Ouch, what a cruel Winter it has been and, from all accounts, every part of the country has had its fair share. I do hope you have managed to keep yourself cold-free. Dosing yourself with Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, 1 gram every 2 hrs, as soon as you feel the tell-tale scratchy throat, smarting eyes or tingling in the nose, is one way of keeping that cold at bay. However lately researchers are saying that zinc, too, will reduce the duration and severity of the cold.So when you feel that cold coming on, suck on a zinc lozenge every 3-4 hours or take zinc capsules and take Vitamin C (not ascorbic acid please) till bowel tolerance. Put this information in your memory bank because colds do not only strike in Winter.
Chromium for Diabetes
If you have diabetes or blood sugar disorders and are struggling to maintain healthy blood sugar levels then a simple chromium deficiency may be the cause. In fact many researchers believe that chromium deficiency may be why Type II diabetes has become an epidemic of the modern world. In my practice I have seen it time and again: how a diabetic struggling to keep sugar at optimal levels even with supplemental insulin or glucose regulating medications, has reduced his levels from averaging above 10 to the desired range of 3.5- 5.5 mmol/l within 6-8 weeks, simply by adding a chromium supplement.
Chromium is essential for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. It is the active factor in the substance GTF – glucose tolerance factor. Its function is to make insulin more effective. In fact without chromium insulin cannot do its job.
Although we are born with enough chromium in our blood to aid insulin in glucose metabolism, a number of factors, especially a diet of processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugar, can eventually deplete one’s chromium stores. Much of the chromium in whole grains and sugarcane is lost in making refined flour (40% loss) and white sugar (93% loss). Not only do these foods no longer supply chromium, they use up some of your chromium stores in their metabolism. Age is also a factor because as one gets older less chromium is retained in the body. Diabetic medications may also deplete chromium – crazy when you think that they cannot actually work effectively without chromium. Individuals with Type-2 diabetes have been found to have higher rates of urinary chromium loss than healthy individuals. High insulin levels also seem to increase chromium excretion. And in a pregnant woman, the foetus may rob her of her chromium stores, resulting in gestational diabetes.
All-in-all chromium deficiency is associated with hyperglycemia, insulin-resistance, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes (diabetes of pregnancy) and corticosteroid-induced diabetes.
Symptoms of chromium deficiency are increased glucose, insulin, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels which all resemble those of prediabetes or insulin resistance. That is why it is important to have these blood tests done annually.
So which one of the various chromium supplements available, does one choose? Chromium chloride, found in some multivitamin/mineral supplements is the least absorbable form of chromium. Many studies have found that chromium polynicotinate is more bio-available than chromium picolinate and since I have personally seen what it has done for others, chromium polyniconate is my first choice.
The research on chromium and diabetes points to the greater efficacy of higher dosages, and 400-500mcg twice a day is recommended for those with diabetes. For those just wishing to prevent insulin resistance or diabetes, reduce sugar cravings, lose weight (yes chromium can do that while increasing lean body mass), 250 – 400mcg twice daily will be sufficient.
IMPORTANT:If you have diabetes and would like to take chromium please do so under medical supervision, because your insulin dosage may need to be reduced as your blood sugar drops.
Also remember supplementing with chromium isn’t all that is needed to treat diabetes. Please consult with a natural medicine practitioner so that you can get a full review of your diet, supplements and blood sugar situation.
Fortunatelu chromium supplements are very inexpensive. My favourite is the one made by Willow at just R60 for 60 x 400mcg capsules. It also contains Vanadium which helps to balance insulin activity.
But for those who need more than just chromium, Natural Vibrance has a fantastic supplement called Glycemic Vibrance. With its extensive range of glucose and insulin regulating ingredients it covers all bases and I’m seeing fantastic results with insulin resistant and diabetic patients. Amongst the ingredients are cinnamon, gymnema sylvestre, fibre, alpha lipoic acid and banaba extract, all well known as anti-hyperglycemics.
Increasing fibre to alleviate constipation
As most nutritional therapists would verify most of the complaints we encounter in our practices are to do with the digestive system, with constipation being the most prevalent symptom. And in so many cases the cause is simply insufficient intake of fibre and water. So constipation is often one of the easiest disorders to rectify and what a pleasure to be able to alleviate discomfort in our patients with such ease.
The average person on a Western Diet eats only 10 to 15 grams of fibre daily. We actually require 30 to 50 g of dietary fibre daily for overall intestinal health and for alleviating chronic constipation. Increasing fibre intake provides more bulk to stools, making it easier for the muscles of the digestive tract to move its contents along, thereby decreasing transit time and preventing constipation. Because fibre normalizes bowel movements it can also be used to treat chronic diarrhea.
Both soluble and insoluble fibre are important in treating constipation. Soluble fibre is contained in oats, psyllium, apples, lentils, barley, breads, and cereals. It is able to mix evenly with water, forming a soft gel. Insoluble fibre is found in raw wheat bran, other whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. It mixes unevenly with water, forming a soft pulp. Your body does not absorb soluble or insoluble fibre during digestion so you need not worry about added calories. Fibre is also great food for the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract, so these will multiply and keep your GIT healthy. It’s a win-win.
However, even on a good diet it is difficult to get the required 30 plus grams of fibre daily so supplemental fibre is often necessary. Psyllium is an excellent fibre which causes more frequent and bulkier bowel movements. The resulting bulk stimulates a reflex contraction of the walls of the bowel and causes them to empty. Psyllium has also been shown in studies to lower total and LDL cholesterol without affecting HDL cholesterol. Furthermore it can lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin needs.
My favourite fibre supplement is AIMs Herbal Fibre Blend. It not only contains psyllium but also a variety of herbs some with powerful detoxification effects, some anti-parasitics and others that sooth and calm the bowel. The powder form gets first prize although it doesn’t taste great. The not-so-brave can add it to their favourite juice and the real ninnies can use the capsules. But remember, if you increase fibre in your diet you simply have to increase your intake of water, otherwise you could end up with a clogged up bowel.
Please don’t take laxatives unless absolutely necessary as a once-off. They work by irritating the bowel lining thus bringing about peristalsis. This can cause inflammation of the soft lining and besides this laxatives can create a dependency. I also do not recommend wheat bran (digestive bran) as a fibre. It can be too abrasive and also result in inflammation.
Omega-3 – only the purest will do
I sometimes get asked why I go to all the trouble of importing omega-3 fish oil capsules when there are so many other brands on the shelves in health shops. Apart from the fact that I will only ever recommend fish oils that have been awarded a 5Star rating by International Fish Oil Standards, the strictest standard in the world, the following may explain my fussiness when it comes to fish oil.
I’m sure you already know that a substantial portion of salmon sold today is from fish farms. An extensive study of chemical contaminants in salmon from many countries has identified significantly higher levels of 13 toxins in farmed salmon, in comparison with wild salmon in many parts of the world. The undesirable toxic chemicals included PCBs, dioxins and pesticides. It appears that the fundamental problem is that by feeding any species of carnivorous fish with food composed mainly of other fish, largely from polluted waters, environmental toxins are magnified. It has been claimed that many fish farmers in the United States, Canada and Chile are slowly replacing some of the fish oil in salmon feed with soybean and canola oil to address the pollutant problem. Well hellooooo… now we have some omega-6 in the tissue composition of these fish, as if our diets aren’t already awash with omega-6.
But you have not heard the worst of it! In New Zealand it has recently been revealed that two large salmon farms have been feeding their fish with chicken feathers: more precisely chicken feather meal provided by an Australian supplier. Apparently it’s a high quality safe source of protein and we’re supposed to derive comfort in the knowledge that it’s heat treated to destroy any bacteria and claimed to be devoid of chicken faeces. The bottom line is: the consumption of the feather protein is going to alter the chemistry of the salmon flesh. I hope this explains clearly enough why I import only IFOS 5 star rated fish oil capsules and avoid salmon oil supplements.
The See Yourself Well and Life Support brands contain only oil from anchovies, mackerel and sardines fished in the cold Pacific oceans under very strict fishing regulations.
If an omega-3 supplement has no indication on its label of the DHA and EPA content and of having been certified by any fish oils standards whether it be IFOS, Norwegian, European or whatever, then rather leave it on the shop shelf where it can do no harm.
While on the subject of fish oil supplements:
Don’t Forget – Just 10 days left to take advantage of my crazy Winter promotion on Omega-3 supplements.
See Yourself Well Omega-3 90 capsules – Normal price: R285. Buy 2 for R520 or 6 for R1380.
See Yourself Well Omega-3 150 capsules – Normal Price: R415. Buy 2 for R760 or 6 for R2120
Life Support Omega-3 150 capsules – Normal price: R330. Buy 2 for R560 or 6 for R1530
SYW DHA Essentials 120 capsules – Normal Price: R255. Buy 2 for R400!!!
Alcohol and sleep don't go well together
Do you perhaps have a sleep issue after consuming alcohol? If truth be told, I do enjoy a glass or two of red wine as an accompaniment to an excellent meal but, sadly, the wine does not like me. I pay for my sins that night in fitful and restless sleep. I might get to sleep easily enough but the rest of the night is disturbed and I tend to wake up at 3am in the morning and lie awake solving the world’s problems until sunrise. And so I spend the day with gritty eyes and feeling like I over-indulged the night before. Perhaps you can relate? I thought it was an age thing, and still believe that this is part of it, but after coming across others who experience the same sleep issues, I decided to try and get to the bottom of it (and I don’t mean the wine bottle!).
I found a study that tested the effects of alcohol on sleep. The study subjects were assessed through sleep with a measure known as ‘heart rate variability’. This can give information about the activity of the ‘autonomic nervous system’, the part of the nervous system which influences everything from breathing and heart rate to the stress response and sleep. The autonomic nervous system has two main parts: the ‘sympathetic’ strand which is activated when we are alert and stressed, and ‘parasympathetic’ nervous system which is more dominant when we are relaxed and at rest. Obviously when we’re asleep the balance of these two nervous systems needs to be weighted on the parasympathetic side allowing sleep to be deep and restful. What this study found was that alcohol disrupts parasympathetic activity. In other words, there is evidence here that alcohol can disrupt our ability to get deep, restorative sleep, and that’s all we need to know. So it's sacrifice or deprivation and live with the consequences. Mmmmm.... decisions, decisions, and let's not forget that lack of sleep is ageing too.
Amazing how the definition of diseases is being widened so that more people are declared ill and more drugs can be prescribed. Nowadays, if drug companies had their way, almost every older adult would be diagnosed with some or other chronic disease.
We now have new diseases creeping in such as pre-hypertension. This diagnose is given to people who do not have high blood pressure but are deemed to be at risk of it. Furthermore, millions of women are medicated for a condition of low sexual desire which may not even exist. Cholesterol guidelines are being lowered so much that by now the whole population of the world should be on statins. Pre-diabetes is another one that allows for hugely unnecessary prescribing of drugs when a simple change to diet would be more effective and permanent.
Not happy with just labeling adults, drug companies are now targeting children. Seems many kids are Ritalin-deficient these days! And those that are at risk of having high cholesterol just because a parent has, are being prescribed statins. Enough to make one really and truly sick.
Healthy people are being labelled as ‘sick’ and in need of treatment, despite little or no evidence that they will benefit. And treatment is never without risk, so we have the possibility (or probabilty) therefore that the ever-broadening definition of “disease” may be good business for drug companies, but leave ordinary individuals worse off.
Do not become a victim. Food will always be better medicine than drugs. We just need to spread the word.
Till next month, enjoy the slow progression into Spring and hopefully much warmer days.