Tag Archives: cholesterol

Mom Told You Fish is Brain Food. She Was Right.


Recent information from a 20 year study confirms what Mom told you about fish being good for the brain .  Using MRI studies of the brain researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that the size of certain brain regions crucial to intelligence were bigger in those who ate baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis.  In Alzheimer’s Disease these same areas shrink as the disease progresses.  Intelligence and memory testing by the researchers confirmed that having more brain volume in these areas correlated with better brain function. For fish eaters the rate of progressing to Alzheimer’s disease during this study was only 8% while non-fish eaters went on to Alzheimer’s  38% of the time. The researchers concluded that the benefit of fish eating probably results from the protective effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the brain. Omega-3 fatty acid contains high concentrations of EPA as well as another benefical nutrient DHA.

Fish oil is known to have other benefits as well, such as reducing certain fats in the blood, particularly triglycerides. In another recently released study those with high triglycerides taking 1.8 grams of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) for twelve weeks showed a 22% reduction in triglyceride levels . The EPA in this study was derived from the omega-3-fatty acids in fish oil. The researchers point out that there is still limited proof that lowering triglycerides leads to a reduction in heart attack risk, although reducing irregular heart beat after heart attack may be reduced by consuming nutrients such as EPA.

For more helpful information on nutrition and health check out my new book, Metabolism.com

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Infertility to Acne: Treatment and Prevention of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Part 2


Worried about pregnancyIn part one of this series we looked at the cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and the many complications it causes. Weight gain, acne, excess hair growth on the face and body,  high cholesterol and high blood sugar due to insulin resistance are among the problems associated with PCOS.  One particular area of concern for PCOS sufferers is infertility due to lack of ovulation. PCOS is the cause of anovulatory infertility in  3 out of 4 cases. Before the acceptance of medical therapy for infertility due to PCOS  a surgical approach referred to as a wedge resection of the ovary was performed which allowed patients with PCOS to ovulate and conceive normally. Low success rates with this procedure, complications of surgery and improved medical therapies have all resulted in the end of this type of treatment in most situations.  At present, treatment of infertility associated with PCOS generally consists of using a drug to combat insulin resistance known as metformin often in combination with the fertility drug clomid, which has a high rate of success.

Treatment of the excess hair growth associated with PCOS often consists of using the drug spironalactone and the use of birth control pills. Spironalactone is a very interesting drug used for decades as a salt depleting diuretic but also has an effect to block the action of the male hormone testosterone. The action of spironalactone to block testosterone was discovered when it was noticed that men using this diuretic developed tender nipples and breast enlargement (gynecomastia). Oral contraceptive agents are also useful to combat hirsutism because these agents also cause reduce testosterone levels by putting the ovary in a dormant “resting” state.  Cosmetic procedures are always another option to treat unwanted hair growth. Laser hair removal appears to be replacing the older modality of electrolysis for this purpose.

Can PCOS be cured? Once PCOS develops it can be controlled but not cured unless the ovaries are removed. At menopause  PCOS-related problems diminish as the ovary stops making sex hormones including testosterone which is one of the culprits during the reproductive years. A recent study published this year in the journal Pediatric Endocrinology showed that using metformin treatment in pre-adolescent girls thought to be at risk for PCOS reduces the risk and/or the severity of PCOS in later years. It may do this by blocking fat accumulation in the abdomen and liver which seems to set off the insulin resistance. Metformin is not FDA approved for this purpose and as a generic drug there is little profit potential in developing this treatment. I expect it will be many years before preventive therapy for PCOS will come before the FDA for approval .

This information is strictly for educational purposes. Due to high risk of toxicity of medical therapy in young women who can potentially become fertile under treatment for PCOS, no drug should be taken without the close supervision of a physician. The reader agrees to the Terms of Service of this website, metabolism.com

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Bariatric Surgery Benefits Last for Years


One of the biggest problems with weight loss programs and diets is that even if they work the weight tends to come back on within a year or two. A recent study from the University of Utah of people who underwent bariatric surgery shows that not only do they lose weight quickly, after 6 years they continue to maintain their lower weight. After undergoing bariatric surgery the average weight drop was 35% of the original weight and after 6 years weight loss was still a very encouraging 28%. 75% of diabetics who had bariatric surgery were able to go off their diabetic medications, while improvements were generally seen in cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Although this study shows a very high success rate, in the real world medical practice I have seen many people who are able to eat their way out of weight loss success after bariatric surgery. Eating small amounts of very high calorie food is still possible and unfortunately is not all that uncommon. Not to say that bariatric surgery is not helpful, because when it works the results can be spectacular, but as always the degree of motivation of the patient is crucial to success.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, metabolism.com

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Don’t Expect New Weight Loss Meds for 10 Years or More


As a culture we don’t plan for a sudden halt in scientific advancements. Our tendency is to expect progress to be rapid and continuous. My prediction is that in certain areas of medical science we are likely to see not only a halt in progress but a slipping backward. In particular, the realm of medical weight management is in complete disarray at this time. Two new drugs designed to induce weight loss have been shot down by the FDA in the last few months. The first is Qnexa, developed by Vivus Inc. Interestingly, Qnexa combines two drugs already approved for use in the U.S. One of the drugs is phentermine which is a medication used for decades as an appetite suppressant. The other is a common drug used to treat seizures with the brand name Topamax (topiramate) which also induces weight loss. The drug performed admirably in clinical trials with most participants losing over 10% of body mass. The FDA cited excessive risks of the drug in its statement of rejection. One wonders why the drugs are still being marketed separately if they are so dangerous.

The latest drug to be rejected by the FDA is Lorgess (lorcaserin), developed by Arena Pharmaceuticals. This drug, not as effective as Qnexa, produced 5% body mass loss in about half of participants in clinical trials. Lab animals showed a tendency to develop breast tumors when exposed to the medication, adding to the FDA’s decision to reject the drug application based on safety concerns.

I am a strong advocate of drug safety and regulation. On the other hand we know obesity, and with it Type 2 diabetes, is epidemic in the U.S. I regard weight loss as the “holy grail” when treating type 2 diabetes and yet it is the most difficult goal to achieve. Any drug which could assist in weight loss is highly desirable in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Not only does blood sugar improve with weight loss but also blood pressure and cholesterol readings show declines. All three of these parameters are known to be prime contributors to the main cause of death in diabetics, cardiovascular disease.

It has already been 10 years since the last drug was approved specifically for a weight loss indication. The failure of these two latest medications to achieve approval is certain to cause the pharmaceutical industry to severely curtail if not abandon further investment in this type of drug development.

Why is the FDA so reluctant to approve a weight loss pill? This is a complex issue but requires an answer. A new weight loss inducing medication is certain to be highly anticipated and widely prescribed. Therefore, from the very first day of approval the FDA must take responsibility for the well being of millions of people who are likely to take the medication. We are a society which demands our medications deliver miraculous cures with no side-effects. If someone perceives they have been injured by a medication our legal system is primed to unleash brutal retribution on everyone remotely involved in the approval process. Abuse and injury with a medication designed to cause weight loss is almost a certainty. This is a no-win situation for the administration of the FDA.
I predict it will be at least another 10 years before a medication for weight loss is approved by the FDA. Unless there is a change in the climate of litigation in this country it will take longer than that. In the meantime the only new developments in weight loss drugs will be the result of exploiting appetite suppressant effects which are the “side-effect” of medications approved for other purposes.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Metabolism.com

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Growth Hormone Deficiency Tied to Obesity and Accelerated Aging in Young Adults


Due to the potential for abuse and high cost, growth hormone treatment in adults is the subject of much controversy. I believe that treating adults with growth hormone deficiency is many times an appropriate and beneficial choice. Firming up my conviction for treating adult growth hormone deficiency is a recent study conducted in the Netherlands and UK published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM 95:3664-3674, 2010). The researchers compared Body Mass Index (BMI), waist circumference, triglycerides, and HDL (good cholesterol), between normal adults and those with low growth hormone levels due to deficient pituitary function (hypopituitarism). All measurements of obesity and lipid metabolism were significantly worse in the young adults (younger than 57 years) with growth hormone deficiency compared to normal adults of a similar age.

As I pointed out in previous articles at metabolism.com, growth hormone levels naturally decline as we get older. The authors of the present study note that growth hormone levels decline 14% per decade in adults. I conceive of this as one of the ways nature gets rid of us after we complete our biological/reproductive functions, since without growth hormone our muscles, immune and nervous systems, decline, leading to death. It’s planned obsolescence… what is typically referred to as aging. In the recent study senior citizens have equivalent levels of obesity and abnormal lipid metabolism as young adults with growth hormone deficiency. The authors note the effect on the body of growth hormone deficiency in young adults is equivalent to 40 years of aging. The theory that growth hormone functions to preserve our tissues during youth and aging results from its absence, appears confirmed by these results.

Most normal young adults aren’t growth hormone deficient and the population that would qualify for growth hormone treatment from this group is small. What about older adults with low growth hormone who are troubled by the “natural” decline in their body function? Should or could we treat this much larger population with growth hormone? It is my experience that private and federal insurers will not pay for this treatment regarded as “cosmetic”. On the other hand, there will be physicians who will comply with a request for growth hormone treatment from individuals who possess enough cash and motivation. Less affluent or determined individuals will have to contend with natural aging just as our ancestors have done for thousands of years.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or treatment.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, metabolism.com.

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Large Neck Size Equals Big Metabolic Problems


Large Neck Size Equals Big Metabolic Problems:

A bulging stomach is widely accepted as a sign of poor metabolic health. A recent study published in the August Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (95:3701, 2010), finds a chubby neck is likely to hold even a worse prognosis for metabolic health.

The research team evaluated the relationship between waist circumference and neck circumference with levels of blood sugar, good cholesterol (HDL), bad cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides, and insulin resistance, as well as blood pressure. What was found was that neck circumference was a better predictor than waist circumference of elevated blood pressure, LDL, triglycerides and insulin resistance, with lower levels of HDL. All this amounts to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease as neck size increases. As an example, an increase in neck circumference of about one inch is expected to result in a 2.5 point rise in blood pressure.

The authors point out that the neck circumference was a more accurate predictor of cardiovascular risk in women than men. The average neck size for men in this study was about 16 inches (40.5 cm) and about 13.7 inches for women (34 cm).

Alfred Hitchcock, the famous director of suspense movies, made a trademark of his corpulent silhouette with bulging chin and abdomen. Thanks to this research we know his silhouette can signify more than a movie that will thrill you but also a metabolism that will kill you.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Metabolism.com

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Spirulina and other Green Superfoods Can Jumpstart Good Health by Tom Hines


Metabolism.com is pleased to share the following article provided by our guest contributor, Tom Hines.
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In some ways, your body is like a machine — it works best when it’s properly maintained and tuned up. Food is your fuel and when you fill your tank with lousy fuel, your engine sputters and stalls. If your body’s engine is sluggish and needs a jumpstart, spirulina and other green superfoods can help deliver the energy necessary to keep the machine running smoothly, avoiding a breakdown.

Spirulina is a ‘green superfood,’ a term used to describe various nutrient-rich natural supplements, which include Chlorella, Wheat Grass, Barley Grass, Alfalfa and Kelp. Unlike most store-bought supplements, the concentrated vitamins and minerals they provide are not synthetic. Green superfoods are whole foods harvested directly from nature and are exactly what your body needs to offset stress and to clear away toxins.

SAD is very sad indeed

S.A.D. stands for Standard American Diet – there was never a more apt acronym. The majority of U.S. citizens today subsist on processed fast food laden with refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. Meats are frequently tainted with growth hormones, antibiotics and pathogens. For people who manage to work the recommended five to nine daily servings of fruit and vegetables into their diet, modern agricultural techniques have stripped crops of many vitamins and minerals.

Processed and cooked foods, which are the cornerstones of the S.A.D, and beverages such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcohol create an acidic blood pH, encouraging the growth of bacteria, fungus and mold. In an overly acidic environment, the body literally begins to compost. Illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes are often the result of the composting process. Green superfoods have an alkalizing effect, counteracting the acidity caused by poor diet, stress and toxic overload and setting the stage for a return to good health.

Spirulina and Chlorella, the most super of the green superfoods

Spirulina is a blue-green algae whose name comes from its spiral coil shape. High quality spirulina thrives in both salt and fresh water in tropical climates and it is known to have nourished the Aztecs, who harvested the algae from Lake Texcoco. Some of the benefits of Spirulina are:

  • Contains all of the essential amino acids vital to human health
  • An excellent protein source for all vegetarians, including vegans
  • Balances blood sugar by boosting glycogen, which offsets insulin
  • Rich in GLA (gamma linolenic acid) and other essential fatty acids Delivers an array of vitamins, including the all-important folic acid
  • High in potassium and a dozen other minerals
  • Improves focus and mental clarity

Chlorella is a single-celled green algae whose name is derived from Greek and Latin words that translate to “little green.” In the 1940’s and 1950’s, intensive research was done on little green algae’s potential role in solving world hunger, due to its high protein content and its bounty of beneficial vitamins and minerals. The natural health community, meanwhile, has always touted Chlorella’s health-imparting properties, particularly in the area of detoxification. In addition to being the very best source of chlorophyll, here are some more of Chlorella supplement benefits:

  • Rids the body of toxins and stored waste
  • Tones and cleanses the blood
  • Reduces body odor, acting as an internal deodorant
  • Improves bowel health and reduces flatulence
  • Naturally freshens the breath
  • Clears the skin

Cereal grasses and seaweed

Wheat grass is a popular juicing ingredient due to its superior nutrition, which it delivers without raising blood sugar. It also helps to lower blood pressure.

Barley grass alkalizes the blood and strengthens the digestive system.

Alfalfa helps reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein) or bad cholesterol, without affecting levels of HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol and studies are underway to determine its effectiveness at lowering blood sugar levels and its ability to invigorate the immune system.

Kelp is a brown-algae seaweed, which grows in abundant kelp forests in shallow oceans all around the world. Kelp is rich in iodine and therefore beneficial to overall thyroid health. Its high vitamin and mineral content promotes pituitary and adrenal gland health as well. It’s renowned for its contribution to lustrous hair and skin. Taken shortly after exposure, it can also mitigate the negative ramifications of heavy metals and irradiation.

Making the most of green superfoods

Incorporating Spirulina, Chlorella and other green superfoods into the diet is easy, since they are all available in powdered form. Simply mix the desired amount into salad dressing, or add it to soup, juice or water. The taste is fresh and green and the active enzymes of living food add a healthy dimension even to a less than healthy meal. Of course, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people taking medications should consult with their doctors before incorporating any new food into their diets.

Many people who regularly incorporate green superfoods into their daily regimen have reported increased energy, mental clarity and an overall healthy glow. When stress, toxic thoughts and an imperfect diet have left your body’s engine sluggish, green superfoods are a quick and easy way to put yourself back on the road to health. Long may you run!

About the Author
Tom Hines, co-owner of NutritionGeeks.com (MN #1 Now Foods herbal provider), has been working in the nutrition industry since 1997, is a competitive powerlifter, lives with his wife Netti and three boys TJ, Grady and Brock on the prairie in west central Minnesota, spends his leisure time coaching youth wrestling, working with his horses and being play toy #1 for his boys.

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Good News About an Old Enemy….Cholesterol!…….. by Beth Ellen DiLuglio M.S., R.D., C.N.S.D., C.C.N., LD/N


Why is everyone picking on cholesterol !?  It is certainly one of the most misunderstood, demonized molecules that our bodies make!  It is so important as a precursor to many important molecules in our bodies and even acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory!  We produce cholesterol on an ongoing basis, for an ongoing reason.  If we make too much or eat too much cholesterol, a feedback loop will kick in and slow down production for most people.  Cholesterol drugs called “statins” triger that feedback loop and inhibit cholesterol production.  Unfortunately they reduce production of squalene and Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) as well  so people on statin drugs often experience side effects such as muscle cramping and exhaustion.
You must be asking why would we produce cholesterol when drug companies are telling us it is bad for us, so let’s review “Cholesterol 101”.  We are able to convert cholesterol into “vitamin” D, bile acids, cortisol and other vital hormones including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone and estrogen. Cholesterol is incorporated into our cell membranes and is one of the primary lipids in brain tissue! Does that sound like a poison to you?  OF COURSE NOT! Cholesterol is clearly vital to our health.
I put “vitamin” D in quotes for emphasis and to get your attention. Vitamin D is actually a hormone, but that’s another lecture!  It is produced from cholesterol in the skin, in the presence of UV light from the sun.  We can make up to 10,000 units of vitamin D with 30 minutes or so in the sun.   Vitamin D has several target organs including the central nervous system, GI tract, immune system, pancreas and reproductive organs.  Vitamin D is thought to protect us from tuberculosis, multiple sclerosis and even some cancers!  Make sure you are making or taking plenty of the “sunshine vitamin”!
What about “bad” or “good” cholesterol?  People like to call LDL a “bad” cholesterol but that is actually misleading.
The liver produces cholesterol and sends it out for delivery on the “LDL bus.”  It can be delivered to the cells that need it at the time.  The “HDL taxi” will pick up left over cholesterol and return it to the liver for recycling or disposal.  Be aware that LDL and HDL can become elevated in response to toxins such as organic solvents, pesticides, heavy metals or even dry cleaning fluid!  Elevated blood lipids should be completely assessed before any drug therapy is initiated!
There is one “bad” cholesterol and that is OXIDIZED cholesterol.  This can lead to a cascade of events that build up plaque in our arteries.  So, how do we prevent OXIDATION?  ANTI-OXIDANTS of course!  Vitamin C and full spectrum natural Vitamin E are especially important.  No wonder why a deficiency of Vitamin C (master antioxidant) can lead to a type of heart disease known as  atherosclerosis (“hardening of the arteries).  Apparently heart disease and atherosclerosis are not “statin deficiency” diseases after all!
P.S., eat the yolk of your eggs.  Not only do they contain cholesterol that should kick in your feedback loop, but they contain important nutrients such as choline, B12, vitamin E and even vitamin D!
So there, I hope you’ve started to fall in love with cholesterol.  I just had to defend that vital, yet defenseless molecule! Stay tuned for more !  Clinical Nutritionist Beth Ellen DiLuglio, MS, RD, CNSD, CCN, LD/N.  Metabolism.com

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Nature’s Hydroxycut


another secret from nature

another secret from nature

Yes you read it right, hydroxycitric acid (HCA, or “hydroxycut” used in many diet formulas that are otherwise dangerous to the body, bad bad bad) has a natural safe original source:

the Hibiscus Flower!

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is effective in weightloss because it helps to stop the conversion of carbs in food to body fat. It fights appetite and encourages weight loss  not by increasing your energy, but by limiting how much we convert the carbs we eat. HCA is not a good idea on low carb dieting (which is a crap idea anyhow) but it does help weight loss when used with a healthy program of general calorie restriction reducing consumption of carbs, protein, and fats equally.

Hibiscus tea affects how we absorb fats and carbohydrates because it contains phaseolamin, a powerful enzyme inhibitor that blocks amylase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down fats and carbohydrates.  This enzyme inhibitor acts in the same way as the drugstore-pill versions, but remains in its natural, unadulterated form and is much safer and more beneficial for the body than laboratory-produced concoctions. (This can be said for almost all things, if it comes in nature, why make it in a lab?) By the way, the same form of amylase inhibitors is present in kidney beans and other hard-to-digest legumes, so eat your beans! 😉

In addition to blocking the absorption of sugars, this traditional tea has cleansing and anti-bloating properties, helping the body rid of excess fluids and therefore further contributing to weight loss, especially in premenstrual and menopausal women. It’s especially good for women as it balances our Yin (female) and Yang (male) energies when our hormones are changing.

Hibiscus tea is caffeine-free and has a high vitamin C content, it has a bright red color and a tart cranberry-like flavor, it’s like natures Kool-aide but way way better for you.  Hibiscus tea is also known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In folk medicine, they are used to prevent and treat heart and liver diseases. I dare you to get those benefits out of a crappy diet pill or kiddie drink!

You can find dried loose flowers in most nature stores, and some brands even market hibiscus tea bags. It’s inexpensive (no more than $20 per pound here in NY, and a full pound will last eaons) and can also be added to loose green or black tea for an added flavor.

HOW TO MAKE IT:

Steep 3-4 dried flowers  in about 16oz of freshly boiled water for 5 minutes. It’s so great in the summer as a refreshing afternoon drink, but to use it medicinally for cholesterol or weight loss management, I suggest you have 3 cups a day, 1 hour after each meal.

Kimberly, counselor since 1998 and founder of www.RedAppleYoga.com, holds a Masters in Health & Healing as a Certified Nutritional Counselor, a Masters in Education and is an internationally trained advanced  Yoga and Yoga Therapy instructor that has worked and studied in New York, Spain and in Southern India. Her practice is based in New York City. She believes in showing her clients how to combine time-tested ancient theories with modern knowledge to get the best benefits from both worlds.

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Why yoga works to balance weight


We’ve all heard how doing yoga is one of the best practices to adopt when trying to balance your weight, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and also to reduce stress.

But we’ve also all wondered exactly HOW these 60 minute sessions of bends and twists can promise so much?

Here’s the key to the health benefits of yoga poses:

Like traditional exercize (running, walking, playing group sports etc), yoga can get your heart rate up and tone and strengthen your muscles. But the special qualities that yoga alone offers is the attention it gives to our internal organs. Here’s a quick fact about the major types of yoga postures:

All forward bending poses will help to massage the stomach, pancreas and intestines, bringing new blood to these organs and therefore helping them to work better.

All twisting poses massage and compress the different sections of the colon, helping to manually move food along it’s route from the stomach and onwards.

Also, all “chin to chest” simple poses will massage the thyroid and parathyroid glands which are responsible for our body’s ability to properly absorb calcium in addition to keeping our sleep and metabolism regular.

Like many things in life, it is the simple stuff that is often offering the most complex benefits. If you’re new to yoga, research the variety of DVD’s, classes in your neighborhood and of course, local practitioners that can help you learn more.

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