L-theanine - Sing Your Stress Goodbye



L-theanine is an amino acid which comes primarily from leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, used to produce black, oolong and green tea. L-theanine, an FDA approved safe food supplement, is isolated from the tea plant or synthesized artificially and sold in a purified form.

L-theanine reduces cortisol levels and increases relaxation associated with recovery from a stressful task. Importantly, it increases activity in alpha brain waves which improves cognition and enhance mental alertness without any drowsiness. Not only does it helps maintain a calm alertness during the day but also results in deeper sleep at night without morning drowsiness or impaired concentration.

Additionally, L-theanine increases dopamine and serotonin production and decreases norepinephrine concentrations (a stress hormone which affects parts of the brain, where attention and responses are controlled).

Stress Buster
A 2006 study in the "Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy," found increased amount of the inhibitory transmitter GABA present in the brain with the use of L-theanine, and therefore concluded its  "calming" effect on the nervous system.

Depression Use 
A 2009 study in "Amino Acids" found that the amount of dopamine produced by the brain was increased by L-theanine. Dopamine is a major neurotransmitter that affects mood, attention, memory and sleep. Similarly there are numerous other studies that show its potential in depression treatment.

Schizophrenia Use
According to a study by M.S. Ritsner et al., at the Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel published in the January 2011 "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry", l-theanine produced modest to moderate improvements in scores on psychopathology evaluation tests done on schizophrenic patients.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 
As obsessive-compulsive disorder often occurs alongside depression or other anxiety disorders which are successfully treated by l-theanine, therefore it has also been used in  treating OCD effectively.

Bipolar Use 
Many studies postulate that theanine modulates the levels of neurotransmitters, ie - if one's dopamine levels are too high, theanine lowers it. If one's serotonin levels are too low - it raises it.

Corrects Adrenal Fatigue
With Chronic Stress your adrenal gland can be overworked as it would be producing stress hormones constantly which results in its degradation. The relaxing effect L-theanine has on your body helps to reduce stress levels and restore your adrenal glands to proper function.

High Blood Pressure 
Department of experimental psychology at the University of Bristol found that L-theanine significantly reduced the blood pressure elevating properties of caffeine when co-administered with 200 mg of L-theanine. Similarly many other studies show its usage in treating Hypertension.

Immune Booster
A 2008 study in "Nutrition Reviews" showed enhanced action of the immune system cells gamma-delta-T cells with L-theanine.

Anti-Cancer
- An article in the Oct. 1, 2000 issue of "Cancer Letters" explains that l-theanine boosts some chemotherapy drugs' effects. Chemo drugs cause significant decreases in leukocyte white blood cells and bone marrow cells. Theanine significantly reversed these changes, indicating that theanine can selectively moderate chemotherapy toxicity.
- A study published in "Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry" in April 2002, found beneficial effects against liver cancer with the use of dietary powdered green tea and theanine.

Protection from Glutamate Neurotoxicity
L-theanine also directly provides neuroprotection against glutamate neurotoxicity through blockade of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), and a-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors.

Safety
The Food and Drug Administration classifies L-theanine supplements as "Generally Recognized as Safe" in dosages up to 250mg. But as always, check with your health care provider before consuming any L-theanine supplement. Do not use L-theanine on children, if you are pregnant or breast feeding.

Dosage
L-Theanine is used is single doses of 50mg to 200mg.

Interactions
Taking theanine along with medications for high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low.
L-theanine may potentiate other sedative, anxiolytic, or tranquilizing drugs.
L-theanine may also increase the intoxicating effects of alcohol.
There have been no documented interactions of L-theanine with antidepressants, however, you should always consult your health care provider before combining any other drug therapy with L-theanine.

Study: Faith In God Improves Mental Health



Belief & faith in God plays an important role in therapy and improves treatment for those suffering with depression, a new study confirms.

The research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders shows that people who believe in a higher power are more likely to fare better after being treated for a psychiatric disorder.

In the study, David H Rosmarin, McLean Hospital clinician and instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, examined levels of belief in God of psychiatric patients in an effort to investigate the treatment outcomes.

The study included 159 people who were admitted to a day-treatment program at McLean Hospital. The average age was 33, and around 60 percent of them had been diagnosed with depression, while 12 percent were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. All others were diagnosed with other disorders, such as anxiety. Each participant was asked to gauge their belief in God on a five-point scale.

The study concluded that the patients with "no" or only "slight" belief in God were twice as likely not to respond to treatment than patients with higher levels of belief. Interestingly, those who believed in God but were not religiously affiliated and rated their belief as moderately or very high still had positive outcomes.

"Our work suggests that people with a moderate to high level of belief in a higher power do significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those without, regardless of their religious affiliation. Belief was associated with not only improved psychological well-being, but decreases in depression and intention to self-harm." said Rosmarin.

Last year, another study by the University of Missouri showed that spirituality correlates with better health, even in those who do not adhere to a specific religion. When patients feel a sense of power outside their own lives through religious beliefs or through connections with friends, family or even nature, it can boost their treatment outcomes.

Food Pesticide Information

The nonprofit advocacy agency Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released their annual "Shoppers Guide to Pesticides" report. EWG analyzes more than 28,000 samples that have been tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration for pesticides to determine the ranking of produce. Pesticides have been linked to a number of health concerns, particularly development problems in children. They may also act as carcinogens or disrupt the hormone system in the body, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The report includes The Dirty Dozen, a list of the fruits and vegetables likely to contain the highest amounts of pesticide residue. There are also two extra Dirty Dozen Plus vegetables on the list. By avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated you can lower your pesticide intake substantially.

The Dirty Dozen
1 - Apples
2 - Celery
3 - Cherry tomatoes
4 - Cucumbers
5 - Grapes
6 - Hot peppers
7 - Nectarines (imported)
8 - Peaches
9 - Potatoes
10 - Spinach
11 - Strawberries
12 - Sweet bell peppers
Dirty Dozen Plus: Kale/collard greens and Summer squash

The list should help you make informed choices in choosing organic produce while buying anything listed on The Dirty Dozen. You can also plant a garden in your yard or grow a few of them on sunny windowsill or an apartment patio. However, if you are unable to do so, the EWG says, "The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure." Therefore, to get the health benefits of a variety of phytonutrients in you daily diet, it is not healthy to exclude these items from diet al-together either. Related Article: Cleaning Fruits & Vegetables - Chemical Free

As always the report also features the Clean 15, a list of fruits and vegetables least likely to contain pesticides.

The Clean Fifteen
Asparagus
Avocados
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Sweet corn
Eggplant
Grapefruit
Kiwi
Mangoes
Mushrooms
Onions
Papayas
Pineapples
Sweet peas (frozen)
Sweet potatoes


Resveratrol & Health

Resveratrol is a polyphenolic plant/phyto-chemical which is present mainly in red grapes, peanuts, cocoa, cranberries and blueberries. The the scientific community has accepted it as a great antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent with a long list of health benefits.

Heart Health
Resveratrol stimulates the formation of adiponectin, a protein known to decrease risk of heart attack. It also increases endothelial progenitor cells, higher levels of which in blood are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, as well as improved blood pressure. Resveratrol also helps prevent blood clots with similar effects of aspirin.

Mental Health
A research led by Dr. Sylvain Dore from Johns Hopkins University found resveratrol increases brain levels of an enzyme heme oxygenase that protects nerve cells from damage. The animals that were treated with the red grape compound experienced 40 percent less brain damage than the untreated ones. Further, resveratrol has been shown to increase brain oxygenation which relates to increased memory capacity and improved cognition. Resveratrol may also protect nerve cells from damage and buildup of plaque that can lead to Alzheimer's.

Anti-Aging
Many studies have found that resveratrol extends the lifespan of yeast by 60 percent, worms and flies by 30 percent, mice by 15 percent and fish by roughly 60 percent. Researchers believe that resveratrol activates a gene called SIRT1 which is linked to a family of proteins thought to be involved with longevity.

Exercise Endurance
Dr. Johan Auwerx and colleagues from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France found that the mice on high dosage of resveratrol were able to run twice as far as the mice that were not supplemented. The resveratrol mice were also found to have energy-charged muscles and a lower heart rate, much like trained athletes.

Diabetes 
- A study conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, published in Endocrinology found that resveratrol activates sirtuins in parts of the brain known to govern glucose metabolism which results in improving high levels of blood sugar and insulin.
- A paper published in the science journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism by scientists at the Peninsula Medical School in England found that resveratrol can protect against and mend the cellular damage to blood vessels caused by high production of glucose in diabetes. Diabetes causes vascular complications by damaging mitochondria (generates energy for all cells) creating highly damaging 'free radicals' which result in nephropathy (kidney disease), heart disease and retinopathy (which if left untreated can lead to blindness.

Obesity
- Researchers at the University of Ulm in Germany found that resveratrol hindered fat storage by inhibiting the pre-fat cells from increasing and prevented them from converting into mature fat cells. Researchers have also found it to better the circulating levels of leptin (a hormone that helps regulate appetite and metabolism).
- A study published in the BMC Physiology journal by Fabienne Aujard, from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France noted that resveratrol reduces weight by increasing satiety (the feeling of being full) and by increasing the resting metabolic rate (the amount of energy expended while at rest)
- In separate studies, it has also been found that resveratrol reduced production of certain cytokines (interleukins 6 and 8), substances that may be linked to the development of obesity-related disorders, such as diabetes and clogged coronary arteries.

Cancer
In the July 26, 2008 Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, researchers confirmed that resveratrol produces a selective action that is able to target malignant cells for destruction while allowing nonmalignant cells to modulate its effect. It is just this type of malignant cell action that chemotherapy aims to achieve. Resveratrol has shown promising results in studies that involve the treatment of colon, prostate, pancreatic and esophageal cancer.

Alcoholic Liver
Research from the College of Medicine at the University of South Florida found that resveratrol reduces the amount of fat produced in the livers of mice chronically fed high levels of ethanol. It also increases the rate that existing liver fat is broken down.

Eye Disease
Vision researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have documented that resveratrol stops out-of-control blood vessel growth (angiogenesis) in the eye and is effective in treating age-related macular degeneration and retinopathy.

Natural Antibiotic, Fungicide & Antiviral
Because plants produce resveratrol only in response to fungal or bacterial attack it is a natural antibiotic and fungicide. Resveratrol has been shown to prevent the continued reproduction of the flu virus if taken within six hours of infection.

Supplementation
If you're considering using resveratrol supplements for any condition, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen. Most resveratrol capsules sold in the U.S. contain extracts from the Japanese and Chinese knotweed plant Polygonum cuspidatum which is the richest source of resveratrol. Most supplements contain 250 to 500 milligrams of resveratrol.

Interactions
Resveratrol supplements might interact with blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen by increasing the risk for bleeding.


Beat Stress In Morning To Have A Good Day




Stress is considered as the common cold of the mental psyche. Although occasional stress can help improve our focus and performance, living with 'chronic stress' on the other hand can backfire with many negative effects. That's because your body's natural alarm system fight-or-flight is constantly 'on' in this state. The constant persistence of chronic stressors make us constantly be on guard or in a worry state, leading to anxiety which inturn converts hard to cope stressors into hopelessness and leads to depression.

When under stress, the body instructs the adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. While these hormones are produced to suffice the immediate requirements of the body to deal with the stress at hand, overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all your body's processes putting you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including heart disease, sleep problems, digestive problems, thyroid problems, depression, obesity, memory impairment and depressed immune system. Cortisol is also known as the death hormone, because it is highly toxic and catabolizes muscle mass, organs, diminishes your strength and recovery and makes people unable to cope with daily life.

Unhealthy Habits that Further Negate our Ability in Coping Stress

* Self Abuse - Stress can have you negatively filling up every minute of the day making it a mental disability. Related article: Stop Self Criticism

* Substance Abuse - Smoking, drinking, using pills or drugs to relax can only provide momentary relaxation effects but will surely increase stress levels and promote depression significantly in the long run.

* Out of Balance Nutrition - Overeating or undereating can both affect your body's ability to absorb the required nutrition which can further disrupt your body's ability to cope with stress naturally. According to recent studies reported by the Body Ecology website, cortisol can disrupt your body's vitamin D uptake which is 'the' essential element your body requires to remain healthy.  Note that Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a Vitamin. Related article: Vitamin D - Elixir of Life

Mismanagement of Time - While relaxation is important, procrastinating, zoning out in front of the TV or computer or any other non productive activity for long periods of time within the day is not healthy and does nothing for satisfaction derived from self achievement.  Therefore, get up and do something productive, even if it means doing gardening, keeping your closet in order, shining your shoes etc.

* Social Withdrawal - Withdrawing from friends, family and feel good activities is one of the worst things you can do to sink yourself deeper. A study conducted at Ohio State University and published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology showed that  healthy social interaction can even heal wounds twice as fast which is directly linked to lowered production of the stress hormone cortisol during healthy social interactions. So make sure to wear that smile even if you do not feel like it. Related article: Breathe and Smile to Decrease Stress

* Aggressive Disposition - Taking out your stress on others like angry outbursts and physical violence will not just get you in a hay of trouble but will further increase your cortisol. Apply self control for your body sake.

The less control you have over your stressors, the more uncertainty they create. Therefore, the mantra is to managing stress in a well informed fashion. Although cortisol is a triggered response to a stressful situation which can happen at any time, it is important to note that in general, higher levels of cortisol are present early in the day and it is crucial to tackle them effectively right there and then to enjoy a better day ahead. To do so you need to note the following -

Do Not Undersleep - Sleeping less than 6.5 hours will cause disruption in your insulin receptor sensitivity, which will increase your risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, accelerate aging and raised cortisol levels. The real trick is to optimize your lifestyle so the sleep you get every night is restful, restorative and 'drug-free'. Related article: Beat Insomnia Naturally

Do Not Oversleep - When your life is full of energy and ambition, you rarely encounter oversleeping. Oversleeping is considered sleeping more than 9 hours a day. One of the immediate side effects of oversleep is the increased production of cortisol. In addition to cortisol, oversleep disrupts production of the brain’s neurotransmitters, primarily seratonin. With inadequate seratonin levels comes inadequate melatonin levels in the night portion of our circadian rhythm. To know more about circadian rhythm, please click here.

Exercise Regularly - Although 'higly intense' forms of exercise can increase cortisol levels in the body, a person who routines mild exercise regimen has a higher threshold for physical stress and will experience lower cortisol levels in reaction to intense exercise than an inactive person who attempts the same level of activity. Routine exercise is known to release endorphins that decrease stress. Therefore, the best time to exercise is in the morning to undermine the effects of cortisol. Related article: Increase Testosterone Naturally

Perform Daily Rituals - Daily rituals are an essential part of maintaining a consistent lifestyle. In addition to providing a daily dose of sanity, there are numerous other advantages in adopting personal rituals.
- Spiritual/Religious Ritual in the Morning - There are various studies that show health benefits related to over all well being in keeping a spiritual ritual in the morning. Even if you do not believe in religion or spirituality, believe in the self healing power within yourself and meditating on it for 5 minutes prior to leaving for work. Related Article: Study: Faith In God Improves Mental Health

- Newspaper Reading in your Work Breaks - This will not just keep you informed about the daily news but also keep you away from that cigarette (if you are a smoker) during the break.
- Similarly you may adapt any productive ritual even later in the day that you like, the results of which will dramatically reduce your stress levels.

Applying to the above given information should not just help you decrease stress in your life but also help you maintain a healthy happy wholesome life. I wish you all the best.

Related Label: Anxiety-Depression

L-Carnitine

L-carnitine is a non-essential amino acid which is made naturally in the body by the liver and kidneys (derived from essential amino acid, lysine). From there it is transported to other vital parts of the body such as the brain, heart and skeletal muscles which rely on L-carnitine's ability to bring fatty acids into the cells to be used as fuel. L-carnitine also acts as an antioxidant as it increases the body’s antioxidant enzyme activities. This allows the body to more rapidly counteract the effects of harmful free radicals.

The muscle tissues store approximately 95% of the total of 20g of L-carnitine found in the body. L-carnitine deficiencies may be caused by genetic disorders, liver or kidney problems, high-fat diets, certain medications, and low dietary levels of the amino acids lysine and methionine. Its deficiencies may cause symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, muscle pain, weakness, low blood pressure, and/or confusion.

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which when combined with L-carnitine creates Acetyl-L-carnitine or ALCAR. Some L-carnitine can be converted to acetyl-L-carnitine naturally in the body.

L-carnitine has been proposed as a treatment for many conditions.

Weight Loss
L-Carnitine transports fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cells, where it is burned for cellular energy. L-Carnitine and Omega-3s together increase metabolic rate by increasing cellular activity and fat burning.
- A study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism showed that combining carnitine, omega-3s, and polyphenols resulted in lower blood lipid levels and better cellular energy production.
- A study in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology illustrates that L-carnitine also fights belly fat or visceral fat gain by taking triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins out of the system. To know more about how to decrease Belly Fat, please click here.

Heart Conditions
A systematic review of 13 different controlled studies published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that L-carnitine is associated with a 27% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 65% reduction in ventricular arrhythmia, and a 40% reduction in anginal symptoms in patients.

Mental Health
Acetyl-L-carnitine has been successfully used for people who have been affected by stroke, traumatic brain damage, age-associated dementia and stress-related damage. ALCAR is said to enhance spatial and temporal memory and to reduce oxidative damage in the hippocampus area of the brain which impacts memory.  It has also been used as a treatment for thinking problems related to alcoholism and Lyme disease and to improve circulation within the brain.

Kidney Disease
People with kidney disease may not manufacture enough carnitine to meet metabolic needs. Supplementation of L-carnitine in kidney patients results in increased physical function, including improved muscle function, improved blood pressure and improved function of red blood cells.

Liver Cirrhosis
A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology by researchers at King Saud University concluded that a deficiency of L-carnitine is a risk factor for liver cancer. They had also found that long-term L-carnitine supplementation may even prevent the development of liver cancer. The study showed that L-carnitine resulted in a 100 percent reversal of the increase in liver enzymes compared to normal values and the pre-cancerous liver lesions went away.

Diabetic Neuropathy
Many studies show that use of L-carnitine early in the disease process can reduce pain and improve nerve regeneration in patients with chronic diabetic neuropathy.

Male Infertility
L-Carnitine plays a crucial role in sperm metabolism and maturation. It facilitates higher quantity of sperm and better sperm motility and can also help improve male sexual and erectile functions.

Asthma & Respiratory Disease
Study have found that serum carnitine levels are decreased in children with moderate asthma during exacerbation of asthma. Decreased serum carnitine has also been documented in other respiratory problems like children with recurrent respiratory tract infections and neonates with respiratory distress syndrome.

Hyperthyroidism
By inhibiting thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine from being taken up in body cells, L-Carnitine can help manage hyperthyroid symptoms.

HIV
In an uncontrolled trial, 11 asymptomatic HIV-infected patients, who had refused antiretroviral treatment despite progressively declining CD4 cell counts, were treated with 6 grams/day of L-carnitine intravenously for four months. After four months of L-carnitine therapy, CD4 cell counts increased significantly and markers of lymphocyte apoptosis decreased, although there was no significant change in plasma levels of the HIV virus.

Food Sources
The highest concentrations of carnitine are found in red meat and dairy products.
Other relatively low but good sources are -
White meat - Chicken, pork
Nuts and Seeds - pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
Legumes or Pulses - beans, peas, lentils, peanuts
Vegetables - artichokes, asparagus, beet greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, garlic, mustard greens, okra, parsley, kale
Fruits - apricots, bananas
Cereals - buckwheat, corn, millet, oatmeal, rice bran, rye, whole wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ

Safety
Always check with a health care provider before taking any kind of supplement. In general, L-carnitine appears to be well tolerated; toxic effects related to high-dose L-carnitine have not been reported.

Dosage
Supplemental doses usually range from 500 to 2,000 mg/day. While bioavailability of L-carnitine from the diet is very high, absorption from oral L-carnitine supplements is considerably lower.

Precautions
L-carnitine can impact people with hypothyroidism, seizure disorders or those who are taking Coumadin or other anti-clotting medications. And as always, check with your doctor before adding any supplements to your regimen.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids - Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine - that have a special branched structure. BCAAs are essential amino acids which means that your body can't synthesize them, so you must get them from food. It is important to note that all amino acids are essential for the metabolism of nutrients and are responsible for a variety of functions, from building tissues, to chemical production enabling our brains to function.

BCAAs are important because they're metabolized in the muscles instead of the liver like other amino acids,  where they are broken down into individual amino acids, and are either used to build new proteins, or to be burnt and used as fuel for energy production. BCAA collectively comprise 30% of the total muscle protein pool.

Many research trials have shown that BCAA's improve red blood cell count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, serum albumin, fasting glucose levels, increased glycogenesis and rapid improvement in muscular inflammation.

Athletic Use
According to a 2006 study published in the "Journal of Nutrition,” BCAAs were shown to speed up muscle recovery and decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness. Branched-chain amino acids are oftentimes used by atheletes to improve performance with faster muscle growth and reduce muscle breakdown during intense exercise and muscle loss during weight loss.

Lowered Stress & Higher Testosterone
- Findings in the 2010 issue of the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," showed that people who were given BCAA experienced significant decreases in cortisol levels compared to those administered a placebo.
- According to a study in the Chinese Journal of Physiology, testosterone was up significantly and the testosterone to cortisol ratio was much more favorable with the BCAA subjects than with a placebo.

Promotes Mental Health
BCAAs have been shown to play a role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA, which will help you generate energy and drive when you need it and calm you when you don’t.
- Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have found in a lab study that BCAAs are highly effective at restoring cognitive function and balancing neurochemical levels in those who have undergone brain trauma.
- A study conducted on 25 patients with mania and published in the March 2003 edition of "The British Journal of Psychiatry" showed reduction of manic symptoms within six hours after consuming BCAA and experienced an improvement in symptoms that lasted up to two weeks.
- BCAAs are also used to treat tardive dyskinesia, which is a neurological disorder consisting of abnormal, involuntary body movements. This is common among those suffering from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
- Branched-chain amino acids seem to prevent faulty message transmission in the brain cells of people with advanced liver disease.

Decrease Fatigue
A study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed that BCAAs decreases the transport of Trp into the presynaptic neuron in the brain and hence reduces the concentration of 5-HT in the presynaptic terminal: this could reduce the 5-HT level and hence prevent stimulation of the postsynaptic nerve and consequently reduce the level of fatigue.

Weight-Loss
Research shows that individuals with a higher BCAA intake in their diets have lower rates of obesity, lower body weight, and better body composition. A review in the journal Aging found that subjects with greater amounts of BCAAs in their diets were the slimmest and had significantly less chance of being overweight than those with lower BCAA intake.

Type-2 Diabetes
- According to the March 2003 edition of "Diabetes Care" journal, consuming a BCAA/protein supplement at the same time as carbohydrates stimulated the release of insulin and increased insulin response in type 2 diabetics.
- A 2007 report presented in "Diabetes" studied the ability of branched chain amino acids to prevent the development of diabetic symptoms. Study showed that subjects given the branched chain amino acids had lower body weight, less body fat and had better regulated their blood sugar level than the ones who did not receive it.

Anti-Aging
A research published in the journal Cell Metabolism has found that supplementing with BCAAs not only increases overall energy levels, but also appears to lengthen lifespan as well. BCAA tends to increase activity in mitochondria which provide cells with needed energy and SIRT1 a longevity gene which helps prevent the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Branched-chain amino acids are also used to help slow muscle wasting in people who are confined to bed.

Food Sources
Beans, lentils, brown rice bran, corn, peanuts, brewer's yeast, caseinate, nuts, seeds, soy, whey, whole grains, mushrooms, milk, cheese, seaweed, eggs, turkey, chicken, lamb and fish.

Supplement Precautions
Always consult your health care professional before starting a supplement. Do not take BCAA supplements during pregnancy, while breast-feeding, if you have Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease), Branched-chain ketoaciduria or in Chronic alcoholism.



Increase Testosterone Naturally

Testosterone is an anabolic-androgenic steroid hormone produced primarily by the testicles in males and although in lesser amounts than men, in ovaries in females and a minimal amount is also made in the adrenal glands in both. Testosterone production is regulated by hormones released from the brain. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland located in the brain produce hormonal signals that ultimately result in the production of testosterone. Hypogonadism is a disease in which the body is unable to produce normal amounts of testosterone due to a problem with the testicles or with the pituitary gland that controls the testicles. Today, average men have testosterone levels 15-50% lower than males 50 years ago.

Testosterone peaks during adolescence and early adulthood. As you get older, your testosterone level gradually declines approximately at about 1 percent a year after age the age of 30. Lower levels of testosterone in men may causes reduced sexual desire and sperm count, fewer spontaneous erections, insomnia or other sleep disturbances, red blood cell production, increased body fat or obesity, reduced muscle bulk and strength, decreased bone density or osteoporosis, swollen or tender breasts (gynecomastia), hair loss, decrease in motivation or self-confidence, mental decline such as depressed, difficulty in concentrating or remembering things.

Other than normal aging reduced testosterone levels, it can be decrease by chronic illness such as noncancerous tumor of the pituitary cells that produces too much of the hormone prolactin, thyroid problems, mumps orchitis and depression. Secondarily, it can be due to medication side effects, excessive alcohol use and Illegal use of anabolic steroids in athletes and body builders. Low testosterone level can be detected by a blood test and normally its levels in body should be -
Male: 300 -1,000 ng/dL
Female: 15 - 70 ng/dL
Note: ng/dL = nanograms per deciliter

While testosterone is basically required by males, women do require it in small doses and there may be cases, such as postmenopausal symptoms, anemia, and lack of libido following chemotherapy where women will require natural testosterone supplements also. There are really simple ways to boost your testosterone levels naturally without having to resort to prescription testosterone replacement therapies that can cause bad side effects.

Sleep
Aim for seven to eight hours per night and try to get an hour's sleep during the day even if it means rearranging your schedule. Making sleep a priority is extremely important for our health and in regulating bodily functions and hormones optimally.

Manage Stress
Controlling your stress is important for keeping up your testosterone Levels. If you're under constant stress, your body churns out a stream of stress hormone called cortisol which directly disturbs testosterone's production in the body.

Exercise
'Limited', 'heavy weight' exercise or intense exercise done in a short duration of time is the mantra for increasing your testosterone levels rapidly. While increasing the intensity of your workout, limit it to 45mins per day and only 5 days a week as overtraining can reduce testosterone levels significantly. Focus on the lower body as you do on upper body - leg workouts increase more T levels with the increase in blood flow to the lower body.

Being Overweight
People who carry around excess fat tend to have higher estrogen levels. Hypogonadism can decrease by as much as 50% in overweight men who lose weight as changes in testosterone levels have significant associations with body weight. Managing minimal calorie intake can be quite effective in reducing the effects of estrogen dominance.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D3 deficiency may contribute to low T levels as vitamin D is more of a hormone than a vitamin. If you do not get enough direct sun exposure, supplement it with a pill. Studies have shown that men who take this supplement see a boost in their testosterone levels. To know more about health benefits of Vitamin D, please click here.

Alcohol
Alcohol inhibits testosterone secretion and increases estrogen levels in the body. Higher estrogen levels further decrease testosterone. Studies have shown that men who boozed even moderately every day for three weeks saw significant decrease in testosterone levels.

Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are required for testosterone generation. Healthy fats are mono, polyunsaturated and saturated fats. To know more about Healthy fats, please click here.

Sexual Stimulation
Not getting sexually stimulated or aroused for long periods of time can actually decrease your testosterone levels.

Temperature Control 
Testes need to be 2 degrees cooler than your body temperature to function at their best and produce the most testosterone. It is best advised to wear looser clothes like boxers than tight underwear and tight pants.

Decrease Estrogen
This is very important. Controlling your levels of Estrogen is essential for optimal Testosterone production as more estrogen levels in your body can inhibit testosterone production. To know how to decrease estrogen in men, please click here.

Supplements to increase Testosterone
Zinc - Zinc is very important for the production of natural testosterone because Zinc prevents testosterone from being converted into estrogen. Zinc itself turns estrogen into testosterone and Zinc helps produce healthier sperm and higher sperm counts. To know more health benefits of Zinc, please click here.
GABA – Of all of the natural growth hormone boosters, GABA is probably the most highly regarded.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is normally used to burn fat and build muscles, this important nutrient also increases both testosterone and luteinizing hormone. To know more about L-Carnitine, please click here.
BCAA - Branched chain amino acids play a critical role in protein metabolism and boost testosterone levels. Scientists reported in the April 2010 issue of the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" that the BCAA group had significantly higher testosterone levels than the placebo group. To know more about BCAA, please click here.
D-aspartic acid - It boosts the release of luteinizing hormone, which stimulates the testes to produce testosterone.

Herbs to increase Testosterone
- TRIBULUS TERRESTRIS has been shown to raise testosterone in chimpanzees by over 50%.
-The UCLA School of Medicine studied the plant MUIRA PUAMA and found it had the ability to increase testosterone production in men.
- Mucuna Pruriens has both anabolic and growth hormone stimulant properties with the anabolic effect of the seed having the affect of increasing testosterone.
- Ashwagandha root contains withanolides that help to increase steroidal activity and promote increased libido, mental focus and physical performance.
- The Chinese herb FO TI also known as HOSHOU WU has been used for centuries as an antiaging tonic which restores vitality, strength and sexual vigor.
- Ginkgo biloba extract increased the production of testosterone in lab rats in a study conducted by researchers at National Taiwan University and published in the journal "Hormones and Behavior" in January 2008.
- Another Chinese herb used in reproductive tonics to boost libido and treat impotence is "Horny Goat Weed" or Epimedium saggitatum. It also boosts levels of testosterone and improves sex drive as well as overall health.
- Tongkat Ali have also been used in traditional Chinese medicine to cure low testosterone levels. Medical tests have proved that it maintains overall sperm health by increase in sperm count, sperm size and motility.
- Forskolin has been used in studies on subjects which supplemented 250mg of forskolin twice daily for 12 weeks and experienced increases in testosterone levels.


Decrease Estrogen Levels In Men

Rise of estrogen levels in men over their natural balance can cause many unpleasant side effects and can lead to chronic health conditions. For starters it can inversely effect the levels of testosterone which is essential for male vitality.  Others include weight gain, breast enlargement and a decreased sex drive. Too much estrogen also correlates with diabetes and heart attacks. There is also evidence  pointing to estrogen playing a significant role in the etiology of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

As men age, they tend to make increasing levels of estrogen with decreased production of testosterone. Estrogen can be made in the liver, muscle and brain, as well as the fat cells. Through the balance of testosterone and estrogen, men can find improvements in how they feel and prevent many problems down the road. Lowering excess estrogen levels naturally can be done through lifestyle changes and careful diet monitoring.

Being Over Weight - The production of estrogen increases from fat cells which also decrease the production of testosterone. Obesity hinders body's overall ability to maintain a healthy hormone balance.

Soy - Soy foods that are NOT fermented are extremely estrogenic. Some other beans that have estrogen include black-eyed peas, red beans, chickpeas and split peas. It is also important to note that a lot of companies use soy in their cheeses.

Pesticides - There are many studies that have shown that pesticides disrupt the natural production of testosterone in the body. To know about fruits and vegetable which contain high pesticides, please click here.

Avoid Using BPA - Almost all of the plastic available is made of Bisphenol A, which produces xenoestrogen in the products its being used for. Xenoestrogens will increase your levels of the female hormone estrogen while lowering testosterone levels. To know more about BPA, please click here.

Sugar and Carbs - Sugar raises estrogen levels and negatively affects your health in many other ways as well. Do not even think of replacing it with artificial sweeteners.

NonOrganic Meat - Animal feeds of industrially raised animals are high in estrogen hormones which are used to add bulk weight to them. Estrogen inturn deposits in every area of the animal's body.

Dairy Milk - It accounts for high estrogen consumption as industrial cows are pumped with hormones and are milked frequently during pregnancy when estrogen levels are their highest.

Fiber - Poor gastrointestinal health can inhibit excretion of unwanted estrogen from the body and promote its re-absorption.  A high intake of soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet can help to lower estrogen levels. Fiber binds to bile acids which help in dumping estrogen from the body. Both soluble and insoluble fiber sources such as vegetables and whole grains appear to lower estrogen levels.

Resveratrol - Supplement red grape skin extract to help your liver remove excess estrogen. Estrogen is actually made from the circulating testosterone in the body by an enzyme called aromatase. The supplement resveratrol is thought to have many beneficial effects, including estrogen balance, through action on reducing aromatase.

Vitamin C - Vitamin C reduces the armostase enzyme that converts your Testosterone into Estrogen. It also lowers cortisol levels allowing your body to make more Testosterone.

Cruciferous Vegetables - Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are excellent dietary sources of indole-3-carbinol that can help increase your blood levels of diindolymethane (DIM) which inturn is one of the most potent anti estrogen supplement. Indoles help keep testosterone production high and unaffected by estrogen.

Drugs - Stay away from anabolic steroids, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs that can affect hormone levels.

Green Tea - There are numerous studies indicating green tea for lowering estrogen levels by reducing the circulating levels of estrogen in the body thus rendering it useless.

Exercise - A regular program of moderate to high intensity exercise can lower estrogen levels in the body rapidly and also reduce excess body weight.

Alcohol - It  increases estrogen levels in the body and inhibits testosterone secretion. Alcohol consumption can impair liver function which makes it difficult for the liver to properly metabolize estrogen. Alcohol can impair the functions of the hormone-releasing glands and of the target tissues.

Medications - Lookout for estrogen-containing drugs, steroids, ulcer medications such as cimetidine, some antibiotics (tetracycline, ampicillin, etc.), anti-fungal medications and antidepressants. You should check with your doctor while being prescribed any drug since there are a lot more medications that can cause this effect.

Flax seeds - Flax seeds and flax seed oil exhibit a strong anti-estrogen effect since they contain lignans.

Omega-3 - Supplementation with a high concentration of EPA and DHA fish oil daily is recommended for estrogen metabolism.

Estrogen and Testosterone are linked as the rise in one can decrease the amount of other in the body. Therefore, it is also necessary to understand how to optimally generate testosterone in your body. To know how to increase your testosterone, please click here.



Vitamin K & Health


Vitamin K plays an important in bodily processes primarily helping blood clotting, cellular growth, building strong bones and preventing heart disease. Vitamin K is stored in fat tissue and the liver as it is a fat-soluble vitamin. While about half of the 16 known proteins that depend on vitamin K are necessary for blood coagulation, other vitamin K-dependent proteins are involved in a variety of different functions involving the skeletal, arterial, and immune systems.

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is found in dark green plants and vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is found in animal liver, curd and cheese, and fermented foods. Because vitamin K is synthesized by intestinal bacteria, and absorbed from the distal small bowel, antibiotics have been shown to reduce vitamin K2 from this source. Health problems such as gallbladder or biliary disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease and liver disease can also prevent your body from absorbing vitamin K. Secondary deficiency of vitamin K can often results from impaired absorption of the vitamin due to lack of bile salts in patients with obstructive jaundice, external biliary fistulas or other gastrointestinal conditions. Deficiency of vitamin K causes hypoprothombinemia manifested by defective coagulation of the blood and hemorrhage.

Osteoporosis & Osteoarthritis
Vitamin K2 is one of the most important nutritional interventions for improving your bone density. It serves as the biological "glue" that helps accumilate calcium and other important minerals into your bone matrix. Vitamin K is essential for making a bone protein called osteocalcin fully functional. This protein is part of the bone structure when it is "carboxylated" (a chemical modification of the protein that binds to calcium) in the presence of sufficient vitamin K. Vitamin K is an integral part of carboxylation of the bone protein osteocalcin, which, when bound to calcium, helps bone mineralization.

Arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) & Coronary Heart Disease
There is a direct relationship between excess calcium in the blood and inadequate calcium in the bones. Because vitamin K2 is an excellent calcium regulator it is able to move excessive arterial calcium into bone tissue where it belongs, while removing it from arteries. vitamin K not only blocks new arterial calcium buildup but can also reduce existing levels of calcification by 37 percent. The Rotterdam Study, a long-term study of risk factors for chronic disease in old age, found that over a 10-year period people who consumed the most vitamin K2 had 50 percent less arterial calcification and cardiovascular death than average. People with high intakes of vitamin K2 are 52 percent less likely to develop severe calcification of the arteries, 41 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and 57 percent less likely to die from it. (Geleijnse et al., 2004, pp. 3100-3105)

Chronic Inflammation
In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers had found that higher blood levels and dietary intake of K1 was correlated with lower levels of 14 different inflammation biomarkers.

Cancer
- A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that those individuals with the highest intakes of vitamin K2 had the lowest risk of developing cancer and a 30% reduction in cancer mortality.

- A study recently published by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) has revealed that increased intake of vitamin K2 may reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 35 percent.

- Vitamin K2 benefits were also found to reduce viral induced liver cancer in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

- Consuming a lot of vitamin K was associated with a lower risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma according to scientists at the Mayo Comprehensive Cancer Center in Minnesota. Non-Hodgkin lymphomas belong to a large group of immune system cancers involving lymphocytes (white blood cells).

Diabetes
- According to a study conducted by researchers from University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands and published in the journal Diabetes Care, people with a higher dietary intake of vitamin K are 20 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Study participants with the highest intake were consuming between 250 and 360 micrograms per day.

- Researchers publishing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have determined that individuals with the highest circulating levels of vitamin K1 have a total diabetes risk reduction of 51 percent as compared to those with the lowest levels.

Age Related Mental Decline
Vitamin K2 benefits also include protecting nerve cells from oxidative stress and possibly reducing neuronal damage. Vitamin K is a fat soluble nutrient that can easily cross the blood-brain barrier to provide antioxidant support to the critical organ composed primarily of omega-3 fats. Animal studies published in the Journal of Nutrition show that animals with the lowest supplemental vitamin K levels display the highest degree of cognitive decline as they grew older, compared with the highest vitamin K group.

Recommended daily vitamin K intake is of 120 micrograms for men and 90 micrograms for women. Vitamin K is also an important adjunct to vitamin D, and if you are deficient in one, neither works optimally in your body. Dietary fat is necessary for the absorption of this Vitamin K. Natural forms of vitamin K has caused no symptoms of toxicity, even when supplemented in large amounts.

Foods Sources of vitamin K2
- Green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, broccoli, spinach, mustard greens, lettuce, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage, green peas, romaine lettuce and Swiss chard
- Natto
- Fermented cheeses
- Sauerkraut
- Egg yolk
- Butter
- Organ meats
- Chicken breast
- Ground beef
- Vegetable Oils such as cottonseed oil, olive oil and soybean oil

Precautions
Anyone considering vitamin K supplements should consult with their medical adviser first; people on blood thinners should not be taking vitamin K.

Zinc


Zinc is an essential trace mineral and next to iron it is the most common mineral found in the body. It is necessary for the functioning of more than 300 different enzymes and plays a vital role in an enormous number of biological processes. Even though zinc is a trace mineral, it is needed for the proper growth and maintenance of the human body. It is found in several systems and biological actions and is needed for immune function, wound healing, blood clotting, thyroid function, synthesis of DNA and RNA and many more. Keeping normal zinc levels helps with the maintenance of these enzyme systems and acts as a hormonal and immune system aid. Zinc also has antioxidant properties, meaning it helps protect cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Zinc is found in high concentrations in the eyes, liver, muscle, skin, hair, prostate and seminal fluid.

Although zinc deficiency is rare in modren well-nurished diets, low zinc levels are sometimes seen in the elderly, alcoholics, people with anorexia, people on very restricted diets, malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease, acrodermatitis enteropathica - inherited inability to absorb zinc properly, cirrhosis - liver disease and kidney disease. There are also some medications that can decrease the amount of zinc in the body. These are:
ACE Inhibitors - Blood pressure medication
Cisplatin (Platinol-AQ) - Chemotherapy
Penicillamine - Medication for Wilson's disease and Rheumatoid arthritis
Thiazide - diuretic (water pill)
Zinc is also lost in sweat, as are many minerals, making mineral supplementation almost a necessity for athletes.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency include slowed growth, low insulin levels, loss of appetite, irritability, generalized hair loss, rough and dry skin, slow wound healing, poor sense of taste and smell, diarrhea, and nausea. Recommended daily allowance of Zinc for adults is 8 - 11 mg. To treat certain health conditions a dosage of 40 mg a day is considered as a safe amount for long term use. Please also note that chronic intake of excessive amounts of zinc can interfere with your body's absorption of other minerals, especially copper. Therefore, it is suggested to supplement copper in 15-to-1 zinc-to-copper ratio. Do not give zinc supplements to a child and always talk to your Health care provider before starting any supplemental treatment.

Zinc participates in an impressive number of functions in the human body and can be used to treat the following conditions.

Immunology 
Its immune-enhancing activities include regulation of T lymphocytes, CD4, natural killer cells, and interleukin II. Due to its immune enhancing properties  zinc supplements reduce both the severity and incidence of common cold and infections. Taken within twenty-four hours of the onset of common cold symptoms, it can significant reduce in the duration and severity of cold symptoms and can also lower the risk of pneumonia. Zinc also possesses antiviral activity and studies show that HIV positive people who take zinc have fewer infections, gain more weight, and have a better immune system response.

Wound & Ulcer healing
Zinc helps maintain the integrity of skin and mucosal membranes and can cure wounds. It can help speed the healing of leg ulcers and stomach ulcers - it is known to repair the intestinal mucosa effectively.

Lower respiratory infections
Results from large clinical trials suggest that supplementation with zinc may reduce the incidence and severity of lower respiratory infections.

Gut permeability
Dysregulation occurs with intestinal zinc absorption during aging, and adequate dietary intake may in turn be metabolically insufficient due to poorer absorption. High levels of zinc intake (330mg daily) has been implicated in alleviating even leaky gut syndrome.

Alcoholism
Approximately 30%–50% of alcoholics have low zinc status because ethanol consumption decreases intestinal absorption of zinc and increases urinary zinc excretion. It can also provide therapeutic-like benefit in treating alcohol-induced damage to the gut and liver. Zinc also controls the release of stored vitamin A from the liver.

Sickle cell disease
It is noted in studies that 44% of people with sickle cell disease have a low plasma zinc concentration.

Parasitic Infections
Studies suggest that zinc supplementation may reduce the number of stays in hospital and death rate due to Malaria (P. falciparum) infection. Recent high-quality study data suggest that supplementation with zinc and vitamin A may favorably alter infection rate and duration among children.

Depression & Anxiety
Link between zinc deficiency, depression and other mental health conditions is its important role as a neurotransmitter in the brain, connected with hormone production as hormone dopamine is partially regulated by zinc. A person with low zinc levels can also be affected with low testosterone levels in the body.

Diabetes 
Diabetics tend to have increased excretion of zinc which leads to lower levels of zinc in the body. Studies have shown that people who use zinc have a statistically significant reduction in their fasting blood sugar levels.

High cholesterol
There is evidence that zinc may improve cholesterol ratio of HDL "good cholesterol" versus LDL "bad cholesterol".

Thyroid Health
Within the endocrine system, zinc has been shown to regulate insulin activity and promote the conversion thyroid hormones thyroxine to triiodothyronine.

Down's syndrome
In several studies, zinc supplements seemed to counteract hypothyroidism and slightly reduce the number of infections in children with Down syndrome.

Kidney function
Studies show potential improvement in uremic patients taking zinc supplements.

Anorexia nervosa
Reports of zinc's effectiveness in treating symptoms of anorexia nervosa observed in young adults.

Acne
Taking zinc by mouth or applying it to the skin in an ointment that also contains erythromycin seems to help clear up acne.

Infertility
Many studies report beneficial results of zinc supplements on infertility, as expressed in improved sperm quality and number, although this effect may depend on the cause of infertility.

Osteoporosis
Taking a zinc supplement in combination with copper, manganese, and calcium might decreases bone loss in women who have passed menopause.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Zinc is used to treat this eye disease that occurs when the part of the retina that is responsible for central vision starts to deteriorate. Common supplementation is by taking zinc (40 mg), vitamin C (500 mg), vitamin E (400 mg), beta-carotene (15 mg), and copper (2 mg).

Fungal infections
Zinc pyrithione is an effective treatment for tinea versicolor (scalp) fungal infections.

Herpes simplex (Cold Sores)
Zinc oxide cream can reduce the symptoms while effectively healing herpes.

ADHD
There is some evidence that suggests taking zinc may reducing hyperactivity, impulsivity, and impaired socialization in children affected with ADHD but change in attention deficit symptoms is not observed.

Other Uses
It is also used for boosting the recurrent ear infections, night blindness and cataracts, asthma, high blood pressure, skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne, blunted sense of taste (hypogeusia), ringing in the ears (tinnitus), severe head injuries, alzheimer’s disease, hansen’s disease, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), erectile dysfunction (ED), rheumatoid arthritis, and muscle cramps associated with liver disease, acrodermatitis enteropathica, thalassemia and Wilson’s disease. Some athletes use zinc for improving athletic performance and strength.

Food Sources
The best sources of zinc are oysters, red meats, poultry, cheese (ricotta, Swiss, gouda), shrimp, crab and other shellfish, legumes such as lima beans, black-eyed peas, pinto beans and soybeans, peanuts, whole grains, miso, tofu, brewer's yeast, cooked greens, mushrooms, green beans, tahini, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Possible Interactions
Immunosuppressant medications - corticosteroids (such as prednisone), cyclosporine, or other medications intended to suppress the immune system.
Amiloride (Midamor) - Duretic, Deferoxamine (Desferal) - Used to remove excess may increase the levels of Zinc in the body and supplementing zinc with these medications can be harmful.



SAMe - Natural Supplement Everyone Should Know About


SAM-e or S-adenosylmethionine is a naturally made compound that's found in almost every tissue, fluid, some hormones and neurotransmitters in the body. SAMe plays an important role in the body to regulate the immune system, maintains cell membranes, and helps produce and break down brain chemicals, such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. An average adult produces 7-8 g of SAMe each day naturally.

It is produced by the body from Adenosine triphosphate (a major energy source for our body's cells) and the amino acid methionine. SAMe is not found in food. Vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid are required for proper formation and metabolism of SAMe therefore; being deficient in either vitamin B12 and B6 may reduce levels of SAMe in your body.

SAMe is widely available as a supplement and has a number of uses and potential benefits.

Depression
SAMe increases the availaibility of neurotransmitter serotonin and dopamine and is just as effective as antidepressant medications without the side effects. Unlike antidepressants which can take up to 8 weeks, SAMe works in conrolling depression within 2-3 days. Dosage: 800 - 1,600 mg per day, in 2 divided doses 3 months.

Osteoarthritis & Fibromyalgia
SAMe appears to diminish osteoarthritis pain as effectively as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and without any side effects that are associated with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Researchers have also shown that it may also promote cartilage repair. SAMe may also reduce symptoms of fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal disorder that causes fatigue, morning stiffness and joint pain. Osteoarthritis Dosage: 600 - 1,200 mg per day in 2 - 3 divided doses. Fibromyalgia Dosage: 400 mg 2 times per day for 6 weeks

Alcoholic Liver Disease
Naturally created SAMe is often not effectively synthesized in people with liver disease and taking SAMe supplement may help treat chronic liver disease caused by medications or alcoholism very effectively. Oral Dosage: 600 - 1,200 mg per day in 2 divided doses for 6 months

Cancer
A study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests SAMe can even effectively inhibit cancer tumor cells especially in gastric and colon cancer.

Side Effects
SAM-e seems to be a relatively safe drug. High doses of oral SAM-e can cause symptoms like gas, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, headache, dizziness, anxiety, and skin rashes.

Precautions
- Always consult your health care provider before starting any supplement treatment.
- SAMe is started with a low dose of 200 mg per day and should be increased gradually to avoid stomach upset and abnormally elevated mood. Taking SAMe along with vitamin B12, folic acid, methionine and trimethylglycine will enhance its absorption in the body.
- SAMe should not be given to children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
- SAMe should never be combined with any other antidepressants.
- People with bipolar disorder (manic depression) should not take SAMe since it may worsen manic episodes.
- Taking SAM along with dextromethorphan (Robitussin), meperidine (Demerol), pentazocine (Talwin), and tramadol (Ultram) may increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially dangerous condition caused by having too much serotonin.
- Do not take SAMe if you have Parkinson' s disease without talking to your doctor first.


5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)

5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a chemical by-product of an essential amino acid that the body makes called tryptophan. After tryptophan is converted into 5-HTP, the chemical is then changed into another chemical called serotonin which is one of the most important neurotransmitters required by the body in transmitting nerve impulses. Serotonin is the "happy" neurotransmitter hormone of the body that provides the overall sense of well-being and relieves depression as it helps regulate moods, temper, anxiety and natural sleep. It is also known to play an important role in regulating able-bodied functions such as as aggression, appetite, sexuality, metabolism, muscle contraction, pain susceptibility and some cognitive functions including memory and learning; and in blood platelets where it helps to regulate body temperature, blood clotting and vasoconstriction (constriction of blood vessels). Approximately 80 percent of the human body's total serotonin is located in the enterochromaffin cells in the gut, where it is used to regulate intestinal movements. The remainder is synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system and/or in the brain.

Other than the above mentioned health roles of serotonin, 5-HTP is used for migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizure disorder and Parkinson's disease.

Dietary Sources
The amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make 5-HTP, can be found in egg white, turkey, duck, halibut, pork, chicken, lobster, milk, potatoes, pumpkin, sunflower & sesame seeds, turnip, collard greens, spinach, spirulina, seaweed, dates, avocados, papaya, banana, and chocolate. Research also suggests that eating a diet rich in whole grain carbohydrates and low in protein will increase serotonin by secreting insulin, which helps in amino acid competition.

Supplement Dosage
Please consult your health care professional before starting a supplement therapy. 5-HTP should not be given to children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. In adults 5-HTP is generally recommend in 50 mg taken 1 - 2 times per day.

Precautions: At high doses, it is possible that serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition caused by too much serotonin in the body, could develop. Therefore, people taking any form of antidepressants, should strictly not take 5-HTP. People with high blood pressure, liver disease or diabetes should talk to their doctor before taking 5-HTP.

Tramadol (Ultram) - It is used for pain relief and sometimes prescribed for people with fibromyalgia, may raise serotonin levels too much if taken with 5-HTP.

Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others) - Taking 5-HTP with dextromethorphan, found in cough syrups, may cause serotonin levels to increase to dangerous levels, a condition called serotonin syndrome.

Meperidine (Demerol) - Mixing the two may cause serotonin levels to increase to dangerous levels, a condition called serotonin syndrome.

Triptans (used to treat migraines) - 5-HTP can increase the risk of side effects, including serotonin syndrome, when taken with these medications: Naratriptan (Amerge), Rizatriptan (Maxalt), Sumatriptan (Imitrex), Zolmitriptan (Zomig)

Carbidopa - Taking 5-HTP with carbidopa, a medication used to treat Parkinson's disease, may cause a scleroderma-like illness. Scleroderma is a condition where the skin becomes hard, thick, and inflamed.

Note: 5-HTP has been linked with eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) in the past. But there is not enough scientific evidence as 5-HTP is naturally found in the body and some people think the EMS might be caused by an accidental ingredient (contaminant) in some 5-HTP products.


Health Hazards of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a "flavor enhancer" used in many foods and is made of sodium salt of glutamic acid, a 'non-essential' amino acids. It activates the tastebuds to make them more receptive to flavor and make things taste better. It makes processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny.

MSG does more than enhance flavor though. It is a major health concern because it contains glutamate which is the salt form of "Free Glutamic Acid" a toxin that is associated with many health problems. MSG not only stimulates smell, taste and hunger, it produces a reaction in nerve cells. MSG is an excitotoxin, a substance that overexcites neurons to the point of cell damage and eventually cell death. According to animal studies, MSG also creates a lesion in the hypothalamus that correlates with abnormal development, including obesity, short stature and sexual reproduction problems. Overstimulated, nerve cells can produce an allergic response. In particular, if MSG is eaten on an empty stomach by MSG-sensitive individuals, or foods containing MSG are eaten in high doses it may lead to many reactions by the body ranging from headaches, numbness, dizziness, burning sensations in the neck and chest, tingling nausea, palpitations, elevated blood pressure, difficulty breathing, panic attacks, sleepiness, depression, confusion, cognitive disorder, and food cravings. Plus it dramatically stimulates appetite and causes binging. Researches suggest that monosodium glutamate causes obesity, making unhealthy snacks even unhealthier than you may have suspected. Even the journal Science had published a report on MSG and its role calling it the Chinese restaurant syndrome.

MSG was first commercialized in Japan in 1909 as "Aji-no-moto" and widely abused in Asian foods but now it is now added to almost all processed foods around the world. National and International government agencies including FDA allow many companies to hide it in seemingly benign ingredients without including it on the label. MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and  much more. It’s found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child’s school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula. Unless it expressly says it's MSG-free, assume everything processed or restaurant foods contain it in some form. MSG's hidden names that may be marked on the food lables are ; Gelatin, Calcium Caseinate, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolized Vegetable Protein, Textured Protein, Monopotassium Glutamate, Hydrolized Plant Protein, Yeast Extract, Glutamate, Autolyzed Plant Protein, Yeast Food or Nutrient, Glutamic Acid, Sodium Caseinate and Autolyzed Yeast.

Some food laced with MSG are Flavoring Seasonings (Most assume this means salt pepper or spices & herbs which it sometimes is), Sausage products, Ranch dressing, Parmesan items, Gravy / Dipping Sauses, Fries with any kind of seasoning on them, Flavored salty snack chips, Soups, Cornstarch, Seasoning salt, Bouillon cubes, Ceasar salad, Fish Sauce or Extract, Soy Sauce, Cold Cuts, Hot dogs including soy-based, mostly all fast foods and anything that is processed.

Things you can do to minimize you MSG intake are:
1. Go to restaurants that do not use MSG.
2. Minimize your consumption of processed food (If not, look for foods with hidden MSG names as mentioned above)
3. Natural Supplement L-theanine directly provides neuroprotection against glutamate neurotoxicity through blockade of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), and a-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors. To know more about health benefits of L-theanine, please click here.



Dangers of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)



Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to treat depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks and other personality disorders.  Although Big Pharma and mainstream medicine continue to push SSRIs antidepressants such as Paxil and Prozac, the documented risks and side effects of these drugs remain often ignored.

1.            If you take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat depression symptoms, you could be significantly upping your risk of suffering a rare form of stroke. These are the findings of a study published in the journal Neurology.  Results of the study, which analyzed data from more than 500,000 participants, found that SSRI users had a 40 to 50 percent increased likelihood of developing bleeding in the brain. The link between hemorrhagic strokes and SSRIs is because the drugs decrease the number of platelet blood cells that stick together to form clots.

2.            The National Institutes of Health points out that upper gastrointestinal bleeding risk is higher for patients with previous ulcers or gastrointestinal problems, the elderly and those with certain other medical conditions. SSRIs also are suspected of interacting with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are widely prescribed for these conditions. Use of aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or anticoagulants, such as warfarin (Coumadin), may increase the risk of bleeding when combined with a SSRIs.

3.            A find published in the journal Human Reproduction ( authored by Dr. Adam Urato, obstetrician and chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham, Mass., and Dr. Alice Domar, a psychologist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School) shows drastically increased rates of birth defects in children who are exposed to SSRI drugs while in the womb. The risk of miscarriages also skyrockets with antidepressant drug use during pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning a few years ago that pregnant women taking the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant paroxetine risk giving birth to infants with major birth defects, including heart abnormalities, persistent pulmonary hypertension, anencephaly, respiratory distress, cleft lip and cleft palate.

4.            One of the first scientific investigations into the effect of SSRIs on sperm quality also confirmed that paroxetine impairs sexual function. More than a third of the research subjects reported significant changes in erectile function and about half had difficulty ejaculating. This study goes one step further, demonstrating that they can cause a major increase in genetic damage to sperm," Dr. Peter Schlegel, the study's senior author and chairman of the Department of Urology and professor of reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, explained that as many as half of men who took SSRIs have a reduced ability to conceive.  The scientists could not identify the exact way the SSRI caused the DNA fragmentation, but the evidence strongly suggests the drug slows sperm as it moves through the male reproductive tract from the testis to the ejaculatory ducts. When this happens, the sluggish sperm grows old and its DNA becomes damaged.

6.            Furthermore, SSRIs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in young adults and teens. As the number of people being treated for depression with Prozac increased, doctors observed an alarming number of reports of their thoughts about suicide and even actions taken to hurt themselves. Studies on children with major depressive disorder have found statistically significant increases of the risks of "possible suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior" by about 80%, and of agitation and hostility by about 130%.

7.            Serotonin Syndrome occurs when a patient accumulates too much serotonin in the brain - either from overdosing on an SSRI or taking a combination of medicines that boost the serotonin levels beyond what the brain can handle. With this condition, the onset can occur within minutes and is fatal.

8.            SSRIs technically are not considered addictive. However, doctors do say that these antidepressants make users dependent on them as discontinuation can lead to major sensory and sleep disturbances. Drug dependency is the state where a person needs steady or increasing doses of the drug to maintain normal functioning.

Some other side effects of SSRIs are nausea, dry mouth, headache, diarrhea, nervousness, agitation or restlessness, reduced sexual desire or difficulty reaching orgasm, inability to maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction), rashes, increased sweating, weight gain, drowsiness and insomnia.

Because antidepressant medications are such big business for drug manufacturers, the pharmaceutical industry reacts rarely to research that links these prescription medications to dangerous side effects. However, if an herbal supplement were causing even one of these side effects, you wouldn't see the media SCREAMING about their dangers and FDA banning it immediately.

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Find more information on this topic under the category Depression and Anxiety

Arsenic in Poultry Chickens



American consumers who eat conventional chicken have been consuming arsenic - a known cancer-causing chemical - for many years. A new scientific study suggests that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine to keep them active so that they can spend more time eating, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl to reduce anxiety, banned fluoroquinolones antibiotics such as Cipro which produce superbugs to make them bulkier plus bacteria free and even arsenic because it reduces infections and makes flesh an appetizing shade of pink. Bird feathers, like human hair and fingernails, accumulate chemicals and drugs that an animal is exposed to. Scientists from Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University examined feather meal — a poultry byproduct made of feathers and had intended to test only for antibiotics but instead ended up finding all these other chemicals also.

Almost 9 in 10 broiler chickens in the United States had been fed arsenic, according to a 2011 industry estimate. Even FDA admits that Arcenic is added to the chicken feed (and sometimes hogs feed) for a 'purpose' but agrees that the arsenic added to the chicken feed ends up in the chicken meat where it is consumed by humans. Although FDA claims that arsenic levels found in chickens are safe to eat while agreeing that arsenic is a carcinogen, meaning it increases the risk of cancer. Despite of safety claims by FDA, Dr. Michael Greger, MD, the NIH, and the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service had indicate the alarmingly high levels of arsenic contamination in the flesh of broiler chickens is exceeding the EPA upper limit.

Implication in this matter for farmers is that huge food companies require them to use a proprietary food mix which may contain all these chemicals, and the farmer typically doesn't know exactly what is in it. All in all, companies produce cheap food that saves us money for the moment but we all may pay more in medical ailments caused by these foods.

A large dose of arsenic can kill outright, while chronic ingestion of small doses has been linked to a large range of cancers. At lower levels, arsenic can cause nausea and vomiting and decrease the amount of red and white blood cells produced by the body. It also causes abnormal heart rhythms, may damage blood vessels, and causes a pins and needles sensation in the hands and feet. Additionally, liver and kidney function can be affected.

Retinol is used for chronic arsenic poisoning. Beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, alpha-tocopherol, folic acid, zinc, spirulina and selenium in combination are of benefit. Increasing the intake of foods rich in potassium and sulfur-containing substances in garlic to scavenge arsenic from tissues and blood.

To know about chelating heavy metals from the body in detail, please click here.


Potassium's Role in Body


Potassium is a major mineral constitute in our body which plays many critical roles in its functioning. Amongst many other physiological functions, your body needs potassium to build proteins, break down and use carbohydrates, build muscles and control the electrical activity of the heart.

Muscles and Nerves
Potassium has a major role in muscle muscle health as it ensures that all of your muscles, including your heart, are able to contract and relax properly. Potassium is also required by the nervous system to send nerve impulses throughout your body.

Fluid and pH Balance
Potassium is an essential nutrient used to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance and helps regulate the pH of your blood and acid-base balance in your body.

Bones and Kidneys
Potassium is essential for bone strength and density as it prevents your bones and kidneys from excreting too much of calcium and phosphorus. By letting you body excrete citrate adequately it keeps kidneys from forming calcium citrate kidney stones.

A low blood level of potassium is called hypokalemia. It can cause weak muscles, abnormal heart rhythms, lack of energy, muscle cramps, stomach disturbances and a slight rise in blood pressure. Too much sodium, common in Western diets may increase the need for potassium. On average, adults do not consume the required quantity of potassium through their diet. While the average consumption ranges anywhere from 2000mg to 3000mg, both male and female adults should consume 4,700mg of potassium every day and nursing mothers up to 5.1g of potassium daily, states the NIH.

The best food sources of potassium include bananas, potatoes, broccoli, apricots, prune juice, plums, avocados, white mushrooms, oranges, tomatoes, lima beans, acorn squash, cantaloupe, spinach, yogurt, salmon, sunflower seeds and almonds.


H7N9 Bird Flu May Spread

H7N9 virus (a strain of Avian/Bird flu) has been reported to have infected humans in China recently with fatalities increasing in number. The first three confirmed cases of the H7N9 were reported on March 31, 2013 and as of April 16, 2013 a total of 63 patients have been confirmed with 14 fatalities making the current case fatality rate (CFR) of 22%. Most effected are the elderly.

H7N9 virus was not known to have infected humans before and is supposedly contracted directly from infected birds and poultry without human-to-human transmission  Comparative genomics analysis on human adaptation is now being performed to ascertain human transmission angle and to stop it from becoming a pandemic as scientists believe that the new bird flu strains are evolving to adapt to human cells.

H7N9 virus is particularly hard to detect in birds as it may infect them without making them sick. However, a dead pigeon from a Shanghai market has tested positive for the H7N9 strain providing the first identification of an animal host in the "wild". Considerable circumstantial evidence also suggests that migratory birds can introduce low pathogenic H5 and H7 viruses to poultry flocks in other areas. In some cases these viruses may then mutate in poultry to the highly pathogenic form.

In humans the virus has an incubation period of approximately 5-7 days and the time between the appearance of symptoms to full-blown illness only needs 1 day. Symptoms include high fever, cough and shortness of breath progressing to severe pneumonia. People being admitted to hospital need help to breathe (requiring oxygen or mechanical ventilation). It is advised to protect yourself to maintain good hand hygiene using soap or an alcohol-based hand cleanser, respiratory hygiene (cover your mouth and nose with a mask, tissue, sleeve or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing; throw the used tissue into a closed bin immediately after use; perform hand hygiene after contact with respiratory secretions) and to prepare and thoroughly cook bird food products.

The best natural preventive measure is to keep your immune system sturdy and strong. Examples of some of the very best immune boosters are Echinacea, Pau d`arco, Suma, Astragalus, Beta glucans, Aloe vera, Alkygycerol, Lactoferrin, Bovine colostrums, Glutathione,  Mangosteen. Increase the intake of natural pathogen destroyers such as Garlic, Olive leaf extract, Oil of wild mountain oregano, Grapefruit seed extract and Colloidal Silver. Additionally, take ample rest, exercise, relinquish smoking, eat a wholesome diet and avoid stress and anxiety.