Nutrients from Flaxseeds

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben
If you’re looking for a vegan protein powder, you might want to think about ground up flaxseeds. They contain up to 30 proteins, which works out to around 10 grams per 1 ounce scoop. Although they don’t have all the essential amino acids – they’re missing lysine which is important for connective tissue – they have a good amount of both arginine and glutamine, which are youth promoting and build amino acids.

At $2.00 or so a pound (and that’s for the organic type), the price is certainly right.

Flaxseeds are chock full of other nutrients, including Omega 3 fatty acids, thiamine, manganese, magnesium and potassium. They’re also good sources of selenium and zinc, important for prostate health and the health of the male reproductive system. Selenium and zinc also make flaxseeds the perfect anti-diabetic food. In my opinion, using flaxseed fiber after meals or even just once a day as a supplement can be a powerful way to keep blood sugar stable.

The flax is not just biochemically powerful, it also has a more mechanical value. It acts like a broom that can sweep out excess estrogen, and estrogen metabolites as well as other toxins, out of the intestine and the body. The fiber can further enhance detoxification by helping support bile and the health of the microbiome, all of which can support estrogen clearances. Flaxseeds are also a good way to get your Vitamin E, in both the tocopherol and tocotrienol forms which are the two major versions of this key essential nutrient. In fact, to some degree, all 8 forms of Vitamin E are found in flaxseeds.

All of these qualities make flax a true super food and pretty darn cheap one too!

But there’s more! Flaxseeds also contain lignans, a plant chemical which can very helpful for balancing out estrogen levels. Lignans are found in pretty much all plants, it’s what gives them their hardness and crunchiness. The crunchier and harder a plant material (think seeds) the more lignans they contain. If you’re eating fiber, you’re going to get lignans. However, while you can get lignans in various seeds and plant foods, the champion source is flaxseeds. Flaxseeds contain 7 times as many lignans as sesame seeds which is the next highest source, over 300 times as many as sunflower seeds, nearly 500 times as many as cashews, and over 3000 times as many as peanuts, which are all considered high lignan foods.

According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD), flaxseed can be effective for digestive ailments including constipation, diarrhea, diverticulitis, irritable bowel syndrome , gastritis, enteritis, ulcerative colitis, and laxative-induced colon damage. The NMCD also cites that flax has also been utilized for the treatment of acne, atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, obesity and weight loss, osteoporosis, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, HIV/AIDS, hemodialysis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and nephritis as other health challenges that may improve with a daily dose of flaxseed. Finally, flaxseed has also been used for depression, cystitis, malaria, upper respiratory tract infections as a cough suppressant and expectorant, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Posted by publisher in Nutrition

The Health Benefits Of Beets

Health Benefits Of Beets

Photo by Brodie Vissers from Burst

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben
What are the health benefits of beets?I’ve been hearing a lot of commercials about beets lately, the latest darling of the nutritional supplement industry. Supplements using beets, particularly beet juice and beet powder, look to exploit recent research findings focused on the nutrient-dense tap root’s ability to enhance athletic performance, strength and endurance.

The secret to the beet boost for athletes and workout warriors is in its nitrogen content, specifically in the form of nitrates and nitrites. Despite the conventional wisdom that these chemicals are best avoided, as it turns out the misunderstood molecules have been a valued medicinal asset for doctors and health care professionals for over a hundred years. They’re sources of nitrogen and, when transformed into the gas hormone nitric oxide (NO), they become a potent hormone-like biochemical that plays various important roles in keeping the body healthy. NO is especially important for heart health. It lowers blood pressure, supports the flow of fluid through the circulatory system, improves male sexual performance, fights cancer, destroys tumors and is anti-inflammatory. In addition to being a source of nitric oxide, nitrates may play an important role in eye health, particularly for patients dealing with glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness that affects 3 million Americans. A 1998 article published in the journal Vision concluded that the use of therapeutic nitrates in glaucoma patients may offer a protective effect. More recently, a study published in JAMA Ophthalmology found that American adults who ate the most nitrates were 21 percent less likely than those who ate the least nitrates to develop open-angle glaucoma by the time they were in their 60s and 70s.

But it’s not just nitrogen that makes the beet such a nutritionally significant vegetable. The red root is a source of many other important salubrious substances including betalins, the natural pigment that’s responsible for the vegetable’s rosy hue. Betalins, whose name is derived from the beets Latin name beta vulgaris, act as a type of molecular cleaning crew, speeding up the removal of toxins and dead cells. Betalins can help fight cancer and are, according to a September 2005 article in the journal Phytotherapy Research, particularly important for liver health.

The beet’s nutritional value doesn’t stop there. They’re rich in antioxidants, electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. They’re packed with B-vitamins, especially folic acid. They’ve got Vitamin C, and they’re loaded with fiber. They’re also important sources of carotenoids, particularly lycopene, which can protect the skin from the damaging effects of the sun.

You don’t have to ingest beets to enjoy their skin health benefits. You can apply their juice topically. Blend some up in a VitaMix with some juice or apple cider vinegar and you can make your own beet-based skin care masks and toners. The alpha-hydroxy acids from the vinegar and citrus will smooth and soften the skin, helping drive the beet’s vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients past the surface to the lower levels. This enhances their protective and detoxifying effects, helping prevent wrinkles, dark spots and other signs of age inducing sun damage.

Did You Know?

  • You can use beets to test your digestive system. Stools should have a red hue 12-24 hours after eating the vegetable. If the rosy color doesn’t appear within a day or so you may be dealing with delayed transit time (constipation) and food stagnation
  • Beet juice makes a great hair dye. Cut up 1-2 beets into quarters, add water and mix in a food processor or blender. Use cheesecloth to filter out the juice and whip it into 2-4 cups of of melted coconut oil. Let cool and apply to hair as a mask. Let sit for 1-2 hours and rinse and wash hair as usual
  • Even though they contain sugar, beets make a great diet-friendly dessert. A cup only has 75 calories and can be used to sweeten pies, juices, or as a tasty low-cal sweet to finish off a meal.
  • The surface of fresh, organic beets contains beneficial microorganisms. When you prepare them, rinse off the dirt, but don’t scrape off the skin and you’ll get the benefits of the good bacteria. If you juice your beets and add some bacterial starter culture (available on the internet), you can make your own probiotic-rich beet beverage (it’s called “kvass”).
  • The Romans used beets as a natural aphrodisiac, and for good reason. Although they didn’t know it at the time, the sweet root is a source of boron, an important mineral involved in the production of libido-boosting testosterone.
Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Glucosamine Slows Aging By Supporting Connective Tissue

Glucosamine Slows Aging By Supporting Connective Tissue

Photo by Brodie Vissers from Burst

By Ben Fuchs | PharmacistBen
Connective tissue (CT) is one of the 4 types of tissues that form the human body. (The others are the nervous, muscle and covering or “epithelial” tissue.) The connective tissue supports all the other tissues by binding them together. The connective tissue also nourishes, oxygenates, electrifies and detoxifies all the cells of the body. The connective tissue includes bones and the internal material within which the various organs of the body are embedded. The skin gets its resilience from supportive connective tissue, that is located in the dermis. The heart sits on a framework of connective tissue. The strength and elasticity of the arteries, veins, capillaries, and lymphatic vessels depend on connective tissue, while even the blood itself is a type of liquid (actually gel) connective tissue.

Interestingly, the cells that compose the connective tissue are NOT connected to each other. They come close but they don’t touch. Rather, the spaces between CT cells are filled in with “grout”, which is really a type of jelly or biological gel substance, that is secreted from connective tissue producing cells (fibroblasts). This gel plays a major determining factor in the health of the connective tissue.

This jelly-like material is a type of matrix and because it is secreted outside of cells, it is called an extra-cellular matrix or ECM. This ECM is the prime determinant of the health of connective tissue and the body as a whole. That’s because, the way the system works, the ECM is responsible for feeding, breathing, and detoxifying cells. Once the ECM becomes defective or clogged up, with cell breakdown, death and disease begin. When we talk about connective tissue disease, when we talk about aging, when we talk about cancer, when we talk about ALL health challenges, what we are really talking about is some defect in the extracellular matrix. So, while all disease is cell disease, cell disease begins with a defective ECM.

Cartilage is a classic example of ECM. Collagen is a component of the ECM. Hyaluronic acid is a component of the ECM, as is chondroitin, bone, tendons, ligaments, muscle, and even blood (aside from the red and white cells). That means that pretty much all health issues that involve the structure of the body are at least partially issues with the extra-cellular matrix.

That makes working on producing a healthy ECM a critical element of health, wellness, and anti-aging. Once the ECM is formed, there’s not much that can be done, but what we can do is work on tomorrows ECM. That means working with fibroblasts by ingesting nutrients that support the health of the fibroblasts and giving the body raw materials that the fibroblasts can use to make a healthy ECM.

One of the most important of these supportive nutrients is a glucose derivative called glucosamine, an abundant sugar molecule that is produced in the human body. It’s found in cartilaginous foods like pig snouts and chicken feet, as well as the shells of shrimp, crabs, and lobsters. Mushrooms are also a good source of this important biological raw material. Of course, the most important source of glucosamine, for most folks, is in dietary supplements, where it is derived primarily from the chitin, that forms the exoskeleton of crustaceans (crabs, prawns, and lobsters), as well as the cells of fungi.

Once ingested, glucosamine enters into the bloodstream and is delivered to the fibroblasts (the cells that form the connective tissue). There it plays a key role in the production of hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, as well as keratan sulfate, which, along with collagen, are the most important components of the extracellular matrix. In fact, glucosamine production is the rate-limiting step in GAG synthesis. Without it, the ECM could not be produced. By eating glucosamine rich foods and by using glucosamine as a nutritional supplement, the production of a healthy extracellular matrix can be supported.

9 Ways Glucosamine Can Slow Down The Aging Process And Keep You Healthy

  1. Strengthens circulatory vessels
  2. Liquifies Blood improving the delivery of nutrients to extremities
  3. Improves production of bone mass
  4. Prevents fine lines and wrinkles
  5. Supports skin moisturization and reduces dry skin
  6. Facilitates electrical conduction in the heart
  7. Supports intestines, improving symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome and bowel disease
  8. Enhances the production of joint cartilage and reduces arthritis inflammation
  9. Help reduce receding gums and helps prevent gum disease

Did you know?

Cats and dogs will also benefit from glucosamine supplements. In a 2007 meta-review of 16 animal studies, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, researchers found that preparations containing glucosamine could provide a “moderate level” of comfort and were on a par with some prescription drugs. It’s available as a chewable, powder and as liquids made especially for animals. There’s also nothing wrong with using human glucosamine supplements for your pet. A good dose is around 25mg of glucosamine per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.


Save your shrimp shells and make your own glucosamine soup! Because shells of crustaceans (lobster, crab shrimp and other shellfish) are natures best source of glucosamine, the inedible and under-appreciated substance can be used to produce a delicious anti-aging liquid. It’s super easy! Just boil some water and add as much shrimp shells as you can. The longer you boil (and simmer) the more glucosamine you’ll extract. Add some onion and salt or maybe garlic and you’ll be good to go. If you add some citrus, you’ll get extra benefits! Vitamin C is the key player in Connective Tissue production. So, if you squeeze in a little lemon or lime juice you’ll get a little extra flavor and maximize glucosamine’s tissue building properties. Vegans don’t fret; fungi are a non-animal source of glucosamine. So, you can make your glucosamine soup from boiling mushrooms.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Iron: The Fundamental Element

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

(Pharmacist Ben)Iron, though birthed in the interior stars, is perhaps the most fundamental element of life on earth. In fact, it would be difficult to find a multi-cellular organism on our little blue planet that can survive without the third most abundant of her elements (after silicon and oxygen).

In the human body, nutritional iron is an essential component of hundreds of enzymes and proteins. One of the most noticeable signs of iron deficiency is that you just don’t feel so good! That’s because one of iron’s most important roles is to deliver energizing oxygen to cells and remove toxic carbon dioxide.

Iron, the Fundamental ElementFor decades, iron supplements have been regarded as a panacea for most cases of the “blahs”. There are two types of iron found in foods: heme iron from meat and fish and non-heme iron found in meat, fish and vegetables. Of the two, heme iron is easier to absorb. Non-soaked grains and legumes as well as soy and compounds in tea, wine and coffee further hinder bio-availability. Vitamin C can improve the absorption of non-heme iron, so squeeze lots of lemon juice on your spinach!

One important note about iron: you can have too much of a good thing. Iron is so critical to the body that most of it is recycled, not excreted or used up. And because of its highly electrical nature, iron overload can be a problem. Woman lose iron through menstruation and studies show that blood donors have lower rates of disease and are generally healthier than average. Non-blood donor men however, especially those consuming a lot of meat, may be at risk for iron overload. Unless you’re deficient, the best way to make sure you are getting enough iron is through quality heme iron sources and lots of iron containing plant foods like beans, chard, avocado and the aforementioned spinach.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition

Good News If You Love Butter and Cheese

By Ben Fuchs | PharmacistBen

Good News If You Love Butter and Cheese

Butter at the Borough Market in London. Image credit: Charles Haynes [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia

(PharmacistBen) If you love butter and cheese you’re gonna love this: Last week a study was published in the respected British Medical Journal showing evidence that 60 years of government and medical convention linking cardiovascular disease to fat consumption was based on bad science.

The article scientifically corroborated last years’ Time Magazine cover story on the failures of the so-called “Lipid Hypothesis” (lipid is the scientific designation for fat) , which incorrectly blamed excessive consumption of dairy products, meat and other fatty foods for heart attacks. The article entitled “Eat Butter” admitted that after years or proclaiming fats as villains, as it turns out, they may have been mistaken.Now in fairness, Time Magazine and representatives of the medical model can be forgiven for their ignorance. Fats are confusing. There’s good fats, bad fats, shorts fat, long fats saturated fats and unsaturated fats and because of their tremendous diversity and functionality, no aspect of nutrition or diet is harder to understand than the chemistry of lipids.

Dietary and nutritional fats are called triglycerides. They’re composed of building blocks called “fatty acids” which come in three sizes large, medium and small. While they all three play an important role in keeping the body healthy the effects of the short fats or as they are more technically called, short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), is particularly significant, if unrecognized. These little molecular fatty structures play an especially huge role in the health of the intestine and via this link they have can affect the whole body.

SCFAs are made in the large intestine by fiber munching bacteria which secrete the fatty molecules as a byproduct. SCFAs can also be ingested via the diet. From the intestine these tiny lipids readily enter into the blood circulation and travel throughout the body eventually entering into the brain.

An increase in SCFA concentration in the blood is one of the main signals for appetite suppression. In essence SCFAs biochemically curb the appetite and in essence represent a type fat that helps you drop pounds. Eat butter, lose weight! While it may seem like fat is fat and all just sits around on our thighs or hips and does nothing, from a biology perspective fats are quite active as messenger molecules telling the body and brain what’s happening in the digestive system. They are signaling molecules and once this is understood it becomes clear why the outdated dietician and medical advice to avoid all fat is bad science and bad health advice.

Short fats can have brain health benefits too, especially when comes to calming things down. This fact explains the important link between the intestine and the brain, the so-called gut-brain axis, and its relationship to the development of schizophrenia, autism and mental health issues in general. Via this SCFA mechanism, the somewhat counter-intuitive notion (after all the intestine is located about as far away from the brain as you can get!) that what we eat affects how we think can be explained.

All SCFAs have a calming effect but the most significant as far as relaxation benefits are concerned is called butyric acid,the chemical that gives butter is characteristic qualities and taste. The bacteria that produce butyric acid kick into high gear when food is scarce and many researchers believe this is the mechanism behind the health benefits associate with fasting.

And butyric acid derivatives induced by caloric restriction may have a mitigating effect on pain and inflammation. That’s what’s scientists from Yale School of Medicine concluded in an article that was published in the journal “Nature Medicine”. Even more significantly, the researchers found that these benefits may extend to health challenges like atherosclerosis, diabetes and dementias that are typically not associated with inflammatory pain.

All of this means that upregulating butyric acid and increasing its levels in the blood can be one of the most important and effective of all dietary health strategies. Enjoying butter and cheese, nature’s richest sources of butyric acid is a good idea. And, because butyric acid is produced by a reaction between fiber and microbes that live in the large intestine you want to make sure you’ve got enough good bacteria and you’re ingesting generous amounts of veggies, mushrooms and fruits. Get yourself on a good probiotic supplement, look for multiple strains of bacteria and use a daily dose of 10-50 billion units and make sure you’re eating lots of fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso soup and fresh, non-pasteurized kefir and yogurt

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition