OK Amanda Frick, ND, Author at Santa Monica Naturopathic Doctor | Amanda Frick, ND

Santa Monica Naturopathic Doctor | Amanda Frick, ND

Author Archives: Amanda Frick, ND

Superfoods for Fall

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The air is crisp and cool, and it’s time to break out the cozy sweaters and snuggly scarves! Take a java to the farmers market to pick up some of these fall beauties, then cuddle up at home with some delicious, nutritious fall favorites.

Savory Starches:

Winter Squash – winter squash is the primary food source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in the entire diet! For lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin (three other health-supportive carotenoids) winter squash also comes out among the top three food sources in several studies. Carb counting? Not to fear! Many of the carbs in winter starch come from polysaccharides found in the cell walls. These polysaccharides include pectins—specially structured polysaccharides that in winter squash often include special chains of D-galacturonic acid called homogalacturonan. An increasing number of animal studies now show that these starch-related components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. Boom! These healthy carbs are acceptable.
Pumpkin – pumpkin really packs a nutritional wallop! The actual whole food I mean, NOT the spiced espresso beverage… Pumpkin contains loads of beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are great for skin and eye health. It also contains loads of potassium and fiber to keep you regular, and feeling satiated, keeping the pounds away. It’s also got a fair dose of B-vitamins to keep your energy up and metabolism heated up. Bake into bread (if you’re into that sorta thing), make a cinnamon/nutmeg spiced pumpkin puree, or throw into an antioxidant loaded protein smoothie.
Sweet Potato – these little cuties are loaded with vitamin A, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin C and a healthy dose of B6. Vitamin B6 is crucial in breaking down a substance called homocysteine, which contributes to hardening of the arteries and blood vessels. Vitamin B6 helps keep vessel walls flexible and healthy, allowing blood to flow more freely. B6 is also an important factor for clearance of estrogens in the liver, and low levels of B6 are associated with PMS, migraine and depression. Oven roasted sweet potato fries with a touch of cayenne and cinnamon. Yes, please.
A Little Seedy:

Pumpkin Seeds – pumpkin seeds could easily have their very own post here! But, that’s no fun! These little powerhouses are loaded with magnesium, copper, manganese and zinc. Zinc plays a crucial role in immunity, skin health, sleep, mood and male sexual function. A single ounce of pumpkin seeds can contain up to 2mg of zinc per serving! Pumpkin seeds also offer an important source of plant based omega-3s. Keep these little treasures that your jack-o-lanterns donate and roast them up with a pinch of salt for a waste free, and delicious, holiday treat.
Flax Seeds – flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fiber, and special plant compounds called lignans. Recent studies show flaxseeds may help reduce belly fat and lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. It doesn’t hurt that they taste pretty darned good too! You really need to fresh grind them to get the full omega 3 benefits, or use it as a cold oil to top salads, smoothies or oatmeal. Don’t buy pre-ground, as this allows the oils in the seeds to oxidize before you use them, and you miss out on the healthy benefits.
Get a Little Fruity:

Pears – pears are one of the highest fiber fruits out there. Filling up on fiber keeps you regular, prevents bloat, and also helps prevent against colon cancer. Getting your fill of fiber from fruit is also linked to a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. Pears also contain a fair amount of vitamins C, K, B2, B3, and B6,calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, boron, and manganese. Holy multi-function fruit! Pear skin also contains quercetin, which has been shown to help prevent cancer, arterial damage and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease, so be sure to leave the skin on!
Pomegranates – preaching to the choir here I’m sure! Pomegranates are a well known source of polyphenol antioxidants to keep your immune system running at top notch and keeping you younger, longer. Pomegranates have also been shown to have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect and may help prevent joint damage in osteoarthritis. As if that’s not enough, the compounds in pomegranates may help reduce the accumulation of LDL plaques in your arteries. Did I mention they’re gorgeous!?
Stay healthy, stay happy and have a fabulous fall!

Dr. Amanda

What’s On Your Plate (Or Should Be) – January

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Well, the holidays are over, and we are all trying to clean up our act! Let’s take a look at what’s in season for January in California to contribute to our detox, de-stress and decrease in size!

Eat Your Greens!:

Asian Vegetables – napa cabbage, bok choy, tat soi, oh boy!! You can find a wide variety of Asian greens at your local farmer’s market in January. Asian greens are highly nutritious. Most are excellent sources of Vitamin C and good sources of Vitamin A. They contain many antioxidants and the darker the colour, the higher the antioxidant level. Except for Chinese cabbage, Asian greens are good sources of available iron. Unlike spinach, Asian greens do not contain oxalic acid, which binds iron to the spinach so that it is not available to the body. All Asian greens supply folate and are a good source of fiber.
Swiss Chard – chard is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and iron! It’s also rich in B-complex vitamins, and an important source of minerals. Regular inclusion of chard in the diet has been found to prevent osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, and vitamin-A deficiency; and believed to protect from cardiovascular diseases and colon and prostate cancers. Sounds like a winner to me!
Dandelion Greens – these lovelies are loaded with calcium, iron and antioxidants to keep you luscious as long as possible. They also contain loads of minerals, and they’re content is a whopping 14% protein! Even more importantly, they’re very powerful for detoxification, especially through the liver. Supporting your liver detoxification can make you feel better, make your skin look better and help reduce symptoms of PMS. Yup, I said that… Try them as raw best, so throw them in a salad, or whip them up in your vitamix for a green goddess smoothie.
Earthy Additions:

Leeks – leeks have excellent amounts of Vitamin C as well as folate, and useful amounts of B vitamins, Vitamin E, copper, potassium and iron. A range of saponins are present with some flavonoids. Carotenoids and chlorophyll are mainly in the green tops. Leeks are a great addition to a winter soup, or just slice and sauté to join your eggs, or eat as a side dish. They’re earthy, sweet and oh so lovely.
Shallots – Shallots are related to onions, but they have a sweeter, milder flavor. Like garlic and onions, shallots have dry, papery skins. These flavorful vegetables provide good sources of several important nutrients including iron, vitamins A and C and phytonutrients. Try adding them to your favorite soups, sauces and sautés for a healthy burst of flavor.
Get a Little Fruity:

Grapefruit – a great source of Vitamin A and C and an excellent source of fiber. But that’s not all!! Grapefruit contain two main phytonutrients found to help fight cancer. Limonoids, in the flesh of the fruit, are known to stimulate the production of enzymes that help the liver rid the body of toxic substances more easily. Research also has shown limonoids have the potential to fight breast and colon cancer, as well as cancers of the mouth, skin and stomach. Lycopene is a phytonutrient found in the pink and red varieties of the fruit. The antioxidant capabilities of lycopene have been shown to have anti-tumor properties that reduce the risk of some cancers, such as prostate cancer. Please note: consumption of grapefruit is contraindicated with certain prescription medications. If you’re concerned, please ask your doctor. No meds, no problems!! Go for the pink and red varieties for extra antioxidants and a bit sweeter flavor.
Tangerines – of course, these babies are a great source of immune boosting vitamin C, but they have some other hidden treasure as well. It’s known to have a purifying effect, stimulate blood cells to cary more oxygen, and the essential oils have a a relaxing effect on the nerves. Who doesn’t need that!?
Vitamixology for the month of January:

1 whole peeled grapefruit
2 whole peeled tangerines
1 handful of dandelion greens
1 whole apple or pear
splash of water, coconut water or juice of choice for movement
Use the smoothie preset if you have it, or start on low speed until movement is achieved, then turn up to medium high for 10 seconds or until puree perfection is achieved. Enjoy! Slam one of these green beauties for a cold, flu or a nice healthy detox. So good.

Enjoy your fabulous new year, and be well!
Dr. Amanda

What’s On Your Plate (Or Should Be…) – December

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Even though it’s SoCal, it’s getting colder!  As we move into the winter harvest season, our options become fewer, and some say less exciting.  It’s easy to get bored at the market, but here are some seasonal pretties that you can count on finding in December

There are number of cruciferous (or brassica) vegetables on the menu in the winter.  They are your friends in cancer prevention, detoxification and general deliciousness.  If you’re concerned about thyroid health, be sure to cook them thoroughly

  • Brussels Sprouts – high in vitamins C and K and a good source of folate.  Can be used raw in a sprout slaw, or cooked.  In our house they either get steamed, or sautéed with garlic and topped with a smidge of fresh parmesan.
  • Cabbage – cabbage is a great source of fiber and nutrients.  Try a low calorie cabbage soup, or a rich cabbage roll with ground beef and tomato sauce.  Go for the purple variety for an antioxidant boost!
  • Kale – rich in vitamins A, C, K and iron.  Delicious as a raw salad, or also great in the oven with a dose of fragrant garlic.  Yum.
  • Cauliflower – can help support a healthy digestive system.  This is especially important when we are gravitating towards foods that slow our guts down.  Fruit cake anyone!?
Root vegetables are high in fiber, minerals and antioxidants. Not just for your grandma!  The rich pigment varieties are great for liver detox which can help you balance hormones and maintain a youthful appearance.  Eat ’em!
  • Carrots – Rich in carotenoids, these little lovelies are great for your eyes, but also can help boost your immune system.
  • Beets – lovely, luscious beets!  Some of my cold weather favorites.  Roast, peel and slice for salads or add to potatoes for a beautiful hue!  Try juicing them for some liver love.
  • Parsnips – The parsnip is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler in colour than most carrots, and have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked.  They’re particularly high in potassium and fiber

Don’t forget about fruits!  We always associate fruits with summer months, but there are some real gems in the cold months that shouldn’t be passed up!

  • Persimmons – there’s nothing like them, I wait all year for persimmon season!  If you haven’t had one, you really should.  Soft apple-like texture, but with the taste of a rich pumpkin and cinnamon.  Oh just eat one!  They contain high levels of dietary fiber,  phenolic compounds, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese. They are also rich in vitamin C and beta carotene. Boom!
  • Citrus – you can get it in just about every color and variety right now!  Sweet and juicy or tart and fresh.  All citrus is high in fiber and vitamin C.  Many varieties are high in sugars, so best to eat them whole, or only as an addition to juices.
Enjoy the winter bounty and be well!

Beyond Frankenfoods and Toxics: OCA’s 10 Reasons To Buy Organic

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By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, August 17, 2011

Organic foods and products are the fastest growing items in America’s grocery carts. Thirty million households, comprising 75 million people, are now buying organic foods, clothing, body care, supplements, pet food, and other products on a regular basis. Fifty-six percent of U.S. consumers say they prefer organic foods.

Here are 10 reasons why you should buy organic foods and products:
1. Organic foods are produced without the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Consumers worry about untested and unlabeled genetically modified food ingredients in common supermarket items. Genetically engineered ingredients are now found in 75% of all non-organic U.S. processed foods, even in many products labeled or advertised as “natural.” In addition, the overwhelming majority of non-organic meat, dairy, and eggs are derived from animals reared on a steady diet of GM animal feed. Although polls indicate that 90% of Americans want labels on gene-altered foods, government and industry adamantly refuse to respect consumers’ right to know, understanding quite well that health and environmental-minded shoppers will avoid foods with a GMO label.

2. Organic foods are safe and pure. Organic farming prohibits the use of toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, nano-particles, and climate-destabilizing chemical fertilizers. Consumers worry about pesticide and drug residues routinely found in non-organic produce, processed foods, and animal products. Consumer Reports has found that 77% of non-organic produce items in the average supermarket contain pesticide residues. The beef industry has acknowledged that 94% of all U.S. beef cattle have hormone implants, which are banned in Europe as a cancer hazard. Approximately 10% of all U.S. dairy cows are injected with Monsanto and Elanco’s controversial genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone, banned in most industrialized nations. Recent studies indicate that an alarming percentage of non-organic U.S. meat contains dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

3. Organic foods and farming are climate-friendly. Citizens are increasingly concerned about climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas pollution (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide), 35-50% of which in North America comes from our energy-intensive, chemical-intensive food and farming system. Organic farms and ranches, on the other hand, use far less fossil fuel and can safely sequester large amounts of CO2 in the soil (up to 7,000 pounds of CO2 per acre per year, every year.) Twenty-four billion pounds of chemical fertilizers applied on non-organic farms in the U.S. every year not only pollute our drinking water and create enormous dead zones in the oceans; but also release enormous amounts of nitrous oxide, a super potent, climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas.

4. Organic food certification prohibits nuclear irradiation. Consumers are justifiably alarmed about irradiating food with nuclear waste or electron beams, which destroy vitamins and nutrients and produce cancer-causing chemicals such as benzene and formaldehyde. The nuclear industry, large food processors, and slaughterhouses continue to lobby Congress to remove required labels from irradiated foods and replace these with misleading labels that use the term “cold pasteurization.” The USDA and large meat companies have promoted the use of irradiated meat in school lunches and senior citizen facilities. Many non-organic spices contain irradiated ingredients.

5. Consumers worry about rampant e-coli, salmonella, campylobacter, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and fecal contamination in animal products coming out of the nation’s inhumane and filthy slaughterhouses. The Centers for Disease Control have admitted that up to 76 million Americans suffer from food poisoning every year. Very few cases of food poisoning have ever been linked to organic farms or food processors.

6. Consumers are concerned about billions of pounds of toxic municipal sewage sludge dumped as “fertilizer” on 140,000 of America’s chemical farms. Scientific evidence has confirmed that municipal sewage sludge contains hundreds of dangerous pathogens, toxic heavy metals, flame-retardants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, pharmaceutical drugs and other hazardous chemicals coming from residential drains, storm water runoff, hospitals, and industrial plants. Organic farming categorically prohibits the use of sewage sludge.

7. Consumers worry about the routine practice of grinding up slaughterhouse waste and feeding this offal and blood back to other animals, a practice that has given rise to a form of human mad-cow disease called CJD, often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Animals on organic farms cannot be fed slaughterhouse waste, manure, or blood – daily rations on America’s factory farms.

8. Consumers care about the humane treatment of animals. Organic farming prohibits intensive confinement and mutilation (debeaking, cutting off tails, etc.) of farm animals. In addition to the cruel and unhealthy confinement of animals on factory farms, scientists warn that these CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) produce enormous volumes of manure and urine, which not only pollute surface and ground water, but also emit large quantities of methane, a powerful climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas.

9. Consumers are concerned about purchasing foods with high nutritional value. Organic foods are nutritionally dense compared to foods produced with toxic chemicals, chemical fertilizers, and GMO seeds. Studies show that organic foods contain more vitamins, cancer-fighting anti-oxidants, and important trace minerals.

10. Consumers care about preserving America’s family farms, world hunger, and the plight of the world’s two billion small farmers. Just about the only small farmers who stand a chance of making decent living these days are organic farmers, who get a better price for their products. In addition study after study has shown that small organic farms in the developing world produce twice as much food per acre as chemical and GMO farms, while using far less fossil fuel and sequestering large amounts of excess CO2 in the soil. Yields on organic farms in the industrialized world are comparable to the yields on chemical and GMO farms, with the important qualification that organic farms far out-produce chemical farms under extreme weather conditions of drought or torrential rains. Of course, given accelerated climate change, extreme weather is fast becoming the norm.

For all these reasons, millions of American consumers are turning to organic foods and other organic items, including clothing and body care products – part of an overall movement toward healthy living, preserving the environment, and reversing global warming.

Safer Cleaning Supplies For Your Home

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Published by Environmental Working Group

Our homes aren’t safe and clean if the air inside is polluted with chemicals from household cleaners. Follow these simple tips to protect your family’s health while you clean your home.

1. Less is More

Dilute your cleaning supplies according to instructions and use only what’s needed to get the job done.

2. Open the Window

Clean with windows and doors open so you don’t trap air pollution inside your home.

3. Use Gloves and Other Precautions

Cleaning chemicals may harm or penetrate skin and eyes – check warning labels.

4. Keep Kids Away

Children are more vulnerable to toxic chemicals. If they like to help, let them clean with soap and water, not toxic cleaners.

5. Avoid “Antibacterial”

If your family is generally healthy, there’s no need to use potentially toxic “antibacterial” products, according to the American Medical Association. Wash your hands with plain soap and water.

6. Never Mix Bleach with Ammonia, Vinegar, or Other Acids

These combinations can produce deadly gases.

7. Don’t Be Fooled by Labels – Buy Certified Green Products

Label claims aren’t always true. Cleaning supplies certified by Green Seal or EcoLogo meet green standards.

8. Try Natural Alternatives

Experiment with non-toxic options like vinegar and baking soda.

9. Take Care with Pine and Citrus Oil Cleaners

Avoid using these cleaners especially on smoggy days, when the ingredients can react with ozone to produce cancer-causing formaldehyde.

10. Skip the Biggest Hazards

Avoid air fresheners, use a baking soda and water paste to clean the oven and tackle toilet stains, and use a mechanical snake to unclog the drain.


Why You May Need More Vitamin B12

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By Elizabeth Walling

Natural News, December 4, 2009

A Common Deficiency

A deficiency in vitamin B12 often goes unrecognized until it has progressed to the point of anemia. A mild or moderate B12 deficiency may not cause outright anemia, but it’s still linked to symptoms such as:

  • fatigue
  • lightheadedness
  • insomnia
  • memory loss
  • difficulty concentrating
  • pins-and-needles feeling in fingers and toes
  • depression
  • obsessive-compulsive behavior
  • irrational anger
  • alcoholism
  • dementia
  • constipation
  • impotence

A B12 deficiency can occur gradually over a period of years. The number and severity of side effects builds as time passes and the deficiency worsens. Preventing and treating a vitamin B12 deficiency naturally as soon as possible is crucial for well-being and general health.

A deficiency in B12 is increasingly common because many people are either not getting enough bioavailable B12 in their diet, or their bodies have trouble absorbing and utilizing B12. Let’s explore the former issue first:

Not all vitamin B12 in food is bioavailable. For instance, the B12 in plant foods (like green vegetables and soy) is an analog form of the vitamin which cannot be used in the human body. This analog B12 can actually interfere with the absorption of other types of vitamin B12, making the reliance on plant foods for B12 very ineffective for many individuals. Soy foods, in particular, appear to cause problems in B12 absorption.

The best natural sources of bioavailable vitamin B12 are from wild-caught fish, shellfish, humanely-raised meats, pastured eggs, and milk that is raw and unpasteurized, since pasteurization produces proteins that block B12 absorption. Of course, high quality foods raised with natural practices will provide the widest spectrum of bioavailable nutrients, including B12.

If you can’t include these natural sources of vitamin B12 in your diet, then supplementation can be highly beneficial and even necessary.

Of course, there are many people who do consume plenty of natural vitamin B12, but have trouble absorbing it properly. This can be caused by several factors:

  • Candida overgrowth, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease and internal parasites can disrupt the bacteria in the gut which promote B12 absorption.
  • If you’ve had part of your stomach or small intestine removed during surgery, this can interfere with B12 absorption.
  • Antacids and other heartburn medications reduce stomach acid (which is required for the body to utilize B12).

Vitamin B12 Supplementation

There are two common methods of vitamin B12 supplementation: with shots (administered weekly or monthly at a doctor’s office or at home), or with pills. Both methods appear to be effective for treating a B12 deficiency.

Methylcobalamin is the form of choice when it comes to B12. Though cyanocobalamin is the most common form (it’s the most common type seem in multivitamins and B-complex formulas), it is far less effective. Sublingual tablets are preferred because they enhance absorption.

The dosage of B12 supplementation varies depending on how deficient you are, but a typical daily sublingual dose is 100 – 250 mcg. Those who have trouble absorbing B12 will need much higher doses, such as 1,000 – 2,000 mcg daily.

5 Unhealthy Food Ingredients to Avoid

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By Michele Borboa

SheKnows Miso Vegan, August 3, 2011

Though you may be eschewing meat and dairy and avoiding the saturated fat and other toxins associated with animal products, those packaged vegan foods you’re buying aren’t doing your health any favors. Read the labels and steer clear of foods laden with these five unhealthy ingredients.

5 Food ingredients to avoid

1. High fructose corn syrup

Added to packaged foods, desserts and drinks, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may be a cheap sweetener, but your waistline and health may pay the price. Though research is riddled with conflicting evidence regarding the impact of HFCS on metabolism and weight gain, there is emerging evidence that this ubiquitous sweetener can lead to heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes. Best to be safe and opt for fresh or homemade foods or products with natural sweeteners.

2. Trans fat

The real “bad boy” of fat, trans fat has been shown to raise LDL cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease as well as lower good-for-you HDL cholesterol. The American Heart Association warns that trans fat should be no more than 1% of your total fat intake.

3. Refined grains

Enriched or bleached flour have been stripped of fiber and nutrients beneficial for overall health. Even though many bread products, cereals, pasta, and baked goods are made with refined grains, you can find whole wheat and whole grain products if you read labels. Opt for labels listing 100 percent wheat flour and at least 3 grams of fiber.

4. Artificial colorings

Studies suggest that artificial colorings – Yellow 5, Red 40, Blue 2 to name just a few – may lead to cancer, allergies and other maladies, but aren’t dangerous enough to be banned from use in foods and drinks. Since many products with artificial colorings aren’t necessarily the healthiest in the first place, limit or eliminate their place in your family’s diet or choose products that are naturally hued.

5. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

If you frequently experience migraines, nausea, shortness of breath or irregular heart beats, after eating certain processed foods, check the labels. Added as a flavor enhancer, MSG does cause adverse reactions in people who are sensitive to it. Research hasn’t concluded that MSG poses a health risk, but you can avoid it by choosing MSG-free products.


13 Amazing Health Benefits of Green Tea

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By Nutritional Supplements HQ

The majority of green tea benefits seem to stem from the powerful antioxidants, called catechins, which scavenge your cells for free radicals that could otherwise damage DNA, and contribute to cancer, blocked arteries and blood clots.

Because of the minimal processing – leaves are steamed instead of fermented – green tea catechins are unique and contain a more concentrated form of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is the active ingredient that many studies have highlighted as the driving force behind green tea benefits.

Green tea’s impact on cancer and heart disease seems very promising, and many people have experienced life changing benefits as a result of taking it daily. Below is a comprehensive list of benefits you will attain with a regular dose of green tea.

1. Lowers your risk of cancer. Although the studies of how green tea affects cancerous cells are still in their infancy, there have been human trials which indicate that it does inhibit cells from developing cancer. EGCG in green tea regulates and inhibits cancer growth by killing cells that are growing inappropriately. In Japan, a study of 500 women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer found that increasing their green tea consumption before and after surgery significantly lowered the risk of recurrence. Another analysis of 22 studies of the correlation between green tea and lung cancer concluded that by increasing your intake of green tea by two cups a day may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer by 18%.

2. Eases the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Study results reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that polyphenol antioxidants in green tea benefits suffers of arthritis by reducing the incidence and severity of the disease. EGCG protects cartilage destruction and reduces joint swelling and pain. This leads many scientists and health professionals to recommend green tea as a legitimate remedy for treating arthritis.

3. Stabilizes your cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that green tea lowers your cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption in your digestive tract and increasing the rate of which it is excreted. However, your body does need cholesterol to build cell membranes, insulate nerve fibers and create hormones. For this, green tea benefits you by preventing the conversion of LDL cholesterol into it’s more dangerous, oxidized form. Oxidized LDL is one of the main factors in the development of atherosclerosis (the build of plaque that blocks your arteries as LDL gets sticky and clings to your artery walls) and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The amazing antioxidant effects of green tea protect this, helping to keep your arteries clean.

4. Prevents cardiovascular disease. A Japanese study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed significant reductions in deaths from cardiovascular disease among green tea drinkers. The study found that over an 11 year test period, individuals who drank more than 5 cups per day had a 16% less chance of mortality and mortality related to cardiovascular disease when compared to individuals who drank less than one cup per day. They also found that green tea was especially beneficially in preventing strokes, due in large part to the antioxidants and how they prevent clogged arteries.

5. Boosts your immune system. Catechins, the antioxidant polyphenol compounds, have been shown to have a major impact in your immune system. Research conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2003 revealed that theanine, found in green tea, boosted the activity of the gamma delta T cells that form part of our adaptive and innate immunity. The study followed a group of coffee drinkers and a group of tea drinkers who each drank 600ml of their drink daily. Blood samples taken four weeks later quite clearly showed that production of these anti-bacterial proteins were five times higher in those drinking tea.

6. Promotes weight loss. Both green tea and green tea extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL cholesterol – both of which ultimately lead to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. The polyphenols in green tea are extremely useful for dissolving triglycerides, a substance in the liver and small intestine made up of mostly sugar and fat, and this is thought to be the reason green tea benefits fat loss. EGCG is also known to stimulate your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. When combined with the caffeine in green tea, this causes your central nervous system to release fat into the bloodstream to be used as fuel which burns your body fat off.

7. Reduces tooth decay. Antibacterial properties found in green tea are also used by your body to kill the bacteria that causes plaque on your teeth. Research by the Journal of Periodontology has also shown that for every cup of green tea you drink, there is a decrease in indicators for gum disease. Fluoride is also found in green tea which helps to protect against cavities.

8. Effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. In 2007, Dr. Orhan Aktas from the Institute of Neuroimmunology conducted a study of how green tea benefits sufferers of multiple sclerosis. While current patients do not have many options to prevent tissue damage and disability, he found that the flavonoid EGCG found in green tea could have a huge impact on multiple sclerosis. He concluded that EGCG is capable of directly protecting against neuronal injury in living brain tissue and that EGCG constituents may open up a new therapeutic avenue for treating MS by combining anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective capacities.

9. Slows the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A recent report published in the journal Phytomedicine has found substantial evidence that the enzymes found in green tea protect your brain cells from damage. Another study conducted by the University of South Florida looked at the effects of antioxidant EGCG. It was shown to be a protein blocker which prevented the chemical reactions that can lead to nerve damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

10. Fights the cause of allergies in your body. Methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been shown to block a cells receptor involved in producing an allergic response. By blocking the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE), two compounds in the body that are chiefly involved in triggering and sustaining allergic reactions, EGCG could very well be the compound which prevents you from having watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.

11. Helps to fend off infections. Again, as one of the main benefits of green tea, EGCG has been highlighted by a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology as being able to prevent infections, including the HIV virus. EGCG binds with CD4 immune system T-cell receptors and stops HIV from doing the same to reduce the risk of infection. While it is still way too early to peg green tea as a cure for HIV, an Egyptian study has shown that combining antibiotics with green tea significantly boosts the effectiveness of the antibiotic. In fact, when tested against 28 disease-causing microorganisms, green tea enhanced the bacteria killing power in every single case.

12. Reduces and prevents acne. Green tea benefits acne in a number of different ways. It’s antibacterial properties attack and kill the acne bacteria while the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea reduce the swelling and redness. Antioxidants fight against free radicals which damage the skin and make it more susceptible to acne also help to balance hormone levels to help prevent future breakouts from happening.

13. Slows the aging process to prevent wrinkles. One of the latest benefits of green tea is the effect it has on your skin and the aging process. It is again down to the antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation and damage that can make you look older than you really are. Studies are mixed on this particular green tea benefit as new research has come to light which suggests the full benefits can only be had by applying green tea topically to your skin. However, many people have found that potent green tea extracts do have a positive effect on their skin, leaving it softer, more supply and younger looking.

Our Gut, The Second Brain

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Published by www.pointofreturn.com

If you’ve ever had your stomach in knots before speaking in public, then you know the stomach listens carefully to the brain. In fact, according to William Whitehead, PhD, a professor of medicine and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina, the entire digestive system is closely attuned to a person’s emotions and state of mind. People with irritable bowel syndrome often suffer symptoms during times of stress and anxiety, and even perfectly healthy people can have an increase of stomach pain, nausea, constipation or diarrhea during stressful life events.

In recent years the link between the nervous system and the digestive system has been recognized. There is a constant exchange of chemicals and electrical messages between the two systems. In fact, many scientists often refer to them as one entity; the brain-gut axis. Therefore, what affects the stomach will directly affect the brain and vice versa.

Medications designed to target the brain can also cause nausea, diarrhea, constipation or abdominal upset because the body actually has two brains – one encased in the skull, and a lesser known but vitally important one found in the human gut. Fat-soluble drugs penetrate the gut wall and can injure the natural balance of the digestive system. Antidepressants, benzodiazepines and sleeping pills are all fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve in fat and not water.

SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are believed to ease depression by enhancing levels of Serotonin to the brain. But 95% of the Serotonin in the body lies in the digestive system, and diverting the supplies of Serotonin from their natural receptors can increase anxiety, alter sleep patterns, cause sexual dysfunction and adversely affect the cardiovascular region. Balancing the hotbed of Serotonin production in the gut is critical to restoring the balance.

Some scientists believe that SSRIs boost Serotonin in the gut and change the signals to the brain, since antidepressants prevent the uptake of Serotonin by cells that should be using it. But Serotonin is calming to the digestive tract. This may explain why some SSRI users experience nausea, stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea, and fluctuations in appetite.

GABA receptors for Benzodiazepines and Sleeping Pills are also located in the gut and depress gastrointestinal movement, which can cause constipation. But the continued use of medications that target GABA also increase the level of stress on the body. And in many ways, the connection between stress and the gut may be the most visible brain-gut connection.  Chronic stress can result in indigestion, ulcers and a host of uncomfortable symptoms, including colon spasms. This may explain why the gut naturally produces benzodiazepines, to keep the natural state of calm that is necessary for proper functioning.

Nearly every chemical that controls the brain is also located in the stomach region, including hormones and neurotransmitters such as Serotonin, Dopamine, Glutamate, GABA and Norepinephrine. The gut contains 100 million neurons – more than the spinal cord. But there are also two-dozen small brain proteins; major cells of the immune system; one class of the body’s natural opiates; and native benzodiazepines. The gut, known as the enteric nervous system, is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, small intestine and colon, and plays a key role in human emotions. But few know the enteric nervous system exists, and therefore gut health is often overlooked. Symptoms from the two brains can get confused, and just as the brain can upset the gut, the gut can also upset the brain.

The brain signals the gut region by talking to a small number of command neurons, which in turn signal relay neurons that carry messages and control the pattern of activity in the gut. The term Solar Plexus simply refers to the nerves in the abdomen. But these plexuses also contain cells that nourish neurons and are involved in immune response and the protection of the “blood brain barrier” to keep harmful substances away from the important neurons. There are also sensors for sugar, protein, acid and other factors that monitor the progress of digestion, determining how the gut mixes and handles it’s contents.

During sleep, the head’s brain produces 90-minute cycles of slow wave sleep, followed by periods of rapid eye movement (REM) where dreams occur. During the night, when it is empty, the gut’s brain produces 90-minute slow wave muscle contractions, followed by short bursts of rapid muscle movement. These two brains are linked even in sleep. Individuals with bowel problems have been shown to also have abnormal REM sleep.

When the central brain encounters severe tension, it releases stress hormones that prepare the body for flight or fight. The stomach in turn contains many sensory nerves that are stimulated by this chemical surge – thus the feeling of butterflies. Fear also causes the Serotonin circuits in the gut to increase their intensity, resulting in diarrhea.

Both stimulation and inhibition are important to the normal transmission of messages. GABA neurons selectively slow the excited responses, which is why benzodiazepines are known to dampen experiences. GABA enhancing drugs such as benzodiazepines and sleeping pills perform a sedative force on the GABA receptors. But GABA is meant to only periodically regulate the excited transmissions, and the long-term intensification of GABA can decrease the receptor’s ability to reduce excitation – thus creating increased anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Sleep and waking is regulated by many neurotransmitters including Noradrenaline, Serotonin, Acetyl-Choline, Dopamine, GABA, the pituitary hormones and Melatonin. Any drugs that alter the balance of these neurotransmitters can also affect sleep. The answer is not to add more GABA, Serotonin or other chemicals, but to restore the equilibrium of chemical production.

There is a natural symphony of chemicals in the stomach region that balance our emotions, sleep, pain and energy. Benzodiazepines cause profound alterations throughout the brain and gut and an eventual reduction in GABA levels. Dose tolerance and abrupt withdrawals may be accompanied by uncontrolled release of Dopamine, Serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Lower GABA levels cause an increase in Norpinepherin that encourages quick emotional responses such as anger, and discourages deliberate logical thinking. High Norpinepherin causes adrenalin to be released, which can cause the heart to beat faster and harder. This also causes red corpuscle reserves to be placed in the bloodstream, which in turn causes energy sources, nutrients and oxygen to be diverted from organs and into the muscles. This is where high blood pressure occurs.

But low GABA also causes a decrease in Serotonin, which makes sleep difficult and causes depression, irritability and a lack of rational emotion. The benzodiazepine receptors are also involved in the regulation of pain perception, modulation of the immune and inflammatory systems, and the protection of cells from damage by free radicals. This helps to explain why continued use of benzodiazepines can increase pain and cause a breakdown of the immune system, while also inducing anxiety and insomnia.

Often a painkiller is added. But pain medication lowers natural Opioid levels, resulting in abnormal pain perception – causing an increase in Dopamine release that leads to anxiety. Continued Dopamine release causes emotional fatigue. Low Opioid levels also cause the lowering of GABA, which can increase anxiety, insecurity, unexplained panic and depression.  And low GABA causes a decrease in Serotonin, which makes sleep difficult and causes irritability and a lack of rational emotion. The Serotonin reduction further decreases Opioid levels, and the Stress Cycle repeats with increasing intensity. Every time one neurotransmitter is altered, it starts a chain reaction in the remaining chemicals.

Because many medications stimulate sensory nerves in the stomach, they can also cause nausea, constipation or diarrhea. Even some antibiotics act on gut receptors, causing cramps and nausea. Drugs like morphine and benzodiazepines attach to the gut’s GABA receptors and produce constipation. SSRIs work by redistributing neurotransmitters such as Serotonin and Norepenephrine, which can cause constipation or diarrhea. Therefore, a healthy stomach is essential to keep the precise balance of chemicals for optimal mental and physical health.

Various chemicals in the stomach also work to breakdown food. They include the digestive enzymes pepsin, rennin and lipase, but also the production of hydrochloric acid to establish a suitable environment for the enzymes and assist in digestion.

Often additional medications are added to stop the production of stomach acid in an attempt to ease gas, bloating and pain. But without adequate acid, the entire sequence of digestion can become compromised, since gastric acid is necessary for optimal digestion and nutrient assimilation. Hydrochloric acid is the prevalent stomach acid that is secreted naturally and is necessary to breakdown and absorb protein; activate enzymes; and for the absorption of carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. The presence of acid also assists in muscle contractions that push food through the intestines while destroying parasites, bacteria, fungi and other invaders. Without sufficient acid, microorganisms that are normally destroyed can proliferate, raising the risk of gastrointestinal infections. Additionally, the acid coming from the stomach tells the pancreas and gall bladder to pour alkaline juices in the small intestine. Without the alkaline release, a systemic acid level can build to dangerous levels, and has been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. And of course, an imbalance in the stomach adversely affects the brain, resulting in increased anxiety, depression and insomnia.

The digestive tract should have 400 types of healthy bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. Antibiotics not only kill the harmful bacteria, but also destroy beneficial bacteria essential to a healthy digestive tract. This in turn impairs digestion and the assimilation of nutrients. But stress, medications, poor diet and even treated city water that contain chlorine and sodium fluoride all contribute to the breakdown of the healthy stomach bacteria. Therefore, it is important to replenish the friendly bacteria to promote good gut health.

A healthy lower intestine should contain at least 85% friendly bacteria to prevent the over colonization of microorganisms like E. coli and salmonella. Our bodies can sustain healthy states with 15% bad bacteria, but unfortunately most have the balance inverted.  The human body should have 20 times more beneficial bacteria than cells to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease.

Probiotics are carefully prepared friendly bacteria that replenish the microbial balance. Probiotics can support the immune system by protecting the body from unfriendly organisms, while preventing the overgrowth of yeast and fungus. Poor intestinal flora can contribute to depression by altering the immune system and the natural production of enzymes that assist with the absorption of nutrients. While excessive harmful bacteria byproducts can interfere with the production of neurotransmitters, beneficial bacteria eases gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea, while supporting the production of chemicals that are inherent to life.

Good health fundamentally depends upon the friendly, symbiotic bacteria that inhabit the digestive tract and promote health. Gut health is an essential component of our general wellbeing, and Probiotics contain millions of live beneficial bacteria that bolster and replenish the microflora in the gut region.