Collectively, conditions affecting the heart are the UK’s biggest killer. Almost 2.3 million people live with coronary heart disease (CHD), leading to annual NHS healthcare costs of almost £2 billion. Key risk factors for heart disease affect large proportions of the adult population – one third of adults have high blood pressure while 60% have sub-optimal blood cholesterol levels. Despite these alarming figures, many risk factors are within our control and making simple changes to our diet and lifestyle can have a dramatic impact on our health. As we mark National Heart month we turn our attention to key nutrients and nutrition supplements that play a strong role in maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid (or ‘good’ polyunsaturated fat) that has been shown over years of research to help maintain normal cholesterol levels. Although cholesterol is a vital resource in the body, helping to carry out a number of important functions such as repairing blood vessels, creating hormones, production of vitamin D, and helping to transport vitamins A, D, E & K, it can become a risk when levels of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol become too high. This can trigger a build-up of plaque in the arteries, which can eventually
Making simple changes to our diet and lifestyle can have a dramatic impact on our health
lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Dual cholesterol protection
Despite popular belief, only 20% of the cholesterol in our body comes from our diet whereas the majority, the remaining 80%, is produced by our own cells, mainly in the liver. ALA directly reduces production of cholesterol in the liver at its source, which is a highly effective way of normalising cholesterol levels.
ALA is also well known for reducing inflammation in the body, which helps to slow down plaque build-up in the arteries. Taking ALA daily is a great way to favourably balance the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ fats consumed in the diet.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring enzyme with a multitude of roles in the cardiovascular system. CoQ10 acts within our cells in the mitochondria, the body’s energy ‘powerhouse’. Maintaining healthy CoQ10 levels fuels the mitochondria and supports the high energy requirements of our organs, particularly the heart. In addition to energy production, CoQ10 plays a vital role in oxygen utilisation to further support the functioning of heart muscle cells and maintain good circulatory health. CoQ10 also helps to lower blood pressure and is recognised as an effective cholesterol lowering ‘agent’.
Research studies show that people with cardiovascular problems often have low levels of CoQ10. Risk of deficiency is even higher with patients taking statins to lower cholesterol, since not only are they likely to have low levels of CoQ10 but statins also block natural ubiquinol synthesis in the body.
Ubiquinol versus Ubiquinone
There are two types of CoQ10 used in supplements: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is ‘body-ready’, which means the body doesn’t have to convert it into a usable form – a therapeutic advantage over ubiquinone. As an antioxidant, ubiquinol also offers protection against arterial plaque, thereby reducing heart attack risk and safeguarding heart muscle cells from free radical damage. Uniquely, ubiquinol also regenerates other beneficial antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.
Ubiquinone versus ubiquinol is just half the battle with CoQ10; addressing bioavailability is a further challenge, since therapeutic outcomes are achieved by raising blood plasma levels. Most ubiquinol supplements are oil-based, which means that large ubiquinol particles struggle to pass through the gut’s water layer barrier and are poorly absorbed. A special patented delivery system called VESIsorb®, utilised by CoQ10 manufacturer Igennus, optimises absorption by converting ubiquinol into water-soluble particles, ‘pre-digesting’ it so ubiquinol is effectively fast-tracked through the digestive system. VESIsorb delivers ubiquinol into the blood stream 2 times faster than standard oil-based forms, increasing tissue distribution throughout the body to achieve significantly higher blood concentrations that remain at therapeutic levels for up to 6 times longer.
Three specific live cultures L. plantarum CECT 7527, 7528 and 7529, help break down bile salts, which are made from cholesterol, therefore allowing its removal from the body. These friendly bacteria also metabolise dietary cholesterol in the gut, therefore reducing its absorption into the bloodstream. The AB-LIFE strains also produce a beneficial short-chain fatty acid known as propionic acid, which signals the liver to produce less cholesterol and also has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Top heart health supplements
A new and unique formula from OptiBac Probiotics is the first of its kind formulated for heart health. For your cholesterol is a pioneering, well researched multi-targeted natural supplement that combines unique live cultures with omega-3 ALA from cold-pressed virgin flaxseed oil – offering a multitude of benefits for managing healthy cholesterol levels.
Since not all live cultures are the same, OptiBac Probiotics focuses on specific strains of natural bacteria that have been clinically tested and proven to survive stomach acidity, bile salts and digestive enzymes in order to find the best live cultures for the job.
VESIsorb® Ubiquinol-QH from Igennus provides 100 mg of fast-acting body-ready ubiquinol CoQ10 for optimal therapeutic benefits. Taken daily, this advanced supplement offers comprehensive cardiovascular support, providing potent antioxidant activity and maximal energy production.
As a nutritional therapist I have recently noticed a growing number of new clients taking a particular type of heartburn medication called ‘proton pump inhibitors’ or PPIs. In my experience, PPIs are a concern because they can sometimes do more harm than good.
PPIs, such as omeprazole and lansoprazole, work by suppressing the formation of stomach acid. Contrary to popular belief, heartburn is rarely caused by excess stomach acid and we need stomach acid. It is required for the proper digestion of proteins and carbohydrates, for absorption of nutrients and for protection against harmful bacteria. Without stomach acid, our digestion and immune system is compromised. For this reason PPI use has been linked with deficiencies of nutrients such as B12 and magnesium. as well as increased risk of bone fracture and bacterial overgrowth in the digestive system (1-4).
So what really cases heartburn? Most often, the problem is caused by a problem with the Lower Esphageal Sphincter (LES) – a valve between the stomach and oesophagus which prevents stomach acid from escaping upwards. Even if our levels of stomach acid are low, we can experience heartburn if this valve is not functioning as it should. The proper functioning of this valve can be affected as we age. It can also be affected by the types of foods we eat, and our eating patterns and behaviours.
A Natural Approach to Heartburn
Those experiencing heartburn can benefit by addressing their diet. Including protein with each meal is helpful, because protein encourages the LES to close properly. On the other hand, fat has the opposite effect, and so fatty foods and meals are best avoided. Fizzy drinks, alcohol, chocolate and smoking also ‘loosen’ the LES, and so are best avoided.
Other foods can irritate the lining of the oesophagus, especially when acid reflux has already made this tissue sensitive. These foods include orange juice, tomatoes and spicy foods. Until heartburn is resolved, it can be helpful to avoid these particular foods.
Helpful foods include sources of soothing pectin such as almonds, apples, apricots plums, carrots and strawberries. A teaspoon of Manuka honey, taken twenty minutes before a meal, may also help to reduce symptoms by coating the oesophageal lining.
Simple lifestyle changes can also be beneficial. Wearing loose-fitting clothing, eating slowly and chewing thoroughly are all helpful measures. Eating small meals and remaining upright for at least three hours after eating can also eliminate symptoms of heartburn.
Slippery Elm may help coat and protect the digestive tract.
Nutritional supplements are often used in heartburn in order to protect and repair the delicate tissue of the digestive tract and to combat bacterial overgrowth. Supplements which coat and protect the digestive tract are known as ‘demulcent’ nutrients, and these include slippery elm, marshmallow root. Herbal preparations such as this have been found to improve symptoms of heartburn (5). In clinic I have also had success using deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) supplements as a powder or chewable tablet before meals. DGL seems to support the mucosal barrier, promoting healing of inflamed tissues. Glutamine, an amino acid used as fuel for the cells lining the digestive tract (6), may be also beneficial. Finally, a probiotic preparation can provide useful support, especially for those taking PPIs. Treatment with probiotics is believed to help the small bowel problems such as inflammation and bacterial overgrowth seen in those taking PPIs (7).
For those looking for a more natural approach, one of my favourite formulations is Patrick Holford Digest Pro, which provides glutamine, digestive enzymes and probiotics. Biocare’s Slippery Elm Intensive is another promising formulation combining marshmallow, DGL and slippery elm alongside other nutrients designed to support the health of the digestive tract. Alongside the right dietary and lifestyle choices, supportive supplements such as these may represent a sensible approach to addressing heartburn for those wishing to avoid long-term PPI use.
1. Jameson RL et al (2013) Proton Pump Inhibitor and Histamine 2 Receptor Antagonist Use and Vitamin B12 Deficiency. JAMA 310(22):2435-2442
2. MHRA (2012) Proton Pump Inhibitors in Long-Term Use: Reports of Hypomagnesia. Drug Safety Update 5:9. http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Safetyinformation/DrugSafetyUpdate/CON149774
3. Yu EW et al (2011) Proton Pump Inhibitors and Risk of Fractures: A Meta-Analysis of 11 International Studies. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.01.007
4. Lombardo L et al (2009) Increased Incidence of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth During Proton Pump Inhibitor Therapy. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2009.12.022
5. Melzer J, Rosch W, Reichling J, et al. Meta-analysis: phytotherapy of functional dyspepsia with the herbal drug preparation STW 5 (Iberogast). Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;20:1279-87.
6. Reeds PJ, Burrin DG. Glutamine and the bowel. J Nutr 2001;131:2505S-8S.
7. Wallace JL et al (2011) Proton Pump Inhibitors Exacerbate NSAID-Induced Small Intestinal Injury by Inducing Dysbiosis. Gastroenterology. July 2011.
Feeling sluggish after the excesses of the festive season? Do you have permanent fatigue, sore or achy muscles for no reason, skin breakouts, bad breath and plummeting energy levels or do you just feel less vibrant than you should?
A detoxification diet is seen as the ultimate health and beauty boost, especially during January post party season.
As far as detoxification is concerned the primary organs responsible are our liver and bowels. The liver and gut work together removing unwanted toxins from our body. Detoxification is the key function of the liver but it also known as the secondary organ of digestion, as it produces bile which is used to aid fat digestion. The liver needs to be able to detoxify toxins, so that they are ready to be released into the bile and the bowel needs to be healthy and moving regularly to enable these toxins to be excreted via a stool.
There are many food and supplements that can help support both these organs to do their job effectively. Eliminating the foods and drinks that challenge them is a good start and will help you move towards a healthier lifestyle. For example, fizzy drinks, cordials, caffeine and alcohol and cleaning up your diet by removing wheat, sugar, dairy, and processed foods and not forgetting drinking lots of water. The good news is that our liver is capable of regenerating itself so with a good diet, lifestyle and the right supplements there’s no reason we cannot maintain our liver function at any age.
Choline is essential for the maintenance of a healthy liver.
Choline foods that are high in sulphur compounds such as onions, garlic, leeks and eggs are supportive for the liver. Eggs and soybeans are also rich in, a ‘lipotropic’ agent which in essence has a de-congesting effect on the liver and prevents the accumulation of fat, therefore helping to keep the liver functioning efficiently. Supplement formulas containing choline and other lipotropic agents are commonly used to help with liver detoxification. (1)
A human study in 2007 on adults given a choline deficient diet for up to 42 days proved that when deprived of dietary choline 77% of men and 80% of women developed fatty liver. (2)
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts are rich in glucosinolates, which speed up the liver’s ability to detoxify. You may wish to juice some green vegetables, rich in chlorophyll, along with your apples and ginger or make a green breakfast smoothie and add some chlorella. Add turmeric to soups and stews and cinnamon to stewed fruit or porridge as both of these spices encourage the production and flow of bile to help excrete fats from the liver.
Also we must not forget the importance of keeping the bowels clean and regularly emptied, so as not to build up toxic waste. If you have a diet low in fibre then the muscles of the colon can become weak and lazy which over time can lead to chronic constipation. Refined sugars found in cakes and biscuits and white floury goods such as white bread can ferment quickly in the gut and lead to bloating, constipation and the formation of unhealthy bacteria which will impair your overall digestion. Try natural ‘live’ yoghurt to populate the gut with good bacteria. Red and processed meats, melted cheese and processed foods have a long transit time though the bowel and may block you up so avoid these when trying to detox. Make sure you eat a blend of soluble and insoluble fibre to keep things moving such as oats, barley, pears, apples, lentils, prunes, oat bran and pulses are good forms of soluble fibre. (3) Flaxseeds are a mix of both soluble and insoluble fibre and will therefore stimulate the bowel and bulk the stool to encourage elimination. If you break them up in a blender or grind them they are more effective. Not forgetting to drink plenty of water! This time of year is a great time to focus on revitalising our bodies for the year ahead.
- Choline contributes to the maintenance of normal liver function.
- Sex and menopausal status influence human dietary requirements for the nutrient choline.
Fischer LM, daCosta KA, Kwock L, Stewart PW, Lu TS, Stabler SP, Allen RH, Zeisel SH.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 May;85(5):1275-85.
- Barley and Oat grain, Wheat bran and Rye fibre all contribute to an increase in faecal bulk. Also Wheat bran fibre contributes to an acceleration of intestinal transit.
At bodykind, we have almost 4,000 products available and it’s not always easy choosing from a large range of products so we’ve compiled a list of the Top Selling Supplements of 2013.
Take a look at our Top 5 Supplements and discover our most popular products of 2013.
Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend – Omegas 3, 6 & 9
Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil Blend is a certified organic blend of unrefined seed oils. When included in your daily diet (mixed in with food and drink) it provides the all-important Omega 3 and 6 that are generally damaged or lacking in our regular diets. This blend of Omega 3,6 and 9 provides the nutrition required for optimum health, naturally beautiful skin, lustrous hair and strong nails.
Igennus Vegepa – Omega 3 and Omega 6
Igennus Vegepa is a patented and highly concentrated formulation of ultra-pure EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) from marine fish oil and GLA (gamma linolenic acid) from organic virgin evening primrose oil, providing an optimal source of omega-3 and omega-6 long-chain fatty acids and botanical triterpenes.
Pharma Nord Omega 7 – Sea Buckthorn oil
Omega-7 is prepared from berries of the sea buckthorn plant, a shrub originating in the Himalayas and is used by thousands of people across the UK for dry eyes, dry mouth and intimate dryness. The oil extracted from sea buckthorn berries is a rich source of the essential polyunsaturated omega-7 fatty acids (PUFAs), palmitoleic acid and cis-vaccenic acid. It is also a good source of the PUFAs alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3 type), linoleic acid (omega-6 type), and oleic acid (omega-9 type).
Lepicol – Healthy Bowels Formula
Lepicol Healthy Bowels Formula is a completely natural high fibre food for help maintaining and sustaining healthy bowels. Lepicol Healthy Bowels Formula has been formulated to help support the cleansing and regulation of the bowels in a gentle, natural way and is suitable for regular, everyday use.
Nutrex BioAstin – Hawaiian Astaxanthin
BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin gel caps are an incredibly potent natural supplement. It supports cardiovascular health, healthy immune function, joint and tendon health, skin health, and eye and brain health. No other antioxidant can compare to the energy boosting powers of BioAstin Hawaiian Astaxanthin. One gel cap per day will help keep your body strong and full of powerful energy-boosting antioxidants.
Too much alcohol, and eating the wrong types of food (and too much of it!) over Christmas can lead to bloating, tiredness, poor skin and weight gain. This is why January is the perfect time to take a look at the health of your digestive system and liver, to ‘detox’ your system and start the year as you mean to go on!
Eliminating just a few foods from your diet can help to give your liver and digestive system a welcome break. For many, the most important change to make is to eliminate alcohol. Alcohol is taxing for both the digestive tract and the liver. It also destroys B Vitamins, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin C, it irritates the digestive tract and it dehydrates the body.
Giving your body a break from wheat is recommended. This gluten-containing grain is commonly associated with allergies and intolerances and can be irritating for many. Gluten-free grain alternatives include quinoa and brown rice.
The second most common allergen is dairy. The protein in dairy, casein, can trigger immune responses in sensitive individuals. Others experience digestive problems in response to lactose, the sugar in milk. Good alternative sources of calcium include nuts (almonds, brazils), seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin), beans, lentils and vegetables (spinach, cabbage, kale, carrots).
Caffeine is an addictive stimulant and can rob your body of energy in the long run. It also impedes digestion by diverting blood away from the digestive system. Giving your body a break from caffeine can restore healthy digestions and improve sleep quality, helping you feel more rested and refreshed each morning. For those who can’t manage without, try reducing your consumption to one cup in the morning, switching to other drinks in the afternoon and evening. Switching from caffeinated drinks to more hydrating beverages such as Rooibos tea, herbals teas and fruit smoothies is recommended.
Supplements designed to support your body’s detoxification pathways are often used alongside ‘detox’ diets. The liver performs a special process called ‘conjugation’ which chemically transforms toxins so that they can be removed from the body. My top three supplements for supporting the health of the liver are N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Milk Thistle Extract.
N-Acetyl Cysteine is a powerful antioxidant that boosts levels of glutathione in the body. Glutathione is primarily used in the liver, where it is needed for the liver’s conjugation processes. When toxic load become too great, this process can be overwhelmed, and so NAC supplements can provide welcome support.
Milk Thistle may help the production of new, healthy liver cells.
Milk thistle, also known as silymarin, is another supplement that boosts glutathione levels. This plant extract also inhibits the production of leukotrienes (inflammatory substances that can harm the liver), and stimulates the production of new, healthy liver cells.
As it is both fat and water-soluble, alpha-lipoic-acid is a ‘universal antioxidant’. It has the ability to enter all parts of the cell, gaining access to toxins stored in fat cells. It also helps to support blood sugar regulation and energy production.
A detoxifying diet should contain an abundance of fibre and nutrient-rich plant foods. Foods that are especially good for supporting the liver include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower which boost levels of detoxifying liver enzymes. Glutathione-boosting avocado, walnuts and oily fish are also great additions. Finally, foods particularly high in protective antioxidants include tenderstem broccoli, berries, tomatoes, plums and watercress.
Breakfast: Warm water with fresh lemon juice. Scrambled omega-3 eggs with cherry tomatoes, spinach and watercress.
Lunch: Marinated artichoke and chickpea salad with steamed asparagus, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil.
Snack: Raw veggies with homemade guacamole
Dinner: Grilled salmon fillet with dairy-free pesto, puy lentils and a large green salad.
Did you spend last Christmas with a queasy, acid, bloated and uncomfortable stomach?
The combination of family events, rich foods, alcohol and late nights can be stressful and normal stomach enzyme secretion can be impaired by the influence of stress hormones. Avoid the misery of acid indigestion by taking a high potency Digestive Aid with a powerful combination of enzymes to aid digestion. Certain enzymes aid in the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates ensuring your digestion is at peak performance, working hard when you are playing hard.
Help restore your gut balance of good bacteria. Probiotic formulas add a combination of good bacteria to aid digestion and boost immunity. Perfect to aid recovery from the festive season’s culinary excesses.
Provided you have enough of the health-promoting bacteria, they act as your first line of defence against unfriendly bacteria and other disease-producing microbes including viruses and fungi. The good bacteria make some vitamins and digest fibre, allowing you to derive more nutrients from otherwise indigestible food, and also help promote a healthy digestive environment.
Keep your New Year’s Resolution this year with a few helpful tips from Viridian Nutrition:
Higher levels of vitamin B5 can help support energy levels
- Don’t think of yourself, think about your poor old dog! A stroll with the dog for half an hour can make a big difference after a few weeks to both your physical and emotional fitness and will cheer the dog up too. Wrap up warm and enjoy the simple and loving company of your furry friend. If you don’t have a dog, offer to walk a neighbour’s.
- Big meat eater? Try one day a week without meat and see how your energy levels and digestion improve.
- Veggie or vegan? Top up with B12. Vitamin B12 can contribute to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue and also supports immune function.
- Feeling under-the-weather? Choose a multivitamin & mineral like High Five Multivitamin and Mineral Formula from Viridian Nutrition. The higher levels of vitamin B5 can help support energy levels, normal mental performance and boost overall vitality.
- Help others. There is no better pick-you-up than helping others. Volunteer, be a good listener or write letters to friends to bring them cheer.
- It can be hard to keep your spirits up in the dark winter months, try some extra vitamin D. Vitamin D has been the subject of a wealth of research studies and has been shown to contribute to the normal function of the immune system as well as essential in the health of bones, muscles and teeth. Sometimes called the Sunshine Vitamin, we often miss it most in the winter months.
If the short, cold, dark winter days leave you feeling lethargic and energy-depleted, then you may be suffering from the winter blues, or its more severe form, seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Other symptoms include carbohydrate cravings, irritability, weight gain and the desire to avoid social situations.
The winter blues are triggered by a lack of sunlight – as the number of daylight hours decreases, levels of ‘feel-good’ hormones in our body begin to drop. The symptoms can appear in late autumn and don’t normally lift until the brighter days in early spring. Fortunately there are simple measures that can help to alleviate these troublesome symptoms.
There is certainly a link between low Vitamin D levels and seasonal affective disorder, although it is unclear whether there is a causal connection. A recent review of existing studies concluded that treating Vitamin D deficiency offers a simple way to improve mental health (1). It would seem sensible for those feeling the effects of the winter blues to test their Vitamin D levels, and to address any deficiency. Sunlight and supplementation are likely the fastest way to address deficiencies, although fatty fish, fortified milk and egg yolks will also help to boost levels.
Other studies have shown that omega-3s appear to help maintain healthy levels of the ‘feel-good’ brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Healthy cells membranes, which require good levels of omega-3 fats, are required for the brain to respond to serotonin and dopamine. A recent large double-blind trial of more than 400 adults supports its use in treating depression (2). Based on these results, ensuring adequate omega-3 intake is certainly a sensible approach for those affected by seasonal changes.
Studies investigating the effectiveness of supplements such as St John’s Wort and 5-HTP have had mixed results, though some studies have found that supplementation improves symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, anxiety and lethargy in those with SAD (3,4).
Dietary changes may also help to relieve symptoms. According to Judith Wurtman, Ph.D., co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet, a well-timed snack can help to relieve symptoms. Dr Wurtman led a study looking at the SAD-carb connection, concluding that a low-protein snack providing about 30 grams of carbohydrate was enough to provide a serotonin boost. A warm bowl of leek and potato soup in the evening might well provide that much-needed serotonin-boosting carbohydrate.
Light therapy is a non-invasive, natural, effective and well-researched treatment approach for those with SAD
The most effective natural intervention, however, is probably light therapy. Light therapy is a non-invasive, natural, effective and well-researched treatment approach for those with SAD. Specially designed light therapy devices mimic the effects of sunlight to regulate levels of melatonin and serotonin. A recent meta-analysis concluded that light therapy works as an effective treatment for SAD no matter what time of day it is used, so long as it is used at least once daily (5). Dawn simulation is especially useful, and studies have found that this approach is more effective in alleviating SAD symptoms that standard bright light therapy or placebo, alongside additional benefits such as less morning drowsiness (6).
Those looking for a natural way to address the winter blues may benefit from the following approach:
1. Ensure that you are getting sufficient amounts of omega-3 and Vitamin D. You can have your levels checked by a nutritional therapist.
2. Exercise regularly. Try a 30-minute run or brisk walk in the daylight.
3. Start the day with a protein-rich breakfast, but try a carbohydrate-rich meal or snack in the evening. Good options are sweet potato, brown rice, lentils, rye bread and butternut squash.
4. Try a light therapy lamp or a dawn simulation device, making time to use the device at least once each day for the best results.
1. Anglin RES et al (2013) Samaan Z, Walter SD and McDonald SD. Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis. Br-J-Psych 2013, 202:100-107.
2. Lespérance F, Frasure-Smith N, St-André E, et al. (2011) The efficacy of Omega-3 supplementation for major depression: A randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 72:1054-1062.
3. Ghadirian AM et al (1998) Efficacy of light versus tryptophan therapy in seasonal affective disorder. J Affect Disord 50:23-7.
4. Wheatley D. (1999) Hypericum in seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Curr Med Red Opin 15:33-7.
5. Golden RN et al (2005) The Efficacy of Light Therapy in the Treatment of Mood Disorders: A Review and Meta-analysis of the Evidence. Am J Psychiatry 162(4):656-62.
6. Avery DH et al (2001) Dawn Simulation and Bright Light in the Treatment of SAD: A Controlled Study. Biol Psychiatry. 50:205-216.
Pure oxygen has been used by hospitals to improve our health for over 200 years and has been recorded to improve our exercise performance since as early as 1928, although the first famous figure was Sir Roger Bannister, who published a research paper about the benefits of using pure oxygen in 1954 (the same year he broke the 4 minute mile).
Whilst not new, the use of pure oxygen is becoming more widely accepted and more widely understood for the health benefits it can provide. Air contains 21% oxygen and canned oxygen is normally 95%.
Here are 7 Health benefits of using pure oxygen:
1. Slow down ageing skin
From wrinkle creams to moisturising gels to facials, we all want to slow the ageing process. Getting rid of those crow’s feet, laughter lines or frowning tell tale marks, the beauty industry offers every type of product and solution that our heart’s desire. Pure oxygen is starting to break onto the scene to help us in the fight against ageing. Try canned oxygen as part of your daily beauty regime.
2. Stressful lives
The 9 to 5 is a challenge for all of us. Trying to get more done in the same amount of hours is best described by the ‘Carrot and Donkey’ fable. From getting to work, wanting to achieve more, dealing with more than one person should, followed by trying to fit enough house time, family time, and me time, can have us at breaking point several times per week. We all know that when we are stressed someone normally suggests ‘taking a deep breath’. Pure oxygen can help you take a moment, get pure oxygen into your bloodstream and help you tackle the road ahead with a little more ease because pure oxygen can help to reduce stress.
3. Think faster
A study by the Human cognitive Neuroscience Unit in Northumbria experimented with pure oxygen and concluded that those breathing pure oxygen remembered up to 20% more words, from a given list, than those that did not breathe pure oxygen. If you are struggling some days to focus, get things done, then breathing pure oxygen can help make those tasks that bit easier and quicker.
4. That jetlag feeling
Flying on long haul is challenging enough with not enough leg room and then arriving to feel as though all your energy has been left on the plane. The reasons for this are to do with the change in time zone, obviously the long travel, and also the increased pressure in the airplane cabin, which means that less oxygen enters your blood stream. Using pure oxygen will help you to overcome jetlag quickly and help you to enjoy your holiday sooner.
5. Speeds up recovery
Footballers, rugby players, and runners, to name a few, are breathing pure oxygen to help them speed up their recovery. Of course, when you earn tens of thousands per week and your team depend on you, or you just want to get back to winning again, speed of recovery is key. Breathing pure oxygen has been prescribed by hospitals for recovery and now breathing pure oxygen can help everyone that is looking to recover more quickly from injury, a minor operation or a period of being unwell.
Air contains 21% oxygen and canned oxygen is normally 95%.
6. The great detoxer and cleanser
According to many health gurus the great body cleanser and detoxifier is oxygen. Our lifestyle is less physical than our ancestors and so we are not oxygenating our blood as well as they did, which leads to our bodies carrying more toxins than we did generations before us. Breathing pure oxygen can help to reduce those toxins that we carry in our bodies, in turn helping us to be healthier.
7. Booost the immune system
Our immune system helps us to fight infections, diseases, coughs & colds, and helping it do its job is key to living more healthy. There are a number of ways you can maximise your immune system, like eating healthily, exercising regularly, moderating your alcohol, and breathing pure oxygen is another way of helping you to help your immune system to help you.
Thousands of men across the UK are sprouting moustaches this month, in aid of Movember, an annual event aimed at raising awareness of men’s health issues.
Men are less likely to visit their GP when ill, less likely to access disease screening services and less likely to seek support with healthy-living initiatives such as stop smoking schemes. Consequently, serious diseases such as cancer and diabetes tend to be diagnosed later in men than in women. This is why raising awareness and encouraging a dialogue about men’s health issues is particularly important.
Prostate cancer is a particular focus for the Movember campaign because this disease can be difficult to spot in its early stages. In addition, one in eight men in the UK will develop prostate cancer, making this the most common type of cancer in men.
For those who do not eat oily fish regularly, it may be prudent to supplement with a good quality fish oil supplement.
The prostate, found only in men, is located below the bladder. Its function is to produce fluid to nourish and protect semen. The prostate often enlarges as men get older, causing troublesome symptoms for some men.
Symptoms of all prostate problems include:
- needing to urinate often, especially at night
- difficulty starting to urinate
- straining to urinate or taking a long time to finish
- pain when urinating or during sex
There is plenty of research suggesting that dietary changes help reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Studies have found that men with a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in their body had a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Omega-3 is present in oily fish and in smaller amounts in flaxseed and some plant foods. One study of more than 6000 men found that men who regularly ate oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel had a reduced risk of developing this condition. The men who ate no fish were more than twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as those who ate moderate to high amounts. For those who do not eat oily fish regularly, it may be prudent to supplement with a good quality fish oil supplement.
High dairy consumption is linked to an increase risk of prostate cancer as evidenced by a number of studies in this area. One study found that men who consume two and a half serving of dairy each day have a 40 per cent increase in prostate cancer risk (2). This is probably because eating diary raises levels of Insulin like Growth-like Growth Factor which can promote growth of cancer cells. A recent meta analysis reports that soya consumption, on the other hand, is linked with a reduced risk of prostate cancer (3), and so replacing cow’s milk with soya milk is likely to be a helpful measure.
Cancer is known to be triggered by damaging molecules known as free radicals. Antioxidants ‘mop up’ these free radicals and so it seems sensible to ensure that the diet is abundant in rich sources of these nutrients. Men who eat four servings of vegetables a day have a 35 per cent reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to those who eat just two servings. In addition, vegetarian men have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer than meat eaters.
Two supplements that have been widely studied in relation to prostate cancer risk are selenium and saw palmetto. Selenium has antioxidant properties and aids DNA repair, and a recent meta-analysis showed a potential inverse association between toenail, serum, and plasma selenium levels and prostate cancer risk (4). Selenium is present in most multi-vitamin and mineral supplements. Alternatively, just two Brazil nuts each day will fulfil your daily requirement of this mineral.
Saw palmetto is often used for its protective benefits. This nutrient is anti-inflammatory and also helps to prevent the conversion of testosterone to DHT, an agent that promotes prostate cancer (5). Large studies have found saw palmetto supplementation to be beneficial in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP) or non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate (6). While more research need to be done in this area, saw palmetto appears to be safe to supplement and has no known drug interactions, making it a worthy of consideration in supporting prostate health.
1. P Terry et al, Fatty fish consumption and risk of prostate cancer, The Lancet (2001), vol 357 (9270), pp 1764-1766
2. Chan JM, Stampfer MJ, Ma J, Ajani U, Gaziano JM, Giovannucci E. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study. Presentation, American Association for Cancer Research, San Francisco, April 2000.
3. Hwang YW, Kim SY, Jee SH, et al.: Soy food consumption and risk of prostate cancer: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Nutr Cancer 61 (5): 598-606, 2009
4. Brinkman M, Reulen RC, Kellen E, Buntinx F, Zeegers MP. Are men with low selenium levels at increased risk of prostate cancer? Eur J Cancer 2006;42:2463-71.
5. W H Goldmann et al, ‘Saw palmetto berry extract inhibits cell growth and Cox-2 expression in prostatic cancer cells’, Cell Biology International (2001), vol 25(11), pp 1117-24.
6. Wilt TJ, Ishani A, Rutks I, MacDonald R. Phytotherapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Public Health Nutr. 2000 Dec;3(4A):459-72.
We are often told that we should eat oily fish or take a fish oil supplement, but why? When? Which one do you choose?
Why do you need fish oil?
Although maligned by the weight loss industry, dietary fats exist for a reason. They are present in plant and animal tissue because they perform vital functions for those organisms and, when we consume them, they do the same for us. The body needs to ingest or synthesise a ready supply to maintain health. Some lipids are even essential because they cannot be manufactured by the body and must be obtained through diet. There are many different forms of lipids, one of the most crucial subsets are the essential fatty acids (EFAs), omega-3 and omega-6.
Some anthropologists believe consumption of omega-3 fats lead to profound changes in the human brain. We probably evolved on a 1:1 ratio of omega 3:6 in our diets (1). Post agricultural and industrial revolutions, this has dramatically switched in favour of omega-6 and is now closer to 16:1. Balancing omega-3 and 6 fats is crucial for the management of many chronic diseases. Oils from cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel have been the subject of thousands of research papers, showing efficacy for a number of conditions. They provide a rich source of the active omega-3 fats, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Vegetarian sources of omega-3 require further conversion in order to metabolise EPA and DHA.
The most obvious way to tackle the shortfall in dietary omega-3 is to consume more oily fish. Individual taste is often a barrier. Furthermore, the beneficial long chain omega-3 fats can be damaged by cooking and the larger fish such as salmon can contain high levels of heavy metals and other contaminants. Therefore fish oil supplementation presents a practical way to increase omega-3 intake, but not all fish oil products are created equally.
When choosing a product it is important to be sure that it has been produced with due regard to environmental impact, has an exemplary quality profile and is effective.
How much do you need?
The omega-3 essential fats, EPA and DHA, are mostly found in oily fish such as sardines and anchovies
To maintain healthy levels of essential fats, the government recommends that we all eat at least two portions of oily fish each week but this can be difficult to achieve through diet alone, especially if you don’t like to eat fish! A good quality fish oil supplement can be a great option to ensure levels are high enough to maintain good health.
How do you know if a supplement is good quality?
Here are a few tips when looking for a good quality fish oil supplement:
- Look for a fish oil supplement that is produced from small fish such as anchovies and sardines as the levels of essential fats within these fish are naturally more concentrated. You will therefore get better quality oil.
- Look at where the fish are sourced. Small fish sourced from areas such as the clear pacific waters will drastically minimise the level of pollutants. This will mean you will get cleaner, more pure oil.
- Look for oil that has had minimal processing. Fatty acids are delicate and can become damaged when put through aggressive production methods. If minimal heat and chemicals are used, the oil will be closer to its natural form.
- Look for variety. If fish oil is pure and clean, then it can be made into capsules and liquids that have very little fishy aftertaste. Some fish oils can even be mixed with fruit bases so that adults and children can enjoy taking a daily supplement.
1. Simopoulos AP Evolutionary aspects of diet, the omega 6/omega 3 ratio and genetic variation: nutritional implications for chronic diseases. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy 60 (2006) 502-507.