The Thrill of Krill Oil

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

The more I learn about Krill Oil the more excited I get.  After being in the health care business for thirty much of it working directly with ingredients, I must admit to being somewhat jaded when it comes to new ingredients.

The first I heard of a new type of Omega-3 type ingredient on the market my finely honed baloney detector signaled a red alert.  Not another EFA!   How could a new EFA even work, what could really be different?  Well as it turns out it is different, very different.  And in a very good way.  First of all a quick and concise digression on the basic nature of EFAs is in order.  To be technically proper there are two EFAs and only two.  One is called linoleic acid (LA) and is known as Omega-6 and the other is called alpha linolenic acid (ALA) is usually referred to as Omega-3.  One of the really neat things about LA and ALA is that they get turned into things, lots of things, including important substances for the brain and for the heart and ultimately they serve as raw materials for mega-powerful chemicals (called “eicosanoids”) that have a role to play in almost every single physical and biochemical reaction in the body.  Two of these derivative substances which are produced via alpha linolenic acid (Omega-3) are called DHA and EPA.  Thrill of Krill OilAnd they’re very, very important, although they are not essential.  Taking a nice daily dose of DHA and EPA is probably a good idea but certainly not in lieu of ALA, which is only found in a relatively few places, seeds like flax chia and hemp being the most well known sources. Now DHA and EPA, those are typically found in sea creatures.  Until Krill, the only place to get DHA and EPA in a concentrated form was through fish oil or cod liver oil.  (Interesting fact: snake oil contains high amounts of EPA and the old exaggerated claims that have it given it it’s pejorative idiomatic meaning probably derive from hyperbolic claims made for what is in actuality nothing more than a good nutritional supplement).  And, because of the inherent instability of these molecules, fish oil wasn’t stable of nutritional supplements.  There are lots of horror stories of fish oil and cod liver oil samples with elevated levels of free radicals  an indication of rancidity, an oil gone bad.

Enter Krill OI.   As it turns out, these tiny crustaceans have figured out a way to maximize the biochemical properties of DHA and EPA.  It seems like they attach a little molecule called a phospholipid to the DHA/EPA complex and thereby render it somewhat water soluble.  And that makes the DHA and EPA from Krill Oil super effective.  It allows it to partition into both the fatty tissue of the body as well as the watery fluids.  This basically turns the EPA into a biochemical switch hitter.  Just like a baseball player that can hit both right handed and left handed, this DHA/EPA-phospholipid complex that nature has given the lowly Krill makes these important nutritional fats super-versatile.  It means that when you’re taking Krill Oil not only are you getting highly significant fatty acids with their own nutritional benefits; you’re also getting phospholipids which are important for the health and longevity of every single one of the 100 trillion cells in the body and are especially health of the nerve and brain cells and the digestive system.

And there’s more too.  Krill oil contains high amounts of molecules called carotenoids (one called astaxanthin has been recently touted by the Mike Adams the Health Ranger for its skin protecting and anti-sunburn properties) derived from the copious amounts of algae that the tiny crustaceans devour.  These carotenoids not only add to the nutritional benefits of the Krill Oil by supporting skin health, the eyes and cardiac health are beneficiaries too.  And, the astaxanthin provides the Krill Oil with it’s most important property.  It acts to protect the inherently unstable fatty acids helping keep the EPA and DHA more stable for a longer period of time than fish-based oils.  Add to all these features the fact that Krill contains Vitamins E, A and D and you have yourself one amazing nutritional supplement.

The most striking health benefits of Krill Oil involve anti-inflammation.  Omega 3s in general have anti inflammatory properties, but it seems that all of the unusual biochemical compounds found in Krill give this stuff some extra powerful anti inflammatory effects.  A recent study published in Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that just a 300mg daily dose of Krill Oil  “significantly inhibits inflammation and reduces arthritic symptoms within a short treatment period of 7 and 14 days”.  It’s seems to be especially effective on arthritis pain  And, Krill Oil also has powerful affects on blood fats and sugar.  A number of studies have demonstrated effectiveness on raising HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol and on reducing blood sugar levels.  And, most notably, it’s was shown in a study published in the August 2003 edition of Alternative Medicine review to be effective in reducing physical and emotional symptoms associated with PMS.

So, if you’re using fish oil capsule now, you might want to consider adding in or even replacing your dose entirely with Krill Oil.  The biochemistry is certainly compelling and the literature is there to support it.   The only company making Krill Oil is Neptune Technologies out of Canada, so any brand you get is going to be pretty much the same stuff.  Look for the cheapest but never at the expense of freshness. 

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Heart Disease Simplified

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

With 64 million Americans suffering some form of heart disease and over a million deaths attributed annually to what is the number one cause of mortality in the U.S., there is perhaps no health issue that is more worthy of discussion then how to keep your heart healthily humming.

We’ve been talking about nutritional supplements for improving heart health on The Bright Side and indeed there are lots. In fact, even more important than the specific nutrients and dietary routes you can take to your help your ticker, is the very idea that if you have heart health issues and you’re on a prescription drug and you want to get off of it, there are many, many non-toxic, non-pharmaceutical options you can use that restore cardiac vigor and at the same time contribute many other health benefits. Heart Disease SimplifiedIn a later post, we’ll list the top nutritional and dietary strategies for improving cardiovascular health. In this article we’d like to begin to clear up some of the confusion that surrounds the names and descriptions of the various forms of heart disease.

Atherosclerosis (arteriosclerosis) – “sclerosis” is the Greek-derived medical term for “hardening”, thus athero- or arterio-sclerosis refers to hardening and thickening of arterial walls (also known as “hardening of the arteries”). This can ultimately lead to a blockage of blood supply and oxygen, and subsequent to damage to heart cells. The ultimate fate of long term blood and oxygen deprivation can be heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks. The biggest problem associated with prevention of arteriosclerosis is its asymptomatic nature. Unfortunately many people do not know that there coronary arteries are hardening until they suffer from one of the unfortunate end results.

Angina – literally form the Latin for chest pain, this unfortunate condition affects an estimated 10 million Americans. Symptoms of angina are similar to those of a heart attack and include chest pain and pressure, nausea, sweating, dizziness, difficulty breathing and throat, upper back, shoulder or jaw pain. Unlike a heart attack however the symptoms are temporary and usually subside with rest. Still, angina symptoms are a serious sign of cardiac deficiency and need to be addressed immediately.

Myocardial Ischemia (MI) – refers to a lack of blood flow to the heart. Myocardial means “heart muscle” and ischemia is the Greek term for “stopping blood”. The most likely cause of is arteriosclerosis and the end result of long-term blockage can be permanent damage to the heart muscle. A sudden, severe ischemia will often result in a heart attack.

Cardiomyopathy– literally, heart muscle disease, this is a generic term that describes a diseased heart muscle and results in a diminished pumping action. This typically refers to a weakened left ventricle, which is responsible for the ejection of freshly oxygenated blood through the aorta to the rest of the body.

Myocardial Infarction (MI) – colloquially referred to as a “heart attack”, an MI occurs after a section he heart has been deprived of blood long enough for heart cells and ultimately heart tissue to begin to die. Symptoms like chest pain and pressure can resemble those of angina except unlike angina rest does not bring relief. Interestingly, although there are 1 million heart attacks that occur every year in the U.S, it is estimated that another 200,000 occur unrecognized because they have no symptoms. These so called “silent heart attacks” occur most commonly in diabetics.

Arrhythmia – when the normal pacing (rhythm) of heart beats is disturbed, and the heart beats either too fast (“tachycardia”) or too slow (“bradycardia”), the abnormal pacing of
heartbeats is called an arrhythmia. These can be caused by non-heart conditions like lack of sleep, too much caffeine, and fever or thyroid disease. If it is related to cardiac pathology the cause can be an electrical malfunction or disturbance in the heart’s blood supply caused by fatty deposits and plaques. Symptoms of cardiac arrhythmias include palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, panic sensations and chest discomfort.

Heart Failure (HF) – while still pumping normally during HF, the heart’s blood supply begins to slow down and either it’s structure or size begin to change. There may be no dangerous symptoms as the heart begins to fail but gradually signs like fatigue and difficulty exercising (which may be attributed incorrectly to normal aging) eventually will begin to show up.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) – As heart failure progresses, eventually blood is not pumped into or out of its chambers and fluid begins to accumulate and “congest” the lungs and heart. The lungs can become stiff resulting in constant fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath. Swelling in the extremities is a common occurrence with CHF. Sometimes, a CHF suffererer will
awaken from sleep with sensations of breathlessness, coughing or wheezing. Neck veins may be swollen and occasionally there is indigestion, a feeling of fullness or a lack of appetite. According to the Texas Heart Institute, people over 40 have a 1 in 5 chance of developing Congestive Heart Failure in their lifetime.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Weight Loss Guaranteed!

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Considering the facts that 100 million Americans are either obese or overweight and that the number one New Year’s resolution for most of us is weight loss, one of the most surprising points about pound reduction is how simple it is to do. However, simple is not easy. In other words, while the biochemical principles involved in losing fat are not complicated in theory, in actual practice, the steps involved are more than likely to meet with resistance. That’s because, human beings are creatures of habit and we HATE change. Weight Loss GuaranteedIn fact, while most people think that the most common fears are the fears of death or public speaking or maybe the fear of the IRS, in actuality, what these, as well as all fears have as their common denominator, is the fear of CHANGE. So if your fear of changing your lifestyle and habits is too great, the only way you will accomplish the change of body contour that comes with weight loss is probably going to be by using ephedrine or Fastin or some or some other pharmacological furnishing. If however, you are truly ready to face the changes that a thinner you mandate, the following are the only 10 steps you need to take in the formation of a new skinnier you.

And, what’s even better, as a reward for taking the following steps, in addition to losing weight you will also:

– drop your blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health
– improve blood sugar and diabetic or pre-diabetic symptoms
– reduce your risks of cancer and degenerative diseases
– improve skin health
– have more energy
– feel a whole lot better

10 Steps to GUARANTEED Weight Loss

1) Reduce (eliminate) intake of insulin-spiking foods (breads, pasta, cereal, potatoes, corn, beans, rice, fruit juice, soda, candy, desserts etc.).
2) Strengthen insulin with supplements (chromium, vanadium, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, zinc, alpha lipoic acid etc.).
3) Replace insulin spiking foods with generous amounts of high quality protein (whey protein, slightly cooked or raw eggs, hempseed protein powder, and fish.)
4) Use lots of unprocessed and essential fatty acid rich oils, preferably unheated (Udo’s Blend, coconut, olive, macadamia nut, butter).
5) The bulk of calories should come from veggies of all varieties and colors (easy on yam, beat and carrot). Daily intake should be at least one pound of veggies for every 50 pounds of body weight. Blend veggies with oils and Celtic sea salt. Create veggies snacks.
6) Stay away from food allergens.
7) Ingest stomach stretching, non-caloric substances (fluids and fiber) with all meals. Drink copious amounts of water throughout the day. Many times we eat foods when all we really need is water. Distinguish hunger from thirst!
8) There are two kinds of eating. The kind of eating we WANT to do and the kind of eating we HAVE to do. Have to do eating occurs rarely. The large majority of caloric intake is not based on need but rather on social and psycho-emotional requirements. Eat when hungry and DO NOT EAT when not hungry (social, habit, taste, fun, boredom, etc.). And most importantly, daily nutritional supplementation can significantly reduce reduce the amount of eating you have to do.
9) Use metabolic stimulating and fat burning nutrients (B-complex, carnitine, glutamine, iodine, Omega-3 EFAs, taurine, methionine etc.).
10) Drink water with Celtic Sea Salt and nutrient drinks (e.g. Beyond Tangy Tangerine™) throughout the day.

If you have at least 5 or 10 pounds of weight to lose and you follow these 10 simple (if not easy!) steps, you will drop pounds, GUARANTEED!

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

The Disease of Kings

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

For most of human history the most health issues were related to deficiencies. In the past few decades however, new types of illnesses are appearing. These are conditions that, unlike diseases dominant in days of yore, are related to abundance not deprivation. These so-called “Diseases of Excess” include some of the most lethal killers in the entire spectrum of sickness. In fact, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, the three leading causes of death in the United States are all at least partially related to pathologies of plenty.
Gout, the Disease of Kings
One of the most pesky and painful of the Diseases of Excess is gout. Traditionally known as the Rich Man’s Disease (Alexander the Great, Sir Isaac Newton Benjamin Franklin and King Henry the VIII were some of the more well-known historical luminaries who had to deal with this troubling health condition) because of its association with rich, fatty, protein- dense foods, today gout affects millions of Americans with little regard to financial or social standing.

Gout is best thought of as a type of arthritis (inflammation of the joints) which is caused by the accumulation of a substance called uric acid (UA). UA blood levels increase in response to specific types of foods when they are ingested in copious quantities. When this occurs, UA crystals can precipitate out in inappropriate nooks and crannies in the body and big health problems can ensue. UA can crystallize out in the kidneys causing kidney stones, it can pile up and form lumps in the skin (so-called “tophi”), or most troubling of all, it can accumulate in the joints of the hands and feet where the jagged UA crystals can cause the excruciating pain and inflammation that is known as gout.

The first major culprit in the development of gout is fructose, which we’ve been beating up on in the last few posts. The association between high uric acid and the ingestion of fruit sugar is so definitive that Dr. Richard Johnson the author of “The Sugar Fix” says uric acid levels can actually serve as a marker of fructose poisoning.
The second important cause of UA elevations and gout are proteins that contain substances called “purines”, which are little protein-like pieces (technically called nucleotides) found in all living cells. Because of their role in cell chemistry purines are largely concentrated in animal foods like meats (especially organ meats) and fish. Yeast can also be a source of purines , much to the chagrin of many beer-loving gout sufferers. In an article published in the medical journal “The Lancet”, researchers found that drinking merely 2-4 glasses of beer a week increased the incidence of gout by 25%.

If you’re one of the 5% or so of Americans who suffer from gout take heart; there are multiple strategies that can dramatically reduce you risks of getting the “Disease of Kings”.
First of all, you’re going to want to stay away from foods that elevate uric acid. High fructose corn syrup is especially verboten and so is most fruit juice (one notable exception is cherry juice, which has a long history as folk remedy for treating gout flare-ups). It’s also best to lay off most fish, shellfish, turkey, chicken and organ meats. And beer drinkers may want to consider switching to wine, which can act to decrease the precipitation of UA crystals. Lima beans and cauliflower and peas are non-animal sources of purines that gout sufferers may want to avoid (note: cooking purine containing vegetables slightly can reduce their purine content)

One of the best non-purine containing sources of protein is derived from whey. In fact, while dairy foods have lots of problems purines aren’t one of them. In addition to whey protein, cottage cheese and yogurt are two other sources of protein that won’t affect uric acid metabolism. Egg whites can also provide purine-free protein, although egg yolks contain a high concentration of the aggravating protein by-product.

Some home protocols for reducing or eliminating the appearance of gout include the use of celery seed (try 1-2 teaspoonfuls a day) or celery seed oil gel caps. The aforementioned cherry juice has been used with some success. And drinking ½ teaspoonful of baking soda in a glass of water every couple of hours (take no more than 7 doses per 24 hours and for no longer than 2 weeks) can help neutralize the uric acid crystals. Make sure you drink the baking soda solution on an empty stomach to keep it from reacting with acidic digestive juices. Even without baking soda, generous amounts of water van help dilute the uric acid crystals making their precipitation far less likely. Lots of people use apple cider vinegar as an alkalinizing substance. Try putting 2 or 3 teaspoonfuls in hot water with honey to make a nice anti-gout tea. And, if you add dried red clover or alfalfa (use a tea-ball) you can boost its anti-gout properties. Finally, because gout crystals are affected by temperature, using a heating pad or foot bath to warm the joints can provide relief by helping dissolve some of the jagged UA crystals.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Mental Health, Sugar and Insulin

Mental Health, Sugar and Insulin

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

One of the most important mental health references in my library is called “Insulin Treatment in Psychiatry”. It was published in the 1950s and it provides ample evidence of how critical changes in blood sugar chemistry are for mental and emotional well-being. There are chapters with titles like “Biochemical Changes in the Brain Occurring During Insulin Hypoglycemia” , “Insulin Therapy in Schizophrenia” and “Trends in Insulin Treatment in Psychiatry” that provide proof positive that manipulations of blood sugar can play a crucial, non-pharmacological role in improving mental health.

Insulin is an anabolic (growth) hormone with many properties, the most striking of which is its ability to encourage fat cells to absorb sugar (glucose) and store it as fat. But what was recognized by old-time medical researchers, many decades ago, was the fact that this same hormone, as well-known as it was for its role in blood sugar control, was also a potential tool for psychiatrists treating various mental disorders.

Why is this so important? Well, the average American is ingesting over 140 pounds a year of sugar and another 60 pounds or so a year of high fructose corn syrup. In 1960 the amount Americans consumed was less than 100 pounds a year of sugar and zero pounds of high fructose corn syrup. If it is indeed true that there is an insulin connection to mental illness, considering the seeming epidemic in mental disorders 21st century Americans are confronting, one is forced to question how much is related to insulin and associated issues with blood sugar.

This question becomes especially significant in the case of children who are the most obvious and notorious consumers of the sweet stuff. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at any given time, one out of five American children is suffering from some kind of mental illness. That’s anywhere from 7.7 to 12.8 million kids! 30 to 40 percent have ADHD, 10% suffer from an anxiety disorder, and at any given time, 1 out of thirty-three will be clinically depressed and 3 out of 1000 will be diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The statistics for adults are no less alarming. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in four Americans over the age of 18 suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder.

If you go to a physician or psychiatrist and leave with diagnosis of depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD or some other mental health issue, it’s unlikely anyone will be questioning your diet or suggesting nutritional supplements. In fact, the odds are pretty good that you’re going to get a prescription (or two or three) for a psychotropic drug. In a one year survey period from 2006 to 2007, there were 472 million mental health prescriptions written. That’s almost 10 percent of the total annual number of prescriptions written in the U.S. There are over 170 prescription drugs used for mental health and there are more on the way. According to the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, there are 313 new drugs in research and development that are designed specifically to treat a variety of mental health concerns.

If you are suffering from some kind of mental illness, or you or your children are on a prescription drug that you want to get off of, or if you are being pressured by a well-meaning physician or loved one to start taking a prescription drug, please understand that you have options. And one of the most important ones involves (surprise, surprise) blood sugar and insulin.

Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry

Contributing Authors Include Hans Hoff, Joseph Wortis, Ivan Bennett, And Many Others. Proceedings Of The International Conference On The Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry Held At The New York Academy Of Medicine, October 24-25, 1958.

Insulin Treatment In Psychiatry

Laying off the sugar and refined carbohydrates is the obvious first step. But “just say no” doesn’t usually work. Will-power is relatively useless when it comes to resisting sugar. The best way to wean yourself blood sugar and insulin spiking foods is to increase intake protein and essential fatty acids. It’s probably a good idea to start off all meals with a protein powder drink and 3 to 9 Omega6/Omega 3 capsules or a couple of teaspoonful of a good EFA liquid-like Udo’s Choice. Then make sure you’re getting all the nutrients that help the body process sugar. The B-vitamins in liquid form are very important. Vitamins B1 and B3 have specific sugar-metabolizing properties. (Interestingly, Dr. Abram Hoffer used to use these two nutrients as medications in his protocol for treating schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.). Taking 50mg a day of Zinc picolinate and 2000 mg of chelated Magnesium would probably be wise. And, the minerals Chromium and Vanadium are well known for improving insulin response and blood sugar levels. There are many more supplements available for stabilizing blood sugar, and ultimately improving and helping maintain mental health. We’ll be getting to those in future posts.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health