Monthly Archives: February 2014
A new, large scale study out of Japan has found that a vegetarian diet may help people keep their blood pressure low and out of danger zones that put their health at risk. This claim is reported by a review of 39 studies that included more than 20,000 people. The finding is that vegetarians had significantly lower blood pressure than those who ate meat. On average, the reductions seen across the studies were 5 to 7 millimeters of mercury for systolic blood pressure and 2 to 5 mm/Hg for diastolic blood pressure. What does this mean? It suggests that cutting meat from your diet could reduce your risk of heart attack by 9 percent, and stroke by 14 percent.
While this benefit of a meat-less diet may seem obvious, it’s interesting to consider some of the other health benefits this could offer. Traditionally, research into vegetarianism has been focused mainly on potential nutritional deficiencies. It is only recently that studies are confirming the diet’s benefits. The American Dietetic Association asserted recently that not only are vegetarian and vegan diets “healthful, nutritionally adequate,” but it “may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” Harvard University reports that the following diseases may be avoided by a vegetarian diet.
Heart Disease – A study of more than 76,000 participants found that vegetarians are 25% less likely to die of heart disease. This is especially true when meats are replaced by heart-healthy foods like whole grains, legumes, and nuts (particularly walnuts which are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids).
Cancer – There are many studies that suggest those who eat many fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing certain cancers and there’s evidence that vegetarians have a lower incidence of cancer than non-vegetarians. Eliminating red meat will eliminate a risk factor for colon cancer.
Type 2 Diabetes – Studies suggest that a predominantly plant-based diet can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. One study suggests that the risk of developing the disease for vegetarians is half that of non-vegetarians.
Many are unwilling to try a vegetarian diet because of concerns about osteoporosis. While lacto-ovo vegetarians consume about the same amount as calcium as meat-eaters, some vegans eat less than the recommended daily dose and see a higher rate of fractures. As long as someone on a vegetarian diet ensures they are getting enough calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K (two vitamins vital for bone health), he or she would not be especially vulnerable to fractures.
Health Concerns has formulas to support bone health and to assist in treatment and prevention programs for diseases like osteoporosis. Click the formulas below to view their monographs for more information.
Last week, the American Psychological Association released the findings of its annual survey, Stress in America. The study has been done annually since 2007 offering the APA unique insight in understanding exactly how stress is affecting America and how it has done so for the last seven years. Stress continues to be a problem for many adults, while high stress and ineffective coping mechanisms remain ingrained in American culture. Forty-two percent of adults report that their stress level has increased and 36 percent say their stress level has stayed the same over the past five years. Adults’ average reported stress level is a 5.1 on a 10-point scale, far higher than the level of stress they believe is healthy (3.6). Even though the majority of adults say that stress management is important to them, few set aside the time they need to manage stress. Some adults do not take any action at all to help manage their stress — 1 in 10 adults (10 percent) say they do not engage in any stress management activities. More than one-third (36 percent) of adults say stress affects their overall happiness a great deal or a lot and 43 percent of adults who exercise to relieve stress have actually skipped exercise due to stress in the past month. What is striking about this year’s study, is that teens are reporting feeling the same amount of stress as adults.
What many don’t realize is the very real and direct affect that stress has on one’s health. Headaches, insomnia, the urge to over indulge in alcohol or tobacco use? It could be related to stress. The Mayo Clinic has published the following graph illustrating the various ways stress can affect different aspects of our lives.
Ironically, when one is stressed, that person tends to neglect the very things that can promote its relief. Diet, sleep and exercise are some of the first things that a stressed individual may start to lose focus on. But what about when these three things aren’t enough to alleviate stress down to a healthy level?
There are many stress-reduction techniques that can help. Here are a few the Mayo Clinic recommends:
- Autogenic relaxation. Autogenic means something that comes from within you. In this technique, both visual imagery and body awareness are used to reduce stres. One repeats words and/or suggestions in the mind which relaxes and reduces muscle tension. For example, you may imagine a peaceful setting then focus on controlled, relaxed breathing, slowing your heart rate or feeling different physical sensations.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. In this technique, focus is placed on muscles groups, tensing and relaxing each one. The emphasis is placed on observing the differences between tension and relaxation. It is important to remember to tense the muscles for at least five seconds, then relax for 30. Then repeat.
- Visualization. In this technique, you form mental images to take a visual journey to a peaceful, calming place or situation. This technique works best the more real it seems. Try and use all the senses possible. If you visualize taking a walk in the mountains, focus on the sounds around you, the smell of the pines and the way the ground may feel under your feet.
Other common relaxation techniques include:
- Tai chi
When your patients need some help alleviating their stress, Health Concerns has a number of formulas that can help. Click each product name to view its monograph.
In a new study conducted by world-renowned immunologist Aristo Vojdani, PhD., gluten and dairy have been shown to cause the immune system to destroy brain and nervous tissue in a process being called ‘neurological autoimmunity.’ This finding confirms what many clinicians have seen firsthand in their practices: removing gluten and dairy from the diet has a profound, positive impact on brain health in many patients. This finding warrants particular attention considering the explosion of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, and childhood development disorders happening today.
The study, the first of its kind, examined the connection between gluten and neurological immunity in a random population of health subjects. Similar studies in the past have only looked at a sample of patients diagnosed with celiac disease, a condition that only affects one to two percent of the population. In Vojdani’s study, 400 people with no known pathologies showed a significant correlation between gluten and neurological autoimmunity. The study also revealed that the majority of neurological reactions to gluten and dairy were due to a case of mistaken identity called molecular mimicry. In this scenario, the immune system accidentally attacks and destroys brain and nerve tissue, believing that it is actually attacking gluten and dairy. The conclusion is that those with gluten and dairy sensitivity have a much higher risk of developing neurological autoimmunity than was previously believed in the medical community. Symptoms of this condition are diverse and can range from something as simple as mild brain fog to something as severe as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Another significant benchmark of this study is that the entire wheat protein was evaluated for immune reactivity, not just the alpha gliadin portion as has been done in the past. Standard tests meant to determine gluten sensitivity only look at the alpha gliadin, but people can react to a variety of different segments of gluten including gamma gliadin, omega gliadin, glutenin, and wheat germ agglutinin. Many people are misdiagnosed when it comes to gluten sensitivity as they may not react to alpha gliadin, but rather to another part of the protein. There is a similar case when it comes to dairy, only one segment is tested for when patients tend to react to other dairy compounds.
Neurological tissues that appear to be most affected in a cross-reaction with gluten and dairy are found in the cerebellum, the area at the back of the brain that controls motor movements. Although cerebellar symptoms can be diverse, those more commonly seen include worsening balance, vertigo, nausea, car and sea sickness or nausea looking at fast-moving images or objects. Studies show no food is a more powerful trigger of neurological damage than wheat.
The study underscores the importance of a healthy diet and the need for some patients to consider removing dairy and gluten in the case of brain inflammation and autoimmunity. Gluten is found in wheat, spelt, barley, rye, kamut, triticale and malts. Oats are often contaminated with gluten because they are grown in rotation with wheat or processed in the same facilities as wheat. Gluten is also hidden in many foods such as condiments, meats, flavorings, and processed foods. Dairy includes milk and all milk products including cheeses, yogurts, butter, sour cream, raw dairy and sheep and goat dairy.
Health Concerns has a number of resources available to help you understand gluten intolerance.
Understanding Gluten Intolerance
Continuing Education Classes:
Wheat Allergy, Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease