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Is Drinking Alcohol REALLY That Bad For Your Health?

by April 20, 2019

Somebody recently sent me this question: “Is alcohol really that bad for my health?”

I’m going to answer it from a nutritional standpoint – specifically, how alcohol affects nutrient absorption.

Consuming alcohol in very modest amounts is generally not a huge nutritional concern. By modest, I mean maybe one drink per week. For instance, a glass of organic wine with a Saturday dinner probably shouldn’t affect your health in any significant way.

But when you start to consume alcohol multiple times a week, or in quantities larger than one drink in a sitting, that’s probably the point at which you open the door to health consequences.

Even Small Amounts of Alcohol Will…

  • interfere with your central nervous system
  • cause inflammation
  • damage your gut (digestive system)
  • affect your sleep, which in turn can impact memory and healing.
  • inhibit how your body absorbs vital nutrients.

Excessive Alcohol Has Devastating Health Consequences

It’s pretty much common knowledge that excessive alcohol consumption will damage your liver. Unfortunately, alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise among Millennials (that’s people born between 1981 and 1996). And they’re not even in their 40s yet!

Meanwhile, since 1999, deaths from liver cirrhosis have gone up 10% per year. Cirrhosis is a condition where liver disease has caused so much scar tissue that the liver stops functioning properly. It takes only 10 years of binge drinking to lead to cirrhosis. And just so you know, binge drinking is considered to be more than four or five drinks in a period of two hours, depending on your gender. So, if you start drinking in college or even in high school, cirrhosis could realistically hit between the ages of 26 and 30.

Of course, drinking heavily impacts your memory and overall brain function. And I’m not referring only to the time just after drinking, maybe when you’re drunk. I mean up to five days after the binge drinking.

Nutritionally

Alcohol is not a source of any significant amount of nutrition. Of course, you know it’s not good for you. I mean, nobody drinks alcohol because they think it’s good for them.

Alcohol spikes your blood sugar, which nobody needs, and has this interesting “bonus” effect where it jacks up your insulin levels beyond what’s needed to handle the blood sugar increase. This can even cause hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – and further contributes to insulin resistance, which is the beginning of the road to just about every chronic disease.

Throw on top of that the fact that alcohol is often mixed with sugary drinks or juice. Combine all that sugar with the gluten from alcohol grains and you’ve got yourself a beverage that’s simply destructive to your health.

Alcohol Inhibits Nutrient Absorption

Chronic heavy drinking blocks B vitamins from being absorbed, and you really need these for several important reasons. Even worse, it encourages the excretion of certain nutrients, specifically the B vitamins, along with vitamins C, A, and D.

Alcohol affects the organs involved in blood production – your hematologic system – which includes your blood, spleen, liver, and the marrow in your bones. You need vitamin B1 to make hemoglobin that carries oxygen around your body. You also need it to metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. A lack of B1 is the major factor in causing alcohol-related brain disease.

Alcohol consumption compromises vitamin B12, which is needed for producing red blood cells and for your central nervous system to function properly. Without adequate amounts of B12, you open the door to neurological disorders, including depression, memory loss, even neuropathy where you experience pain and tingling in your arms and legs.

Alcohol lowers your levels of vitamin B9 (folic acid). B9 is involved with any kind of growth or repair in your body, so it is crucial for creating new cells. In fact, B9 is needed for every function that requires cell division. A deficiency in b9 can cause a type of anemia that lowers your oxygen carrying capacity and lowers your endurance. B9 also keeps your blood vessels healthy and helps protects you against heart disease.

Drinking alcohol also depresses your levels of vitamin C. A sustained deficiency of vitamin C can cause depression and fatigue. And because vitamin C is essential for helping you absorb other nutrients like calcium and iron, inadequate levels of C will deplete you of other minerals.

Because alcohol inhibits fat absorption, drinking alcohol regularly will tend to create deficiencies in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E. That can cause problems with vision, bones, your brain, and nerves.

Overall

In true moderation, alcohol doesn’t seem to have a dramatic long-term effect on health. But binge drinking or frequent drinking opens the door to nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar problems, and neurological disorders.

So, I will be the stick-in-the-mud and say it… Whether it’s Saturday night or not, your body is better off without alcohol.


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5 Reasons You Should Eat More Garlic

by April 20, 2019

Let’s look at five reasons why you should eat garlic and then some ways to get it into your diet.

Garlic – the Ancient Great

Garlic, a vegetable in the onion family, has a long, long history. Its healing properties have been recognized for thousands of years, going all the way back to the Egyptian pyramid builders, who used garlic to increase their strength and endurance. In more recent times, some doctors used garlic to treat battle wounds in the two World Wars of the twentieth century.

Today, research is being conducted on garlic’s ability to reduce heart disease and cancer. This makes sense considering garlic is packed with antioxidants and helps to reduce inflammation.

Okay, here are the five reasons you should eat more garlic.

1. Decrease Your Risk of Heart Attack

Garlic makes blood platelets less likely to stick to your artery walls, which reduces the development of plaque in your arteries. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition confirmed that garlic extract reduces arterial plaque and can reverse early heart disease.

On top of that, garlic can act as a vasodilator, which means it causes blood vessels to widen, which in turn lowers blood pressure. Analysis of several studies has shown that taking standardized garlic extract could be just as effective as taking blood pressure medication.

2. Battle Bacteria 

Garlic can boost your body’s immunity against infection. When garlic is crushed or chopped, it releases a sulphur compound called allicin, which is effective at killing viruses, bacteria, and some fungi.

3. Help Protect and Repair Cells

Garlic is rich in antioxidants and can help protect against some cancers, specifically cancers of the digestive system. The clove of the garlic is the part that is renowned for its healing properties because it contains allicin, flavonoids, and selenium. These nutrients help prevent cell damage and provide support in repairing damaged DNA. To a large extent, the health of your cells and your DNA dictates how you feel and function daily, so eat garlic to be healthier and to feel healthier.

4. Healthy Cholesterol

In studies, garlic has been shown to reduce triglycerides and total cholesterol levels.

5. Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar

Garlic can lower your fasting blood glucose, which is the amount of sugar in your blood when you haven’t eaten for many hours. It also can help prevent diabetic complications like infection and poor circulation. So, if you have diabetes or you’re at risk for developing diabetes, make sure to eat your garlic.

Getting The Most Out of Garlic

You will get the most benefit from garlic by eating it raw. If you cook fresh garlic, be sure to cook it only very lightly. If you don’t have fresh garlic, garlic powder is okay to use in cooking, but it won’t give you the same health benefits because it’s not as potent.

If you haven’t eaten raw garlic before, you’re probably thinking it might be a bit strong and wondering how to do it. Here are some simple ways:

  • The fastest way is to chop garlic and throw it back with some water or tea.
  • Include chopped or crushed garlic in guacamole or salsa.
  • Ferment it in a salt brine to mellow the cloves. The enzymes and bacteria from the fermentation process will provide added benefits.
  • You can even coat raw garlic in a little organic raw honey to make it easier to consume raw. Just go light on the honey. While organic raw honey has a lot of great nutrients, it’s also a high carbohydrate food and contains a significant amount of fructose – which you want to limit.

One Proviso

Okay, we’ve seen how raw garlic in your diet can be incredibly beneficial. But I recommend you don’t eat raw garlic on date night. I don’t want to be responsible for that disaster 😀

All right, get some garlic into you each day and I’ll smell you in the next blog.


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Fish Oil During Pregnancy Can Benefit Baby For Years

by April 20, 2019

It’s no secret that inflammation is a common element in nearly every chronic disease from diabetes to cancer.

Enter Omega-3 fatty acids. Especially during pregnancy.

Omega-3s Reduce Inflammation

Research has shown that EPA and DHA, which are the Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish, can inhibit an enzyme that would otherwise cause inflammation in your body. EPA and DHA can also be used by other enzymes to make anti-inflammatory compounds called resolvins. Further studies point strongly towards reducing inflammatory diseases like asthma, arthritis, and allergies link when taking an Omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

Fish Oil vs. Olive Oil

It’s worth noting that both fish oil and olive oil are great sources of healthy fats. But they’re different in important ways. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish, but not in olive oil. And EPA and DHA are key to reducing inflammation.

Omega-3s Are Huge For The Unborn

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Family Practice demonstrated the importance of animal-based Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy. That study showed Omega-3 fats are hugely significant to human health – starting in utero. Quite simply, an expecting mother taking an Omega-3 supplement can make measurable improvement in the health of her baby.

Researchers in Denmark studied more than 700 pregnant women from week 24 of their pregnancies right through the first week after each baby was born. During that time, the mothers either took EPA and DHA in the form of a fish oil supplement or they took a placebo, which was olive oil capsules. The study found that the babies of the women who took fish oil had a lower risk of asthma at ages 3 to 5 compared with the children of mothers who took the placebo.

Furthermore, the fish oil supplement had the greatest benefit to the children of the moms who had the lowest levels of EPA and DHA before they began the study. What this suggests is that the worse the diet of the pregnant mother, the more important supplementation is.

In addition, the study showed that the children of the mothers who took fish oil sustained a higher body mass index from the ages of 1 to 6. The higher BMI had nothing to do with body fat. It was due to a higher percentage of lean muscle and bone mass. This tells us that Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, help to build strong healthy bones and muscles – not to mention brains.

My Own Kids

I see this with my own kids. My wife takes fish oil supplements and she took them while she was pregnant and nursing. Plus our kids eat really good diets and take supplements. If you were to pick up my kids, you’d find they’re surprisingly heavy for their size and build. A few people who have picked them up have commented that it’s really noticeable. But my children are not fat. They’re very lean and muscular. The heavier weight for their size (heavier than you expect) has to do with muscle and bone development.

More From The Study

The study concluded that fish oil supplementation during pregnancy:

  • reduces the risk for asthma in childhood and
  • is associated with an increase in lean bone and muscle mass and
  • has a general growth stimulating effect on kids

It’s standard practice for doctors to ensure their pregnant patients take folic acid supplements, but imagine the healthy start children would get if doctors screened pregnant women for an Omega-3 deficiency.

So, if you know anyone who’s expecting, share this blog with them and the link to the study.

Meanwhile, even if you’re not an expectant mom, make sure to supplement with fish oil. It’s one of the key supplements that everyone should take. I’ll cover more on this in an upcoming video and blog.


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BodyManual Ingredient Spotlight: Glutathione

by April 18, 2019

Your body’s master antioxidant is an amazing molecule called glutathione. Never heard of it, right? Well, many health experts consider it the most important molecule.

You need glutathione to stay healthy and prevent things like aging, heart disease, dementia, cancer, and just about any other chronic disease you can list.

It’s no overstatement to say that taking action to support your glutathione levels is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

Factors That Reduce Your Glutathione Levels

The good news is that your liver produces the glutathione your body needs.

The bad news is that if you eat a poor diet or you take medications, your liver won’t produce as much glutathione as it should. Additionally, if you live on planet Earth, where you’re exposed to toxins and pollution and radiation, and you’re probably stressed a lot of the time, the amount of glutathione your body makes will be reduced. And that’s not good for your health. Chronic illness and aging also reduce glutathione production.

So, nobody is immune to the challenge of maintaining a high level of glutathione.

What Does Glutathione Do?

Glutathione is so important and effective because its molecule contains sulfur compounds. Your body needs that basic building block of sulfur to be able to make more glutathione. Meanwhile, sulfur is sticky, which makes it great at rounding up toxins and other substances that should be eliminated from your body.

Your immune system depends on glutathione. Without it, you’re very likely to get sick. That goes double if you have a compromised immune system. So, supporting glutathione levels through food and a dietary supplement makes a lot of sense, even if you’re currently healthy.

Glutathione is vital to detoxification because it’s the most important molecule for neutralizing free radicals and removing toxins from your body.

Glutathione also helps recycle other antioxidants in your body.

As a result of all this work, glutathione can improve the appearance and health of your skin, especially preventing scars and wrinkles. It can even aid in weight loss.

Prevent Major Diseases and Live Longer

I’m not even close to done yet. Glutathione is closely linked to the prevention of cancer, brain and memory disorders and cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that almost all chronic disease is associated with a lack of glutathione.

Research has also shown that people over the age of 100 have higher levels of glutathione than average people in their 60s. When you consider that glutathione production decreases with age, this suggests that those who maintain a higher level of glutathione have a greater chance of living longer.

Some Signs of Glutathione Deficiency

Most people need more glutathione. Some need it more than others, especially if they have clusters of these potential indicators of glutathione deficiency:

  • chronic illness
  • high stress levels
  • sleep problems
  • taking medications
  • prone to infections
  • regular headaches
  • brain fog
  • fatigue
  • dry skin

Really, It’s For Everyone

Yes, everyone needs to focus on maintaining high levels of glutathione. It’s just that important to good health.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Prevention first. Protect yourself from glutathione depletion by being proactive.

A simple start is to work on reducing stress and staying away from things that deplete your glutathione levels. Do simple things like:

  • Take a walk in the outdoors and not look at your cell phone while doing it – look at your surrounds and into the distance instead. Something like this is not the answer to all your problems, but it does help you feel a bit better.
  • Get some kind of regular exercise. Work it into your routine. You have to organize your life around exercise, not organize exercise around your life.
  • Limit your exposure to pollutants, heavy metals, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Avoid pain relievers like Tylenol (acetaminophen), Motrin (ibuprofen), Naproxen, and Percocet. They contribute to liver damage by depleting glutathione, zinc, and vitamin C.
  • Stay away from processed foods and refined packaged foods.
  • Eat organic.
  • Filter water.

How to Increase Your Glutathione Levels

Boosting the glutathione in your body is very simple.

  • Eat plenty of sulfur-rich foods:
    • cruciferous vegetables, like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower
    • onions
    • garlic
  • Get enough selenium. Foods that are good sources of selenium include:
    • Brazil nuts
    • beef liver
    • halibut
  • Exercise regularly. Short bursts of high-intensity exercise are best for increasing your glutathione production.
  • And…

Supplement

This nutrient is so important to health that I recommend everyone supplement with glutathione. The building blocks your body needs to boost its glutathione level are included in my product called Multivitamin and Mineral. Click the link to check out all the details and health-boosting ingredients that I’ve carefully chosen, sourced, and balanced.

Any glutathione supplement worth its salt will contain the S-Acetyl form of glutathione. Mine sure does. It’s the highest quality form. It’s also the most expensive form, so some manufacturers of supplements won’t use it because they’re afraid it will raise the cost of their products and narrow their margins. But the cheaper stuff (the form that isn’t S-Acetyl) probably won’t make it through your digestive tract.

S-Acetyl glutathione is also the form that I include in my product that I created for people with autoimmune conditions: Autoimmune Calm.

So, whatever you do, don’t run low on glutathione. Your health depends on it.


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Protect Your Eyes From Harmful Blue Light Exposure – From The Inside Out

by April 18, 2019

Macular degeneration, cataracts and other vision problems are not necessarily inevitable as you get older. There is evidence that now, more than any other time in the past and regardless of your age, you need to consume high enough quantities of lutein, or you risk developing problems with your eyes and vision.

The Lutein Basics

Lutein is a carotenoid, a pigment found in plants. It’s what gives plants an orange, yellow, or red color. Most carotenoids are substances that your body converts into vitamin A. Most, but not all. Some carotenoids, lutein for example, cannot be converted into vitamin A. Yet they play an extraordinarily important role in your health and the quality of your life.

In nature, lutein protects plants from damage caused by excess light, particularly when they absorb short energetic blue wavelengths. The same goes for your eyes – lutein protects your eyes from these blue wavelengths.

When you get lutein in your diet or take a dietary supplement that contains lutein, it accumulates in the macula – the part of your eye that controls central vision. You need adequate amounts of lutein to accumulate in the macula to protect your eyes from the damaging blue light wavelength.

Your Body Doesn’t Make Lutein

The only way that you can get lutein is by eating food, or taking a dietary supplement that contains lutein. Now more important than any other time in history, it’s vital to ensure your diet has enough lutein because of…

The Blue Light Epidemic

Electronics with screens, such as computers and phones, emit this blue wavelength. The more we use and depend upon this technology, the more blue light exposure our eyes get. Of course, the sun also emits blue wavelengths, so technology has not created the problem, but worsened it. Certain plants evolved to contain lutein because of the blue light emitted by the sun. Many of us will get an average day of blue light exposure during daylight hours, and then at night will stare at a TV, computer, or phone. Plus certain types of lights emit blue wavelengths, like fluorescent tubes in so many offices.

This sheer amount of blue wavelength light is a larger problem now than it has ever been in the past. Blue light gets exposed to the lens and the retina of your eye. This has been associated with macular degeneration and cataracts. Both conditions can lead to poor or lost vision. Lutein is not only considered a preventative measure for eye health, but it can actually stop the progression of these other conditions.

Blue light is also regarded as one of the causes of digital eyestrain. You know, sore, dry, itchy eyes after a day exposed to screens. Digital eyestrain is now overtaking carpal tunnel as the leading complaint associated with computer use.

What’s The Answer?

It’s a simple two-part answer:

  1. ↓ Decrease your exposure to blue light.
  2. ↑ Increase the amount of lutein in your diet.

Zeaxanthin and Lutein 

I know it’s not the easiest word to look at and pronounce. But it’s also hard to talk about lutein without mentioning zeaxanthin, because it’s another eye-protecting carotenoid that accumulates in your retina. You need zeaxanthin in your diet and, like lutein, it comes from plants.

These two carotenoids increase pigment density and further protect your eyes from disease.

Lutein Isn’t Just For Your Eyes

It’s a strong anti-inflammatory and can lower your risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Therefore, if you get plenty of lutein to protect your eyes, you’re also protecting your brain because lutein accumulates there and reduces the risk for cognitive decline. Studies have shown that higher lutein levels in older adults are linked to better memory, mental processing, and speed.

Actions You Can Take

Most importantly, eat lutein-rich foods, such as leafy greens, kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwis, carrots, pumpkin, papaya, sweet potatoes, citrus fruit, and pasture-raised egg yolks.

Take a high quality supplement made from specially chosen ingredients. For all of the reasons mentioned in this blog, and because most people don’t get enough lutein or zeaxanthin in their diet, I’ve included both in my multivitamin called MultiVitamin & Mineral. Unless you eat large amounts of lutein-containing foods each day, make sure the vitamins you include in your daily regimen have lutein and zeaxanthin in them.

Take regular breaks from your computer and phone, particularly at night. At least once every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at objects that are far in the distance.

Filter the blue light you’re exposed to. Many phones have a blue light filter that you can turn on to cut exposure. Do this especially at night, so that blue light doesn’t interfere with your eyes and with your brain’s process of making melatonin for good sleep.

Do all these things. Now. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are. It’s an investment. Your eye health and your vision are just too important to ignore.

I’ll see you in the next blog and, hopefully, you’ll be seeing blogs with ease for many, many years to come.


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How Many Vegetables Do You Really Need to Eat Each Day?

by April 12, 2019

You might wonder, “Am I getting enough vegetables in my diet?” Well, probably not. Vegetables really should be the bulk of what you eat, by volume.

As a doctor, I’ve personally seen over 10,000 patients in my practice and I’ve consulted over 1,000 other doctors who see patients. On top of that, I know plenty of people through personal relationships and other groups I’m part of. Of all those people, I can probably count on two hands the number that can honestly say that they eat enough vegetables. That’s pretty astonishing.

Let’s look at why you need to eat more vegetables and some easy ways you can do that.

We’re Not Doing Well …At All

Most people should consume between 5 and 7 cups of vegetables per day.

However, 90% of Americans don’t even eat the government recommended dietary guideline of 2 and a 1/2 to 3 cups per day. Even more troublesome is that only 2% of kids in the U.S. meet this minimum recommendation of 2 and a 1/2 to 3 cups.

The problem is that a poor diet developed at a young age, and then continued through adulthood, is the leading risk factor for disease and death in the United States.

Lovely Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are some of the most nutritious vegetables you can consume. The key is to eat many different green vegetables so that you get a variety of nutrients, not just one or two that you can tolerate on your plate.

  • Collard greens are rich in folate, calcium, and fiber, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. In the big picture, they’re associated with cancer prevention. Collard greens support the detoxification of your body, heart health, digestive health, and the fight against inflammation.
  • Spinach is high in folate, vitamins B2, B3, and C. Maybe most importantly, spinach is a great source of potassium. Most people are potassium deficient.
  • Kale might be the most important vegetable to include in your diet because it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. It’s loaded with vitamins A, B6, C, and K. Kale is also rich in the minerals manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. When you consider how much concern there is in our culture about high cholesterol, kale becomes extra important. It contains a substance called bile acid sequestrant, which helps to lower cholesterol levels.
  • Swiss chard is loaded with vitamin K, along with high levels of vitamins A, C, and E. It’s also a really good source of calcium, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and iron.

You MUST Choose Organic

Eat organic vegetables as often as possible to avoid the chemicals that are sprayed on conventional crops. Spinach that is not grown organically is the number two vegetable on the list of most pesticide-heavy produce. Meanwhile, random tests have shown conventionally grown kale and collard greens contain as many as 50 different types of pesticides. Fifty! One of the reasons to eat leafy greens is to detoxify your body, so it’s pointless to consume them if they’re loaded with toxins.

More Benefits From Leafy Greens

Leafy greens feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. They contain a compound – a unique sugar molecule, in fact, but not a bad one – that provides your good gut bacteria with the energy they need to multiply and crowd out harmful bacteria.

Eating leafy greens will also prompt your cells to produce glutathione, the most important antioxidant in your body. In fact, all cruciferous vegetables increase glutathione levels. Glutathione is one of the most important factors in removing toxic compounds from your body.

Clever Ways To Get More Leafy Greens

Don’t think the greens I’ve listed so far are the only ones to eat. And don’t feel stuck by thinking all you can do with leafy green vegetables is steam them. Here are some other ideas.

  • Wrap your proteins with green leaves. For example, wrap your burger, turkey, even an egg salad. Pretty much anything that you could put between two slices of bread or crackers could go between veggies or leafy greens. Use the larger-leaf greens to make it easier – like romaine lettuce or Swiss chard.
  • Chop up parsley, watercress, or arugula and add them to a dip like guacamole. Don’t wreck your snack by eating it with corn chips. Dip another veggie in it, like celery.
  • Sauté greens in coconut oil, garlic, and black pepper. Either eat that preparation on its own or as part of a larger meal with healthy fats (like avocado) and some protein.
  • Add them to smoothies. You can toss just about any vegetable into a smoothie. If you find your smoothies become bitter because you’re adding a lot of veggies, throw some berries in to take the edge off. Eventually you’ll probably become accustomed to a more bitter flavor. Most people, as they start to eat more veggies, tend to learn to enjoy that bitter flavor over time.

Get Even MORE Greens Down The Hatch

Another simple, easy, and convenient way to pump up your intake of leafy greens is to include a super greens supplement in your daily routine. A supplement isn’t the answer to everything, but it sure will give your improved diet a huge helping hand. Many people have found that consuming a super greens supplement has helped them feel healthier and more energized.

To Sum Up…

No matter what your type of diet, eating more vegetables – especially leafy greens – is universally great advice and a great choice. Your first target is to make sure you eat no less than three cups of veggies per day, including some leafy greens. Once you achieve that, make it a point to increase the amount and make your way toward the five to seven cup per day range. If you do this, your body will reward you with better health and better function.


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