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Cholesterol and Statins

Optibac: High Cholesterol and the Problem with Statins

High Cholesterol and the Problem with Statins

Understanding our bodies and how what we do on a day-to-day basis may improve or prevent long-term health issues, has never been a more pertinent subject. We are constantly bombarded with articles and information concerning diets we should follow, exercise regimes we should adopt and health conditions that we can avoid.

High cholesterol is one such condition that we are hearing more about, and understanding how high cholesterol affects our health, as well as what we can do to manage and prevent this condition is of paramount importance. According to the British Heart Foundation, 60% of adults in the UK have high cholesterol. The prevalence grows year-on-year and increases the risk of:

  • Atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries)
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

When reading statistics like this, one realises that high cholesterol is a serious condition that needs to be understood and dealt with effectively in order to prevent serious health issues from developing.

Cholesterol is a waxy fat that is carried through the bloodstream and is required (among other things) to repair blood vessels, create hormones and process vitamins. In other words, we need cholesterol. We often hear it broken down into ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL).

The great news is that having high cholesterol can be managed, but with all conditions, one must understand how it can be managed. Knowledge is power and with that in mind, we must look at what treatments are currently being used to reduce high cholesterol and whether there could be a better option out there…

The usual medical treatment for lowering high cholesterol is to be prescribed statins. Statins lower the amount of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in the blood and are viewed as the ‘go-to’ medication for those members of the population who are suffering with high cholesterol. As a consequence, the UK is the world’s 2nd highest statin dispensing nation.

OK, so there is a way of treating this condition that reduces the amount of harmful cholesterol in our bodies, therefore this is where we have to focus our energy when looking for a treatment or prevention, right? Well, not exactly…

Like many medicines, when embarking on a course of treatment we cannot simply focus on the benefits, we also need comprehensive information so that we can understand and avoid the risks. Statins, like many pharmaceutical medications, come with a worrying list of side effects. These need to be considered and understood before beginning to take them.

It has been reported that 25% of people on statins suffer with side effects (NHS, 2012) they commonly include:

  • Muscles & joint pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Headache-like symptoms
  • Digestive problems
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

There are also less common but more unpleasant side effects associated with taking statins, including:

  • Sickness
  • Blurred vision
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
  • Ringing in the ears

Statins can also interact with other medicines that you may be prescribed such as antibiotics and warfarin. And many of those prescribed statins are often on the medication long-term, which, when you consider that high cholesterol isn’t merely a condition of the older population, could entail many years of statin use. For many people, long-term pharmaceutical use is something that they wish to avoid if possible, and they may be looking for a more natural option.

Optibac – For Your Cholesterol

This is where ‘For your cholesterol’, a new cholesterol-lowering probiotic from Optibac Probiotics may help you. Clinical trials have shown it to have health benefits for high cholesterol, but none of the less desirable side effects of statins.

Along with the specific probiotic strains that are contained in this product (Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7527, Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7528, Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7529), it also includes Omega 3 which, in combination with the probiotics reduces inflammation in the body, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. Alongside this, the inclusion of Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in ‘For your cholesterol’ has been shown in many clinical trials to reduce LDL cholesterol and inflammation. This combination of live cultures and omega 3 supports blood cholesterol levels by utilising 6 different mechanisms of action – including acting on both the liver’s natural production of cholesterol as well as on the absorption of dietary cholesterol in the gastro-intestinal tract. A clinical trial(1) showed total cholesterol levels lowered by an average of 14% in just 3 months of taking ‘For your cholesterol’.

Taking ‘For your cholesterol’ may help:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve ratio of ‘good’ fats to ‘bad’ fats consumed
  • Down regulate your genes for cholesterol production

For those of us who may wish to continue with statin use, the good news is that ‘For your cholesterol’ can be safely taken alongside statins and any other medication you may already be on. However, this extensively researched product is safe to take on an ongoing basis with none of the side effects associated with cholesterol lowering medicine.

By Alexandra Ravenscroft, Nutritional Therapist

References
1. Fuentes MC et al. (2006) Cholesterol¬ lowering efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7527, 7528 and 7529 in hypercholesterolaemic adults. British Journal of Nutrition; pp 1 ¬- 7.

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Optibac Probiotics – travel with a happy and healthy digestive system

50% of travellers experience digestive issues when abroad. Don’t be one of them!

Traveller’s Diarrhoea is the most frequently experienced health disorder experienced by those travelling abroad[1]. Research suggest that pathogenic bacteria are responsible for 85% of all cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea[3], with E. coli being the most common offender[4,5]. Despite it being a generally minor condition, it can ruin your holiday. Statistics reveal that 20% of sufferers are confined to bed for a day, and 33% need to stop their activities[2].

Of course some destinations are higher risk than others and are generally the more exotic locations such as Egypt, India, and Mexico.

So what is the best natural approach to Traveller’s Diarrhoea?

Much research shows the potential for probiotics to be a natural preventative. Studies suggest that probiotics, a.k.a. friendly bacteria, can help to strengthen the gut’s protective barrier against pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella. A review of the research on this (meta-analysis) found that 85% of cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea were prevented by probiotics[7].

How can taking bacteria avoid a bacterial infection?

Well as with other issues with gut health, having enough of the relevant strain of bacteria will help fight the unwanted pathogenic bacteria. It has been found that a combination of B. longum Rosell-175, Lactobacillus rhamnosus Rosell-11, Saccharomyces boulardii and L. acidophilus Rosell-52 have been shown to be effective in preventing infection with E. coli[8]. Other trials also show that Saccharomyces boulardii may be especially helpful in cases of Traveller’s Diarrhoea due to its unique ability to actually bind to unwanted, pathogenic bacteria and then help excrete them, as well as its documented ability to alleviate diarrhoea during an infection [9,10,11,12].

L. acidophilus Rosell-52 & L. rhamnosus Rosell-11 have also been shown to help prevent infection by less common pathogens including: P. aeruginosa, Klebsiella, and Staphylococcus [13,14].

So all in all these bacteria can be of huge help staying happy and healthy when travelling. Nutritional Therapist, Joanna Lutyens from OptiBac Probiotics says ‘ Your digestive system may be under siege when travelling abroad, both from an intake of foods which your body is not used to, as well as a whole new range of bacteria. It is therefore really important to look after your digestive health when travelling. Taking a probiotic specifically designed to support your gut health in this situation may really help prevent discomfort or illness. Of course there are other things you can do to avoid getting the dreaded Delhi Belly. Tips include avoiding unpeeled fruit and vegetables, avoid tap water even when brushing your teeth, wash your hands regularly, avoid ice cubes and stay hydrated.’

References:

  1. Bradley AC, 2007.
  2. World Tourism Organisation. Tourism highlights. 2008. Available at www.unwto.org
  3. Black RE. Epidemiology of travellers’ diarrhoea and relative importance of various pathogens. Rec. Infect. Dis. 1990: 12 (suppl 1): S73-S79
  4. Jiang ZD; Mathewson JJ, Ericsson CD, Svennerholm AM, Pulido C, DUPont HL. Characterisation of enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli strains in patients with traveller’s diarrhoea acquired in Guadalajara, Mexico, 1992-1997. J Infect Dis. 2000;181:779-82
  5. Adachi JA, Jiang ZD, Mathewson JJ, Verenkar MP, Thompson S, Martinez-Sandoval F, et al. Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli as a major etiologic agent in traveller’s diarrhoea in 3 regions of the world. Clin Infect Dis. 2001;32:1706-9.
  6. Centres for disease control and prevention – www.cdc.gov.travel/yellowbookch4-diarrhoea.aspx
  7. McFarland MV, Meta-analysis of probiotics for the prevention of traveller’s diarrhoea. Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2007; 5: 97-105.
  8. Bisson JF. (ETAP), H. Durand (Institut Rosell- Lallemand), Effects of Different Probiotic Formulations on the Traveller’s Diarrhoea Model in Rats. Submitted.
  9. Kirchhelle, A. et al. Treatment of persistent diarrhoea with S. boulardii in returning travellers. Results of a prospective study. Fortschy. Med. 1996, 114:136-140
  10. Kollaritsch, H. et al. Prevention of traveler’s diarrhoea with Saccharomyces boulardii. Results of a placebo controlled double blind study. Fortschr. Med. 1993, 111:152-156.
  11. Kurugol Z., Koturoglu G. Effects of Saccharomyces boulardii in children with acute diarrhoea. Acta pediatr 2005; 94;44-7.
  12. Htwe K; et al. Effect of Saccharomyces boulardii in the Treatment of Acute Watery Diarrhoea in Myanmar Children: A Randomized Controlled Study. Am. J. Top. Med. Hyg. 2008; 78(2):214-216
  13. Tlaskal P, Lactobacillus acidophilus in the treatment of children with gastrointestinal tract illnesses. 1995, Cesko-Slovenska Pediatrie, 51 :615-619.
  14. Wasowska, K. Prevention and eradication of intestinal dysbacteriosis in infants and children. unpublished results 1997
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Natural Remedies for Women’s Intimate Health

Want natural remedies for women’s intimate health? Try Probiotics.

Us women are great at talking about nearly everything you can think of. However, despite the fact that most women will suffer from thrush, cystitis and / or bacterial vaginosis (BV) during their life time, it appears that intimate health is something we are all apparently too shy to talk about.

The facts are that 75% of women suffer from thrush once in their lifetime, 50% suffer from cystitis at least once and BV affects 1 in 3 women with a high rate of recurrence. Typically these are treated with topical ointments which tend to give just temporary relief, or antibiotics and antifungals which can result in recurrence and can make you feel unwell.

So how and why does having a good balance of friendly bacteria in the intimate area help alleviate and prevent these conditions? Well there is a lot of research behind this.

Thrush is usually caused by the yeast fungus Candida albicans which usually lives harmlessly on the skin and in the mouth, gut and vagina. However, sometimes this yeast becomes overgrown, resulting in thrush. The causes of BV are similar, stemming from a change in balance of bacteria in the vagina as well as a more alkaline pH. And again cystitis is caused by a bacterial infection and interestingly occurs more often in menopausal women due to the lower oestrogen levels.

So in a nutshell, it’s about bacteria! How can probiotics help? The issue with typical treatments are that they do not replenish the healthy bacteria and antibiotics not only knock our good bacteria further out of kilter but also multiple use can lead to antibiotic resistance. Probiotics help replenish our healthy bacteria. But it’s important to note that not all probiotics contain the correct strains of bacteria which are specifically required for these specific intimate issues.

Certain probiotic strains have been trialled and have been shown to increase the efficacy of standard treatments, as well as lowering the risk of recurrence. In particular 2 specific probiotic strains, L. reuteri RC-14® and L. rhamnosus GR-1® are well documented in women’s health, with over 30 years of scientific evidence. OptiBac Probiotics ‘For women’ is a brand new, unique supplement that contains these specific strains and has had significant trialling in itself.

In one trial, participants with thrush took an antifungal capsule with either ‘For women’ daily or placebo for 4 weeks. At follow-up those who had been taking ‘For women’ had 70% fewer symptoms and yeast cell counts than the placebo group.1

In another trial, 252 women who suffered with recurring UTIs took ‘For women’ or antibiotics (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole) for one year. After 12 months the number of UTIs had more than halved in both groups, with ‘For women’ being almost as effective as antibiotics. (An impressive result for a natural remedy)2

OptiBac Probiotics ‘For women’ works via several mechanisms: It colonises the vagina, crowds out candida by competing for space and nutrients, fortifies women’s natural defences against Candida , inhibits E. Coli, produces bactericocins which kill pathogens and E. Coli, restores a healthy pH of <4.5, and produces a substance which breaks down the pathogens defensive biofilm.

Taking these strains of bacteria is clearly an impressive start to improving symptoms as well as preventing recurrence. But are there any other natural remedies which can help?

  • When rebalancing our bacteria it’s always a good idea to stay away from sugar and yeast containing foods and drinks which can feed the growth of yeast and bad bacteria, this of course includes alcohol and fruit juices, except low sugar Cranberry which can help in the case of cystitis
  • Drink plenty of water and reduce your coffee
  • Ideally if you have thrush, try to include antifungal foods in your diet such as garlic, coconut oil, ginger and cinnamon among others.
  • Avoid using soaps and douches in the intimate area and swap nylon for cotton underwear and avoid perfumed sanitary products
  • Urinating before and after sex can help with cystitis.
  • The pill can sometimes upset intimate flora – talk to your doctor about alternative contraception

OptiBac Probiotics ‘For Women’ can be taken alongside standard treatments to increase the effect of standard treatments, but is also recommended as a continual method of prevention if a recurrence is an issue. So, if you’re looking to support your intimate health, take a look at OptiBac Probiotics ‘For women’.

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Top Nutrients for Heart Health

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.

ALA Omega-3

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
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.

Ubiquinol CoQ10

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.

Live cultures

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.

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Beat the winter bugs with beneficial bacteria

As the weather worsens and the season of colds and coughs approaches, our thoughts turn towards ways in which we can support our immune systems to help keep us fighting fit throughout the winter.

A current theory in medicine, known as the ‘Hygiene Hypothesis’, states that our obsession with household cleaners and overzealous hand washing with anti-bacterial agents may be to blame for a rise in infections, as well as conditions such as asthma.

Our immune system is designed to fight infection from bacteria, viruses and parasites as well as recognise foreign substances as allergens. As our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past, we no longer have to elicit an immune response. The theory indicates that bacteria can in fact be helpful for supporting our immune systems.

So, how can we use bacteria to help boost our immunity? Health experts suggest we should allow children to be children by letting them play outside in mud and with their friends, and worrying less about them coming into contact with dirt and germs. There is also an increasing body of evidence supporting the use of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) for immune support. Our digestive tract functions as a barrier against potentially harmful bacteria and food. It is known that supplementing with probiotics can help mediate our immune response, reducing inflammation and protecting us against exposure to potentially harmful bugs.

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OptiBac Probiotics contains beneficial probiotic strains

Here we explore some of the OptiBac Probiotics’ products and their potential benefits for immune health.

OptiBac Probiotics For daily immunity, a blend of probiotics and antioxidants, contains targeted probiotic strains to help support immunity. If you feel you catch colds too frequently, this is a product to consider, or for those who have lower levels of friendly bacteria such as the elderly and those who lead active, demanding lives.

OptiBac Probiotics For daily wellbeing is a daily supplement that promotes a healthy balance of friendly bacteria throughout the entire intestinal tract. For daily wellbeing is suitable for anyone seeking probiotic support on a daily basis (aged over 4 years and over).

OptiBac Probiotics For daily wellbeing EXTRA strength is dairy-free supplement extra strength formula with 20 billion live microorganisms per capsule. It may benefit those with a severe imbalance of good and bad intestinal bacteria, skin conditions, or those with particularly busy lifestyles.

OptiBac Probiotics For your child’s health is a natural symbiotic supplement to support digestion and immunity in infants and children, and pregnant & breastfeeding women. For your child’s health is suitable for babies and children from 6 months of age.

References

Cazzola, M. et al. (2010) Efficacy of a synbiotic supplementation in the prevention of common diseases in children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study; Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease 0(0) pp. 1-8

Rautava, S. et al (2002). ‘Probiotics during pregnancy and breast-feeding might confer immunomodulatory protection against atopic disease in the infant’. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Jan Vol. 109 (1), pp. 119-121

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5 Tips for Healthy Travel

‘Buy an adaptor, find my swimsuit, pick up the dry cleaning, pack the phone chargers!’. When you’re rushing around last minute preparing for a holiday, your health is often the last thing on your mind. However when you put your body in an unfamiliar environment, often with little sleep along the way, it’s important to look after your health. What’s more, your holiday should be a time to explore, relax, and let go. You certainly don’t want an upset stomach or heavy case of jetlag ruining your fun time so we’ve prepared 5 simple steps to enjoy your holiday, the healthy way.

1. Beat the jet lag

The real pros will try to adjust their sleep schedules 2–3 days before leaving on holiday. If you know that you’re going to be sleeping and waking up later once you reach a different time zone, try to work your way into that time zone before you even leave home. Even if all you can manage is half an hour or an hour of difference, it should help to make life easier (and your holiday more relaxing!) when you’re trying to adjust to a new time schedule abroad.

2. Pack healthy snacks

Spend time preparing healthy snacks for you and your family before you leave for the airport. It will be much better for your body, and likely better for your bank balance, than picking up sugary or carb-loaded snacks at the airport. Cut up some apples, carrots, or try things like sugar snap peas – they’re good raw too and with an extra crunch which should go down well with the kids.

 3. Wear sun cream

Even if there is cloud cover, the sun can burn. Choose a sun cream with at least SPF 15, or at least SPF 30 if you’re off to a hot and sunny destination. Do not forget to top up on your cream throughout the day , this is where a lot of people slip up – it’s not enough to put cream on once in the morning then forget about it! Make sure you have a good sized day bag to carry all your essentials including your sun cream, snacks and water.

4. Water, water, everywhere!

Optibac can help with bowel calm when travelling abroad
OptiBac Probiotics for travelling abroad helps support a traveller’s digestive health

Do not forget to hydrate. Carry a bottle of water around with you. A lot of us forget to hydrate properly when we’re not in our usual place (e.g. at our desk at work) and hydration is all the more important when you’re enjoying a warm, sunny holiday. Water will flush the pathogens out of your body, and help to prevent any stomach upsets.

5. Look after your gut health

When visiting a new country, the body, and in particular your digestive system, have a tough time adjusting to a new environment and to new foods. Up to 50% of travellers are said to experience traveller’s diarrhoea because the ingestion of foreign microbes can upset the stomach (not much fun when you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself!).

Look after your digestive health whilst abroad by taking a probiotic especially made for travel. OptiBac Probiotics ‘For travelling abroad’ supports your body’s natural defence against bad bacteria whilst travelling. Get 60 capsules for £19.99 (usually £30.57) – perfect for those travelling as a family, or going away for a significant length of time.

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