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Diet and Aerobic Exercise Successful Against Resistant High Blood Pressure

Diet and Aerobic Exercise Successful Against Resistant High Blood Pressure

Source: Journal Circulation (September 2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (September 29, 2021)

A study published in the journal Circulation in September 2021 showed that a healthy eating program, weight loss, and improved aerobic fitness can significantly reduce blood pressure and improve heart health in people with resistant hypertension. Resistant Hypertension is defined as uncontrolled high blood pressure (130/80 mm Hg or higher), despite the use of three or more high blood pressure medications of different classes.  Although estimates vary, resistant hypertension likely affects about 5% of the general global population and may affect 20% to 30% of adults with high blood pressure. Resistant hypertension is a dangerous problem to contend with, as it is associated with end-organ damage (such as kidney failure) and a 50% greater risk of adverse cardiovascular events, including stroke, heart attack, and sudden death. Anything that can reduce blood pressure in these individuals should be taken seriously.

In June 2021, the American Heart Association advised that physical activity is the optimal first treatment choice for adults with mild to moderately elevated blood pressure and blood cholesterol who otherwise have low heart disease risk. The September 2021 study in the journal, Circulation, known as the “Treating Resistant Hypertension Using Lifestyle Modification to Promote Health (TRIUMPH),” was the first to evaluate the impact of lifestyle modifications in people with resistant hypertension. The four month-study involved 140 adults with resistant hypertension, whereby about half the participants were assigned The DASH eating plan, rich in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, with limited salt intake, which aligns with the American Heart Association’s nutrition recommendations. They also performed exercise training in a supervised cardiac rehabilitation setting three times per week. The second group received a single informational session from a health educator and written guidelines on exercise, weight loss, and nutritional goals to follow on their own. The average age of participants was 63 years old. Forty-eight percent were women; 59% were Black adults’ 31% had type 2 diabetes, and 21% had existing chronic kidney disease. The results showed that the participants in the supervised exercise program had about a 12-point drop in systolic blood pressure, compared to 7 points in the self-guided group. Participants in the supervised program also had greater improvements in other key indicators of heart health, suggesting that they had a lower risk of a heart event in the future.

One of the researchers, Dr. Blumenthal, commented, “Our findings showed lifestyle modifications among people with resistant hypertension can help them successfully lose weight and increase their physical activity, and as a result, lower blood pressure and potentially reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke.” He also noted that, “the success of the supervised program doesn’t mean people with resistant hypertension can stop taking their medications; however, it suggests that they may want to talk with their physicians about possibly reducing the dosages or altering their medications based upon their lowered blood pressure values.” Then he concluded, “the most important point is that it is not too late to lower blood pressure by making healthy lifestyle choices. Adopting a healthy lifestyle pays huge dividends, even for people whose blood pressure remains elevated despite being on three or more antihypertensive medications”, he commented. In my personal experience, many physicians fail to emphasize the meaningful therapeutic effects of targeted dietary and exercise protocols for patients with high blood pressure and resistant hypertension. Diet and exercise exert important medicinal effects on the body in both preventing high blood pressure and helping to treat high blood pressure, including helping those with dangerous resistant hypertension, once again illustrating that lifestyle medicine should be a key component of self-health care throughout your entire lifetime.

I have included the reference for this information in the text below.

References:

1. James A. Blumenthal, Alan L. Hinderliter, Patrick J. Smith, Stephanie Mabe, Lana L. Watkins, Linda Craighead, Krista Ingle, Crystal Tyson, Pao-Hwa Lin, William E. Kraus, Lawrence Liao, Andrew Sherwood. Effects of Lifestyle Modification on Patients With Resistant Hypertension: Results of the TRIUMPH Randomized Clinical Trial. Circulation, 2021; https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.055329

2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/09/210927092147.htm

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Creatine Supplementation Enhances Memory Function In Healthy Adults of All Ages

Creatine Supplementation Enhances Memory Function In Healthy Adults of All Ages

Source: Exp Gerontology (2018)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (September 22, 2021)

Many young athletic individuals use creatine supplementation to complement their training, as it has been shown to enhance muscle and lean mass development, strength gains, and explosive strength and power development. What is less well known is that creatine is also used by the heart muscle, where it helps the heart generate more energy. As such, creatine supplementation has been used to complement the management of certain heart ailments, such as congestive heart failure. The brain also relies on creatine for energy production and to support and maintain the integrity of brain cells and related nerve cells throughout the body. Some studies have shown that creatine supplementation improves memory function in vegans, who typically ingest less creatine from food than omnivores. As well, individuals with genetic problems, where creatine synthesis is impaired, manifest mental dysfunction, described as global developmental delay, and intellectual disability.

These mental dysfunction problems are reversed if these individuals are provided with daily creatine supplementation. We have also seen that higher brain concentrations of creatine have been proven to enhance performance in cognitive tasks such as recognition memory. In fact, a number of studies in recent years have been undertaken to assess the effects of creatine supplementation on memory function in healthy individuals across various age groups. In July 2018, the journal of Experimental Gerontology published a review paper, which summarized the outcomes of these studies. In total six studies were deemed worthy of being included, which involved a total of 281 individuals. As the researchers stated, “Generally, there was evidence that short-term memory and intelligence/reasoning may be improved by creatine administration. Vegetarians responded better than meat-eaters in memory tasks. Their conclusion included these statements, “Oral creatine administration may improve short-term memory and intelligence/reasoning of healthy individuals.” “Findings suggest potential benefit for aging and stressed individuals.” They went on to remark that creatine supplementation is very safe and that based on these impressive findings more intensive studies examining the effects of creatine supplementation in patients with dementia and early Alzheimer’s disease should be undertaken as soon as possible.

In the meantime, it is encouraging to note that a study published back in 2007 indicated that creatine supplementation helps cognition in the elderly. Elderly subjects in this study took 5-gm supplement (1 teaspoon of creatine powder) 4 times a week before taking spatial and number tests. Their performance was improved. In my view, most adults, and especially older individuals, should consider taking at least 5 gm (1 teaspoon) of creatine monohydrate powder each day to help support and preserve brain and memory function over their lifetime. Creatine supplementation also helps to prevent age-related muscle loss and weakness that catches up with many people as they age, rendering them less functional, and more prone to falls and related fractures and head injuries. Creatine supplementation also helps the heart generate needed energy so it can continue to pump with optimal efficiency. Creatine powder (which, essentially no taste) can be stirred into juice or mixed into a protein shake or smoothy quite easily. I typically have 2 teaspoons of creatine with my morning breakfast shake, 4-5 times per week.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.

References:

1. Avgerinos K.I. Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systemic review of randomized controlled trials. Exp Gerontol, July 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6093191/

2. Creatine and Dementia – Is there a link? READEMENTIA (April 29, 2021) https://readementia.com/creatine-and-dementia/

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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High-Fat Diets Also Increase Heart Attack and Stroke Risk by Raising TMAO Blood Levels – A new risk factor of importance

High-Fat Diets Also Increase Heart Attack and Stroke Risk by Raising TMAO Blood Levels – A new risk factor of importance

Source: journal Science (August 2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (September 9, 2021)

A new risk factor for heart disease and stroke has emerged in recent years, which is known as TMAO (Trimethylamine-N-oxide). High blood or urine levels of TMAO are shown to become elevated with high-fat diets and are strongly associated with major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), such as heart attack or stroke. So, how does a high-fat diet increase TMAO blood and urine levels? Well, a study published in the journal Science in August 2021 showed that a high-fat diet disrupts the functioning of the intestinal lining (impairing mitochondrial function of intestinal epithelial cells that line the gut, causing intestinal cells to produce more oxygen and nitrate), and the gut microflora (the bacteria that normally live in the large intestine). In turn, this promotes the growth of more unfriendly gut bacteria, such as E. Coli (and other Enterobacteriaceae microbes). The unfriendly gut bacteria metabolize normal and healthy constituents (carnitine, choline, betaine) of certain foods we eat into TMA (Trimethylamine). The TMA then gets absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the liver, where it is metabolized into TMAO and released into the circulation.

How does TMAO increase the risk of cardiovascular events? Experimental studies show that high levels of TMAO in the bloodstream accelerate the narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis), increase the risk of thrombosis or abnormal clots, and produce blood vessel inflammation – these are all important mechanisms that contribute to having a heart attack or stroke. So, to summarize, eating a high-fat diet damages the cells that line the intestinal tract and promotes the proliferation of unfriendly gut bacteria that convert certain desirable food constituents into trimethylamine (TMA). The TMA gets absorbed, travels to the liver, where it is converted into TMAO, which is then released into the circulation, where it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

 

It’s noteworthy that many of the same high-fat foods that raise blood cholesterol levels also elevate TMAO blood levels, producing a double-whammy effect on the risk of heart attack and stroke. Having a blood level of TMAO lower than 3.9 umol/L is considered safe, whereas a blood level above 5.1 umol/L is now considered to be a significant risk factor for having a major adverse cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. The problem is that most doctors don’t order the TMAO blood test. You have to request it. So, this is another reason to avoid a diet containing unhealthy fats (especially beef, pork, high-fat dairy products, coconut oil, deep-fried foods, battered foods, pastries, etc.) and to also consider taking a probiotic supplement each day that contains a variety of gut-friendly bacteria, which help crowd out the unfriendly gut bacteria responsible for TMA synthesis. These two strategies (a healthy lower-fat diet and probiotic supplementation, and also consuming fermented foods that contain probiotics) can help you keep your TMAO blood level in the desirable range –  another important wellness strategy that can reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.

 

References:

1. Primary Reference: Woongjae Yoo, Jacob K. Zieba, Nora J. Foegeding, Teresa P. Torres, Catherine D. Shelton, Nicolas G. Shealy, Austin J. Byndloss, Stephanie A. Cevallos, Erik Gertz, Connor R. Tiffany, Julia D. Thomas, Yael Litvak, Henry Nguyen, Erin E. Olsan, Brian J. Bennett, Jeffrey C. Rathmell, Amy S. Major, Andreas J. Bäumler, Mariana X. Byndloss. High-fat diet–induced colonocyte dysfunction escalates microbiota-derived trimethylamine N-oxide. Science, 2021.  https://www.science.org/lookup/doi/10.1126/science.aba3683

2. Journal American College Cardiology: 2020 https://www.jacc.org/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jacc.2019.11.060

3. BMC Cardiology: 2020 https://bmccardiovascdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12872-019-01310-5

4. Journal American Heart Association: 2019 https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.118.010606

5. Uremic Toxicology: 2016 https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6651/8/11/326

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

 

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Half-cup of Walnuts Daily Lowers Bad Cholesterol Even in Statin Drug Users

Half-cup of Walnuts Daily Lowers Bad Cholesterol Even in Statin Drug Users

Source: American Heart Association Journal – Circulation (August 2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (September 2, 2021)

We know that having a high LDL-cholesterol blood level is a cardinal risk factor for heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Eating less saturated, trans-fats, deep-fried, and battered foods, helps to lower cholesterol levels, as does consuming more soluble fiber from beans, peas, oats, soy products, artichokes, ground flaxseed, psyllium husk fiber, apples, and pears. But a breakthrough study in the journal Circulation in August 2021 has confirmed that eating ½ cup of walnuts each day also lowers total cholesterol and the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) to a significant degree, even in older patients who are already taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (like Crestor, Lipitor). This 2-year study involved 708 male and female participants (63-79 years old), who were healthy, independent-living adults residing in Barcelona, Spain, and Loma Linda, California. Half the subjects ingested ½ cup of walnuts each day for two years and the other half were instructed to avoid walnut consumption during the same two-year study period.

In the subjects who consumed ½ cup of walnuts daily, there was a 7.9% reduction in LDL-cholesterol men and a 2.6% reduction in LDL-cholesterol in women, on average, by the end of the study. But 32% of the subjects were already taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which suggests that the cholesterol-lowering effect of walnuts would probably be even greater in individuals not taking statin drugs. These findings are very impressive, as sometimes statin drugs alone do not bring LDL cholesterol down into the ideal range for heart attack and stroke prevention. The addition of ½ cup of walnuts per day can help to further lower LDL-cholesterol in statin drug users and is one more way that the rest of us can help keep our cholesterol level down so we hopefully won’t need to rely on statin drugs to lower our cholesterol.

Remember that 5-10% of the population have genetically high cholesterol, whereby statin drug use is necessary to get LDL-cholesterol into the safe range.  But even in these individuals more prudent diet and lifestyle strategies, including ½ cup of walnuts per day, is still very helpful in getting LDL-cholesterol into the ideal range, as is taking a supplement each day containing the natural agents Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf extract. I should mention that studies have shown that other nuts can also reduce LDL-cholesterol levels to a modest degree, such as almonds and cashews, but walnuts appear to have the greatest impact, and they also provide some extra omega-3 fat (alpha-linolenic acid).

I have included the study references in the text below.

 

References:

1. Sujatha Rajaram, Montserrat Cofán, Aleix Sala-Vila, Ella Haddad, Mercè Serra-Mir, Edward Bitok, Irene Roth, Tania M. Freitas-Simoes, Amandeep Kaur, Cinta Valls-Pedret, Mónica Doménech, Keiji Oda, Dolores Corella, Joan Sabaté, Emilio Ros. Effects of Walnut Consumption for 2 Years on Lipoprotein Subclasses Among Healthy Elders: Findings From the WAHA Randomized Controlled Trial. Circulation, 2021; https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.054051

2. Other Nuts That Lower Cholesterol: https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/nuts-help-lower-bad-cholesterol

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Omega-3 Fats Increase Longevity in Humans

Omega-3 Fats Increase Longevity in Humans

Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (August 19, 2021)

We’ve all heard that omega-3 fats are good for us, but the large Framingham Offspring Study group has taken this message to the next level regarding longevity and life expectancy. The study showed that higher omega-3 fat levels in the body increase life expectancy by almost 5 years. (1) As the researchers stated, “being a regular smoker takes 4.7 years off your life expectancy (on average), the same as you gain if you have high levels of omega-3 fats in your blood. “(2) The study followed 2,200 people, who were over the age of 65 and were monitored for an average of 11 years. The results showed that individuals with higher amounts of omega-3 fats in the membrane (outer skin) of their red blood cells (erythrocytes) had improved life expectancy outcomes, which means that red blood cell omega-3 fat content is a good mortality risk predictor.

We know that a higher intake of omega-3 fats increases our red blood cell omega-3 fat content over time, such that anyone can increase their red blood cell omega-3 fat index and put themselves in the higher life expectancy category by ingesting more optimal amounts of omega-3 fats daily. Previous studies have shown that higher omega-3 fat nutritional status reduces the risk of sudden death heart attack and the development of arrhythmias. Omega-3 fat supplementation helps to reduce high blood pressure and has been used as a complementary measure to manage premenstrual syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis and improves pregnancy outcomes. Higher omega-3 fat nutritional status is associated with less brain inflammation and risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in various studies.

The 2021 study takes our appreciation of omega-3 fats to a new level, providing substantial evidence that higher omega-3 fat status increases longevity by almost 5 years, as an independent predictor of mortality. From a practical standpoint, eating fish two or three times a week can definitely help increase your omega-3 fat nutritional status, but many experts, including me, suggest also taking an essential fatty acid supplement to help achieve optimal omega-3 fat status. I personally take a supplement each day containing 400 mg each of high-yield fish oil, flaxseed oil, and borage seed oil. Many studies suggest that this combination provides synergistic effects that help prevent and reduce inflammation throughout the body, and support cardiovascular health, brain health, and exert health benefits on other tissues and organs. I normally take 2-3 capsules daily with a meal.

I have included the reference for this study in the text below.

References:

1. Michael I McBurney, Nathan L Tintle, Ramachandran S Vasan, Aleix Sala-Vila, William S Harris. Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021; https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqab195/6301120

2.Higher levels of omega-3 acids in the blood increase life expectancy by almost five years. Science Daily July 22, 2021. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210722113004.htm

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Protein for Breakfast is Key Strategy for Muscle Strength-Mass, and Anti-Aging

Protein for Breakfast is Key Strategy for Muscle Strength-Mass, and Anti-Aging

Source: Journal Cell Reports (July 2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (August 11, 2021)

In the typical European and North American diet, most people consume more protein at dinner or lunchtime than they do at breakfast. However, a landmark study published in the Journal “Cell Reports “in July 2021 showed that consuming more protein at breakfast, compared to lunch or dinner, is a more effective way to support your muscle strength as well as promoting more muscle development in people involved in strength training or weight training. It appears that the body has a chrononutrition clock, which means that if you time your protein intake properly throughout the course of the day you can ensure more optimal muscle growth and preservation of muscle strength, which among other things, helps guard against muscle loss and muscle wasting seen in the aging process.

The researchers first showed this effect with mice and then with humans. Initially, they fed mice two meals per day containing either high (11.5% by proportion) or low (8.5% by proportion) protein concentrations. They noted that mice given the high protein intake at breakfast showed increased muscle compared to mice fed high protein for dinner, even though there was more total protein given to the mice consuming the high protein meal at dinner. Specifically, the ratio of muscle growth (hypertrophy) was 17% higher in the mice who were fed more protein at breakfast compared to the mice who were fed the higher protein meal for dinner. They also found that intake of a type of protein called the BCCA (branched-chain amino acids), early in the day increased muscle growth most effectively. This is a significant finding for individuals who are doing weight or strength training or resistance training in an attempt to gain more muscle mass, strength or enhance their body contouring. Branched-chain amino acids are found in high concentrations in whey protein, as an example.

To check if their findings were applicable to humans, the team then recruited sixty women who were 65 years and older into a study and tested to see if their muscle function and grip strength varied if provided with high protein at breakfast versus dinner. Just like the mice the women who consumed more protein at breakfast rather than at dinner showed enhanced muscle strength and muscle mass. I personally have used the strategy of high protein intake at breakfast for many years and it has served well, in terms of gaining and preserving muscle mass and strength. Remember that as you gain muscle or lean mass, you also speed up your metabolism, which makes it easier to lose body fat and easier to prevent the accumulation of excess body fat as the years tick by.

Some practical ways to enjoy a high protein breakfast without eating a lot of bad fats or sugar is the following:

1. Have a protein shake – I personally use a whey protein shake, as whey protein (high in BCAA) really helps support muscle tissue, preventing muscle wasting and helping to increase muscle gains if you do some weight training. The protein shake I use contains less than 1 gm of fat and less than 12 gm of carbohydrates per scoop. I have it with water, ice cubes, and two tablespoons of ground flaxseed.

2. Egg white omelet with vegetables, a side of dry rye or whole-wheat toast, and sliced tomatoes. 3 egg whites provide 21-27 gm of protein – similar to having 2 scoops of the whey protein shake I just discussed.

3. Non-fat Greek Yogurt with a high-fiber, low sugar breakfast cereal. Some Greek yogurts contain 15-20 gm of protein in 8 ounces.

So, in conclusion, more protein at breakfast is one more wellness strategy you can employ that can help you preserve muscle mass as you age, gain more muscle mass and strength with your strength training routine and speed up your metabolism.

I have included the reference for this study in the text below.

 

+References:

  1. Shinya Aoyama, Hyeon-Ki Kim, Rina Hirooka, Mizuho Tanaka, Takeru Shimoda, Hanako Chijiki, Shuichi Kojima, Keisuke Sasaki, Kengo Takahashi, Saneyuki Makino, Miku Takizawa, Masaki Takahashi, Yu Tahara, Shigeki Shimba, Kazuyuki Shinohara, Shigenobu Shibata. Distribution of dietary protein intake in daily meals influences skeletal muscle hypertrophy via the muscle clockCell Reports, 2021; 36 (1): 109336 http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1033.9814&rep=rep1&type=pdf

2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210719103109.htm

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Melatonin Recommended as First Choice Sleep Aid for Individuals Over 55 yr.

Melatonin Recommended as First Choice Sleep Aid for Individuals Over 55 yr.

Source: Frontiers of Endocrinology Journal (2019)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (August 4, 2021)

If you suffer from insomnia or interrupted sleep problems, you may be interested in the research published in the journal, Frontiers of Endocrinology in 2019. This paper reviewed the role of melatonin in brain function and the prevention of brain degeneration, and it also cited the recommendation from the British Association of Psychopharmacology, which reads,” A consensus of the British Association of Psychopharmacology on evidence-based treatment for insomnia concluded that melatonin is the first-choice treatment when a hypnotic (sleeping aid) is indicated in patients over 55 years.” (1) To put this into context, about 4% of all adults and 10% of those over 65 years of age in this country regularly take prescription sleeping medications prescribed by their doctor for insomnia and sleep problems. But some alarming studies in recent years have suggested that sleeping medications are associated with an increased risk for unsteadiness leading to falls and fractures. In fact, research from Dalhousie University suggested that one-third of hip fractures in people 85 and older may be attributed to the use of prescription sleeping pills. (2) Sleep medication use is also associated with increased risk of pneumonia, memory problems, dependence, and withdrawal problems, according to the same Dalhousie University report, published in 2021. (2) In 2012 and 2018 we had previously seen published reports in medical journals showing that compared to individuals who did not use prescription sleep medications, individuals using these drugs showed a significantly increased risk of cancer, premature death, serious infections (especially upper respiratory tract infections) mood disorders, accidental injuries, suicides, and homicides. (3, 4)

By contrast, the natural agent melatonin, which has been shown to help individuals get to sleep more quickly and provide a deep, restorative sleep, has been shown to be very safe and non-toxic. (1)  Melatonin not only helps to improve sleep quality but also shows promise in helping to block steps in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and possibly Lou Gehrig’s disease – three very common problems that can develop as people age. (1, 5, 6, 7) Melatonin also modulates immune function, helping to prevent or reverse the decline in immunity seen in aging (8,9) Some recent studies have shown that melatonin can also reverse mild cognitive impairment – the first step in the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and has been used to improve cognition and sleep patterns in early-stage Alzheimer’s disease patients. (1)  Melatonin is also a brain antioxidant, protecting the brain from free radical damage. (1) As well, melatonin shows impressive findings as a natural agent that may help prevent breast and prostate cancer, as well as some other cancers. Most recently it has been used as an adjunct in breast cancer patients undergoing medical treatment. (10, 11). As well, one study showed that melatonin helped to reduce the progression of macular degeneration of the eye – the leading cause of blindness in individuals older than 55 and may help those who suffer from ringing in the ears (tinnitus) fall asleep more easily. (12)

As a sleep aid, I personally like to take low-dose melatonin in a supplement that also contains three other natural agents that include GABA, 5-HTP, and Bacopa monnieri. In short, studies show that the supplements GABA and 5-HTP (5- hydroxytryptophan) work together to improve sleep quality and can counter caffeine-induced insomnia problems, where having caffeine too late in the day can make it hard to fall asleep. (13) Bacopa monnieri is a natural plant-based agent used in the Indian Medical System, which is proven to reverse early-stage memory loss, but it also works with melatonin to protect the brain against free radical damage and other processes that lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As we age these nutrients become increasingly important to brain health and the prevention of brain degeneration, according to many published studies. (1, 14) So, as an alternative to prescription sleep medications, the use of a combined formula of melatonin, GABA, 5-HTP, and Bacopa monnieri, maybe a wiser, safer, and more natural choice, according to emerging published research and clinical trials.

I have included the references for this information in the text below

References:

1. 2019 Update Melatonin and Neurodegeneration(Frontiers of Endocrinology) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2019.00480/full

2. Dalhousie University – Dal News) https://www.dal.ca/news/2021/01/25/researchers-takes-aim-at-highest-rates-of-sleeping-pill-reliance.html

3. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/2/1/e000850.full?sid=f0956753-511d-4e70-9230-c1e8aa5df0d3)

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4890308/

5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1600-079X.2006.00377.x

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846661/

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3652329/

8. Lordan R et al. Dietary Supplements and Nutraceuticals Under Investigation for Covid-19 Prevention and Treatment. National Institutes of Health Preprint Pilot. Feb 3, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7872359/

9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4946322/

10. https://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/journal/2010-02/overview-melatonin-and-breast-cancer

11. Li Y et al. Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Oncotarget Journal, 2017, vol 8, No 24: 39896-39921 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5503661/

12. How to Optimize Sleep: The Sleep Foundation https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/healthy-sleep-tips

13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974066/

14. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/606424/

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Fermented Foods Increase Friendly Gut Bacteria, Reduce Inflammation and Help Regulate Immune Function

Fermented Foods Increase Friendly Gut Bacteria, Reduce Inflammation and Help Regulate Immune Function

Source: Journal Cell (July 2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (July 14, 2021)

A study published in the journal Cell in July 2021 showed the value of eating fermented foods in supporting the gut microflora and reducing markers for systemic inflammation throughout the body and helping to regulate the immune system in a positive way. To put this into context, the human large intestine is home to 400-500 different bacteria and other species that are essential to our survival, immune function, and other health parameters.  Studies on patients with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis indicate that the more diverse the gut microflora (meaning the greater the number of different kinds of bacteria, especially friendly anaerobic bacteria like lactobacillus and Bifidus strains), the less likely one is to develop inflammatory bowel diseases, the more competent is the immune system with less propensity for systemic local gut and system inflammation to occur. 

High numbers of these, and other friendly bacteria, also help to crowd out unfriendly bacteria that can cause diarrhea, gut inflammation, and infection, as well as exerting negative effects on digestion, elimination, detoxification, immune function, and other aspects of health.  As well, having high numbers of unfriendly gut bacteria may also contribute to the development of colon cancer – the second leading cause of cancer death in North America and much of the Western World. On the other hand, having high concentrations of friendly gut bacteria is shown to improve immune function, reduce bowel toxins and improve the digestive process in ways that are beneficial to the management of irritable bowel syndrome, and the suppression of inflammatory processes. As such, studies showing that a dietary strategy can increase the number and diversity of friendly gut bacteria and reduce markers for systemic inflammation are of great significance. No drugs can do this.

In the study published in July 2021 researchers instructed half the subjects to consume a diet that included their choice of various fermented foods (high in friendly bacteria), such as yogurt, kefir, fermented cottage cheese, kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage dish), pickled turnips, sauerkraut, other fermented vegetables, as well as kombucha tea. The more of these fermented foods the subjects consumed over the 10-week trial period the greater became the biodiversity of their gut-friendly gut bacteria, and the lower was their markers of systemic inflammation. This was assessed by pre and post studies of their stool samples and by evaluating 19 blood markers for systemic inflammation. As well, certain immune cells in their body showed less activation, which would be highly beneficial for patients with Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, as well as in Rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. One of the problems in modern society is that many people are walking around with dysbiosis, which means that the gut microflora contains too little friendly bacteria, lacks diversity of friendly gut bacteria, and is overpopulated with unfriendly gut bacteria that can do harm to us. This common state (dysbiosis) is a direct result of the overuse of antibiotics, which kill gut-friendly bacteria, the consumption of more and more refined, processed foods, less reliance on high fiber foods, like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and the use of antibiotics in animal feed to speed their growth (some of those antibiotics find their way into the human food through dairy and meat products.) This combination of factors tends to reduce the gut biodiversity of friendly gut bacteria and set the stage for a host of intestinal tract problems, compromised immunity, greater susceptibility to gut and systemic inflammation, and possibly other health problems like autoimmune diseases.

What this study confirms is that we can make a positive change in our gut diversity and concentrations of friendly gut bacteria by simply consuming more naturally fermented foods, like the ones I have spoken about here. In fact, in just 10-weeks, you can significantly increase your gut biodiversity and colonies of gut-friendly bacteria by doing so. And this can have substantial health benefits for you going forward. It may also be wise to take a full-spectrum probiotic supplement and be more cognizant of consuming higher fiber foods, which provide nourishment for the friendly gut bacteria, enabling them to reproduce, thrive, and crowd out the unfriendly, more dangerous gut bacteria with whom they continually compete for real estate with your large bowel. If you have digestive or inflammatory issues, sometimes adding a supplement with digestive enzymes and prebiotics can also be helpful. With respect to the July 2021 study, maybe think about how you can incorporate more fermented foods into your diet if it hasn’t been something that’s been on your radar to this point.

I have included the references for this information in the test below.

Reference:

Main Reference:

Hannah C. Wastyk, Gabriela K. Fragiadakis, Dalia Perelman, Dylan Dahan, Bryan D. Merrill, Feiqiao B. Yu, Madeline Topf, Carlos G. Gonzalez, William Van Treuren, Shuo Han, Jennifer L. Robinson, Joshua E. Elias, Erica D. Sonnenburg, Christopher D. Gardner, Justin L. Sonnenburg. Gut-microbiota-targeted diets modulate human immune statusCell, 2021;  https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)00754-6?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0092867421007546%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210712122151.htm

Other Supporting References:

https://gut.bmj.com/content/53/5/685.abstract

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijbd/2016/2718275/

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/089106000750060305

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723656/

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Get Your LDL-Cholesterol into the Ideal Range to Prevent a Heart Attack

Get Your LDL-Cholesterol into the Ideal Range to Prevent a Heart Attack

Source: New England Journal of Medicine (2004); Cleveland Clinic (2019)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (June 22, 2021)

Recent studies have confirmed the recommendation I have made to patients over the last couple of decades, which entails doing everything possible to get your blood level of the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) into the ideal range to prevent a heart attack. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “everyone ages 20 and older should have their (blood) cholesterol checked at least every five years. The guidelines recommend you have a complete” lipoprotein profile” that measures total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL, the good cholesterol that may help prevent heart disease), and triglycerides, another type of fat in the bloodstream. The test should be performed after fasting (12 hours).” As they also state, “elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol, is a major cause of heart disease. LDL-cholesterol causes the build-up of fatty deposits within your arteries, reducing or blocking the flow of blood and oxygen your heart needs. This can lead to chest pain and heart attack…..and also causes problems such as stroke, kidney failure, and poor circulation.” We’ve known much of this for many years, but what is becoming increasingly clear is the ideal blood level of LDL-cholesterol to prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

In high-risk patients, the LDL-cholesterol target has been adjusted down to 60 mg/dL or less (1.5 mmol/L) from the previous 70 mg/dL (1.8 mmol/L). The problem is that in medical circles the acceptable target LDL-cholesterol levels is listed as anything value less than 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L) for patients without other risk factors for heart disease and for those who have not had a previous heart attack or stroke. To me, this recommendation makes no sense at all when you consider that cardiovascular is a leading cause of death in our society.

 

In my view, every adult should strive to get their LDL cholesterol down to 60 mg/dL (1.5 mmol/L) or lower as an important means to prevent blockages from forming in the coronary blood vessels in the heart and elsewhere in the body. I have made this a personal goal for myself over the years and have encouraged others to do the same. This is how you prevent plaque from building up in the artery wall in the first place. Now, we know that high LDL cholesterol is not the only risk factor for heart disease and stroke, but it is one of the very most important risk factors.

As such, I recommend that you know your LDL-cholesterol number. If its above 60 mg/d/L. or 1.5 mmol/L, then you should strongly consider becoming more aggressive in your lifestyle practices to lower your LDL cholesterol. This means eating less or no high-fat animal foods like beef, pork, and lamb, as well as any milk or yogurt containing more than 1% milkfat. It also means avoiding cheese, butter, cream, ice cream, whipped cream, sour cream, and other high-fat dairy products. It means avoiding mayonnaise, tahini sauce, cream sauces, and creamy salad dressings, as well as milk chocolate, coconut oil, palm oil, and most pastries, especially pie crusts and the icing on and layered into many cakes. You can also lower your LDL cholesterol by avoiding deep-fried foods and foods containing trans-fats. On the other hand, foods containing soluble fiber help to lower LDL-cholesterol, which include all types of beans and peas (including soybeans and soy products), oats and oat bran, as well as artichokes, ground flaxseeds, psyllium husk fiber, and fibrous fruits such as apples, pears, and plums.

If all these dietary practices don’t get your LDL-cholesterol into the ideal range (below 1.5 mmol/L), then speak to your doctor about taking a statin drug to help you accomplish this goal or consider taking a supplement of Red Yeast Rice, which is a natural source of the active compound used in some statin drugs to lower cholesterol. The natural agent is monacolin K, which, like statin drugs, blocks cholesterol synthesis in your body and possibly the absorption of cholesterol from the intestinal tract. If you use a Red Yeast Rice supplement you must ensure it is a standardized grade (for example 110 mg capsule standardized to 3% monascin and 1% ankaflavin).  However, whether you take a statin drug or Red Yeast Rice, it requires monitoring by your physician for potential side effects, including liver damage, the triggering of diabetes, memory loss and other issues. So, where possible get your LDL-cholesterol level into the ideal range through the prudent dietary strategies I’ve outlined, as well as remaining physically active.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.

References:

1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16866-cholesterol-guidelines–heart-health

2. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa040583

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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More Optimal Vitamin D Status Reduces Risk of Opioid Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms: 2021 Research Suggests

More Optimal Vitamin D Status Reduces Risk of Opioid Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms: 2021 Research Suggests

Source: J Science Advances (June 2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (June 16, 2021)

A study published in the journal Science Advances in June 2021 has strengthened the evidence that individuals who have more optimal vitamin D blood levels are less likely to become addicted to opioid drugs. With the opioid crises we are facing today, this finding may be very meaningful. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2003-2004), the data reveals that Americans that have low vitamin D levels (below 20 ng/mL; 50 nmol/L) are more inclined to use opioids and develop opioid addiction than Americans whose blood vitamin D levels are at or above 20 ng/mL; 50 nmol/).  This finding remains consistent after factoring in, or controlling for, age, sex or gender, history of fractures, the season of blood analysis, and presence of chronic pain, which often drives people to use opioid drugs for pain control. These finding start to make sense when you understand that exposing our skin to sunlight or tanning beds not only increases vitamin D synthesis in our skin, and thus, our vitamin D blood levels, but it also increases the synthesis and release of endorphins, which provide a certain level of euphoria and feeling of wellbeing. This is one of the reasons why many people crave the feeling of sunlight on their skin and/or become mildly addicted to tanning beds – it’s a bit of an endorphin rush. Of course, too much UV-light exposure causes skin aging and skin cancer.  But scientists believe that humans evolved to crave sunlight because it releases endorphins, which make us feel good, as we simultaneously synthesize vitamin D to prevent vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D deficiency causes malformation of developing bones (osteomalacia), as well as osteopenia and osteoporosis, and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, and possibly other afflictions like M.S. Thus, our ancestors who survived the primitive world were the ones who maintained more optimal vitamin D levels by getting sufficient sun exposure. As such, our bodies have an internal program that drives us to crave sunlight to make feel-good endorphins, and in doing so, we increase our survival index by also synthesizing more vitamin D. As stated by Dr. Fisher, a co-author of the study, “consider a surgery patient who receives morphine for pain control after the operation. If that patient is deficient in vitamin D, the euphoric effects of morphine could be exaggerated (because their own endorphin levels are so low), and that person is more likely to become addicted (to morphine and other opioids)”. To bolster this argument Dr. Fisher and his team conducted an animal experiment using mice. The study showed that mice made deficient in vitamin D were more prone to keep seeking the drug morphine than mice whose vitamin D levels were normal. When normal levels of vitamin D were restored in the vitamin D deficient mice, their craving for morphine was reduced significantly as were withdrawal symptoms. Dr. Fisher went on to add that while more research is needed, he believes that treating vitamin D deficiency may offer a new way to help reduce the risk for opioid addiction and bolster existing treatments for the who are presently addicted to opioids. He stated, “our results suggest that we may have an opportunity in the public health arena to influence the opioid epidemic.” As he suggested, addressing the common problem of vitamin D deficiency with inexpensive vitamin D supplements could play a part in combating the ongoing scourge of opioid addiction.

So, the long and short of this story is that achieving a blood vitamin D blood level between 50, or more ideally, between 80 and 140 nmol/L (32 ng/mL – 56 ng/mL) may be one more way to help prevent opioid addiction in your loved ones and yourself. In other words, if you have more ideal blood vitamin D levels there is much less of a high or euphoria experienced with the use of morphine and other opioids, and thus, less addiction potential. As well, vitamin D supplementation should be considered as an adjunctive treatment in those undergoing withdrawal from opioid addiction, especially when vitamin D blood levels are below 50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL), which is often the case.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.

References:

1. Lajos V. Kemény, Kathleen C. Robinson, Andrea L. Hermann, Deena M. Walker, Susan Regan, Yik Weng Yew, Yi Chun Lai, Nicholas Theodosakis, Phillip D. Rivera, Weihua Ding, Liuyue Yang, Tobias Beyer, Yong-Hwee E. Loh, Jennifer A. Lo, Anita A. J. van der Sande, William Sarnie, David Kotler, Jennifer J. Hsiao, Mack Y. Su, Shinichiro Kato, Joseph Kotler, Staci D. Bilbo, Vanita Chopra, Matthew P. Salomon, Shiqian Shen, Dave S. B. Hoon, Maryam M. Asgari, Sarah E. Wakeman, Eric J. Nestler, David E. Fisher. Vitamin D deficiency exacerbates UV/endorphin and opioid addiction. Science Advances, 2021; 7 (24): eabe4577 https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/7/24/eabe4577

2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210611174042.htm

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.