A and K. The water soluble vitamins critical as they may be are easier to work with than the fat soluble vitamins. You can and should take a lot of B-complex and vitamin C, they are multi-functional and used and excreted rapidly. The best way to make sure your getting enough of the water soluble vitamins is to take generous amounts, in water all day long, i.e. by drinking them. The fat soluble vitamins, D, E, A and K are much trickier to work with. Optimal assimilation of the substances requires a healthy and well-functioning digestive system including especially the liver and gall bladder. And, because they are transported around the body in the lymphatic system if things aren’t moving well in the lymph, fatty vitamin activity may be impaired. The same is true if you have liver problems or gall bladder problems, especially if you’ve had your gall bladder removed or if you have pancreatic health issues. If this is the case, you’re going to want to take the fatty vitamins with meals that include fatty foods. Digestive enzymes can help so can apple cider vinegar and perhaps pancreatin which contains digestive enzymes. You can also use se bile salts, maybe lecithin and you might want to consider including some choline which the body can use to make lecithin.

Take home message:

Use generous amounts of the B-complex and Vitamin C throughout the day. Put them in water or some other liquid medium and drink them down slowly for best results

Take fatty vitamin D, E, A and K supplements with meals that contain some kind of fatty foods. If you are dealing with digestive health issues i.e. those that involve the stomach, small intestine, liver, gall bladder or pancreas, you can improve the absorption of these fatty vitamins by taking them with digestive enzymes, pancreatin, bile salts, apple cider vinegar, lecithin and choline.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

The Skinny on Sweets

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Disciplining and controlling the human “sweet tooth” and subsequently stabilizing blood sugar is one of the most important things a person can do to maintain good health. Elevations in blood sugar and associated elevations in insulin are behind many, if not most of the health issues we confront today. High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and of course diabetes have clear associations to unstable blood sugar and blood insulin. And while the connections to cancer, accelerated aging, osteoporosis, arthritis and autoimmune issues are less definitive, a case could certainly be made that the likelihood of confronting these health challenges (among others) would almost certainly be reduced by reducing sugar intake. Now while it is important to recognize that simply fighting sugar cravings is a futile strategy.

Sweets
In other words will power is not a great weapon in the battle against sugar because the drive for sugar is built-in, it is hardwired into our brains from millions of years of evolution; and in the battle between hard wiring and will power, hard-wiring usually wins. What we want to be able to do is understand the “habituation” mechanism. “Taste anesthesia” must be confronted. Our taste buds become numb to sweetness and gradually it takes more and more sweet for us to be satisfied. And, there is some literature that suggests that even the sweet taste can raise blood sugar and insulin levels, even without sugar! Ideally, we want to take a “sweet holiday”, one or two days off from sweetness, from the sweet flavor so that our sweet receptors can become re-sensitized. Sort of a sweet “re-set”. That’s ideally. However for some of us, who are addicted to sugar that may be easier said than done. And, after our “sweet holiday” we’re going to want to reintroduce the sweet flavor back into our lives albeit to lesser degree than it was before our break. And that’s where alternative sweeteners come in.Mainstream alternative sweeteners have been out for decades. I remember when I was a little kid the big one was cyclamate. Then some studies showed that it may be associated with bladder cancer and in 1969 it was banned for sale in the United States, although you can still get it in other countries.

Then there’s the old standby saccharin, which is a lot sweeter than sugar, but is a simple chemical, “benzoic sulfilamine” that has not energy or calories. It’s also is free of aftertaste which makes it ideal for drinks and candies and manufactured food products. It was the first really big artificial sweetener and was branded as sweet n’ lo which is still a familiar site in restaurants and diners and coffee shops around the country. Sweet n Low account for 100 million dollars a year in sales and according to the manufacturer 30 million people use it every day. It’s unstable to heat, so you can’t really cook with saccharin, which is why it’s most often used in a blend with other artificial sweeteners (Sweet n’ Low is made with dextrose) in the 1970’s some studies linked saccharin to bladder cancer and warning labels were mandated. These have since been removed and it has now been declared by the FDA as safe for consumption. It is currently the third most popular artificial sweetener in the United states right behind Aspartame which goes by the name NutraSweet or Equal.

Aspartame, which is now being called “AminoSweet” is probably the most controversial of the artificial sweeteners. It’s a derivative of amino acids and it breaks down to form phenylalanine, which is why it has a warning label on it for people who can’t process phenylalanine . It’s 200 times sweeter than sugar and has no calories and doesn’t directly affect blood glucose or insulin (although recent literature indicates that the sweet taste alone may cause changes in blood glucose and insulin). Because it doesn’t taste exactly like sugar sometimes it’s blended with another artificial sweetener, called acesulfame, which goes by the brand names Sunett or Sweet One. The big problem with Aminosweet or Nutrasweet or whatever you want to call it is it’s link to neurotoxicity. It is classified as an excitotoxin by dr. Russell Blaylock who has researched and written extensively on aspartame. He claims it is associated with brain and nerve problems and cancers like leukemia and brain lymphomas. What’s worse, dr. Blaylock says that Searle, the company that developed aspartame knew about this. According to Dr. Blaylock “the original studies done by the G.D. Searle company “…found lymphomas as well as primary brain tumors and tumors of multiple organs” at the time of the approval by the United states government Donald Rumsfeld was the chairman of the Searle corporation. That may or may not have had anything to do with it getting it through the regulatory process.

Then there’s the whole formaldehyde issue. Aspartame consumption is associated with the production of high levels of formaldehyde and according to the EPA, formaldehyde causes cancer in animals and likely cause cancer in humans as well. Aspartame can also covert to methanol under certain conditions and this can also create biochemical toxicity. According to the aspartame toxicity center long and short term use can cause 39 different toxic reactions including tremors, convulsions chronic fatigue, nausea, vomiting diarrhea and even death. And it can exacerbate or mimic 16 different medical conditions including panic attacks, ADD, lupus, Alzheimer’s Disease and even diabetes. Now in fairness to the stuff Searle and the government say it all much ado about nothing, but with all the alternative sweeteners out there, its probably a good idea to stay away from “Nutra-Amino Sweet”. Then there’s the best selling artificial sweetener on the market sucralose, which is basically sucrose, table sugar plus chlorine. Marketed as Splenda, it’s 500-700 times sweeter than sugar, and twice as sweet as saccharin. Sucralose is used in foods in very small quantities because of it’s high sweetness and while it doesn’t directly affect blood sugar or insulin, although once again it’s sweetness may cause these markers to rise.

The big problem with Splenda are those chlorine molecules. The company that makes Splenda says that the chlorine is what keeps Splenda from being absorbed and accounts for its zero calorie status as well as it’s safety, but a lot of chemists aren’t so sure. The chlorines put sucralose into a classification called organochlorines, and this is a chemical family that is clearly associated with cancers. More recently, concerns have been raised about Sucralose’s affects on the thymus gland which has implications for the immune system. According to the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, ingestion of sucralose was related to thymus shrinkage in laboratory animals. The company that makes sucralose not unexpectedly denies the allegations. The biggest problem that I see with sucralose, is the fact that it’s so new. According to the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, of the manufacturer’s hundred’s of studies, not all of which are indicative of sucralose safety, many “were clearly inadequate and do not demonstrate safety in long-term use”. Basically sucralose, aspartame acesulfame and saccharin are artificial sweeteners that are processed by the body as drugs. They are “pharmasweeteners” toxins and handled by the body’s drug detoxification system, and that’s the real problem. Do you really want to add to your body’s toxic load? Do you really want to use a sweetener that is processed as a poison?

Thankfully there are some kinder, less industrial sugar alternatives that are available and while not all of them are great, they’re not toxic and some of them can be helpful sugar replacements and allow us to indulge our sweet tooths (or teeth?) with little or no health associated problems. My favorite alternative sweetener is probably xylitol. Now first of all I should tell you that the suffix, the ending “–ol” when associated with a sugar, indicates the biochemical structure of something called a sugar alcohol. Thus you have sweeteners, sugar alcohols, like mannit-ol, sorbit-ol and erythrit-ol which have been used for decades.

These sugar alcohols, some people call them “poly-ols”, are not sugar and they’re not alcohol, but they are sweet carbohydrates. The important thing to understand about all the sugar alcohols is while they’re tasty and sugar-like, they are not absorbed into the body the way regular sugar is. That accounts for their benefits, namely they will not affect blood glucose and insulin the way sugar does, but it also accounts for their drawback. You see, because they are NOT absorbed into the blood they get into the intestine and they can affect bacterial balance and water balance. This can lead to gas, bloating, and they may even have a laxative effect and may exacerbate symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or other digestive conditions. They’re all officially low carb and some nutritionists actually consider them zero carb. If you can handle them they’re great and xylitol is probably the best of them and I’ll tell you why: while none of the sugar alcohols will promote cavities, xylitol has actually been shown to reduce them! According to an article in The Journal of the American Dental Association from 1998, xylitol is “…an effective preventive agent against dental caries”. In addition it has been shown to reduce the incidence of gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss and destroy the tissues that support the teeth. The Journal of Dental Research calls gum disease a significant public health problem that may have been underestimated by up to 50%. And gum disease doesn’t just affect the mouth. Several studies have linked it diabetes, cardiovascular issues and rheumatoid arthritis. Recently, a study published in the Journal of Periodentology, linked gum disease to lung health. The study showed that bacteria from the upper throat can be inhaled into the lungs leading to pulmonary disease and pneumonia. So, using xylitol as a sweetener may help reduce the likelihood of inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular issues. and enhance respiratory health too. Xylitol increases the amounts protective factors in the mouth and it helps keep saliva minerals absorbable. It also helps improve saliva secretion, so it may have benefits for folks who suffer from dry mouth. According to a paper published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, patients who chewed xylitol containing gum substantially lowered their risk oral fungal infections (“thrush”). And it reduced the risk of chelitis which shows up as rashy sores on the sides of the mouth. The study concludes that xylitol can provide “real clinical benefit” for elderly patients. Take 1 teaspoonful or so and dissolve it in a half a cup of water and use it as a mouth rinse. It will kill bacteria and fungus, keep the acid level in the mouth down (bacteria thrive in a medium acid environment). Use it after brushing and flossing and you don’t have to worry about leaving xylitol in the mouth like you would with other sweeteners. You will actually be suppressing tooth decay. And, xylitol will improve mineral absorption into the teeth making for stronger enamel. You’ll notice small decay spots will improve and even larger cavities will become less sensitive.

And xylitol doesn’t just improve mineral absorption into the teeth. It can do the same thing for bones. Xylitol has been shown to improve osteoporosis! It can actually increase bone density! According to research done in Finland, it hardens bones and helps improve calcium absorption. How do you like that a sweetener that’s good for your bones and your teeth! Another interesting benefit of xylitol is it’s ability to slow down the growth of bacteria that can cause ear infections in children. In two studies of over 1000 children xylitol reduced the incidence of ear infections by 40%. Somehow xylitol interferes with the ability of bacteria’s ability to attach themselves to sinus and nasal tissue. And not only that, but unlike other sugars (even other poly-ols) xylitol can’t be used by bacteria as an energy source. In fact not only can’t bacteria use xylitol for energy, it actually costs microorganisms energy to break down xylitol making it difficult for them to thrive. You can actually take a little xylitol, maybe a teaspoonful or so dissolve it in a couple of ounces of water (4 or 5 tablespoonsful) , put it in a nasal spray bottle and make an allergy or infection protected spray for your sinuses. Dr. Lon Jones, a physician in Texas says that by using a xylitol nasal spray he prevented 93% of ear infections and had comparable reductions in sinus infections, allergies and asthma! You want more? OK…xylitol has also been shown to reduce Candida yeast and harmful digestive bacteria like h pylori that can be the cause of bad breath, ulcers, and gum disease. It looks and tastes like sugar, you can cook with it, it’s totally natural; it’s found in fruits and vegetables and corn cobs and tree bark and it’s made by the human body itself as a normal part of sugar metabolism. And while sugar is acid-forming xylitol is not. In fact, it actually enhances alkalinity. Xylitol has the same sweetness as sugar but with 40% less calories and 75% less carbohydrates.

Xylitol is metabolized much more slowly than regular sugar. On the glycemic index, which is a measurement of how quickly a carbohydrate changes blood sugar, xylitol is a 7 while ordinary sugar is rated a 100. And xylitol doesn’t raise insulin levels. And while it’s more costly than ordinary sugar, considering all of it’s health benefits, it’s relatively cheap. A 2 and a half pound bag of it costs less than 20 dollars.

Another interesting sweetener is one that I fhear about recently from Dr. Sharon Livingston. It’s called Yacon and it’s got some interesting properties. It comes as a powder or syrup and it’s derived from a tuber, much like a potato or turnip. It’s a good source of anti oxidants, and the amino acid tryptophan which can be helpful for mood and brain health but its most important benefit is as a source of something called inulin, which is technically refer to as an FOS (fructo-oligo-saccharide). Now FOSs are technically a type of sugar but usually they’re not usually very sweet. They are however, very important for colon health. That’s because, while humans can’t use it as energy source the way it can ordinary, bacteria can. Especially bacteria, that live in the colon, so-called probiotics. Now, we talk about probiotics all the time on this program, but we don’t often talk about nourishment for probiotics, food and energy sources for the good bacteria. Well FOS is just that. An energy source that can feed and sustain good bacteria in the colon, allowing them to proliferate. Sort of a nutritional supplement for probiotics. Some nutritionists refer to FOS as a prebiotic and while it is found in smaller quantities in many fruits and vegetable, like artichoke and garlic and onions, asparagus, wheat and barley, Yacon stands out because it’s almost 50% FOS. That makes it a sweetener that’s a wonderful dietary supplement that supports colon health. And not only that, but because FOS supports the health of bacteria that fight fungus, it can be helpful for fighting yeast infections. FOS has been shown to improve calcium absorption so it may have benefits for improving or delaying the onset of osteoporosis. And FOS contributes to the fiber fraction of the diet so it can improve digestive health, relieve constipation issues speeding up the movement of food through the colon as well as the elimination of toxins. It can also improve hunger satisfaction making it an ideal sweetener for people who are trying to lose weight. A study published in April, 2009 in the European Journal clinical nutrition found that using Yacon syrup daily produced a “significant decrease in body weight, waist circumference and body mass index”. The study went on to say that decreases in serum insulin, increases in defecation and satiety were also observed. And all of these benefits were achieved without affecting blood sugar or blood fats.

Yacon is great for diabetics, it won’t affect blood glucose or insulin and while FOSs are typically not very sweet, the ones in Yacon give it a molasses like flavor that taste great. The syrup goes for around 12 or 13 dollars for 13 oz and Yacon powder is around $10 or 11 dollars for a half pound. Its got about 10 calories in a teaspoon and you can use it in recipes like you would honey. It’s got a thick and sticky texture and it can impart some moisture to recipes, much like honey would. If you mix 2 tablespoonsful of the syrup in with a cup of xylitol it makes a great low calorie diabetic-safe brown sugar substitute.

Another little know sugar substitute is stevia, sometimes called “honey leaf”, which is becoming more and more popular these days. When I first heard of stevia 15 years ago, the only place you could find it was in herb stores. Today it’s available pretty much everywhere. And, in a way, stevia has pretty much become officially mainstream as you can find processed versions in grocery stores as brand names like “Truvia” which is made by Coca Cola and “PureVia” which is made by Pepsi. Technically stevia is over 300 times sweeter than sugar, but that might not be such a good thing as that much sweetness can come across with a slightly bitter aftertaste. It’s got zero calories and it sweetening power is completely safe for diabetics and anyone whose concerned about blood sugar or insulin. My favorite factoid about stevia, is that the FDA considers it an illegal sweetener and allows it sale only as a dietary supplement. It’s been the subject of searches and seizures and import alerts, trade complaints and embargoes and generally been treated as if it were a illegal drug. Even books about stevia have been considered illegal. In a famous letter from an FDA compliance officer, the president of the Texas-based Stevita company, a stevia distributor was warned that the FDA would quote ““be available to witness the destruction of the cookbooks, literature and other publications for the purpose of verifying compliance.” Sweetness is big business and big bucks and clearly the FDA does not like stevia. The do however approve of the supermarket versions like Truvia and PureVia which are made with something called rebiana, which is extracted from the stevia plant and requires a lot of processing. That’s why it involves the participation of huge multinational food processing companies like Cargill and Coca Cola and Pepsi. Oh by the way, the FDA allows for a 97% purity standard on these processed stevia products. I’m not sure what the other 3% is but it probably has something to do with the erythritol that is used to spike the processed stevia products. That’s right, a sugar alcohol is added to the stevia, for whatever reason. As if 300 times sweeter than sugar isn’t enough sweetness. The erythritol accounts for the digestive side effects some people suffer when they use these products. Remember sugar alcohols, or poly-ols can have a negative effect on digestive bacteria and can cause bloating, constipation and other digestive symptoms. If you’re going to use stevia, my advice is to stay away from the Coca Cola and Pepsi versions and go to a health food store and get the real stuff. It can only be labeled as a dietary supplement, but you can use it any way you like, There are literally hundreds of studies that attest to the safety of stevia and aside from the slightly bitter after taste that you get when you use to much , it’s pretty much a perfect sugar substitute. It won’t lose its sweetness at high temperatures so it can be uses for baking and cooking but because it doesn’t have the properties of sugar, you can’t use it to add texture, help soften batter, caramelize, browning or ferment yeast. My favorite way to use stevia is with lemons and a little strawberry blended together, maybe one or two teaspoonfuls of stevia powder to 4 cups of water and 2 or 3 lemons with one or two strawberries. And for those with a green thumb, is easy to grow in a little garden. It does require a warmer climate so plant it after frost unless you’re in Florida or California. And it grows in pretty much in Any well-drained soil that is good for your typical garden vegetables.

Another interesting sweetener is something called “Whey Low”. I call it the “Whole Foods” low calorie sweetener, because the only place I’ve ever seen it is at Whole Foods, although according to the Whey Low website it’s available at other health food stores as well. It’s got 75% less calories than table sugar and it’s much lower on the glycemic index, which as we’ve said is a measurement of how fast a carbohydrate changes blood sugar. A teaspoon has 5 calories (a teaspoonful of ordinary sugar has about 20) You can substitute it one to one with sugar in recipes. It tastes like sugar, basically because it is sugar. It’s a blend of fructose, lactose and sucrose which are all sugars. Supposedly the sugar blend serves as a barrier in the intestine interferes with the absorption accounting for the low glycemic index. I’m not sure I’m buying that and fructose and sucrose are clearly problematic sweeteners. And even though they call it Whey Low, there’s no whey in the product. The name is derived from the lactose which comes from whey. Whey Low, is basically a nutritionally void processed sweetener, and doesn’t have any advantages over xylitol or Yacon or even stevia.

Then there’s straight fructose which is available as a sweetener in powder form. I’d be extremely careful of it as there’s a ton of literature that’s come out over the last few years implicating it in numerous health problems. Yes it’s fruit sugar and most of us have warm, fuzzy feelings about fruit, and for many years it’s been considered a safe alternative to regular sugar and for diabetics but recently ingestion of fructose has been linked to elevated triglycerides, uric acid, insulin, blood glucose. Fructose reacts with proteins more easily than regular sugar too. The reaction is called the browning reaction because it literally browns proteins and that means accelerated aging and greater susceptibility to organ failure and disease. It increase blood acidity which can be a prelude to cancer and it can have a negative on mineral balances involving calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. It can also throw off copper metabolism which can cause a weakening in blood vessels. That means strokes aneurysms and defects in connective tissue. It’s processed by the liver so it can exacerbate detoxification issues and it converts to fat more readily than regular sugar. And last but not least there are fructose malabsorbtion issues which affect 30% of Americans. That’s when you have a problem absorbing fructose into cells and it builds up in the intestine. Fructose malabsorbtion is common in folks who already have bowel problems like irritable bowel syndrome or celiac disease although anyone can have it. If you get bloating or diarrhea or gas or any digestive discomfort after you eat fruit or high fructose syrup or even honey, which is around 50% fructose chances are you’ve got an absorption problem.

Another sweetener that’s become popular in last few years is Agave Nectar. Now while Agave nectar sounds like its some kin of natural syrup or honey, it’s really a highly processed chemical sweetener that’s anywhere from 55 to 90% fructose, depending on whose information you’re reading. It has about ¾ of the calories of sucrose and while it does have a low glycemic index, if you’re a diabetic, it’s probably not a good choice given all the problems associated with fructose and what’s worse, most of it is produced in Mexico, which is known for less than rigorous regulatory standards, and some evidence suggests that it’s being cut with corn syrup. On top of that, the FDA has actually refused some shipments of agave nectar because of excessive pesticide residues. Agave is basically non-nutritional fructose, and if you want fructose, you’re probably better off using honey, which is about half fructose, and has a higher glycemic index and more calories than agave but contains a mother lode of nutrition including minerals, vitamins amino acids and enzymes, as long as it’s raw and unprocessed.

 

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Bone and Tissue Building Nutrients

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

After breaking a bone, or being involved in any surgical procedure, making sure there are enough anabolic (building) nutrients present in the body, can be an important strategy for accelerating the healing process.  The same is true for anabolic requirements arising from exercise or simply to slow down the aging process.  The following are some important nutrients that can help speed up healing, improve tissue building associated with exercise and help stave off some of the breakdown affects associated with aging.

Bone & Tissue

  • SILICA POWDER – 100 to 150 mg a day

Silica is essential to skeletal development and aids in mineralization of bone.  Essential for both bone hardness and flexibility.  Improves collagen production.

  • MSM – 3-5 gm a day

Contains digestible, non-toxic sulfur a major requirement for bone, cartilage, and collagen building. Sulfur is also a critical component of detoxification enzymes.

  • CALCIUM/MAGNESIUM – 2gm/1gm a day

Primary mineral components of bone.  Involved in growth enzymes.

  • ZINC PICOLINATE – 50mg /day

Mineral component of bone.  Mineral component of protein-inducing enzymes involved in growth. Stimulates healing and healthy testosterone synthesis.

  • WHEY PROTEIN- 30gm/ 2-5 times a day

Stimulates growth of new tissue.  Stimulates bone growth.

  • EFAs –  3-9 Capsules/day

Initiates tissue growth activity.  Maintains circulatory fluidity.

  • BROMELAIN/PAPAIN- 1-2 gm/day

Helps dissolves scar tissue.  Accelerate healing, reduces swelling, bruising and pain associated with inflammation

  • VITAMIN K2 100mcg/day

Aids in bone remineralization.

  • SUNLIGHT (for VITAMIN D) – lots but don’t burn

Aids calcium deposition in bones.

  • VITAMIN D3 – 2500-5000 i.u./day

Aids calcium deposition in bones.

  • B-COMPLEX (especially FOLIC ACID) 1/8 teaspoonful /3 times a day Stimulates tissue growth processes.  Important in assimilation of dietary nutrients.
  • VITAMIN E- 400iu/day

Accelerates healing and tissue regenerative processes.

  • VITAMIN C – 1000mg/3 times day

Accelerates collagen production. Facilitates tissue development, healing processes.

  • SPIRULINA/KELP POWDER – 2-3 teaspoonsful/day

Important source of digestible, absorbable minerals.

  • BOVINE CARTILAGE – 1-2 gm/day

Accelerates healing, tissue growth.

  • GLUCOSAMINE/CHONDROITAN – -2 gm/day
  • VITAMIN A – 20,000 iu/day
  • COLLOIDAL MINERALS – 2 oz/day

Important source of absorbable minerals for bone/tissue growth, enzyme systems.

  • BONE SOUP –  as much as possible beef/chicken/fish bones soaked in water with veggies
  • HYALURONIC ACID 200-400mg/day

Important for anabolic support and connective tissue (collagen)  building.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Sugar is the Adversary!

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

When it comes to good health and nutrition there are clearly many hurdles and adversaries that must be addressed and conquered. However, a strong case can be made, that no adversary is more formidable or needs to be addressed more that the one known as SUGAR! Now aside from the fact the body really has a hard time processing sugar and aside from the fact that the body’s insulin response to sugar can be as problematic as the sugar itself, (we’ll be talking more about that later), there is the whole subject of sugar’s effects on the skin.

Sugar
You see sugar explodes, witness the sugar we call ethanol that is used to run cars. Think of a marshmallow when it’s lit in a campfire, poof!. This reaction that sugar has with burning is actually an important part of biochemistry and how energy is produced in the body. Sugar in the form of glucose reacts with oxygen and a type of burning takes place and that’s how we get the energy to blink an eye, think a thought, wiggle a toe and generally move about the world.

The problem starts when there’s too much sugar around and this burning (which is technically called oxidation) goes out of control. Then you have these burnt sugar particles (I’m not being technical here) floating around. These burnt sugar particles are very reactive and one of their favorite things to react with is…protein, as in, the body’s protein. That means every single part of the body is at risk. In fact every single cell of the body is at risk to damage from this burning process which is called glycation. And by the way fructose is a lot more susceptible to glycation than glucose. Which is another reason to stay away from high fructose corn syrup.

Fructose is also associated with elevated uric acid levels and all the fructose we’re ingesting may be one of the reasons why gout, which is a type of arthritis is becoming such a problem. Incidence of gout is increasing and it’s especially increasing among women. Because of the chemical nature of fructose, it is more likely to react with proteins than glucose, some studies say 10 times more likely.

Now, cell receptors are made of protein and because they’re the link to hormones like insulin and thyroid hormone and digestive hormones, you can see how this glycation process, which remember is the result of eating too many potatoes and Twinkies can wreak havoc on multiple systems in the body. So you’re stomach’s bothering you or your thyroid’s not working like it should for example and you go to the doctor, what’s he or she gonna do? Probably put you on some drug like Synthroid or Lomotil to do what? To TREAT THE SYMPTOM!!! And that’s a classic example of why our medical model doesn’t work. Now glycation can affect a lot of other biological systems.

Take the vasculature. Because blood vessels are in large part composed of proteins like collagen, glycation issues can weaken blood vessels leading to cardiovascular issues like stroke and aneurysms. The body attempts to patch up weak vasculature with cholesterol, so now you’ve got plaques. And what’s pharmaceutical solution? Of course it’s a statin drug that stops the liver from making cholesterol. Or some well-meaning medical person will tell you to stop eating fatty or cholesterol-rich foods. But the problem isn’t cholesterol. That’s just the symptom. Once again if you back track far enough upstream you’ll find the problem is very likely too much sugar. It’s a dietary problem. It’s a food problem. It’s a lifestyle problem. It’s a choice problem.

And that’s the good news, that’s The bright side! We’re not sick or defective, we’re simply making the wrong choices. Glycation of the vasculature in the extremities, the fingers and toes and hands and feet can cause neuropathies, nerve pain and can even lead to amputations. Glycation in the small blood vessels in the eye can ultimately lead to blindness. And diabetes is a well known cause of both amputations and blindness. When it comes to the skin, which is my area of expertise, now you’ve got glycation-caused accelerated skin aging. That means photodamage and wrinkles. Wrinkles are caused by breakdowns in skin proteins and one of the leading causes is sugar glycation. If you’re eating the standard American diet of soda pop and desserts grains and fruits, and you’re worried about wrinkles and skin aging it’s not gonna do you much good to stay out of the sun. And I don’t if they’re whole or processed or whatever, grains are a major source of sugar . Especially corn! Glycation and sugar reactions are far more dangerous to skin health than any reasonable exposure to the sun.

And then there’s cellulite. One of the causes of orange-peel cellulite, and there are several factors involved, but one of the things that happens is connective tissue, in other words proteins, like collagen break down. Connective tissue, which is located in the bottom layers of the skin, which is called the dermis, acts to separate fat into little compartments or chambers. When sugar attacks, glycates connective tissue it degrades it ,and the fat can now leak out. And viola, you’ve got your wonderful orange-peel, cottage cheese look.

So, while there are many factors involved in the formation of cellulite in many ways it can be considered a connective tissue disorder. So if you’re eating lots of glycating sugars it doesn’t matter how much cellulite cream you put on. There’s lots of nutrients you can take to protect yourself from the ravages of sugar and glycation and we’ll be talking a lot about specific supplements today and in the weeks to come but for now please understand for skin health, connective tissue health, circulatory health, for looking good and feeling good, we’ve got to begin to address the impact of the choices we make around the foods we eat.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

On Good Nutrition

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The power of good nutrition to build and regenerate body organs and systems is unfathomable and the degree of non-toxicity and gentleness is astounding as opposed to inelegant and grossly toxic medical technology of drugs.

The human body is made up of a hundred trillion cells. Your body makes cells like we bake cake. It requires a recipe. But instead of, eggs and butter and whole grain flour it needs vitamins and minerals and essential fatty acids. Now, if you used elmer’s glue instead of flour and battery acid instead of eggs you wouldn’t have much of a cake and if your body has to use fried fats and refined sugar to make cells it’s not gonna have much of a body and eventually it’s gonna begin to decay and degenerate. one needs to look no further than your average public gathering place (try an all-u-can-eat buffet)to witness these effects.

Good Nutrition - Organic Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Image by Erdosain

Cells are perfectly capable of living and thriving and reproducing regenerating and healing and doing they’re specialized functions as long as they receive the appropriate vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, accessory nutrients and generous quantities of good clean water. That means from a physical perspective, no one needs to be “sick” now, the topic of good nutrition can be divided into two categories: diet and supplements. “Diet” referring to foodstuffs and “supplementation” referring to nutrients that add to (supplement) the diet. both subjects are important to understand for maximum health benefits.

The foods we eat have a tremendous impact on our physical health and well being. To put it simply, the less calories we ingest, the better off we will be. We should attempt to ingest the most nutrient dense foods. that is foods with a high nutrient to calorie ratio (lots of nutrition, not so many calories). The bulk of food calories should come from vegetables of all kinds (especially green leafies, grasses and avocados which are good sources of fats), quality protein, such as eggs, some fish and nuts and (ideally, sprouted) seeds. Water should be distilled or reverse osmosis and should be ingested copiously (1/2 to 1 gallon a day, under ideal conditions).

Then, there is nutritional supplementation. While herbs like saw palmetto and st. john’s wort may have their place in a health care regimen, they should not be considered nutritional supplements. herbs are medicines and not nutrition. nutritional supplementation is a vast subject and thus the importance of the “eight chapters of good nutrition’ which can be thought of as a simplified version of the this encyclopedic and potentially overwhelming subject.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

The 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Ok, so there really isn’t a “book” called The 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition; it’s simply a handy way to think about diet and supplementation. Nutrition as we’ve said is a vast subject matter and to make it palatable we’ve divided it into 8 (somewhat) manageable sections. 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition

I say “somewhat” because even with chunking we’re still going to have to absorb a large amount of information. While that may seem daunting, it’s actually good news, because it means that there’s lots of places where we can begin to improve the state of our nutritional status and thus ultimately our overall sense of physical well-being.

So, without further ado: The 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition, Chapter 1, Protein.

Proteins are complex molecules made up of individual building blocks called amino acids. While these individual sub-components have powerful health effects as individual molecules, there is no nutritional substance more important than those that emerge from stringing those amino acids together and forming proteins.

The word protein is derived from Latin where it refers to primary importance. There are anywhere from 50-200,000 different proteins in the body, which vary basedon their amino acid sequence, and this enormous number gives the protein structure it’s mind-boggling versatility. 75-80% of the dry weight of the body is protein and this includes enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, muscle, bone, teeth and tissue. All of the proteins of the body are custom designed for individual needs and built up from smaller building-block components called amino acids. Continue reading →

Update

Now you can sit back, relax and watch the “The 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition” on video.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition, Nutrition

Chapter 1 Proteins

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Proteins are complex molecules made up of individual building blocks called amino acids. While these individual sub-components have powerful health effects as individual molecules, there is no nutritional substance more important than those that emerge from stringing those amino acids together and forming proteins.

Protein
The word protein is derived from Latin where it refers to primary importance. There are anywhere from 50-200,000 different proteins in the body, which vary basedon their amino acid sequence, and this enormous number gives the protein structure it’s mind-boggling versatility. 75-80% of the dry weight of the body is protein and this includes enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, muscle, bone, teeth and tissue. All of the proteins of the body are custom designed for individual needs and built up from smaller building-block components called amino acids.

Proteins are synthesized originally from plants utilizing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen which are ubiquitous and nitrogen which must be extracted from the soils or from so called nitrogen-fixing bacteria which attach themselves to roots and do the extracting work for the plant. Animals then obtain their protein by eating plants or other animals. When the animal expires, the nitrogen from the proteins return to the earth where it is recycled into further protein production. In addition, one of the primary roles of dietary protein is to supply the body with nitrogen.

All foods can be thought of as being comprised of two categories of substance. Macronutrient (protein, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and trace elements). Micronutrients serve to support utilization of macronutrients. And macronutrient’s main function is to help to produce the most critical substance in the body…protein! That’s right, as critical as fats and carbohydrates are, their main role is to stimulate the production of proteins. As we live and age our body is constantly breaking down. Fortunately, when we are thriving, this break down initiates a building up process and the life force that is responsible for this process is mediated by protein. The secret of health and “young-gevity” is to make sure that there are enough protein building blocks present to allow the formation of more cells and tissue as old cells and tissue die off. While some protein building blocks can be manufactured, many cannot. Thus the importance of generous and strategic ingestion of dietary protein.

When it comes to dietary protein, the most important thing to recognize is that not all dietary proteins are equally valuable. The measurement of protein value is referred to as “biological value” or BV and is measured on a scale of 1-100. The biological value of a given protein is based on the relationship between protein consumed and protein excreted. This gives an indication of how much consumed protein actually remains within the body to do work.

The so called “BV scale” features eggs as a perfect 100 with beef protein around 80, soy around 70 and wheat around 50. But the standout protein based on biological value is whey protein which scores a 104; it’s literally off the charts. And whey protein isolates, which are processed to reduce fats and lactose (as well as, unfortunately, many of the health-supporting, bioactive compounds found in the concentrated form) score an incredible 154! And whey protein is not only important because of it’s biological value.

Proteins are large molecules that are composed of smaller biding blocks called amino acids. Typically those composed of smaller groups of amino acids are called peptides 2-9 amino acids) and larger combinations (1-2000 amino acids long) are referred to as polypeptide or proteins. The link between amino acids is referred to as a peptide bond. The bulk of the human body (after water is removed) is composed of protein. There are subdivided into two types: fibrous and globular.

Fibrous proteins are elongated and insoluble in water. They play a structural and supportive role and are also involved in movement. The human body is held together by the action of fibrous proteins of collagen is the prototype (the precursor “colla-“ is Latin for glue) which is the most abundant protein in the human body, (almost 25% of the human body’s protein is collagen) , and possibly the most abundant protein on earth. There are at least 20 different types of human collagen similar in structure but different in distribution. In skin and connective tissue, collagen is found with a fibrous protein called elastin which as its name implies, has a highly elastic nature ( an elastin fiber can stretch 5 times as much as a rubber band!). When combined with the rigid nature of collagen the resulting networked matrix can provide strong support and resistance with flexible contractility. Collagen also forms about 1/3 of bone, where in combination with minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc it forms a powerfully resilient composite capable of mild flexibility and distortion.

A good rule of thumb for daily protein requirements is about ½ to 1 gram per pound of body weight. If you’re healing or exercising or under unusual stress you need more. Women who are pregnant also have higher protein requirements. You will find yourself craving sweets when you need more protein. The next time you have a hankering for a candy bar or a glass of apple juice, try some dense protein (eggs or powdered whey protein, for example) instead. When you’ve ingested enough protein, your sweet craving will disappear. Just think about how often you crave sweets on a typical day, and that should give you an idea of how much daily protein your body is required!

The best way to meet your protein need on a daily basis is smoothies. Try mixing protein powder with ice cold distilled water and essential fatty acids (more on EFAs later). Crack a raw egg in and add a couple of frozen organic strawberries. If you want to more sweetener try xylitol or stevia. Cocoa powder will make it chocolaty and vanilla extract will spike the chocolate flavor. The smoothie format is filling and easy to prepare. And it allows you to get a high concentration of protein. (30-40 grams easily).

The best time to take your protein supplement (or ideally, smoothie) is after working out. The body is “’primed” for the absorption of all nutrients after it’s been stimulated, and this is especially true of proteins. Later, when we talk about amino acids, we will discover that this priming function is especially significant with these protein building blocks. The next best time is bedtime. This will allow for more effective tissue regeneration and healing as well as improved hormonal production, all of which occur at night. The third best time is at breakfast , as pm healing and growth can cause nutrient depletion. Of course, during the day protein supplementation can help stave off munchies and/or the tendency to snack on sweets. Remember, protein requirements are often disguised as sweet cravings.

Proteins are large molecules that are composed of smaller biding blocks called amino acids. Typically those composed of smaller groups of amino acids are called peptides 2-9 amino acids) and larger combinations (1-2000 amino acids long) are referred to as polypeptide or proteins. The link between amino acids is referred to as a peptide bond. The bulk of the human body (after water is removed) is composed of protein. There are subdivided into two types: fibrous and globular.

Fibrous proteins are elongated and insoluble in water. They play a structural and supportive role and are also involved in movement. The human body is held together by the action of fibrous proteins of collagen is the prototype (the precursor “colla-“ is Latin for glue) which is the most abundant protein in the human body, (almost 25% of the human body’s protein is collagen) , and possibly the most abundant protein on earth. There are at least 20 different types of human collagen similar in structure but different in distribution. In skin and connective tissue, collagen is found with a fibrous protein called elastin which as its name implies, has a highly elastic nature ( an elastin fiber can stretch 5 times as much as a rubber band!). When combined with the rigid nature of collagen the resulting networked matrix can provide strong support and resistance with flexible contractility. Collagen also forms about 1/3 of bone, where in combination with minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc it forms a powerfully resilient composite capable of mild flexibility and distortion.

Perhaps due to the popularity, as well as the glut of products in the health food marketplace, their seems to be some confusion around some whey supplements. To clarify, whey protein is a blend of globular proteins derived from whey, which is in turn a by-product milk that is leftover from cheese production. There are three main types of whey protein supplements: whey protein concentrate which has the highest concentration of non-protein bioactive compounds (more on these substances later) whey protein isolate, which has been processed (via microfiltration or “ion exchange”) to remove fats and lactose but contains over 90% protein and whey protein hydrolysate, which has been partially digested for ease of absorbtion. The isolate and hydrolysate forms may be easier to use if allergies or digestive issues are a factor. For most folks whey protein concentrates, which are the least processed, serve as an effective protein source and the additional benefits of non protein bioactive compounds that support the immune system and act as natural ant-biotics as well as a significantly lower cost are a plus. Also, whenever it comes to proteins (and food in general) less processing is usually better. Look for new Zealand whey as this enlightened country has a great respect for dairy products and minimezes (or avoids) the use of hormones and anti-biotics.

Now while proteins come in over 100,000 forms they are all built up from around 20 components called amino acids. You can think of amino acids like beads on a string and the proteins as the final necklace. The functionality of the protein necklace depends upon its amino acid beads. The term amino refers to the ammonium molecule which can be found somewhere in an amino acid and the acid refers to the portion of the amino acid that is (logically) acidic. According to Eric Braverman, who has written extensively on amino acids, when the when the acidic portion is removed the remaining amine can function as a messenger in the nervous system, and when the amine portion is removed, the remaining acid can be used in numerous biochemical processes including detoxification and energy production.

Update

Now you can sit back, relax and watch the “The 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition” on video.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in 8 Chapters of Good Nutrition, Nutrition

Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one in 5 Americans is dealing with some form of heart disease. Much of this is needless suffering and can be alleviated with appropriate life style strategies.

Exercise is important. So is making good food choices and being a non-smoker. But there is nothing more important than getting on a good nutritional supplement program. Last post we listed the first part of the top 12 supplements for cardiovascular health.

Heart NutrientsWe conclude with Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 2 below. For more detailed information make sure to listen to The Bright Side on the Genesis Communication Network, daily 8 to 9 PST, 11-12 EST (The Bright Side).

Omega 3s –thin the blood and relax blood vessels allowing for more blood flow and oxygen to the heart. Provide well-researched and dramatic protection against cardiovascular disease and fatal heart attacks. Reduces inflammation and may improve blood fats and cholesterol too. Fish oil works but Krill Oil may be
even better.

CoQ10 –super vita-nutrient for the heart. Used by cardiac cells to produce energy and as a defense against rogue oxygen “sparks”. Thousands of studies show protection against all forms of heart disease.May help lower blood pressure too. Look for oil-soluble gel caps.

B Vitamins –protection from cardio-toxic homocysteine. Intimate involvement in energy production chemistry make these nutrient absolutely indispensable for protection against all forms of heart disease. Vitamin B3 helps lower triglycerides and cholesterol too. Water-soluble format leads to rapid excretion and potential deficiencies.Dissolve in liquid and drink them all day long for maximum benefits.

Carnitine – take as L-Carnitine or for maximum cardiac benefits as Propionyl L-Carnitine. A must-have supplement for all form of heart disease.Critical for the production of energy from fat (fat-burning) by cardiac cells.Numerous studies demonstrate benefits for coronary artery disease as well as myocardial ischemia (lack of blood flow to the heart).

Vitamin E – provides vital cardiac protection from oxidized (rancid) cholesterol plaques.Thins blood and helps maintain heart oxygenation.Reduces free radical activity in heart.Take as both tocopherols and tocotrienols (mixed tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols) in mixed format for best results.Especially important for smokers and as protection from a second heart attack.

Chromium – low levels associated with increased risk of heart attacks.Chromium deficient diabetics especially at risk for heart attacks.Critical role in sugar metabolism provides benefits for the cardiovascular system.May improve high blood pressure too.Niacin bound form (chromium polynicotinate) most effective for protection from heart disease.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Top 12 Heart Nutrients Part 1

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Last post we defined some of the common terms associated with heart disease. Now, for some of the important nutrients you can take to protect your heart and avoid the cardiologist’s office or even worse, his knife! And, to keep you off the especially dangerous drugs. Cardiac and circulatory drugs are among the most toxic and deadliest of the entire prescription pharmacopeia. If you’re on medication now, you can ask you can ask (or even better insist!) that your physician wean you off your meds and get you on some non-toxic, good nutrition. And if you’re not on meds, there is nothing like a good diet and supplement strategy to keep you far away from the pharmacy for heart meds or anything else.

Heart Nutrients

By Rahul Sharma (Annayu) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

In no particular order, here’s the first 6:

Vitamin C– this powerful nutrient sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to
cardiovascular health. Animals (except for humans, some other primates and guinea pigs) all make their own Vitamin C and animals (except for humans, some other primates and guinea pigs) don’t get heart attacks!

Magnesium – keeping blood from becoming sticky and blood sugar control are just two of
the mechanisms associated with this under-appreciated and often time deficient
mineral protects the heart. Some scientists believe that the cardiovascular benefits attributed to aspirin should have be credited to the magnesium found in the “Bufferin” that was used in the original studies.

Selenium– Known as the heart mineral, selenium deficiencies are also somewhat common
and numerous studies show that supplementation can deliver many cardiovascular
benefits. It’s especially helpful in protecting the heart form low levels of oxygen and it’s protective against heavy metal poisoning of heart cells. Deficienciesare associated with Keshan Disease, a particular fatal form of cardiomyopathy.

Arginine –protects the cardiovascular health in so many ways, it’s a must-have for anyone concerned about heart disease. Lowers blood cholesterol very effectively, especially in high doses (10 to 15 grams a day), improves coronary , as well as general circulation and lowers high blood pressure. Helps prevent blood clots and helps strengthen heart muscle. Very important for angina suffererers. In Europe and Japan it is injected directly by cardiologists to reopen blocked circulation.

Vitamin K – helps maintain clotting balance, especially when using Vitamin E. Protective against hardening of the arteries and calcium regulation function helps maintain heart rhythm and
contractility. Use with medical guidance when taking blood thinning medication like Plavix or warfarin.

Taurine – Helps lower blood pressure and improves the excretion of excess fluid which
takes pressure off of blood vessels. Strengthens heart muscle and helps maintain calcium balance in heart cells. Critical in maintaining heart muscle
contraction.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Think Zinc! Part 2

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Last post we discussed all the ways zinc and the lack of it can affect the body. Skin clarity, bone health and immune system integrity are just some of the ways this essential nutrient can impact health. Taking a daily 50mg dose of zinc can help prevent and reduce the duration of colds (as I write this post, there’s a television commercial running that promotes the use of a cold remedy called “Cold-Eeze” which contains a small amount of zinc gluconate), eliminate acne and improve eczema. Zinc’s powerful hormone balancing properties can help improve prostate health and prevent male pattern baldness. And zinc is important for the health of sperm cells and may improve male fertility. All in all, zinc is important for hundreds of different biochemical reactions; this stuff is amazing!

Think ZincThat’s what I mean when I talk about the importance of nutritional supplementation. Think about the leverage here: one little pill with 50mg of Zinc in it (about the amount of zinc that would fit on the head of a pin) can control and stabilize and spark several hundred chemical processes in the body. Now that is some serious clout!

And, the most incredible part is how little 50mg of zinc costs. What would you expect to pay for a (magic) pill that could keep hair on your head, cure your acne, strengthen your bones, build your immunity, enhance your digestion, improve the function of your heart and help you think more effectively? And, with no downside when taken as directed. Would you expect to pay 100 dollars for a month supply? It would be worth it! In fact, for all those benefits, 100 dollars a month would be an incredible bargain. Well, surprise, surprise! A 30 day supply of zinc at a health food store will typically cost less than 5 bucks!

You can tell if you’re deficient in zinc by doing the “zinc taste test”. You can use a solution of zinc sulfate and water (available online) or you can place a zinc sulfate tablet on your tongue. If you’re not instantly repelled by a strong metallic taste chances are pretty good that you’re suffering from a lack of zinc.

The best way to get zinc into the body is supplementally in the picolinate and monomethionine forms. These are available in most health food stores, but they are harder to find at drug stores where the typical forms available are zinc gluconate and zinc sulfate. The bio-availability of these cheaper zinc varieties is less than satisfactory and many people find that they can cause nausea or other digestive distress. A good daily dose is 50mg a day and once you get going you can skip a day or two here and there. Interestingly the signs of zinc deficiency (such as acne, hair loss, frequent colds and flues) can be duplicated by taking too much zinc (100mg a day is too much). It’s also important to note than there is an antagonistic relationship between zinc and copper and it’s probably a good idea to take 2 mg of copper with every 50mg of zinc. Look for chelate or glycinate forms of copper which are easily handled by the body.

For those of you who want to try to obtain zinc through diet, in addition to the aforementioned oysters and the Rocky Mountain variety, the best sources include liver, lamb, venison, and sesame and pumpkin seeds. However, it should be noted than even then highest zinc concentration foods provide only 10mg or so per serving.

SUMMARY:
-Zinc deficiency is relatively common.
-It’s important for hundreds of different biochemical systems to work
effectively.

-The zinc taste test can alert you to deficiencies.
-Deficiencies can show up in dozens of different ways including depressed immunity, bone problems, skin rashes, eczema and acne, digestive distress and hormone issues.-The zinc taste test can alert you to deficiencies.
-All you need is a couple cents worth of zinc (50mg a day) to meet your zinc requirements and prevent the signs of deficiency.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Think Zinc! Part 1

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

In Dr. Ananda PrasadIn’s seminal book “The Biochemistry of Zinc”, the nutritional chemist’s go-to guide for all things zinc, there is ample picture proof of the tragedy of deficiencies in the super, unbelievable important mineral. Page after page of photographs taken of children and adults who suffer from nutritional lack of zinc depict the impact of deprivation of this vital nutrient. Stunted growth, skin lesions, hair loss, wasting away syndromes, where the body becomes emaciated and frail, are all vividly portrayed. And zinc deficiency can cause less dramatic health problems too: immunity, skin and bone, the brain, the eye, reproductive and general hormone health, and blood sugar balance and insulin and digestive integrity largely depend on the presence of this incredibly important nutritional metal.

Think ZincThe scariest thing about zinc deficiency is its frequency, which makes it one of the most significant and widespread nutritional deficiencies in the world. 1 out 3 people world-wide is at risk for zinc deficiency and in developing countries, where cereals and grains (which contain zinc-binding compounds and are often-times grown on zinc deficient soils) provide the bulk of caloric intake, it is the 5th leading risk for disease.

Zinc is involved in over 200 different enzyme systems in the body. In other words, if there is any manner of deficiency, literally hundreds of biological systems will be operating at less than peak efficiency. The net result of zinc deficiency is a body that is dramatically less effective at growing, repairing and cogitating and is less able to perform, thrive and resist stress and disease.

Zinc is a key component of the body’s wound healing system. This can be especially helpful pre and post surgery. And, one of the best ways to help heal a sore throat and shorten the duration of a cold or a flu) is to suck on zinc lozenges. Most people notice relief within a day.

Zinc may be the single most important nutrient for acne-prone skin. In a laboratory, acneic lesions can be induced in animals by creating zinc deficiencies. Anyone who suffers from acne or acne-like blemishes should consider add a daily 50mg dose of zinc to well-rounded supplement program.

Pregnant women would be especially wise to watch out for zinc deficiencies. Not only does the developing fetus benefit from this critical nutrient, but deficiencies are associated with the development of stretch marks. And mothers to-be should be aware that there is scientific literature that indicates that zinc deficiency may persist for generations. In an article published in the journal “Science”, test animals who were deprived of zinc demonstrated a depressed immune system that persisted for 3 generations! Men get special benefits too. Supplementing with zinc is one of the best ways to protect the prostate. It’s important for improving sperm count, semen is especially rich in zinc. And, zinc’s supportive role in testosterone metabolism has given the mineral a well-deserved reputation as nutritional support for libido. Perhaps this accounts for the notoriety that oysters and the Colorado variety, Rocky Mountain oysters (which are both relatively high zinc) get for being aphrodisiacs.

Zinc is plays a critical part brain function and mental health. It’s been used to treat autism, ADHD and depression. Low levels in children have been associated with learning disabilities. In the 1970’s Dr. Carl Pfeiffer reported that zinc supplementation, when taken with Vitamin B6 was 95% per cent successful in treating certain types of schizophrenia.

There’s an important relationship between zinc and vitamin A. Zinc is required for Vitamin A to be activated and transported in the body. In the absence of zinc, Vitamin A deficiency is sure to follow. Vitamin A is required for eye, skin, bone, and heart and brain health and is also an important part of the immune system. In other words, in addition to all of the problems directly associated with a lack of zinc, deprivation of this key mineral can also induce a long list of Vitamin A deficiency symptoms as well.

We’ll continue with some practical ways to maintain Zinc health in a coming post…

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Fructose is Natural, but …

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

I’ve been thinking a lot about fructose lately. And it seems like so are a lot of other people. Every week I get between 10 and 20 letters asking for clarifications about this not-so-sweet subject. Fructose, known colloquially as fruit sugar seems like such an innocuous substance. After al, it come from fruit. And we all know how wonderful fruit is, right? And besides, it’s natural!

Fructose is NaturalWell, at the risk of bursting nutritional and mythological bubbles, it seems that, much like everything else, even natural fruit sugar has a dark side. The problem is that humanity’s exponentially evolving skills at manipulating technology has gotten so sophisticated that we can now extract sugars from plants with such proficiency that we are all getting far more fructose than the body, and specifically the liver can handle. The average American is ingesting around 60 pounds of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and 140 pounds of sucrose every year. When you do the math (HFCS is usually around 55% fructose and sucrose, ordinary table sugar, is around 50% fructose) we’re looking over two pounds of fructose a week, per person, per year. And that doesn’t include the amount people are getting from fruit and honey and other sources. That’s a lot of fructose for a body has evolved and is equipped to handle the sweet stuff in only the smallest of quantities.

So, what’s the problem with fructose? Well, because of the human body is not supposed to be dealing with alot of fructose (for millennia it was a rare find), the metabolic systems that metabolize (process and store) it are easily overloaded. This is especially problematic for the digestive system in general and specifically for the liver. The alarming incidences of fatty liver disease (which is so prevalent that it is now considered a normal part of aging) and pervasive intestinal illnesses are at least partially related to the skyrocketing fructose ingestion statistics.

There is some interesting chemical choreography that is associated with fructose metabolism. One of the most relevant biochemical ballets when it comes to human health or the lack thereof, involves the way fructose can combine with the amino acid tryptophan. The resulting interaction can keep tryptophan from getting to the brain and when this happens BIG trouble can follow!

Tryptophan is incredibly important. It’s a must-have for the repair, recovery and the building of tissue. And, it’s mega, mega important for mood and well being and for getting a good night’s sleep. It gets turned into melatonin and serotonin which are arguably the two most important chemicals in the brain and fundamental to mental health. You can think of tryptophan as natural Prozac and from many people fructose will be blocking it’s access to the brain.

And there’s a fascinating fructose/tryptophan connection to eating behavior. Appetite and satisfaction (the feeling of fullness) a regulated by the brain. We eat or don’t eat in response to signals from the brain and one of the most important determining factors in what type type of signals will be sent is the presence or absence of certain chemicals. One of these is tryptophan. The brain in constantly scanning the blood looking for tryptophan and if it can’t find any, it sends it’s owner out on a highly focused, one-pointed hunt for food. If fructose is complexing with this vital amino acid, dietary tryptophan can become unavailable to the brain and there won’t be enough to activate the satisfaction centers vs. the “let’s go get a Coke or an apple or some kind of sugar” centers. An insatiable appetite for sugar or other foods is the ultimate result.

Another indication of fructose/tryptophan complexing issues is digestive symptoms like gas and bloating and loose stools, although it can show up in other ways. Especially when they occur after eating and drinking fruits, fruit juices and HFCS containing foods. This is especially a problem with big hits of liquid or powdered fructose which are quickly absorbed. Little kids are major victims because of of the vast variety of fructose-containing processed foods that target children. And mothers, please do not do the “apple-juice-in-the-pacifier-tipped- bottle” thing where your baby sucks the sweet toxin out at his leisure. When your baby cries for his apple juice he’s going through withdrawal symptoms that’s are just as severe as those associated with opium. The same with adults. There is a well-researched link between the sweet taste and so-called “opioid” receptors in the brain. These receptors are called “opioid” because they respond to opium. In other words, sugar and opium (think heroin) both “turn on” the same chemical systems in the brain. Which means, sugar is essentially brain heroin and when a baby (or adult) goes without it he screams because he’s withdrawing! That’s one of the main reasons it’s so hard to get off of sugar. It’s a withdrawal stress on, what is for most people, an already stressed out body system. In a way, ingestion of fructose and the associated problems are better than adding another stress in the form of withdrawal.

Taking 500-1000mg of tryptophan or 100-200mg of 5HTP once a day is a great way to stabilize mood and suppress the appetite. It may also be helpful for sugar cravings. 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful of glutamine powder taken once or twice a day may also be helpful. Glutamine powder is tasteless and dissolves easily in a glass of water. Like tryptophan, high brain blood concentrations of glutamine signal satiety. Both of these supplements can be supportive if you’re trying to lose weight. There’s alot more you can do if you’re trying to extricate yourself from the fructose morass. We’ll be addressing those strategies in a later post.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Beware Ezekial Bread!

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

I’ve gotten a few questions lately about this stuff called Ezekiel Bread, which a type of bread that’s made largely from grains and beans that have been sprouted. The entire ingredient deck from this particular form of bread includes various organic sprouted grains (wheat, barley, spelt and millet), something called organic malted barley (which acts as a source of sugar and is used to feed by beer brewers to feed yeast), sprouted beans (soy and lentils), water, yeast and salt, Ezekiel bread is named for the prophet Ezekiel, who in the bible was given a recipe for making bread. Ezekiel 4:9 says: “Take also unto yourself wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make yourself bread of it…”

The manufacturers of this stuff follow the recipe and make their product which they call Ezekiel bread. It’s a good thing they didn’t read any further when they came up with the recipe because three verses later in Ezekiel 4:12 we learn that God wants to add other stuff to the recipe. Specifically human feces! The exact line from the bible reads: “And thou shall eat it as barley cakes, and thou shall bake it with dung that cometh out of man…”!!

Ezekial BreadIt cannot be argued that sprouted breads are healthy choices when compared to regular bread. The minerals in the grains are more available to the human digestive system and they contain more protein. But that does not mean that these types of bread are overall healthy foods, especially if you have sugar problems.

The difference between sprouted breads and regular bread is mostly in the fact that while the latter is made from wheat flour, which is ground up wheat kernels, sprouted bread, is made from wheat kernels that have already sprouted. Because sprouts use up the sugar in the wheat kernels to make protein, Ezekiel bread has less sugar and more protein. But, because the kernels are typically not sprouted all the way, there is still sugar in Ezekiel Bread, not as much as there is in regular bread perhaps, but unless the kernel is completely sprouted and there is nothing left but the shell, you are still getting sugar. Just check out the nutritional facts that are printed right on the label. Every slice of Ezekiel Bread has 15grams or three teaspoonful of sugar in it. And most people are eating 2 or 3 slices. That means you’re looking at 6 teaspoonfuls of sugar if you’re eating a couple of slices. If you eat 3 or 4, that’s 9 to 12 teaspoonfuls of sugar. It’s not ordinary “table sugar”, its starch but it’s still going to get turned into sugar in your body, and it will raise blood sugar and create an insulin response.

One of the most obvious red flags when it comes to sprouted breads like Ezekiel Bread is that fact people really like it! And what is it that makes Ezekiel Bread such a popular alternative among the blood-sugar -conscious folks who try it? It’s probably not the fat because there’s only about ½ a gram of fat per slice of the stuff. And it’s probably not the protein, because there’s isn’t a lot of protein either. There’s a little fiber, but people don’t exactly go crazy about fiber. And you don’t see a lot of folks going out looking for sprouted barely or millet either. The reason people like Ezekiel Bread is the same reason people like most of the foods they eat. It’s the carbs! And the carbs in this sprouted bread are the same as the carbs in any kind of bread, (although the fiber, can slow down the release of the sugar).

Any way you describe it, the facts it is carbohydrates mean sugar! An average slice of white bread has around 20-25 calories, but an average slice of Ezekiel bread has 80 calories. There are over 3 times more calories in a slice of Ezekiel bread then there is a slice of white bread. And these are sugar dense calories. In fact NOT including the fiber (which is non-caloric), almost half the calories from Ezekiel Bread come from carbohydrates/sugar. It may not be pure sucrose or table sugar. It may be in the form of starch, but it will still have an effect on your blood glucose. 3 teaspoonfuls of sugar per slice! Ezekiel bread does have some protein value, so it’s not as bad as white bread or cake or pasta, which are awful and empty foods, but it’s still a load of sugar; sugar that you don’t need.
This is why we have to be savvy, why we have to be nutrition label readers. No one can deny that sprouted breads are better that regular bread, but if you are diabetic or concerned about blood sugar I’d avoid them. And, if you have leaky gut problems or Celiac Disease, or any digestive issues, it important to recognize that sprouted bread still contain gluten and allergenic proteins.

Sprouts are great, but Ezekiel Bread isn’t sprouts and it doesn’t taste anything like sprouts In fact it looks and smells and tastes like bread. A heavy, thick somewhat unusual bread but a “bread” nonetheless.

If we’re having blood sugar problems, and we know we should be getting off the bread, we’re kidding ourselves if we think the solution is to start eating a different type of bread, Ezekiel or otherwise. What we should be attempting to do is wean ourselves off of the bread habit and the bread taste. I’m not beating up on Ezekiel or any other sprouted bread. I’m just saying let’s not be fooling ourselves. Look on the nutrition facts. If it’s says carbohydrates, that means sugar and that means elevation in blood glucose and insulin and that means beware if you’re a diabetic or pre-diabetic. There’s just no other way you can slice it.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition