Friday, October 30, 2015

Are you Vitamin D deficient?

Statistics show that 40-50% of Americans have less than the optimal level of vitamin D in their bodies. This means that the chances of you being vitamin D deficient are quite high.
Don't be a part of the vitamin D deficiency epidemic! Get your vitamin D(25 hydroxy) blood test at least once every year. If your physician will not request this test, you can call my office to schedule a phone appointment with me or order the test yourself from Life Extension.
 We have known for years that high cholesterol can be deadly. But do you know Vitamin D deficiency can be a greater risk to your health and longevity than high cholesterol. Also vitamin D deficiency is more common than high cholesterol.
Two recent studies elucidate the risks of low vitamin D.
Study 1:
 Involved 13,331 adults over the age of 20, following them for an average of 8.7 years. Researchers found a 26% increase in all causes of mortality among those with the lowest vitamin D blood level (<17 .8="" div="" ml="" ng="">
Study 2:
Involved 3,299 Austrian subjects and showed a dramatic increase in the risk of heart disease in those in the lowest quarter of vitamin D levels. These subjects suffered a nearly three times greater risk for death due to heart failure and a five times greater risk for sudden cardiac death.
 The researchers in the first study concluded that the elderly, females, non-whites, diabetics, smokers, and those who are overweight have shown a greater risk of deficiency.
A vitamin D deficiency puts you at a much higher risk of death from all causes than even the risk from high cholesterol levels.
Another study showed high blood pressure develops at three times the rate in women who are vitamin D deficient before menopause.
 The normal blood range for Vitamin D at most laboratories is 32.0-100.0 ng/ml.  Those who have studied and researched vitamin D suggest the  optimal blood level is over 50 & preferably around 70-80.
 Tests for vitamin D need to be incorporated in all medical checkups to at least an equal extent as cholesterol levels are checked. 
Vitamin D deficiency is much easier to correct than high cholesterol. All you have to do is take a vitamin D supplement. The dosage varies depending upon how low the initial levels are.  With treatment, vitamin D status is slow to improve and may sometimes require surprisingly high doses to increase the blood levels. If vitamin D is low and supplementation is begun, it is best to recheck in 3 months to make sure the levels are increasing.  Once an ideal level is attained, then a yearly check is sufficient.  Treatment dosage recommended is usually 5000-10,000 units daily.  General supplementation doses are 1000-2000 units daily.  Since vitamin D is stored in the body, it is possible to develop a toxicity, though I have not seen this.  If you are taking higher doses of vitamin D, you need to be sure to monitor with blood tests.
 Natural foods high in vitamin D are:
  • Cod liver oil (1 tablespoon) 1,360 International Units (IU) – 40   IU is equal to 1 microgram
  • Salmon (cooked - 3 ounces) 794 IU
  • Mackerel (cooked - 3 ounces) 388 IU
  • Tuna fish (canned in water - drained - 3 ounces) 154 IU
  • Egg (1 whole) 25 IU
  • Cheese (swiss - 1 ounce) 6 IU
 Read more at:  Find Foods High in Vitamin D

Monday, October 26, 2015

Childhood Obesity Part 3 of 3

As far as food intake, parents can do their part by only providing food in the home which is healthy and nourishing and by lobbying for more nutritional school cafeteria foods.  Also, parents can  cook healthy meals, or have healthy snacks available, versus letting kids have the junk food they want. Have no sugar or white flour products in the house.  If fast food has to be procured, there are healthier options than those filled with white flour and sugar, which need to be avoided across the board. One would not want overindulging a child with  food to become a substitute for the love and attention children need.
Sugar is a big culprit in childhood obesity.  It is also well known that sugar is addictive, the more you eat the more you want.  Sugar also destabilizes the blood sugar and stimulates the appetite, leading to overeating.
Unfortunately we are bombarded by sugar in many hidden forms, as well as the obvious.  The average per person sugar consumption in the U.S. is 142 pounds yearly. This equals 48 tsp daily.  Hard to believe?  This is because 33tsp of that intake are added during the processing of foods and beverages as opposed to being naturally occurring. 
A 12 ounce soft drink contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.  Eight ounces of one brand of sweetened apple yogurt contains 44 grams of sugar.  Four grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon, so this is the equivalent of 11 teaspoons of sugar.  You might think handing your child a container of yogurt was a good thing.  Instead you can buy plain yogurt which has no added sugar, flavor it with fresh fruit, and sweeten with stevia powder if it even needs to be sweeter.  Be careful about some of the artificial sweeteners, as they can pose their own problems.  See my newsletter on this topic for what to avoid.
Read labels and look for hidden sugars such as corn syrup, corn sweetener, sucrose, dextrose, glucose, barley malt, agave nectar, rice syrup, maple syrup, honey.  This is not to mention the obvious listing of sugar on the label.  If you take this extra time to read and be a detective while shopping, you can save your family many empty unhealthy calories and promote their health and well being.

Childhood Obesity Part 2 of 3

One part of the problem is that children aren't playing outside at home or at school as much as they have done in previous times. Many school districts nationwide have cut physical education classes in an effort to meet national academic standards. But what decision-makers don't realize is that being physically fit and having exercise breaks often helps students in the classroom. With decreased encouragement from adults - at home and at school - kids have less of an interest in exercise.
Children under 6 years old spend an average of 2 hours daily in front of a TV, or DVD.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children spend no more than 1-2 hours daily in front of a screen, and those under 2 years have no screen time.  Older kids and teens spend a daily averge of 5 1/2 hours in front of a computer, TV, Video or DVD screen.  Screens with children sitting in front of them have become the most popular babysitters of our era.  It is so tempting for the tired over extended parent to give way to the distraction and help of this super babysitter, but it is at a cost. 
 It is important for children to learn how to entertain themselves, to be constructive, active, productive, helpful to other family members and at school.  This does not happen when one is hypnotized in zombie like fashion in front of the "tube".  There needs to be a family meeting and negotiation about how many hours a week can be spent this way, what those days and hours will be and specifically watching what?  But even better yet, if there are other plans and activities involving physical movement, the time will be filled healthfully and constuctively. Instead of giving your child a video game for his birthday, give  a bicycle and show them how and where to ride it.
Engage your family in a lifestyle of fitness. Discourage and limit excessive television watching, computer use, or gaming, unless it is the active Wii games,  Also discourage snacking while watching television, doing homework, and other odd times. Instead encourage outside  playtime, family activities, and recreational programs.  How about ping pong, , tennis, dancing classes, martial arts, team sports. Try family walks, bike rides, and other outdoor sports. Plan hiking, skiing, swimming, and outings that will include physical activities. Encourage your children to do set chores that include activities like raking the lawn, picking up their items, vacuuming, or anything that will get them moving.
Did you know that 12 minutes daily of alternately intense exercise and rest can fully activate the body"s fat-burning capacity and help to build muscle?  This approach is backed by numerous scientific studies and is detailed in the new book,  PACE: The 12- Minute Fitness Revolution by Dr Al Sears.  Why not explore this and set up a PACE exercise program which will be helpful to both you and your children? This program provides considerable physical benefit in a short period of time daily.
If you can afford it, something like The Gruve, an omni-directional accelerometer would be helpful. It can also be fun and an objective measure of activity upon which to base a reward system for your child.  The Gruve  measures the intensity and duration of  activity.  You can use it to   measure the progress of  work on increasing physical activity. Basically, it keeps track of how much you move about in your daily life and how many calories you burn. Not only are you getting this information from your device, but you can synch it up with the Gruve website to view your daily calories burn records and track your progress.
You can use the Gruve to make the activity a contest between your children or you and your children, with a pre-decided reward given to the winner of the activity contest each week. 

Childhood Obesity Part 1 of 3

Numerous medical studies show that our youth are becoming less active, and fat as a result. The problem has become large enough that Michelle Obama has chosen this as a cause, and  launched an initiative to fight childhood obesity.  Medical experts are imploring parents and teachers to discourage their kids' inactive lifestyles and to encourage them to go outside and play. A recent study found that the prevalence of overweight children and adolescents has tripled since 1970 with one in every three children considered to be overweight. This sobering statistic can be partly attributed to overly couch-bound kids who are playing video games, surfing the web, texting and tweeting their free time away instead of spending it on active play, sports and other physical activities.
Many of these physically passive  children may  have complicit couch bound parents. Inactivity and obesity is also a major problem in adults. Helping children to avoid a lifelong struggle with obesity is a loving act.   Parents also might find their own motivation for being more physically active when engaged in stimulating their children to be more active. 
  Childhood obesity increases the later adult risk of high blood pressure, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and multiple other physical vulnerabilities. Obesity can also contribute to social and emotional problems. Fat is not jolly.  Fat is often feeling uncomfortable  moving, walking, being, seeing oneself in the mirror.  Fat is often being unhappy with oneself, feeling inferior, being made fun of, being tired, not feeling energetic, developing poor self esteem.  Would you wish this on any child? In short, obese children are getting off to a poorer start in life.  Life can be difficult enough without beginning with potential health and social handicaps.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Oxytocin- The Cuddle, Love & Bonding Hormone

The subtle exquisite influences of nature never cease to amaze me. Do you know that the process of bonding in humans and in animals is orchestrated by a chemical in our bodies?  Without this chemical drive we might not even perpetuate ourselves? Without this chemical tie in humans and animals there might be more abandonment of the helpless newborn. The presence of the hormone, Oxytocin (OT), in our brain and body is among the vast number of daily miracles taking place in each of us. The proper amount and functioning of OT determines our ultimate sense of personal and interpersonal contentment and connectedness. Inadequate OT influence can lead people and animals to become withdrawn, alienated and isolated.

For more information on Oxytocin, please see Dr. Slagle’s 2 part newsletter at Part 1 & Part 2

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How Can You Build Healthy Bones and Prevent Osteoporosis?

FIRST OF ALL, TAKING CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS ALONE IS NOT THE ANSWER AND IS NOT RECOMMENDED! This is a gross mistake widely perpetrated when addressing bone health.

Multiple nutrients and hormones work together to build bone and multiple nutrients need to be used to support bone. Environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors also make their contribution.

Bone is a composite of minerals, and structural proteins. The average adult has 1-1.5 kilograms of calcium in the skeleton as a complex with phosphorus which is called calcium hydroxyapatite. Other minerals found in the bones are magnesium, boron, chromium, copper, iron, zinc, manganese, strontium, silica, and sulfur. The proteins are fibrous proteins such as collagen, elastin, actin and tubulin. All body proteins are formed from dietary amino acids which compose dietary protein.

Bone health depends upon a whole range of nutrients. A prolonged deficiency or excess of any one or a combination of nutrients may contribute to loss of bone density. Dietary and supplemental calcium requires magnesium, vitamin D3, boron, manganese, strontium, and adequate stomach acid for proper absorption. Zinc, copper, silicon, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamin A, and dietary protein are also important. To further complicate the picture, most nutrient absorption declines with age.

For more information please read my newsletter "BONE HEALTH"

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Benefits of Nuts

l Let’s face it nuts are high in both fats & calories and it is almost impossible to eat just a few.  But if you do not over indulge, nuts can definitely be part of a healthy diet. All nuts are rich in protein, antioxidant nutrients,  B vitamins ,magnesium, potassium, calcium , and most of the other minerals,  folic acid vitamin E, fiber, and  fatty acids, (the “good fats”). 

Almonds, walnuts and pistachio nuts have been the most studied for health benefits.  Walnuts contain the most omega -3 fatty acids. Chestnuts and soynuts are lowest in  calories.  Macadamia and Brazil nuts are highest in calories. Almonds are high in the amino acid tryptophan. Chestnuts, macadamia nuts and pecans have the least protein. Also try cashews,  pine nuts, hazelnuts, and peanuts. Peanuts need to be kept very fresh as they are subject to a fungus that generates poisons called aflatoxins which can also be allergenic. Peanuts and soy nuts are technically part of the legume, not nut family, but people include them when thinking of nuts, so we will too. 

On average, one ounce of nuts provides about 3-4  grams of protein, between 100-150 calories, and about 8-10 grams of fat.  
 Seeds are also very healthy such as sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame.  The whole nut or seed provides better health benefits and is less fattening than the oils.  Flax seeds and Flax seed oil are also a good source of the ALA Essentail Fatty Acids. Only oil from fish contains the longer chain fatty acids EPA & DHA.

Although the health benefits of nuts are numerous, here is just a small sample:

Cardiovascular benefits:   Most nuts are rich in heart-friendly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Research has shown people who consume a small handful of nuts at least 3-4 times a week reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke by half compared to those who consumed no nuts. 

In July 2003, the FDA approved the  heart health claim for almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans,  pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts as these nuts contain less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g.

Cholesterol-lowering benefits:   Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats. This helps decrease the low-density lipoproteins (the bad cholesterol, or LDL) from the blood, without lowering the good HDL cholesterol levels. It is the oxidized LDL that causes plaque deposits to be formed on the inside of arterial walls, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening and blockage of arteries) and ultimately to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

 Lowering blood pressure:   Nuts contain a large amount of l-arginine  an amino acid that enhances the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps relax the arteries making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots.

 Reducing the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes:   Eating nuts will make you less prone to diabetes.  Since nuts are very low on the glycemic index scale,  including them in your daily diet is helpful for your blood sugar. 

Research suggests the risk of developing type 2 diabetes appears to decrease as nut eating increases from less than once a week, to eating nuts once or more per day.

 A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto produced findings that nuts may be a vital way to manage diabetes. Results show that nuts may improve blood lipid levels and blood sugar levels in individuals with non-insulin dependent diabetes (type 2 diabetes).

 Researchers from Harvard studied more than 83,000 women for over 16 years and found that those who reported eating a handful of nuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter at least five times a week were more than 20% less likely to develop adult onset (type II) diabetes than those who rarely or never ate nuts.  This is due to the fiber and magnesium in nuts helping to maintain balanced insulin and glucose levels.  It is considered that the results apply to men as well as women.   Other research shows that cashews can help to reduce triglyceride levels in people with diabetes.

Weight control:   Studies have shown judicious nut eating is very helpful when it comes to losing weight.

 Because nuts are high in vitamins, minerals, nutritious calories, healthy fats, and protein, they help decrease your appetite providing a sense of satiation.  The fats in nuts take longer to digest, so you also feel full longer after eating them.  The  unsaturated fats found in nuts also contain the hormone adiponection which helps your body to break down fat cells.

 Helps with menopausal symptoms:   A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine 2007: 167: 1060-1067 reported ½ cup of soy nuts daily for 8 weeks significantly reduced menopausal symptoms and also reduced blood pressure in those who were hypertensive.

 Removes free radicals:   Nuts are loaded with antioxidants like vitamin E and selenium.  Selenium has been found to be beneficial in the fight against free radicals, which contributes to premature aging, among other things.  Ridding your body of free radicals also reduces the risk of cancer and all kinds of age-related degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, arthritis, etc.  Nuts also seem to prevent the formation of gallstones due to their high magnesium content.

 Hands down, nuts offer numerous benefits.   The best benefits are from raw nuts which have not been processed with oils. Organic is even better, when possible.  Oil processing also adds about 10% to the calories. You can purchase dry roasted nuts, which are preferable.  Cashews are always roasted, as they are toxic when raw.  The higher temperature of oil roasted processed nuts containing high levels of the amino acid asparagine  may increase acrylamides, a possible issue re cancer when in high levels…but this is still being researched by the FDA.

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