Dr Dingle's Blog / hypertension

Dr Dingle’s Blood Pressure Smoothie

Dr Dingle’s Blood Pressure Smoothie

The reason I call it the blood pressure smoothie is all of the ingredients have been shown in many scientific studies to reduce blood pressure. By no way is this meant to replace advice from you GP but you can share it with them and see if they are interested in preventing the problem rather than just treating it with pharmaceuticals. Remember also that I am not a GP I am just the guy who does all the research which is why I have a PhD.

4 ingredients in order of importance

Beetroot

Almonds (soaked for at least 8 hours)

Linseed (flaxseed)

Filtered re-mineralised ionized water.

 

Extras for taste and minerals

Banana

Coconut

Dates

 

Start by grinding the linseed and the almond in the smoothie maker.

Add the beetroot and the filtered water to make up to the constituency you need.

If you want to make it a bit sweeter add some ripe banana, dates or coconut water (and coconut meat if you have the whole coconut) as they are rich in Potassium (and other minerals) which is essential for muscle relaxation and tastes great. But wait till the banana is ripe for the best taste. You can also cold green tea instead of water to add to the antioxidant mix.

The properties that make this smoothie such a potent blood pressure mix is all of the ingredients have excellent antioxidant properties, rich in minerals and other nutrients liked with lowering blood pressure in scientific studies.

Background

High blood pressure or hypertension is having a blood pressure reading of above of around 90mm Hg on 140mm Hg. Hypertension itself is not a disease but a condition or as an indicator of ‘increased risk’ of cardiovascular disease. Patients who are hypertensive have an increased risk of heart attack and stroke due to the direct correlation between the two. Hypertension also contributes significantly to the increased risk of kidney failure and other chronic illness.

In healthy people the cells of blood vessels produce the substance called nitric oxide (NO) which instructs smooth muscles surrounding arteries to relax. If they cant relax they stay rigid and you end up with high blood pressure. The NO is produced in a single layer of cells that line the inside of the arteries called the endothelium. If this tissue is damaged in the case of too much pressure, oxidation or through other means it stops producing NO and blood pressure rises.

Many of the beneficial actions of nutrition on lowering blood pressure results both directly and indirectly through improving endothelial tissue and NO production and release from this tissue. Two major pathways to increase NO are increase the rates of nitrates in the diet, the building block for NO, and L-Arginine which stimulate the enzyme to manufacture NO. Endothelial-derived NO also inhibits platelet adhesion, activation, secretion, and aggregation and promotes platelet disaggregation so you are less likely to have a stroke. A third mechanism that is absolutely critical is to protect and repair the endothelium, remember it is only one cell thick and very susceptible to damage. Vitamin C and antioxidants are essential for this part.

Diets high in dietary nitrate such as beetroot are associated with reduced blood pressure increased exercise performance as a result of vasodilation (expansion) of the blood vessels and a decreased incidence in cardiovascular disease. 100-200mg of beetroot per day has been shown to produce immediate effects of lowering blood pressure by around 15 mm of Hg. Beetroot is also rich in vitamins, phytochemicals and contains large amounts of iron and folic acid Mg, Na and Ca. Apart from the nitrates the major bioactive molecules in beet are polyphenols, flavonoids, betalains, therapeutic enzymes, ascorbic acid, and dehydroascorbic acid (DHAA). So they not only provide the ingredients for NO production but also help in repair and protection of the endothelium.

Almonds have one of the highest sources of L-Arginine (most nuts have lots of L-Arginine so you can substitute the almonds if you want) which stimulates NO synthesis. Studies of almonds have shown reductions of 5-6 mm of blood pressure. It is important to soak the almonds as they (all nuts and seeds) have enzyme-inhibiting factors in them which stop them from germinating until they have enough water. These enzyme inhibitors also stop the absorption of some nutrients, particularly minerals. When you soak the nuts many of the nutrients also become more available for digestion.

Flaxseed is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, L Arginine (about 20% less than almonds), lignans, antioxidants and fiber that together probably provide benefits to patients with cardiovascular disease. Studies on consuming 30g of flaxseed have been shown to reduce blood pressure by up to 15 mm Hg.

The great thing about this smoothie is that you can add just about anything else you want to it and it will make it even tastier and better for you.
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Essential Sleep (Part 3)

Essential Sleep (Part 3)

Sleep problems

Many sleep problems but by far the biggest is sleep deprivation and poor sleep. However too much sleep can also be a problem. Over sleeping may also be a problem. In one study sleeping 10 hours or more also increased the mortality rates by one and a half times.

 Sleep Deprivation

Sleep is as important to the human body as food and water, but most of us don't get enough sleep. Dysoninia (poor sleep) related sleep disorders alone are broken into Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Circadian‑Rhythm sleep disorders including disorders such as but not limited to: "Psychophysiologic Insomnia, Sleep State Misperception Idiopathic Insomnia, Narcolepsy, Recurrent Hypersomnia, Idiopathic Hypersomnia...Restless Legs Syndrome & Intrinsic Sleep Disorder NOS" (MSM, 2001, pp. 27).

Risk factors for sleep related illness are diet, lifestyle, occupation, stress and grief, amongst many others (Helmanis, 2006 pp. 24‑25).

Almost 90 per cent of Australians suffer from some type sleep disorder at some stage of their lives. Of these, 30 per cent suffer from severe sleep disorders. Very few people regularly enjoy the amount, or quality of sleep that they need. The estimated economic costs to the country from this are between 3 and 7 billion dollars annually. There are also huge, unmeasured physical, psychological, emotional and social costs.

Insomnia

Causative factors for insomnia may be multifaceted but generally include some psycho physiologic hyperarousal or emotional distress. Other precursors may be pain, movement disorders, psychiatric disorders, circadium rhythm dysfunction, medication and substance abuse (Billiard and Bentley, 2004). In some cases, the risk of insomnia is subject to a genetic bias. However, specific physiologic indicators for the familial influence have not been fully identified (Parkes and Lock, 2009).

 Insomnia is the difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep or both resulting in inadequate quality or quantity of sleep (Tomoda et al, 2009). Insomnia can manifest itself by many symptoms from not being able to sleep at normal hours and low quality and quantity of sleep to sleeping but not finding it refreshing. Other symptoms may include daytime sleepiness, frequent waking, early morning waking and difficulty retuning to sleep (Cureresearch.com, 2005).

Most adults have experienced insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives (Straker, 2008). It is estimated that insomnia effects around 30-50% of the general population with 10% experiencing chronic insomnia (Straker, 2008). It has been estimated that in the US that 70 million people suffer sleep problems, and of these, 30 million suffer chronic insomnia (Stahura and Martin, 2006). Recently a survey showed that 1046 of the 2000 adults surveyed experience at least one night of lost sleep due to insomnia symptoms; the survey also concluded that insomnia is a growing issue of concern (Goolsby, 2006).

Insomnia generally affects women more than men and the incidence rate tends to increase with age (Straker, 2008).

There is a clear correlation of age to insomnia (Curless et a!. 1993). A number of surveys have reported between 28% and 64% of post menopausal women suffer from insomnia (Hachul de Campos et al. 2006).

Insomnia can be classified into three categories transient, short-term and chronic insomnia (Tomoda et al, 2009). Transient insomnia are symptoms lasting less than one week, short term insomnia are symptoms lasting between one-three weeks and chronic insomnia are those symptoms lasting longer than three weeks (Tomoda, 2009).

Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes overwhelming and severe day time sleepiness (Retsas et al, 2000). Pathologic sleepiness is characterised by the fact that it occurs at inappropriate times and places (Retsas et al, 2000). These daytime sleep attacks may occur with or without warning and can occur repeatedly in a single day (Edgar et al, 2006). People who suffer from Narcolepsy often have fragmented night time sleep with frequent brief awakenings (Edgar et al, 2006).

Narcolepsy is typically characterised by the following four symptoms:

Excessive daytime sleepiness (90%)

Cataplexy: A sudden and temporary loss of muscle tone often triggered by emotions such as laughter. (75%)

Hallucinations: Vivid dreamlike experiences that occur while falling asleep or upon wakening. (30%)

Sleep paralysis: Paralysis that occurs most often upon falling asleep or waking up. The person is unable to move for a few minutes. (25%) (Retsas et al, 2000)

Interestingly, regular night time sleep schedule and scheduled naps during the day is required for favourable outcomes (Edgar et al, 2006).

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea affects over 12 million Americans with it being more prevalent in men than women (Sjosten et al, 2009).  Sleep apnoea not only deprives sleep from the individual but their partners too (Yip, 2001). Sleep apnoea is defined as frequent and loud snoring and breathing cessation for at least 10 second for five or more episodes per hour followed by awakening abruptly with a loud snort as the blood oxygen level drops (Sjorsten et al, 2009).   People with sleep apnoea can experience anywhere between 5 apnoeic episodes per hour to several hundred per night (Sjorsten et al, 2009).

Symptoms of sleep apnoea are:

Excessive daytime sleepiness

Morning headaches

Sore throat

Intellectual deterioration

Personality changes

Behavioural disorders

Obesity

(Yip, 2001)

Obesity is the major cause of sleep apnoea often losing weight is all that is need to treat this disorder (Yip, 2001).

 

Part 3 and more coming

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Wellness At Work

Wellness At Work

When health is absent, Wisdom cannot reveal itself, Art cannot manifest, Strength cannot be exerted, Wealth becomes useless, And reason is powerless." — Herophilus 300 B.C.

Our work places are either a great place to promote health or to contribute to the health problem. Our work environments are experiencing an emerging health crisis from longer workdays, deskbound occupations, access to poor quality foods and poor physical activity. In many cases they are contributing to a deterioration in employee health as our work and the workplace has the potential to have a significant affect on the mental, physical, economic and social well-being of workers. Major concerns in the work environment are work-related stress, obesity, diabetes, cardio vascular disease, fatigue , poor sleep and the many other conditions that come from these. Many of our workplaces for example have increased the risk of putting on weight due to sedentary practices, stress and long and awkward work hours. This of course has the potential to lead to many other chronic health conditions which cost the individual, community and employers. From an employers perspective poor health has the potential to reduce the quality of work and productivity within many workplaces and is likely costing the economy billions of dollars in workplace productivity alone. While the costs of workplace productivity are significant it is also likely that some obesogenic (increasing the risk of putting on weight) environments are likely to be the focus of legal action as the rates of illness and obesity increase. This is particularly the case for inflexible workplace, long hours and shiftwork.

An employee’s health and productivity at work is not only affected by their work environment but also by factors that are not work related. These factors vary between individuals and depend on the individuals chosen lifestyle outside of work. However, through empowering staff members on healthy lifestyles the overall health management of individuals will benefit not only the company but also the broader community. Wellness in the workplace is influenced by many different factors including the communication between co-workers and employers, physical demands especially in sedentary occupations and the eating habits, lifestyles of employees and much more.

When it comes to common health issues of most employees, wellness programs can provide an easy and cost effective solution. Fatigue, stress, depression and obesity are commonly interrelated and increasingly common in most workplaces. The workplace has been viewed as an attractive place for wellness programs as it has established communication channels and it provides a convenient, familiar physical and social setting. In addition, it serves to benefit the employers from the improved health of employees.

Many factors contribute towards the creation of a healthy employee who is able to work consistently at a high level of efficiency and productivity; however health is one of the most important determinants. The costs of unhealthy workers are usually measured by employers in terms of easily quantifiable direct health costs such as medical claims, disability funds and compensation payouts. In the US where figures are more easily accessed because the employer has been traditionally responsible for health care cost, compared with employees who are struggling, thriving employees have 41% lower health-related costs to the employer, a difference of $2,993 per person. For every 10,000 employees, this represents a difference of nearly $30 million to the employer. However, when looking at the health/productivity costs borne by employers, only a small portion of these expenditures are direct medical costs. Indirect costs are more difficult to distinguish and measure, they include those costs incurred from employee mortality, absenteeism and the reduced productivity and presenteeism including poor concentration and focus, low output, and disruption of other workers evident in an employee while still working.

An employee health behaviors are strong predictors of job performance and absenteeism. Many studies have demonstrated the link between poor health factors and absence from work including positive associations between absenteeism and obesity, stress, physical inactivity, and hypertension. While the frequency and severity of poor health are directly related to days absent from work. Healthier workers work more and are away less.

The loss of a qualified professional due to moving to a new job, illness or even death can often be difficult and costly for the organization to replace. The cost of rehiring and retraining a suitable replacement could result in large organizational outlays of time and money, well in excess of $100,000. Not only will a new candidate be difficult and costly to find, but an immense amount of expertise, experience and organizational knowledge will be lost. Karoshi is a term coined in Japan, literally translating into ‘death from overwork’ in English. Karoshi is described as ‘unexplained death’ thought to arise due to a combination of elevated working hours, high stress and poor health, with the major medical causes of death being heat attack and stroke. In Japan working weeks that exceed 60 hours are not an exception. The first case of karoshi was reported in 1969 where a 29 year old married man died from a stroke and his death could not be attributable to anything other than occupational stress and chronic overwork. In 1994 the Japanese Government’s Economic Planning Agency in the Institute of Economics estimated the number of karoshi deaths at around 1,000 or 5% of all deaths as a result of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease each year within the 25-59 age group.

In the US the cost of turnover per person employed who is healthier is 35% lower than that of those who are struggling. For every 10,000 employees, this represents $19.5 million. Although turnover is more common among younger employees, higher wellbeing was predictive of lower turnover and lower turnover costs in the next year for younger and older employees alike. Those who were struggling or suffering in overall wellbeing were more than twice as likely as those who were thriving to say they would look for another job if the job market improves. This means that the actions that employers take today to improve health — in addition to improving job performance — are likely to have important implications on the moves employees make in the future.

Presenteeism represents a cost that is difficult to quantity but a large contributor to lost productivity. Many people are under the flawed assumption that when people are at work that they are productive, however if employees are sick, injured, stressed or burned-out in the workplace, they are not working to full capacity. Presenteeism is the worker coming in who shouldn’t and in the process is not just less productive but may also be reducing the productivity of other employees. This doesn’t just occur over health but when a person is sick they may be slowing everyone else down. Presenteeisms result in a negative impact not only on the quantity of work completed, but also on the quality of products, services, decisions, and co-worker and customer interactions. Although presenteeism cannot be directly quantified in a straightforward manner many studies now suggest it may be one of the biggest costs to employees. So you might be better off staying away from work when you are sick.

Unhealthy workers are also more likely to have workplace accidents and healthy and focused employees is less likely to endanger themselves and other co-workers through negligent behavior caused by poor physical and psychological health. A number of studies have now found that investing in wellness programs and the health of employees can reduce accidents. This also includes accidents on the way home from work if an employee is fatigued or distracted with their health. Accidents are expensive for all companies because of downtime, the resources that need to be dedicated to investigation, lost productivity from injured workers and workers’ compensation. In Australia, workers’ compensation costs are unacceptably high, reflecting relatively high frequency rates of occupational injuries which may be prevented through a wellness program.

The direct cost of stress is more than $20 billion to the Australian economy, and around two thirds of that to Australian employers because of stress-related presenteeism and absenteeism. 95% of all claims for mental disorders in the past ten years are for mental stress. These claims are the most expensive type of workers’ compensation claim due to their typically lengthy periods of work absence. Professionals make more mental stress claims than any other occupation, mostly for work pressure. This is despite the fact that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Work-related Injuries Survey 2009–10 which showed that 70% of workers who reported they experienced work-related mental stress did not apply for workers’ compensation.

Productivity is affected heavily by seasonal illnesses and their available treatments. Allergies are a highly prevalent condition in the general population affecting people in varying ways. Symptoms of allergies include itching and irritation of the nose; watery nasal discharge, nasal congestion, sneezing and are often accompanied by fatigue, weakness, malaise, irritability and decreased appetite. Studies now show that individuals with allergy disorders generally score lower on tests on social functioning, role limitation, mental health and energy / fatigue and pain compared to controls. In the US allergy disorders result more than 4 million workdays lost per/year in the United States.

However, it is not just the disorder the can have an effect on productivity; the drugs used to treat the illness may also affect productivity levels. Medications are also often a hidden cost in presenteeism, accidents and lost work productivity. The use of sedating antihistamines for allergies had a 50% higher risk of on-the-job injury than control subjects. Another study found that driving impairments exhibited due to the use of a sedating antihistamine were worse than that connected with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.1%. In a study of nearly 6000 employees those who used sedating antihistamines experienced on average an 8% reduction in daily work out-put compared to those who used non-sedating antihistamines. Many other medications including pain killers and cholesterol lowering drugs can result in lost productivity. The fatigue and muscle soreness created by cholesterol lowering drugs may impact productivity especially those with more physical work. While their effect on memory may be even more problematic. A colleague of mine recalled the effect these drugs were having on the memory of police officers who were called to be witnesses. Awkward eh.

The message is that it is in everyone’s best interests to promote health, both the individual and the company they work for. The good thing in all of this is that companies are increasingly adopting workplace wellness programs which if adopted well can make a big difference to the health of their employees.

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Environmental Estrogens in cosmetics and personal care products. Breast Cancer and Toxicity

Environmental Estrogens in cosmetics and personal care products.  Breast Cancer and Toxicity

It is estimated that in the world today, there are at least 120,000 synthetic chemicals, or xenobiotics registered for commercial use and around 1,000 new chemicals are formulated each year. While many have been proven to be highly toxic and carcinogenic, little is known about the chronic effects particularly their potential to alter, or disrupt the function(s) of the endocrine system and our hormones. These synthetic chemicals are known as 'environmental estrogens', estrogen mimics, or xenoestrogens and have been found to affect hormonal functions by 'mimicking' the function of naturally occurring estrogen in the body.

Estrogens are a group of naturally occurring hormones present in both male testes and female ovaries, with females producing a considerably higher amount. They are particularly influential during puberty, menstruation and pregnancy; however they also assist in regulating the growth of bones, skin, liver and organs of the cardiovascular system. Estrogens, like all hormones, act as chemical signals and are important in helping cells in various organs to sense and respond to changing physiological conditions; therefore the right balance of hormones is critical in order to carry out the functions required of a healthy, strong body. Estrogen binds to a protein, or estrogen receptor, and the estrogen receptor complex can then bind to specific genes and by this, alter the way they are expressed, resulting in a change in cell programming 1.

Environmental estrogens, are now present in everyday products such as polycarbonate plastics, food packaging and cans. However the greatest source for many people is through cosmetics and personal care products and include chemicals such as triclosan, cyclosiloxanes, parabens and phthalates which are often left on the skin to absorb and accumulate 2. Women are disproportionately exposed to many environmental estrogens like paraben and phthalates because they use more personal care products on average than men 3 and teenage girls tend to use even more products than women, averaging 17 different products per day, compared with 12 for women 4.

Since the 1980's, there has been a growing amount of research toward the potential interaction between these environmental estrogens and wild animals, with a number of reports detailing the emergence of 'feminised wildlife’ around the world, and a range of adverse effects in humans including decreased sperm count, increased cases of testicular cancer and testicular abnormalities, increased breast cancer in men and women and premature or precocious puberty. Other adverse health include headache, migraine, depression, gastrointestinal disturbances, insomnia, mastopathia, changes in vaginal bleeding 5. More chronic symptoms affect the cardiovascular system, the skin (itching, rash, abnormal pigmentation), the gallbladder, and tumours, particularly of the breast but also uterus, cervix, vagina and liver 5.

One of the most troubling is their association with breast cancer 6,7,8. Breast cancer is the major cancer affecting women in the Western world 9 and one of the most disturbing and well documented current trends is the alarming increase in breast cancer incidence over the past few decades. Fifty years ago the risk rate was one woman in 20; today it is one in 8 and approximately two-thirds of breast tumors are estrogen receptive, and environmental estrogens like parabens are known to bind to estrogen receptors. Estrogen-dependent cancers, such as breast cancer, are known to be highly responsive to estrogens for growth. Even more disturbing is the increase in numbers of young girls developing breast cancer. Although many factors such as radiation, alcohol, smoking and diet, add to the risk of developing breast cancer, the predominant influencing factor has been identified as the exposure to estrogens throughout an individual's lifetime 9.

The breast is under hormonal control and a fine balance of hormones is what allows the cell to cell communication. Interaction between these cells and the surrounding fluid of the breast tissue is what controls differentiation and growth of the breast 9. If there is a disruption of those hormones, i.e. through the use of synthetic chemicals, the balance of hormonal control is thrown and the cells do not function normally which may lead to breast cancer. In support of this clinical studies show that estrogen has the capacity to drive breast tumours to grow in laboratory studies. Animal experimental studies have also shown the role of estrogen on the growth of breast cancer cells 9. While chemicals which mimic estrogen have been shown to promote and stimulate the proliferation of breast cancer cells 2,10,11, and activate other processes involved in breast cancer 2,11,12. Recent studies have also shown other factors can dramatically increase the the toxicity of Xenoestrogens and studies of individual estrogens may seriously underestimate their growth and spreading effects in breast tissue cells and their potency to promote breast cancer, particularly at lower doses 13.

Although the vast majority of studies on breast cancer are aimed towards women, men can also suffer from the disease, indicating that they have similar risk factors, with one case in a hundred diagnosed breast cancers being a male 14. Although this number is relatively small, the rate of incidence has increased by 25% in 25 years.

Sperm count of the average male in the US or Europe has been found to be declining continuously over the past four decades, dierectly linked with environmental estrogen exposure, and today it is less than 50% of what it was forty years ago15,16. One result of this lower count is the increased rate of male infertility; which is also the single most common cause of infertility. The rate of infertility has quadrupled in the past forty years, from 4% in 1965 to at least 16% today 15.

Other conditions including undescended testes caused by prenatal estrogen exposure to environmental estrogens have also been found in studies on mice and it has been suggested undescended testes increases the rate of testicular cancer 17. The incidence of testicular cancer, namely affecting males between the ages of 20 to 30, has also seen an increase worldwide. Studies have found strong links with exposure to excessive levels of estrogen with hypospadias (abnormal congenital opening of male urethra upon under surface of the penis) 18,19, lower libido 19, congenital anomalies, cryptorchidism and testicular cancer 20,21,22.

Environmental estrogens have also been linked to early puberty in girls and increasing number of girls experiencing precocious puberty in recent years 15. A study in the United States of 17, 000 girls indicated that 7% of white and 27% of black girls exhibited physical signs of puberty by age seven, and for girls aged 10 the percentages increased to 68 and 95 respectively 16. This trend for earlier puberty has been found to be widespread, with similar cases found in the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand (Trankina, M. V L., 2001).

Environmental estrogens are also suspected of disrupting thyroid functioning, sexual differentiation of the brain in foetal development and cognitive motor function 23. It is also believed that high levels of environmental estrogen exposure results in lower birth weights, smaller head circumferences, poorer neuromuscular maturity and visual recognition, delays in psychomotor development, short term memory problems, and growth retardation in newborn babies 24.

Prenatal exposure to environmental estrogens also poses a serious health risks to developing fetus and children as evidence of adverse effect on birth outcomes, childhood obesity, and intellectual disability are increasing 25. The placental barrier has been shown to allow these chemicals to cross as many of them have been measured in human fetal cord blood and tissue. More importantly, because organogenesis begins at the time when the fetus is solely dependent on maternal supply, early life exposure to environmental estrogens may lead to adverse short or long term health outcomes due to fetal reprogramming 26.

From testing on animals it has further been proposed that excessive estrogen levels could cause anxious behaviour 27,28, altered fecundency 29, reduced penis size 30 and increased embryo mortality 24. Environmental estrogens are not only capable of binding to estrogen receptors on cell membranes but are also able to bind to neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, neuroepinophrine and dopamine enabling estrogens to influence the body's central nervous system (CNS) 31. Environmental estrogens have also been shown to effect the body’s immune system 30. A large number of studies have also environmental estrogens to contributing to obesity and diabetes, independent of poor diet and physical inactivity; such chemicals including ingredients found in personal care products and cosmetics such as phthalates and phenols 32,33.

More recently studies have found effects of direct exposure to products instead of just individual chemicals. Extensive observational studies have indicated a relationship between certain hair product use and hormonally imbalances including early menache (puberty) 34,35 and uterine fibroids  36 as well as enlargement of breast tissue in boys and men 37.

 

However, estrogenic (or anti-estrogenic) effects of the personal care products as commercial mixtures have rarely ever been evaluated. In a study of eight commonly used hair and skin products four of the eight personal care products tested (Oil Hair Lotion, Extra-dry Skin Lotion, Intensive Skin Lotion and Petroleum Jelly demonstrated detectable estrogenic activity 38. The estrogenic activity of these products was not predictable by examining their listed ingredients. However, perhaps the most surprising finding about any one product was the estrogenic activity of SP4 (Petroleum Jelly). Petroleum jelly products are also often used on infants as low-cost therapies for common problems such as diaper rash and is manufactured by refinement of the crude petroleum product. While other studies have shown that hair oil use as a child was significantly associated with earlier menarche and hair relaxer use and uterine fibroids among participants in the 36. A third study found an elevated incidence of endometriosis and use of personal care products containing benzophenone-type UV filters 39.

 

Fortunately, studies have also shown it is relatively easy to reduce exposure by reducing personal care use or using safer products. In one study of around 100 girls they replaced their personal care products with safer alternatives for 3 days. The replacement products were chosen on the basis of whether their ingredient lists included triclosan, benzophenone-3, or parabens. Phthalates are not listed on ingredient lists, but they are often found in scented products. So the researchers avoided products that listed “fragrance” as an ingredient unless they were specifically labeled as phthalate free.  More than 90% of the participants had detectible levels of phthalates, parabens, and benzophenone-3 before they started using the replacement products. After using the alternative products for 3 days urinary concentrations of methyl and propyl paraben decreased by 43.9% and 45.4%, respectively, mono-ethyl phthalate decreased by 27.4%, and triclosan decreased by 35.7%. However, there were increases in concentrations of butyl and ethyl paraben, which were detected in about half the girls. These chemicals might have been unintentional contaminants or unlabeled ingredients in replacement products, which they acknowledge they were unable to ensure were paraben free 40.

 

 

  1. McLachlan, J. A. & Arnold, S. F., 1996
  2. Darbre, 2003
  3. February 2015
  4. 24 September 2008
  5. Ternes et al 2004
  6. Darbre and Harvey 2008;
  7. Vandenberg et al. 2012;
  8. Zoeller et al. 2012
  9. Darbe 2006
  10. Okubo et al. 2001;
  11. Wróbel and Gregoraszczuk 2013
  12. Gomez et al. 2005
  13. Pan S, et al 2016
  14. Williams, R. M., 2004
  15. Sax, L., 2001,
  16. Trankina, M. L., 2001
  17. Christiansen et al, 1996
  18. Paulozzi 1999
  19. Calzolari et al, 1986
  20. MeLachian et al, 1984)
  21. Rapp, 1996
  22. Bernstein, 1988
  23. Ayotte and Bonefeld‑Jorgensen, 2003
  24. Trankina, 2003
  25. Godoy, et al. 2014
  26. Skinner M. K., et al. 2011
  27. Arabo et al, 2005
  28. Caston et al, 2001
  29. Vos et al, 2000),
  30. Brooks et al, 2007
  31. Fuentes et al, 2000
  32. Song Y, et al 2014;
  33. Carwile JL, et al 2011
  34. James-Todd. 2011
  35. Tiwary CM. 1998
  36. Wise LA, 2012
  37. Gottswinter JM, 1984
  38. Myers et al 2015
  39. Kunisue T, et al. 2012
  40. Harley KG, et al. 2016

 

 

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Vinegar. A real superfood

Vinegar. A real superfood

Vinegar has been around in human culture for thousands of years. In fact, its first recorded use was about 5000 years ago. In the year 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed the mixture of honey and apple cider vinegar for treatment of various diseases. In prophetic medicine, Prophet Muhammad strongly recommended eating vinegar in the Prophetic Hadeeth: "vinegar is the best edible". It has been widely used during wars for disinfecting the wounds of soldiers before pharmaceuticals came along and is commonly referred to in all the folk and traditional medicine for many health conditions. More recently vinegar has been found in many long living human cultures including being a big part of the Mediterranean diet which may account for some of the benefits of this diet.

A variety of natural vinegar products are found in civilizations around the world. It is a sour traditional fermented food that is used in pickles, sauces and beverages, as well as in various food-processing procedures and as a specialty food ingredient. Vinegar is produced from fruit juices such as grape, apple, plum, coconut, and tomato, rice, and potato. It is made by crushing the fruit and squeezing out the liquid. Bacteria and yeast are added to the liquid to start the alcoholic fermentation process, and the sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria.

Although vinegar can be made from any fruit, apple cider vinegar is the most common vinegar used in western folk medicine. Traditionally, apple cider vinegar is made with a long fermentation of apple juices and pulp, of around 1 month, and is fuelled by species of acetic acid bacteria from the fruit and the environment. As a result, acetic acid is the main ingredient of apple cider vinegar, around 3–10% and gives vinegar its characteristic taste and smell. In addition, some of the other ingredients include, polyphenols, like carotenoids, catechin, ephicatechin, as well as gallic acid, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric acids, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, pectin, probiotics and prebiotics 1-5. Vinegar also contains various minerals such copper, potassium, sodium, chloride, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E and, complex carbohydrates and fiber, amino acids and numerous beneficial enzymes to help with digestion. Many of the ingredients in vinegar such as the phenolic compounds are also found in the starting material (i.e., the fruit), or may be introduced to it by aging the vinegar so large differences exist in content of phenolic compounds among vinegars. Overall vinegar is an extremely well rounded nutritious food.

While vinegar products are widely used around the world, the scientific information about the health effects of vinegar as a traditional medicine is only now catching up and supported by many scientific studies. Over the past 20 years the research on vinegar has shown many positive effects on health 2,3 such as an antibacterial effect, cardiovascular benefits, reduction in blood pressure, an antioxidant and anti inflammatory effect, regulation of blood sugar and anti-diabetic effect, reduction and prevention of obesity 6-8, a healing effect on injuries, and a positive effect on brain and cognitive functions 1,9 and on bone health 10.

Historically vinegar was used in the treatment of diabetes before any pharmacologic glucose-lowering therapy 11,12. Recent studies indicate that vinegar improves insulin sensitivity in healthy volunteers, diabetics and obese individuals  8,13,14. In type 2 diabetics vinegar reduces the after meal peak in circulating sugar (hyperglycaemia), insulin and fatty acids (triglycerides) 11,12,16, which in turn reduces the level of blood sugar reacting with the red blood cells (haemoglobin A1c) which is damaging to the blood cells in patients with type 2 diabetes 17.

More specifically the blood glucose/sugar-lowering effect of vinegar was evident when vinegar was ingested with complex carbohydrates, but to a lesser extent with simple sugars (monosaccharides) 13,18 and vinegar reduced the after meal sugar spike (postprandial glycaemia) in patients with type 2 diabetes when added to a high, but not to a low, glycaemic index meal 15. This suggests that vinegar is more effective in controlling blood sugar and triglycerides best in the processed carb rich diet compared to when you just take it with simple healthy meals.

While there appear to be many mechanisms by which vinegar reduces glucose levels not everything is fully understood yet. However, what we do know is that vinegar/acetic acid delays gastric emptying, slowing down the digestion and absorption of sugars and fats 19,20; it slows the breaking down of more complex sugars (disaccharide) in the small intestine and suppresses the absorption of carbohydrate 21; lowers free fatty acid in the blood leading to improved insulin sensitivity, increased blood flow to the peripheral tissues and increased satiety, leading to lower food intake 22. In a study of 12 healthy volunteers vinegar served with a portion of white wheat bread containing 50 g available carbohydrates reported a significant dose-response relation for blood glucose and serum insulin; the higher the acetic acid level, the lower the glucose and insulin. Furthermore, the rating of stomach fullness was directly related to the acetic acid level 8.

Vinegar also increases glucose uptake in skeletal muscles 23 and ingestion at bedtime has also been shown to decrease fasting glucose levels in the morning in humans with type 2 diabetes, suggesting an effect of acetic acid on reducing glucose production and increasing the rates of glycogen synthesis (storage) in the cells 24. Vinegar also stimulates the blood flow and capillary recruitment to the muscles 25,26. Much of this occurs through epigenetic processes and induced gene expression 27.

Apple cider vinegar and other fruit vinegars also have a protective effect on the liver, protecting it from metabolic damage associated with metabolic syndrome and diabetes type 2 28-31. These findings suggest that these vinegars may prevent high fat diet-induced obesity and obesity-related cardiac complications 32.

A large number of studies have also shown the cardiovascular benefits of vinegar 33. In a study of rats with high blood pressure both vinegar and acetic acid decreased blood pressure 34. The studies show that even acute consumption of apple cider vinegar (which is rich in antioxidants and anti inflammatories) causes significant reduction on some risk factors around the build up of plaque in the arteries 35 and reduced atherosclerotic lesions in the aorta, among rabbits on fat diets 36. Vinegar also decreases circulating blood fat (triglyceride) levels 37,38,39 and protect from fat accumulation in liver 40,41 in obese 38and/or type 2 diabetic 42 humans . It also decreases fat levels in skeletal muscle 43 which is a common feature in diabetes and insulin resistance. Apple cider vinegars, regardless of the production method, decreases triglyceride and very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) levels in all groups when compared to controls without vinegar supplementation. A number of studies have also shown the benefits of vinegar on the cholesterol profile even in animals consuming a high cholesterol diet 36,37 and the polyphenols (catechins) present in apple vinegar have been shown to inhibit the LDL oxidation in endothelial cells 44 which make up the lining of the cell wall and may be the precondition for plaque build up.

As a result of its improvement on blood circulation vinegar is likely to have a benefits for many cardio vascular illnesses, even Alzheimer’s (which is just another cardio vascular disease), but as yet the research is only circumstantial. Vinegar has also been shown to be an effective treatment for varicose veins taken internally and applied externally. In a study randomized controlled trial of 120 patients application of vinegar lead to reduction in cramps, pain, leg fatigue perception, edema, itching, pigmentation, weight feelings in the leg, and visual ratings 45. Even though vinegar does not remove the problem veins entirely, the effects they have can reduce symptoms, reduce complication development, or reduce aesthetic concerns.

Vinegar has been shown to reduce osteoporosis 46. Vinegar is a rich source of minerals, such as calcium, manganese and magnesium, which are important in sustaining optimal bone mass. Moreover, the acetic acid content in vinegar has also been shown to promote the absorption and retention of calcium 47.

Consuming apple cider vinegar has also been shown to to have many anti oxidative effects throughout the body including reducing eye lens oxidative injury, a characteristic of the developments of cataracts, by stimulating one of the main antioxidant systems in the body called glutathione peroxidase in mice 48.

Vinegar also helps with digestion and has been recommended to people with digestive troubles for hundreds of years. Common thought is that it helps to prime the gastro-intestinal system for digestion and experience shows that people suffering from reflux (GORD) are more likely to have low levels of gastric acid, not too much acid and one teaspoon (diluted) of vinegar before a meal can assist with digestion. However, this is unlikely to be a result of the pH of the vinegar but may be due to other compounds such as enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics to assist digestion or that it promotes the release of bile acids to assist with the digestion of fats.

 

In the future our medical doctors will tell their patients to go and have 30-50 ml of organic apple cider vinegar a day spread over two meals to prevent and help treat the major health conditions we are confronted with today rather than put them on multiple drugs that have deadly side effects.

 

 

References

 

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  12. Johnston C. S and Buller A. J. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2005
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  17. Johnston C. S., et al Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2009
  18. Van Dijk J.-W et al. Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications. 2012
  19. Liljeberg H and Björck I. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1998
  20. Hlebowicz J et al BMC Gastroenterology. 2007
  21. Ogawa N., et al. Journal of Nutrition. 2000
  22. J, et al Mol Nutr Food Res. 2016
  23. Panayota Mitrou, et al. J Diabetes Res. 2015; 2015
  24. White A. M.and Johnston C. S. Diabetes Care. 2007
  25. Dimitriadis Get al Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2011
  26. Barrett E. J et al. Diabetologia. 2009
  27. Yamashita H. et al Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016
  28. Abdellatif Omar, et al. Egyptian Journal of Hospital Medicine 2016
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  30. Bouazza A, et al Pharm Biol. 2016,
  31. Boon Kee Beh. et al RSC Adv., 2016
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  35. Setorki M., et al Qom University of Medical Sciences Journal. 2010
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  37. Fushimi T., et al British Journal of Nutrition. 2006;
  38. Lozano J et al. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. 2012;
  39. Setorki M et al Lipids in Health and Disease. 2010
  40. Budak NH1, et al J Agric Food Chem. 2011
  41. Mansouri et al Journal of Zanjan University of Medical Sciences & Health Services. 2008
  42. Yamashita H., et al. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 2007
  43. Yamashita H., et al. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 2009
  44. Iizuka et al. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 2010
  45. Derya Atik, et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016
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  48. Naziroğlu et al Cell Membranes and Free Radical Research. 2012

 

 

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Men eat too much meat.

Men eat too much meat.

Men eat 57% more meat, more starchy-vegetables and less green vegetables than women. According to the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey there is a big gender gap for eating habits. It appears meat is seen as more “manly”. Other misconceptions are plant based diets don’t have taste and of course the old one that they don’t have enough protein. While there are many misconceptions over meat and protein USA males consume about twice as much protein as they need to. There are also many top male athletes, sportsmen and bodybuilders who are vegetarian or vegan showing that the manly myth of meat just does not hold.

Interestingly while meat is associated with a number of health issues including prostate problems and cancer the lack of green vegetables and nutrient dense plant based foods is the major cause of high blood pressure and the associated erectile dysfunction. Erectile function is probably the most important personal display of manhood. So much for meat being a mans food. In fact to be manly you need to consume more vegetables just like mum used to tell us.

 

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