Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha

What is ashwagandha?

Ashwagandha is a popular Ayurvedic herb that contains chemicals used to
decrease stress, reduce inflammation, decrease blood pressure, calm the
brain, and affect immune function.

Where is ashwagandha found?
Ashwagandha is a type of plant whose berries and roots are used to make
medicine. It is sold in supplemental form only, both orally and topically.

What are the benefits of ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha has many uses. As a tonic, it is used to increase both
longevity and general health. Additionally, it is used to treat arthritis and
decrease inflammation. It is considered an “adaptogen,” which helps
increase resistance to environmental stress. It is also taken to decrease
anxiety, insomnia, and fibromyalgia, and it is taken to help with symptoms
of GI disease, diabetes and epilepsy. Some people take ashwagandha to
improve sexual function, menstrual issues, and treat infertility. Others use
ashwagandha to improve thinking ability. It is also used topically to treat
wounds and backaches.

Are there interactions with ashwaganha food, herbs or other supplements?
Ashwagandha should not be taken with other herbs that have sedative
properties, such as valerian and St John’s wort.

Ashwagandha should not be taken during pregnancy. People with autoimmune
diseases or peptic ulcer disease should not take it. Additionally, ashwagandha
should be stopped two weeks before any type of surgery.

5-HTP

5-HTP

What is 5-HTP and where is it found?

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a byproduct from the amino acid, tryptophan. It
is naturally produced from tryptophan in the body as the body makes serotonin.
It is also found in various plants, including the seeds of a West African plant
called griffonia simplicifolia. However, the amount of 5-HTP in foods is
insignificant, so 5-HTP is sold as an over-the-counter supplement.

What are the benefits  of 5-HTP?

5-HTP has been shown to be effective as an antidepressant. It may also be
effective as a treatment for fibromyalgia and its symptoms, such as pain,
morning stiffness, and sleeplessness. Some people take 5-HTP to treat sleep
disorders, anxiety, migraines, tension headaches, and PMS. Others take 5-HTP as
an appetite suppressant and use it to aid in weight loss.

Are there interactions with 5-HTP and food or medications?
5-HTP should not be taken with MAOI or SSRI antidepressants. It should also be
avoided if taking carbidopa, demerol, tramadol or pentazocine.

Are there side effects from 5-HTP?

5-HTP may cause heartburn, stomach pain, flatulence, nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea and anorexia. There is some concern, though it is unclear, that 5-HTP
may cause eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), which is condition that
presents with muscle tenderness and blood abnormalities. However, this is
controversial and some research suggests EMS may have been caused by a
contaminant in the supplement rather than the 5-HTP itself. If you decide to take
5-HTP, it is very important that you buy a trusted, reputable brand that will be
free of any impurities or contaminants.

Does Grilling Cause Cancer?

Summer is finally here! The warm weather means more time outside and more lunches and dinners on the BBQ! Every year there are articles written about the link between BBQ meats and cancer. But is this true?

When meat is grilled under high heat at a BBQ, chemicals called HAAs (heterocyclic aromatic amines)and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are found. Both of these chemicals can be converted to enzymes that may  damage DNA.  There appears to be some link; a study published last year found that the DNA in  prostate cancer cells  had been damaged by DNA. The study proves an association, not a cause, but it definitely something to keep an eye on

It is possible to lower carcinogens in meat by marinating the meat before cooking, microwaving the meat, flipping the meat frequently, and trying not to char the meat. As with everything in life, try to eat BBQ meats in moderation and not overdo it. You don’t have to avoid the BBQ, just take precautions to lower your risk, and enjoy your summer!

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Black Cohosh

What is black cohosh?
Black cohosh is an herb that comes form the roots of a plant grown in North
America. In some people, it seems to work similarly to estrogen and may
increase or decrease estrogen in different parts of the body. Black cohosh root
also contains chemicals that work similarly to serotonin and may reduce
inflammation and affect the immune system.

Where is black cohosh found?
It is a supplement. It does not come from any food sources.

What are the benefits of black cohosh?
Black cohosh has effectively been used to treat some of the symptoms of
menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes,
headaches, sleep problems, and heart palpitations. It also may be used to
relieve arthritis pain, to regulate periods, and to decrease PMS symptoms.
Lastly, black cohosh can also be used topically for acne and the removal of
warts.

Are there side effects from black cohosh?
Some common side effects of black cohosh are headaches and stomach
discomfort. There have also been a few cases of liver damage, so people with
pre-existing liver problems or those taking medications that may affect the liver
should avoid black cohosh. Also, pregnant women, women with endometriosis,
and those with a history of breast or uterine cancer and endometriosis should
avoid black cohosh as well.

Are there interactions with black cohosh and medications?
Black cohosh should not be taken with medications that may harm the liver or
any medication that may be changed by the liver. Also, if you are taking birth
control pills, hormone replacement therapy, sedatives, or blood pressure
medication, do not take black cohosh without the consent of your doctor.

To purchase bromelain:

http://www.metagenics.com/mp/products/black-cohosh-plus

Practitioner code: DGroothuisRD

Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus, both very important for bone health. The active form of Vitamin D is called D3 or 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol. Optimal blood levels are 30-100 ng/mL. Where is it found? Vitamin D has many dietary sources including fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna), fish liver oils, liver, fortified milk, fortified orange juice, egg yolks, edible mushrooms, irradiated mushrooms (with UVB light), and some brands of yogurt and ready-to-eat cereals. Besides these sources, the body can also manufacture its own Vitamin D through sunlight exposure. Ten to 15 minutes of exposure 2-3 times per week is adequate to obtain the needed UVB ray. It is harder to absorb Vitamin D from the skin as we get older because the body is less efficient.

What are the benefits?

Intake of Vitamin D is used to improve balance, increase muscle strength, prevent falls, reduce the risk of bone fractures, and improve osteoporosis and osteomalacia. It has been shown to play a role in immunity, inflammation, and may impact the performance and training of athletes. Research also suggests that Vitamin D prevents the development of chronic and autoimmune diseases – such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, MS and certain cancers.

Are there interactions with medications?

Some drugs can deplete Vitamin D levels in the body and may require Vitamin D supplementation. These drugs include carbamazepine, cholestyramine, colestipol, corticosteroids, mineral oil, orlistat, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampin, stimulant laxatives, and sunscreens. However, high Vitamin D intake can also adversely impact certain medications and combination with the following drugs should be monitored: aluminum, atorvastatin, calcipotriene, cimetidine, cytochrome P450 3A4 enzymes, digoxin, diltiazem, heparin, thiazide diuretics, and verapamil. Some of the signs and symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency are bone pain, muscle weakness and discomfort, decreased bone density and risk for bones fractures, and hyperparathyroidism. Side effects from overdosing on Vitamin D are nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation, weakness, fatigue, and weight loss.

If you are interested in purchasing Vitamin D, please click here and enter practitioner code:  DGroothuisRD

 

Acai Berries

Acai

What is acai and where is it found?

Acai has become a popular supplement because it is an antioxidant with weight loss and anti-aging benefits. Acai is a berry that comes from the Acai Palm tree in Central and South America. It is sold as a fruit, a juice, and in supplement form.

.What are the benefits?

People take acai to treat metabolic syndrome, obesity, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction. It is also taken to promote weight loss, for detoxification, and for anti-aging.

Are there interactions with food or medications?

None known.

Are there side effects?

None reported. However, if it is consumed raw an unpasteurized, there is chance the juice may be contaminated with a parasite, which occurred in Brazil in 2006.

Celiac Disease

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac Disease is a serious autoimmune disorder in which the body cannot process gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, & barley. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These attacks lead to damage of the villi, small fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, which promote nutrient absorption. When the villi get damaged, nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body. Eventually, this can lead to malnourishment, as well as to the loss of bone density, miscarriages, infertility – and even to the beginning of neurological diseases or certain cancers.

Celiac disease isn’t the same thing as a food allergy, so the symptoms will differ. If you’re allergic to wheat, you may have itchy, watery eyes or a hard time breathing if you eat something that has wheat in it. However, if you have celiac disease and accidentally eat something with gluten in it, you may have intestinal problems (like diarrhea, gas, constipation) or any of the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Anemia
  • Itchy, blistery rash
  • Loss of bone density
  • Headaches or general fatigue
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Weight loss
  • Heartburn

This disorder occurs most commonly with a genetic predisposition. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, or sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease. Most people with celiac disease never know they have it. It’s estimated that 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for serious health complications. The damage to the intestine is very slow and symptoms are so varied, that it can be years before someone gets a diagnosis. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to the following conditions:

  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia
  • Infertility and miscarriage
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers (malignancies)
  • Gall bladder malfunction

 

Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. Many people opt to eat gluten-free diets but for those with celiac disease, it’s a must. Those living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye and barley, such as bread and beer. Ingesting small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage.

Some people have a gluten sensitivity but not full blown celiac disease. People with non-celiac wheat sensitivity experience symptoms similar to those of celiac disease, which resolve when gluten is removed from the diet. However, they do not test positive for celiac disease. Some people experience symptoms the same symptoms found in celiac disease, such as “foggy mind”, depression, ADHD-like behavior, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, bone or joint pain, and chronic fatigue when they have gluten in their diet. The terms non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) are generally used to refer to this condition, when removing gluten from the diet resolves symptoms.

If you are currently on a gluten-free diet, your physician may recommend a gluten challenge to allow antibodies to build in your bloodstream prior to testing. The recommended gluten intake for the gluten challenge is two slices of wheat-based bread for 6-8 weeks. A gluten challenge should only be supervised by a physician trained in celiac disease, who can move you immediately to a biopsy if your symptoms are severe. Never undertake a gluten challenge when pregnant.

Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose because it affects people differently. There are more than 200 known celiac disease symptoms which may occur in the digestive system or other parts of the body. Some people develop celiac disease as a child, others as an adult. The reason for this is still unknown.

The most common way to diagnose celiac disease is with a simple blood test. People with celiac disease who eat gluten have higher than normal levels of certain antibodies in their blood. These antibodies are produced by the immune system because it views gluten as a threat. You must be on a diet containing gluten for antibody (blood) testing to be accurate. For most children and adults, the best way to screen for celiac disease is with the Tissue Transglutaminase IgA antibody, plus an IgA antibody, in order to ensure that the patient generates enough of this antibody to render the celiac disease test accurate. For young children (around age 2 years or below), Deamidated Gliadin IgA and IgG antibodies should also be included. Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all, but still test positive on the celiac disease blood test.  A few others may have a negative blood test, but have a positive intestinal biopsy. However, all people with celiac disease are at risk for long-term complications, whether or not they display any symptoms. While it is very rare, it is possible for someone with celiac disease to have negative antibody test results. If your tests were negative, but you continue to experience symptoms, consult your physician and undergo further medical evaluation.

 

By Gina Stallone

Caffine

Put a Cap on Caffeine!

According to USA Today, about 83% of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee a day. The amount of caffeine in an 8oz cup of coffee varies depending on how it is brewed and the type of coffee bean; but, on average, one cup contains about 95mg of caffeine. Last month, a teenage boy died from consuming too much caffeine in a two hour period of time, which caused a heart arrhythmia. This is because caffeine signals the release of norepinephrine, which increases the heart rate and may cause irregular heart beats, seizures, and dehydration. Other symptoms of caffeine overdose are headaches, dizziness, and vomiting.

Obviously, most people can consume coffee every day without worrying about any type of major side effects. The takeaway message is that everything should be consumed in moderation, and an excess of any substance can be potentially dangerous and severe. Bingeing on caffeine, alcohol, sugar, etc, can be harmful, and we should teach our kids to be careful with everything that they ingest

 

 

How to sit

How Should I Sit?

Most Americans sit in an office chair all day. In fact, about 86% sit an average 13 hours per day! A good number of people realize that sitting all day is not ideal, but it is unavoidable in order to pay the bills and get from point A to point B. Since we spend most of our day sitting, it is imperative that we sit correctly to avoid back and neck pain as well as other issues. We need to consider how we sit at a desk, behind the wheel of a car, and on the couch in order to make the best of the situation.

For starters, the type of chair that you select is very important. It should support the curvature of your spine and be at about a 100-110 reclined angle so that your upper and lower back are both supported. When sitting, your hips should go as far back in the chair as possible and your feet should rest on the floor or a footrest so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Ideally, your knees should be equal to or lower than your hips and your shoulders should always be relaxed.

Your keyboard and mouse should be easy to reach and at the same level.  The monitor should be directly in front of you, with the top of the screen around eye level or 2-3 inches above eye level to keep your neck relaxed.  Those who wear bifocals should lower the screen. Additionally, the screen should be centered above the monitor. Your hands should be at the level of your elbows or slightly, your wrists should be straight and your arms should be close to your body. After adjusting your chair to make sure your wrists and arms are correct, put your feet flat on the floor. If your feet do not reach the floor, use a footrest or anything nearby to keep your feet flat. Make sure there is room for your legs under the desk and try to keep this area free from clutter.

Many people use the computer and type at the same time while craning their neck to use the phone. If you talk on the phone, use a headset or put the phone on speaker to avoid neck issues. Also, be careful of the glare coming from windows or actual light. It is important to take frequent breaks to get up and stretch about every 20-30 minutes. Try to rest and refocus your eyes to avoid fatigue by looking away from the computer monitor into the distance or covering them for 5-10 seconds.

It is important to consider how you sit in every situation, not just behind a desk. Slouching on a couch, crossing your legs, or sitting incorrectly in a car can all have a negative impact.  When driving, the steering wheel should be as low as possible and you should hold it at 9 am and 3 pm instead of 10 am and 2 pm to help relax your shoulder. Also, try to keep your wrists straight while driving. Your knees should be in line with your hips, the seat should be reclined 100-110 degrees, and you should be able to reach the pedals without straining. Your neck should rest on the neck rest and you should try not to slouch. On a couch, if your couch is deep and you are slouching, put a small pillow behind your lower back.

Since we can’t help sitting too much throughout the day, let’s make the best of a bad situation. Correct your posture and pay attention. This will help you feel better and be more productive.

Diet for Energy

A Diet for Better Energy

Proper energy is essential for anyone dealing with long hours of school and work. Unfortunately,  many people exist on low quality, short term energy on days where they need sufficient energy the most. This is mainly due to the food they choose to consume, which can result in increased fatigue and lack of motivation. There is a misconception when it comes to simple carbohydrates and energy. Most people tend to think that foods and beverages high in sugar and caffeine will help keep them feel full and focused, yet this is only followed by an approximate two hour rush and then a crash! Instead, we need to eat foods with complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads, beans and starchy vegetables, in order to get the long term energy we all crave. Complex carbohydrates are crucial for all day energy and appetite control because they contain fiber, which takes longer to digest compared to sugary foods. Along with fiber, protein is just as necessary for energy, specifically, protein from chicken, turkey, lentils and beans. Additionally, healthy fats, including avocados, seeds, nuts and some oils, help keep your body going. It is important to also remember to stay hydrated by getting a plentiful amount of fluids each day! It is recommended to get at least six to eight ounce glasses of water daily in order to maintain the energy we require.

By Rachel Lindstrom