Archive for August, 2012

August 30, 2012

The Cholesterol Myth, Part 2

By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Our top tips for avoiding heart disease

heartLast week, we examined the mounting body of evidence suggesting that cholesterol isn’t the heart-health villain that we’ve been led to believe. So if cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease, what is?

The biggest culprit is inflammation. Injuries to the vascular wall (triggered by anything from high blood pressure to toxins) cause oxidized LDL particles to take up residence; the immune system sends inflammatory cytokines to the area, eventually resulting in plaque and an increased risk for heart disease. Without the initial inflammation, the arteries would be clear.

The following is my seven-point program for reducing inflammation and the risk of heart disease. Note that lowering cholesterol isn’t on it. Pay attention to these seven items, and you might find that you don’t need to worry so much about cholesterol after all.

  1. Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet. The plant kingdom is loaded with natural anti-inflammatories. Berries, apples, onions, and cherries are outstanding examples. Wild salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s as well as astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant. And put green tea, pomegranate juice, and dark chocolate in heavy rotation on your menu.
  2. Cut back on Inflammatory Foods. For many people, grains—particularly wheat—can be highly inflammatory. Sugar contributes to heart disease by creating molecules known as AGEs (advanced glycosylated end-products) that promote inflammation in the artery walls. And omega-6 fats, while necessary for overall health, are pro-inflammatory, and we consume far too much of them. Refined vegetable oils (like soybean and corn oil) are loaded with omega-6s. Switch to olive oil for cooking, and be sure to balance your omega-6 intake with omega-3-rich fish oil and flaxseed oil.
  3. Choose Heart Smart supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids should be part of any heart-healthy supplement regimen. Ditto antioxidants such as vitamin C. Coenzyme Q10 is fuel for the heart, and it’s also depleted by cholesterol lowering medications, so if you’re on one of those, it’s doubly important to supplement with CoQ10.
  4. Manage Your Stress. Stress hormones create inflammatory events. They also raise blood pressure, which in turn contributes to vascular injury. Lowering stress levels is a critical part of any heart health program. Whether you choose meditation, deep breathing exercises, or a warm bath, it’s important to find some time each day for relaxation. Your heart will thank you for it.
  5. Exercise. There’s probably no better thing you can do for your heart. Even brisk walking for 30—45 minutes at least 5 times a week can considerably reduce your risk for heart disease.
  6. Drink only in moderation. A moderate alcohol intake has been shown to be cardioprotective, but the key is knowing whether “moderation” is something you can really do. If it’s not, don’t start. If it is, then one drink a day for women and two for men is fine.
  7. Don’t smoke. This seems obvious, yet it’s impossible to overstate its importance. If you want to significantly reduce your risk of dying from heart disease—not to mention cancer—throw out your cigarettes.

Did you miss part 1? Check it out here.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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August 23, 2012

The Cholesterol Myth?

By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Why lowering cholesterol isn’t nearly as important as you think

lowerLast year, cardiologist Stephen Sinatra and I wrote a book—The Great Cholesterol Myth—which will be out later this year. We believe that a weird combination of misinformation, questionable studies, corporate greed, and deceptive marketing has conspired to create one of the most damaging myths in medical history: that cholesterol causes heart disease.

The tragedy is that by putting all our attention on cholesterol, we’ve ignored the real causes of heart disease: inflammation, oxidation, stress, and sugar. Things we can actually control with foods, supplements, and lifestyle changes—none of which have the costs or side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.

What evidence do we have that the cholesterol hypothesis is flawed? Let’s start with some surprising facts.

  • Cholesterol levels are a poor predictor of heart attacks
  • Half of heart attacks happen to people with normal cholesterol
  • Half the people with elevated cholesterol have healthy hearts
  • Lowering cholesterol has an extremely limited benefit

I haven’t come to these conclusions lightly, and I wouldn’t expect you to take them at face value. The case against cholesterol as a cause of heart disease has been crumbling for decades, but getting the information out there hasn’t been easy. After all, the top cholesterol-lowering medications, Lipitor and Zocor, bring in roughly $34 billion a year for their makers, who have a strong interest in keeping the cholesterol theory alive.

Mounting Evidence

To really see the case against conventional wisdom, you need to consider the following three studies:

The Lyon Heart Study: In the 1990s, French researchers decided to run an experiment—known as the Lyon Diet-Heart Study—to test the effect of different diets on heart disease. They took two groups of men who had every risk factor imaginable. All of them had survived a heart attack. They all had high cholesterol. They all smoked. None of them exercised. And they all had high levels of stress.

Half of the men were advised to eat the American Heart Association’s “prudent diet” (low in saturated fat and cholesterol), while the other half were advised to eat a Mediterranean diet high in fish, omega-3s, vegetables, and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil.

The study was halted early because the reduction in fatal heart attacks in the Mediterranean group was so great—70 percent—that researchers decided it was unethical to continue.

Guess what happened to the cholesterol levels in the subjects on the Mediterranean diet. They didn’t budge. Their cholesterol levels were just as high when the study was stopped as they were when it began. They just stopped dying. Cholesterol had nothing to do with it.

The ENHANCE trial: This 2008 study tested a combination cholesterol-lowering medication called Vytorin. The new wonder drug lowered cholesterol just fine. In fact, it lowered it better than standard statin medications. The problem was that the people taking Vytorin had almost twice the arterial plaque growth as the people taking the standard medication.

To put it simply, the study participants who took the cholesterol-lowering wonder drug saw their cholesterol levels go down significantly while their risk for heart disease went up.

The Nurses Health Study: The Nurses Health Study is one of the longest-running studies of diet and disease ever undertaken. In an analysis of 84,129 of the participants, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, five factors were identified that significantly lowered the risk for heart disease. In fact, wrote the authors, “Eighty-two percent of coronary events in the study. . . could be attributed to lack of adherence to (these five factors).”

  1. Don’t smoke.
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation.
  3. Engage in moderate-to-vigorous exercise for at least half an hour every day.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight (BMI under 25).
  5. Eat a wholesome, low-glycemic (low sugar) diet with plenty of omega-3 fats and fiber.

But not a word about cholesterol.

Heart Smarts

These studies are just a sample of the evidence against the cholesterol theory. The Framingham Heart Study, which began in 1948 and is still going on, actually shows clearly that high cholesterol is protective in older adults—those in the study who lived the longest tended to be those in the “highest cholesterol” category. And let’s not forget that cholesterol is also the parent molecule for the sex hormones and vitamin D. Plus, it’s vitally important in the brain where it helps make communication between cells easier.

Check back next week for The Cholesterol Myth, Part 2.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

August 16, 2012

August Contests/Promotions

Facebook Promotion

Entry Instructions:

Friend us on Facebook before 5 p.m. (central time) August 31st, 2012. Make sure that you send us a Facebook message with your first and last name so they we can email you a personalized coupon.

Other information:

The coupon will be for $5 off a $25 purchase.  Valid only on regularly priced supplements or cosmetics.  The coupon may not be used on services, packaged foods, or books. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Coupon expires September 30th, 2012. To qualify to receive the coupon, you must not have previously been a friend of Baums on Facebook. Baums holds the right to change any promotion without prior notice.

Video Contest

Entry Instructions:

Make a short video of yourself telling the world why you love Baums Natural Foods, a product you buy from us, or a service you have had at our stores. The video must be at least 30 seconds, but no longer than 2 minutes. Make sure to send us a message with the link to your video. All video submitters will receive a goodie bag that can be picked up at any of our three stores on your next visit. One winner will be selected at random to win a $50 gift certificate.

Other Information:

All entries and messages must be received no later than 5 p.m. (central time) on August 31st, 2012.  The winner will be informed that they won through whatever channel he/she used to contact Baums. Winner’s gift certificate may be picked up at the Baums location of their choosing. Video containing inappropriate or offensive video, graphics, or language or that does not fit the entry instructions will not be accepted and will be reported immediately. Limit of 3 entries per person. If submitting more than one entry, the videos must be substantially different. Baums holds the right to change any contest without prior notice. Baums will be sharing the videos received within social media channels, and by submitting an entry, you are agreeing to have your video posted on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress, and other social media platforms.

August 16, 2012

Can You Believe it’s Back to School Time Already?

Keeping your children healthy for the new school year is a must, but which supplements do your kids really need to support good health and concentration? The basics are always a great place to start and a high quality multivitamin/mineral is first on the list!

Even if you have a “good eater” at home, they still need the support of a great quality multivitamin/mineral supplement.  And you can’t go wrong with Nordic Naturals, Nordic Berries. They are little gems that are packed with all-natural nutrition and they taste great too!  You won’t have any trouble getting the kids (or teens or adults)  to take these vitamins!

Don’t forget the Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil! DHA, a compound found in fish oil, has been clinically proven to help with learning and memory. It’s a great brain food that will help keep your child focused and ready to soak in information.

If you’re child simply won’t take fish oil because it tastes bad, you haven’t tried Barlean’s Omega Swirl Fish oil!  It’s so yummy they’ll think it’s dessert!  It comes in Lemon, Key Lime, Mango, and Pina Colada. Just give them a spoon full and they’re done! (the Key Lime is fabulous!).  Barleans also has a product called DHA bubbles.  They’re little round softgels with orange flavored DHA fish oil inside that the kids can bite and squirt in their mouth!  They’ll love it! Stop by one of our 3 locations and ask for a sample today!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

August 9, 2012

Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics

From Harvard Medical School’s Family Health Guide

Bacteria have a reputation for causing disease, so the idea of tossing down a few billion a day for your health might seem — literally and figuratively — hard to swallow. But a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that you can treat and even prevent some illnesses with foods and supplements containing certain kinds of live bacteria. Northern Europeans consume a lot of these beneficial microorganisms, called probiotics (from pro and biota, meaning “for life”), because of their tradition of eating foods fermented with bacteria, such as yogurt. Probiotic-laced beverages are also big business in Japan.

Enthusiasm for such foods has lagged in the United States, but interest in probiotic supplements is on the rise. Some digestive disease specialists are recommending them for disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can help treat several gastrointestinal ills, delay the development of allergies in children, and treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women.

Self-dosing with bacteria isn’t as outlandish as it might seem. An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species inhabit every normal, healthy bowel. These microorganisms (or microflora) generally don’t make us sick; most are helpful. Gut-dwelling bacteria keep pathogens (harmful microorganisms) in check, aid digestion and nutrient absorption, and contribute to immune function.

The best case for probiotic therapy has been in the treatment of diarrhea. Controlled trials have shown that Lactobacillus GG can shorten the course of infectious diarrhea in infants and children (but not adults). Although studies are limited and data are inconsistent, two large reviews, taken together, suggest that probiotics reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea by 60%, when compared with a placebo.

Probiotic therapy may also help people with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical trial results are mixed, but several small studies suggest that certain probiotics may help maintain remission of ulcerative colitis and prevent relapse of Crohn’s disease and the recurrence of pouchitis (a complication of surgery to treat ulcerative colitis). Because these disorders are so frustrating to treat, many people are giving probiotics a try before all the evidence is in for the particular strains they’re using. More research is needed to find out which strains work best for what conditions.

Probiotics may also be of use in maintaining urogenital health. Like the intestinal tract, the vagina is a finely balanced ecosystem. The dominant Lactobacilli strains normally make it too acidic for harmful microorganisms to survive. But the system can be thrown out of balance by a number of factors, including antibiotics, spermicides, and birth control pills. Probiotic treatment that restores the balance of microflora may be helpful for such common female urogenital problems as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, and urinary tract infection.

Many women eat yogurt or insert it into the vagina to treat recurring yeast infections, a “folk” remedy for which medical science offers limited support. Oral and vaginal administration of Lactobacilli may help in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, although there isn’t enough evidence yet to recommend it over conventional approaches. (Vaginosis must be treated because it creates a risk for pregnancy-related complications and pelvic inflammatory disease.) Probiotic treatment of urinary tract infections is under study.

Probiotics are generally considered safe — they’re already present in a normal digestive system — although there’s a theoretical risk for people with impaired immune function. Be sure the ingredients are clearly marked on the label and familiar to you or your health provider. There’s no way to judge the safety of unidentified mixtures.

In the United States, most probiotics are sold as dietary supplements, which do not undergo the testing and approval process that drugs do. Manufacturers are responsible for making sure they’re safe before they’re marketed and that any claims made on the label are true. But there’s no guarantee that the types of bacteria listed on a label are effective for the condition you’re taking them for. Health benefits are strain-specific, and not all strains are necessarily useful, so you may want to consult a practitioner familiar with probiotics to discuss your options. As always, let your primary care provider know what you’re doing.

One to Try:

Strains in Jarro-Dophilus EPS® promote healthy intestinal microflora, which in turn helps to support intestinal health and immune function. Bifidobacteria Iongum BB536 has been clinically shown to stimulate immune response and promote healthy intestinal microfloral balance. L. rhamnosus R0011 is a unique, high producer of polysaccharides that facilitate colonization and stimulate intestinal immune response. L. helveticus R0052 assists in breaking down lactose (milk sugar), which may improve digestion of dairy products by those individuals who are lactose intolerant. Lactococcus and Pediococcus help reduce spoilage caused by unfriendly bacteria in fermented foods.

Jarro-Dophilus EPS® is on sale for $5 off all this month at Baum’s!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

August 2, 2012

Introduction To Probiotics

Our intestinal tract is filled with an enormous number of helpful bacteria called probiotic bacteria. They are called probiotic bacteria because the term “probiotic” means “for life,” as opposed to the term “antibiotic” which means “against life.” Our bodies are actually designed to have a symbiotic relationships with these probiotic bacteria. They help us digest our food, kill harmful microorganisms and keep us functioning properly in a number of ways.

As we look into the intestinal tract we find that there are only a few probiotic bacteria in the stomach because it is highly acidic. However, the further down the intestinal tract we move, the number of these good bacteria increases dramatically with the biggest numbers being found in the large intestine.
We need to have a large population of probiotic bacteria to aid with digestion and to keep the harmful, disease-causing microorganisms in check. If the percentage of good bacteria is too low, compared to the bad bacteria, our bodies function poorly. Over time we are likely to have many health problems.

For the average adult, the intestinal tract will contain about 4 pounds of bacteria. Normally there should be a balance of about 85% probiotic bacteria and 15% harmful bacteria, but many people are so far off that their intestinal tract contains only 15% probiotic bacteria and 85% harmful bacteria.
Scientists are studying the benefits of taking probiotics and are finding it to be very beneficial.

Why We Need Probiotic Supplements

Our bodies are designed to function best with millions of friendly probiotic bacteria living in our intestinal tract. In the past, we replaced the probiotics in our system by constantly eating organic vegetables grown in dirt that was rich with soil-based organisms or drinking raw milk straight from the cow. I myself remember walking into the garden, pulling up young carrots, brushing as much dirt off them as possible and eating them on the spot. Think of the probiotics that were going into my system before I could wash them down the kitchen drain or boil them for 15 to 20 minutes.

Today we need probiotic supplements because there are so many influences that prevent us from getting the probiotics our bodies need.

Today, at least in the United States, many people eat a horrible diet composed of highly processed foods that are filled with chemicals and simple sugars and carbohydrates. Potato chips and Oreo’s are utterly devoid of anything living as are most of the boxed and prepared foods sold in the grocery stores.

Because of the modern agricultural practices, such as the heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers, the soil-based microorganisms are no longer living in the dirt of most farms. We need probiotic supplements to replace what is missing in our food.

The use of antibiotics (remember the “anti” means “against”) directly kills all bacteria in our intestinal tract.

Drinking chlorinated water destroys our intestinal flora. The reason we put chlorine in the water is because it is able to kill bacteria and, unfortunately, it gets the good ones along with the bad when we drink it.

The medical treatment of radiation and chemotherapy also destroys our intestinal flora as well as damaging our immune systems. Any course of chemotherapy absolutely must be followed with heavy doses of probiotic supplements.

Farm animals are continuously fed antibiotics to keep diseases down. When people eat them they also are taking in these antibiotics which then harm the beneficial bacteria in their systems.

Many people who are concerned with health use colonics for detoxification. These practices can wash some of the good bacteria out of their systems.
Alcoholic beverages tend to harm probiotics by killing them directly, encouraging harmful bacteria and yeast overgrowth.

Unfortunately most people simply do not know that the health they experience right now has a direct connection to the billions of beneficial microorganisms that live in their gastrointestinal tract. These are microorganisms which help the body to break down and absorb foods, produce essential elements, while at the same time helping to clean putrefaction and waste, plus kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast.

One to Try:

Strains in Jarro-Dophilus EPS® promote healthy intestinal microflora, which in turn helps to support intestinal health and immune function. Bifidobacteria Iongum BB536 has been clinically shown to stimulate immune response and promote healthy intestinal microfloral balance. L. rhamnosus R0011 is a unique, high producer of polysaccharides that facilitate colonization and stimulate intestinal immune response. L. helveticus R0052 assists in breaking down lactose (milk sugar), which may improve digestion of dairy products by those individuals who are lactose intolerant. Lactococcus and Pediococcus help reduce spoilage caused by unfriendly bacteria in fermented foods.

Jarro-Dophilus EPS® is on sale for $5 off all this month at Baum’s!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.