Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Better Than Coffee...

Rain Forest Herb Gives You Lasting Energy -
Without the Crash!*

Dear Health Conscious Reader,

When I was hiking through the Amazon Rain Forest last year, I had a first-hand experience with a remarkable healing herb...

Sacred to the nearby Guarani tribe, it was literally a gift from the gods. According to tribal folklore, the Indians of the Amazon River Basin have been using it to prevent fatigue and increase physical endurance since before recorded history.

I took it in the early morning before we hit the trail. After 18 hours through the jungles of Peru my mind was crystal clear and I had no feeling of fatigue. Looking back, I had covered 15 miles of rugged terrain without feeling tired or worn out.

I realized that combining this ancient herb with cutting edge brain nutrients would create a powerful new formula. Not only would it give you more energy without crashing, it would help your memory too.*

But the story gets better... After I got home, I started putting the pieces together. Working nights and weekends I had a trial formula within the first six weeks. Using myself as a test subject, I gave it a try.

Right from the start I knew I was on to something. I tapped into a deep source of mental energy, heightened memory and a laser-like focus throughout the day.

All the individual components of my formula are backed up by modern clinical studies. And now for the first time, you can feel the startling results for yourself.

My name is Dr. Al Sears. I have a private medical pratice in South Florida. But I've been around the world in search of healing herbs and traditional medicines.

What I discovered during my trek through the Amazon will send your energy to new has the power to boost your memory and power of recall too.

Here's how it works.

Kick Start Your Morning Without Feeling Nervous or Jittery

The Amazon herb that kept me alert yet relaxed comes from a seed called Paullina cupana. The active compound is guaranine, a member of the caffeine family. But unlike regular caffeine, it's full of healthy fatty acids.

The good fat gives guaranine a slow release. Its effect will gradually increase over a period of hours. It doesn't pick you up and throw you down like quick release caffeine. There's no crash with this stuff... and you don't get any of the nervous, jittery energy you do with caffeine.

Caffeine gets a bad rap sometimes but it's the most widely used drug in the world. And it's a proven mental performance booster. The studies number in the hundreds. One published in Neurology found that three cups of coffee a day cuts your risk of mental decline by over 50%.1

But there's a catch. Coffee gives you a short burst of energy, but overheats and excites your body. Guaranine has a cooling action that revitalizes and relaxes. The end result is more beneficial to your body. You get all the energy and alertness but remain calm, cool and collected.*

A team of Brazilian scientists studied the effects on rats. Their results were not surprising. Guaranine increased their physical activity, increased their physical endurance under stress and improved their memory.2*

But like I said, the story gets even better...

Give Your Brain the Power of Total Recall and Extreme Alertness

The effect of the Paullina cupana seed was amazing. It me gave the endurance to trek through the Amazon and left me with a wonderful feeling of clarity. But I was starting to see the bigger picture.

The Rain Forest herb works its magic by releasing acetylcholine in your brain. Acetyl-choline is a neurotransmitter. It's the brain chemical that lets your nerve cells fire through the synapse or gap that exists between the trillions of neurons in your brain.

If you have lots of acetylcholine, your mind is sharp and your memory is clear. When you drink coffee in the morning, the release of acetylcholine gives you the buzz that gets you going.*

But there's a problem... coffee will burn you out because it depletes your reserve of acetylcholine. Guaranine is slow acting with none of the caffeine side effects but it works in the same way. Eventually you lose your reserve of acetylcholine.

But if you trigger a release of acetylcholine and then rebuild your reserves you can sustain the amazing rush of clarity over the long term.*

That's The Realization I Had While Hiking Through The Forest...

I knew I could get the best of both worlds if I combined guaranine with powerful brain nutrients. One of them is choline, the building block required for the synthesis of acetylcholine. Introduce choline into the mix and you give your body the ability to manufacture this incredibly powerful neurotransmitter.

When you combine choline and guaranine you get a bigger release of acetylcholine - even more than taking guaranine on its own. That's what gives you the feeling of energy and mental power. But instead of depleting your reserves and burning out, you build them up.*

That means you can take my formula every day and get the same effect every time.

Getting More Choline is Essential - 
Your Brain Needs it for Thinking and Remembering

Your brain has a huge appetite for choline. It's the primary building block for acetylcholine. You burn it up 24/7 as your brain uses it to maintain clear communication between trillions of neurons.

You need it for all the basics like thought, memory and sleep. It even controls how you move. Your muscles receive commands from your brain via acetylcholine. That means your sense of balance and stability is controlled by this key transmitter.

Like many nutrients, your supply of choline drops as you get older. As this happens, you can expect some or all of these symptoms:

  • Poor recall and memory loss
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Brain fog and/or a sense of confusion
  • Problems falling asleep, tossing and turning
  • Unable to catch on, or learn new things
  • Feeling distracted or irritable
  • Walking with a wobbly or shaky gait, unable to stay balanced

When Your Brain Doesn't Get Enough Choline
It Starts to Destroy Itself...

To survive, your body will scavenge materials from other sources when it can't get enough from its main supplier. When choline levels drop off, your brain goes on a scavenger hunt and extracts choline from nerve cell membranes. This last resort is called "auto-cannibalism" and it's very dangerous.

In the short term, your brain will use this technique to keep your memory and other functions up and running. But in the long run, your nerve cells end up badly damaged.

In the graph below, you can see how the nutrients DMAE and choline turn into the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine. DMAE is another powerful brain nutrient I will tell you about a little later. It's also in my formula. First, I want you to see the direct connection choline has to its end product acetylcholine.

As you can see, choline is one small step away from acetylcholine. Put more choline into your body and your brain gets more of the neurotransmitter that keeps your mind alert and your memory fresh.*

Clinical Studies Prove Connection Between Choline and Memory

It's very possible you've never heard of choline. Most people haven't. But it's one of the most important nutrients on the planet. And it's well researched. There are dozens of studies testing both animals and humans.

Here are just a few:

• Researchers who gave rats a choline supplement found they developed a sharper and longer memory than rats that didn't have extra choline. On day one, both groups of rats were performing their tasks successfully. This included avoiding electric shock as they moved through a maze.

On day two, the rats that didn't have the extra choline forgot about the electric shock and got zapped. But the rats that had the extra choline remembered the booby traps and successfully avoided getting shocked.3

• In a human study, researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago tested people with a choline deficiency. They gave them a series of memory tests and found below average scores. In the next stage, they divided the same people into two groups. One group received extra choline, the other didn't.

After 24 weeks, both groups repeated the memory tests. Not surprisingly, the group with the extra choline performed with flying colors and their results showed a dramatic improvement over the first round. The group that received no extra choline performed poorly. Their results showed no improvement over the first round.4*

Burn through Your Crossword with Lightning Speed...

My unique blend of choline and guaranine is like rocket fuel for your brain. Not only does it give you a better boost than your morning cup of coffee, it gives you the clarity of a mental giant.

You'll notice the lift right away. If you do crosswords you'll finish them in a fraction of the time. Things like organization, recall and comprehension just fall into place.

When you read something, you "get it." When someone is explaining something, you understand what they're getting at before they even get to the point. You move into a feeling of extreme alertness. You're aware of everything and it's all so clear.

The processing speed of your brain gets a twin-turbo boost. It's like stepping up to one of those super-computers NASA uses for space flight.

One of the experiences I appreciate most is the "alert but calm" feeling. Your mind can relax and let go. Your focus becomes almost laser like. And it lasts throughout the day. It's not a short-lived spike like coffee or other caffeine drinks.

I could have stopped there... choline and guaranine are enough to repair and rejuvenate your aging brain. But there's another key brain booster essential to my formula.*

This Nutrient Works So Well it Even Caught the Attention
Of the Bumbling Bureaucrats at the FDA...

A little earlier I mentioned DMAE. It's a natural, brain-stimulating nutrient found in anchovies, sardines and other fish. Studies show it increases levels of acetylcholine. As you know, acetylcholine is critical for learning and memory.5 

I've been following the story of DMAE for decades. It works so well the FDA finally took notice and planned to approve it.

So what happened? The FDA discontinued it in the late 1970s after the manufacturer didn't agree to the expensive retesting required. Since the manufacturer wouldn't pay, the FDA dropped DMAE like a hot potato.

What a shame. DMAE provides a safe and non-addictive solution to a variety of cognitive and behavioral problems.

DMAE can also support learning and promote a healthy mood.* In one study, 50 kids showed improvement in just 10 weeks.6 In another study, children did better in concentration and skill tests with this nutrient.7 And there were no side effects like jumpiness, or an increase in heart rate.8*

It's easy to see why I added DMAE to my formula. It's one of the best memory boosters available. In combination with choline and guaranine, it's unbeatable. It has a synergistic quality that makes the three ingredients more than the sum of their parts.

Clinical studies show DMAE can:9*

  • Boost IQ
  • Accelerate mental speed and your ability to process thoughts and ideas
  • Improve your concentration and eliminate early morning "fogginess"
  • Promote a healthy mood
  • Decrease irritability and over activity 
  • Increase attention without causing drowsiness

 Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Health

There's one more thing you need to know about this formula... It has a very unique and clinically proven "side effect": It supports your heart and brain health.*

How is this possible?

Boosting the level of choline in your blood has a powerful effect on homocysteine and C-reactive protein (CRP). If you're a regular reader you've probably heard about these powerful markers. They are both better indicators for heart and brain health than anything else - including cholesterol.

Research has demonstrated that homocysteine causes oxidative stress to the vascular endothelium and that maintaining healthy levels of homocysteine is important for heart health.*

Your body produces C-reactive protein as part of its overall defense. When part of your body is injured, it sends signals to the rest of your body for help. Your immune system then sends out white blood cells and inflammatory molecules including CRP to the injured area.

Once there, the defense cells try to fix damaged areas and fight off the intruder. But this defensive response causes inflammation. The inflammatory response needs energy in the form of oxidative "fire" which can damage surrounding tissues.

Spikes in CRP levels are an early sign of inflammation in your body. That's why CRP is such a good indicator. We can evaluate heart health using CRP levels better than with cholesterol levels.

The New England Journal of Medicine published a massive study on CRP. Almost 28,000 people participated in the trial. Researchers discovered that CRP predicted cardiovascular health better than LDL cholesterol.10

Here's the good news: The choline in my formula brings down your levels of both homocysteine and CRP.* 

Here are a few of the studies that back this up:

• An experiment published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed two groups of men. One group ate a diet with no choline. The other group took a choline supplement. The men with no choline saw a steep rise in homocysteine. After just 10 days, their homocysteine went up by 35%.11*

• Researchers discovered that people who consume higher amounts of choline have lower levels of homocysteine and CRP. The study followed two groups of people. One group averaged less than 250-mg of choline a day. The other group averaged more than 310-mg of choline a day. The group who averaged above 310-mg saw their CRP drop by 22%.12*

Not only does choline ramp up your mental energy and protect your memory, it helps wipe out the two predictors of coming disaster.*

Here's Another Mental Boost: Confidence

If this is the first time you've heard about choline, you may be surprised to hear it does so much. But once you feel the results for yourself you'll understand.

After taking my choline formula, many of my patients tell me they feel more confident about the future. Instead of sitting around the house worrying about what might happen, they feel like they're back in the driver's seat. That's what happens when you have real options.

Knowledge is power. But I wouldn't be surprised if sometimes you feel like you're being kept in the dark. Many doctors make their patients feel like children or fools. Or both. They hand out prescriptions and give you an attitude if you ask questions. I've always believed real medicine is about empowerment. Not secrecy.

With this blend of super nutrients, you have the power to keep your mind clear and strong as you age. It keeps your brain young and well fed. And when it's working in peak condition your risk of problems drop dramatically.*

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, M.D.

Brain Food: How to Eat Smart

Knowing what to add to your diet, and what to avoid, can make a big difference in your brain function.How you eat can affect your mind at a fundamental levels. Here are five things you should know about feeding your brain:

1. Don’t overdose on sugar

Your brain, which accounts for 2 percent of your body weight, sucks down roughly 20 percent of your daily calories. It demands a constant supply of glucose. But this doesn’t mean that you should slurp soda to keep your brain functioning optimally. In fact, high glucose levels slowly but surely damage cells everywhere in your body, including those in your brain.

2. Become a grazer

To optimize brain power, one tactic might be more frequent but smaller meals. Your brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in your blood stream -- about the amount found in a banana.

3. Eat foods that don’t raise blood glucose levels

Pretzels cause blood sugar to rise very quickly. Raw carrots, however, do not. High fiber carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels relatively slowly, and combining them with fat or protein can slow absorption even more. The key is a balanced diet, where all macronutrients -- carbohydrates, fats and proteins -- are given their due.

4. Know your fats

Not all fats are equal. Trans fats, common in fast food, are the worst. However, your brain is 60 percent fat, and very low levels of cholesterol have been associated with depression, aggression and anti-social behavior. Essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s, are proving valuable in treating depression and other psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, as well as benefiting infant brain development.

5. Know yourself

Food affects everyone's brain a little differently. Listen to your body, and find out what choices are right for you.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Debate Over Coconuts

Coconuts -- Health Food or Foe?

By Laura LaValle, RD, LD

CoconutsRemember the old song "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts?"  (It still lives on You Tube, if you don't remember.)  Coconut and coconut oil are becoming such increasingly popular foods, I think this silly song from the 1940s may make a comeback. 

There are many claimed health benefits of coconuts and the oil made from them, but traditional medical advice is to avoid coconut oil because it is so high in saturated fat. 

This fat is a blend of medium chain and long chain fats, and is very tolerant to high heats, meaning it won't promote free radical activity in your body.  So coconut oil is great for cooking, but is it bad for cholesterol? 

Medium chain fats seem to lower cholesterol while long chain fats seem to raise it, so studies on coconut oil not surprisingly are a mixed bag; some have shown that it lowers cholesterol, some that it raises it and some that it has no effect.1

The confusion may have arisen because some of the older studies on coconut oil used hydrogenated coconut oil. (Hydrogenation destroys essential fatty acids in the oil and produces harmful trans fats in their place.)

In newer studies that have used virgin coconut oil, the results have been favorable, finding extremely beneficial effects on lipids like lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides, and oxidized LDL, while increasing beneficial HDL.2  Newer studies have also shown virgin coconut oil can lower other heart disease risk factors like  lipoprotein (a) levels and plasminogen activating factor, a substance in the blood that promotes clotting.3  These benefits are being observed despite coconut oil's saturated fat content.

Another claimed benefit of coconut oil is that it may aid weight loss, and indeed several studies using a purified form of the medium chain fats from coconut oil, called MCT oil, have found that it helped subjects lose fat weight specifically, while improving blood sugar and cholesterol levels.4,5 

In one of these studies, not only did the MCT group lose more body fat compared to a group who used olive oil in their diet, there was a lowering of cholesterol and blood pressure, and three subjects had complete reversal of metabolic syndrome, compared to two in the olive oil group.6

Another claim that is strongly supported by numerous studies is that coconuts are good for immunity.   The primary fatty acid in coconuts, lauric acid, converts to a substance called monolaurin that has antifungal properties and is so effective against the yeast Candida that it is being evaluated as an alternative to the antifungal medication, fluconazole.7 

In addition, monolaurin has been shown to have potent antiviral and antibacterial properties.8  Studies have shown that it is effective against viruses like the one that causes Epstein Barr and bacteria including H. pylori,9 the cause of ulcers and heart burn.  Monolaurin is now available in supplement form.  At LMI we use it with great results in our patients whose immune systems need a boost.

Overall, I believe the new evidence shows that coconuts and coconut oil can be eaten safely and in fact seem to have numerous health benefits.  I know I have been making an effort to include more coconut products in my diet, plus I really enjoy them.

But as for that lovely bunch of coconuts, I buy the products that are already packaged and ready to go. Coconut oil is great for cooking and even for frying, but make sure to look for virgin oil, which is processed in such a way that the oil retains the healthy components.  

Shredded coconut makes a great salad topping and can be used in trail mix blends; I just avoid the sweetened ones.  And coconut milk can be used as a milk substitute in almost any application from baking to using it in your coffee for a different flavor twist. 

Source:  THB

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Snack on This, Get Slender

When it comes to weight loss, some calories count more than others. In a yearlong study of overweight people on a reduced-calorie diet, those enjoying soup each day lost more weight than people who got the same number of calories from other foods eaten for lunch or snacks.
The reason the soup-eaters lost more is likely because a bowl of it has a low ratio of calories to ounces. In other words, the soup takes up more space in people's bellies, and those who ate it felt less hungry later and ate less of other foods over the course of the day.

What won’t work: Cream-based soups (after all, heavy cream packs 400 calories per half cup!). To keep you satisfied and help you trim down, choose soups with a base of low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth and varieties loaded with vegetables, kidney beans, lentils, or brown rice. Those who ate two servings of low energy-dense soup per day (as part of a reduced-calorie diet) lost an average of almost 16 pounds in a year. People who got their calories from high energy-dense snack foods lost much less -- an average of only 10.5 pounds.

Don’t love soup? Other foods with a low calories-to-ounces ratio include air-popped popcorn and fresh produce.

Source:  YOU Docs Daily

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bad Eating Habits Can Alter DNA

Human genes remember a sugar hit for two weeks, with prolonged poor eating habits capable of permanently altering DNA, Australian research has found.

A team studying the impact of diet on human heart tissue and mice found that cells showed the effects of a one-off sugar hit for a fortnight, by switching off genetic controls designed to protect the body against diabetes and heart disease.

"We now know that chocolate bar you had this morning can have very acute effects, and those effects can continue for up to two weeks," said lead researcher Sam El-Osta, from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

"These changes continue beyond the meal itself and have the ability to alter natural metabolic responses to diet," he told Australian Associated Press Friday.

Regular poor eating would amplify the effect, said El-Osta, with genetic damage lasting months or years, and potentially passing through bloodlines.

The study's findings were reported in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Copyright AFP

Ssource:  Bad Eating Habits Can Alter DNA

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Drinking Coffee Slashes Risk of Alzheimer’s

Drinking coffee during midlife can slash your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A Finnish study found that those who drank coffee at midlife had a lower risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease in late-life than those who drank no coffee at all. Those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk by 65 percent.

“We aimed to study the association between coffee and tea consumption at midlife and dementia/AD risk in late-life, because the long-term impact of caffeine on the central nervous system was still unknown, and as the pathologic processes leading to Alzheimer’s disease may start decades before the clinical manifestation of the disease,” says lead researcher, associate professor Miia Kivipelto from the University of Kuopio, Finland and Karloinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Coffee-drinking was categorized into three groups: low (0 to 2 cups daily), moderate (3 to 5 cups) and high (more than 5 cups). Tea-drinking was categorized into two groups: those not drinking tea and those who drank at least one cup daily. While all coffee drinkers had a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than non-drinkers, those who drank moderate amounts of coffee lowered their risk by a surprising 65 percent. Drinking tea had no impact on the risk of developing dementia.

“Given the large amount of coffee consumption globally, the results might have important implications for the prevention of or delaying the onset of dementia/AD. The finding needs to be confirmed by other studies, but it opens the possibility that dietary interventions could modify the risk of dementia/AD,” wrote Kivipelto. “Also, identification of mechanisms of how coffee exerts its protection against dementia/AD might help in the development of new therapies for these diseases.” 

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Weight Is Over

TAIslim™ For a Totally New You

Doctors and diet experts agree that there’s only one permanent way to lose pounds and inches, and that’s to burn more calories than you take in. But if you’ve failed with diet after diet, it’s not your fault. Trendy pills and potions use gimmicks to give you some early results, but the weight always returns. Over time, this yo-yo cycle of losing and regaining can actually slow your metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight. But now, FreeLife® science has found the way to lose weight and feel great, and that’s TAIslim™.

In Asia, the word tai signifies “total” or “complete.” And unlike any other diet you’ve ever tried, the comprehensive TAIslim plan addresses every key aspect of successful weight control. TAIslim is based on FreeLife’s revolutionary patent pending technology and research on the ability of the goji berry to reduce unsightly and dangerous belly fat.

TAIslim™ Para tu nueva imagen 

Check out TaiSlim now

40 Tips for an Exceptional, Superb & Powerful 2009!

1.   Take a 10-30 minute walk every day ... and while you walk, smile; it is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2.   Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.  Buy a lock if you have to.

3.   Record your late night shows and get more sleep.

4.   When you wake up in the morning, complete the following statement: "
My purpose is to _______ today."

5.   Live with the 3 E's:  
Energy, Enthusiasm
and Empathy.

6.   Watch more movies, play more games and read more books than you did in the last year.

7.   Make time to practice meditation,
yoga, tai chi, and prayer; they provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

8.   Spend more time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

9.   Dream more while you are awake.

10.  Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

11.  Drink green tea and plenty of water, and eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

12.  Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13.  Clear your clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.

14.  Don't waste your precious energy on gossip,
energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive, present moment.

15.  Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn; problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class, but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16.  Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a child.

17.  Smile and laugh more; it will keep the
energy vampires away.

18.  Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

19.  Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20.  Don't take yourself so seriously; no one else does.

21.  You don't have to win every argument; a
gree to disagree.

22.  Make peace with your past so it won't screw up your present.

23.  Don't compare your life to others'; you have no idea what their journey is all about.

24.  Burn candles and use the nice bed sheets; don't save it for a special occasion for today is special.

25.  No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26.  Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "
In five years, will this matter?"

27.  Forgive everyone for everything.

28.  What other people think of you is really none of your business.

29.  Time heals almost everything; so give time time.

30.  However good or bad a situation is, it will change; so stop complaining about the weather, the job, rent, etc.

31.  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick; your friends will, so stay in touch with them.

32.  Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

33.  Envy is a waste of time; you already have all you need.

34.  The best is yet to come.

35.  No matter how you feel: get up, dress up and show up.

36.  Do the right thing!

37.  Call the family that fills you often, respect your parents always and try crossing the bridge to friendship, and be civil but remove the effect of the family that drains you.

38.  Each night before you go to bed, complete the following statements: "I am thankful for ______." and Today, I accomplished _______.

39.  Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

40.  Enjoy the ride!  Remember, that this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass; you only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

May your troubles be less, may your blessings be more … and more for 2009!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Alcohol in Mouthwash Linked to Oral Cancer

Australian researchers have linked alcohol, an ingredient found in many mouthwashes, to oral cancer and are calling for them to be pulled immediately from supermarket shelves. The review, published in the Dental Journal of Australia, says there is “sufficient evidence” that “alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer.”

The alcohol is believed to allow carcinogenic substances to enter the lining of the mouth more easily. In addition, acetaldehyde, which is a toxic byproduct of alcohol that can build up in the mouth when mouthwash is swished around, is also thought to cause cancer.

Some brands, such as Listerine, contain over 25 percent alcohol.

Lead author Professor Michael McCullough believes mouthwashes that contain alcohol should be available only by prescription. McCullough, who is chair of the Australian Dental Association is urging the ADA to consider withdrawing their seal of approval for mouthwashes that contain alcohol. (The American Dental Association also gives mouthwashes containing alcohol its seal of approval.)

“We see people with oral cancer who have no other risk factors than the use of alcohol-containing mouthwash,” he told McCullough’s review found that using alcohol-containing mouthwashes daily raised the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx 400 to 500 percent. Those who smoked and used alcohol mouthwashes had a 900 percent increase in risk.

McCullough believes mouthwashes are more risky than alcohol or beer because they usually contain higher concentrations of alcohol than wine or beer and are kept in the mouth longer. “If you have a glass of wine, you tend to swallow it,” he said. “With mouthwash, you have a higher level of alcohol and spend longer swishing it around your mouth. The alcohol that is present in your mouth is turned into acetaldehyde.”

McCullough recommends switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

20 Anti-Aging Herbs and Spices to Add to Your Diet

spice, herb, anti-aging, foodThe typical American diet that is high in simple carbohydrates--white flour, white salt, and processed food--is aging us. We are getting all the bulk without the nutrients, plus adding to our propensity for developing real food cravings. So whether you are a vegetarian or an omnivore, you can start to reverse aging by simply choosing to eat the right foods to keep you full of vim, vigor, and vitality, especially over the holidays.

The easiest way to make sure you are getting more nutrients into every meal.

Every time you flavor your meals with herbs or spices you are literally "upgrading" your food without adding a single calorie. You are taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary by adding color, flavor, vitamins, and often medicinal properties.

Here's why:

* Spices and herbs maximize nutrient density. Herbs and spices contain antioxidants, minerals and multivitamins. At the cocktail party, choose the Thai chicken satay stick over the tried and true fried chicken strip.

* Spices and herbs create a more thermogenic diet. 
Because spices are nutrient dense, they are thermogenic, which means they naturally increase your metabolism. 

* Some spices and herbs increase your overall feeling of fullness and satiety, so you'll eat less. One study conducted at Maanstricht University in the Netherlands showed that when one consumes an appetizer with half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes before each meal, it decreased their calorie intake by 10-16 percent. 

* Spices and herbs have real medicinal properties. Study after study shows the benefits of distinct herbs and spices. For example, one 2003 trial of 60 people with type 2 diabetes reported that consuming as little as two teaspoons of cinnamon daily for six weeks reduced blood-glucose levels significantly. It also improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, perhaps because insulin plays a key role in regulating fats in your body. 

Choose flavor over blandness every time, and try to incorporate these specific herbs and spices into your diet if you have the following health concerns:

  • rosemary and basil for their anti-inflammatory power
  • cumin and sage for their dementia-fighting power
  • cayenne and cinnamon for their obesity-fighting power
  • coriander and cinnamon for their sugar regulating powers
  • lemon grass, nutmeg, bay leaves and saffron for their calming effects on your mood
  • turmeric for its cancer fighting power
  • oregano for its fungus-beating power
  • garlic, mustard seed and chicory for their heart-pumping power
  • basil and thyme for their skin-saving power
  • turmeric, basil, cinnamon, thyme, saffron, and ginger for their immune-boosting power
  • coriander, rosemary, cayenne, allspice and black pepper for their depression-busting power

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Childhood Trauma Linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Individuals who experience trauma during childhood appear more likely to develop chronic fatigue syndrome as adults, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In addition, neuroendocrine dysfunction — or abnormalities in the interaction between the nervous system and endocrine system — appears to be associated with childhood trauma in those with chronic fatigue syndrome, suggesting a biological pathway by which early experiences influence adult vulnerability to illness.

Chronic fatigue syndrome affects as many as 2.5 percent of U.S. adults, according to background information in the article. Little is known about the causes and development of the condition. Risk factors include female sex, genetic predisposition, certain personality traits and physical and emotional stress. "Stress in interaction with other risk factors likely triggers chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms through its effects on central nervous, neuroendocrine and immune systems, resulting in functional changes that lead to fatigue and associated symptoms such as sleep disruption, cognitive impairment and pain," the authors write. "However, obviously not every individual exposed to a stressor goes on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome, and it is therefore of critical importance to understand sources of individual differences in vulnerability to the pathogenic effects of stress."

Christine Heim, Ph.D., of Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, and colleagues studied 113 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 124 healthy individuals who served as controls. Participants — who were drawn from a general sample of 19,381 adult residents of Georgia — reported whether they had experienced childhood trauma, including sexual, physical and emotional abuse or emotional and physical neglect. They also underwent screening for depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and were tested for levels of the hormone cortisol in their saliva. Low levels may indicate decreased function of the body's main neuroendocrine stress response system, the authors note.

Individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome reported higher levels of childhood trauma — exposure to trauma was associated with a six-fold increase in the risk of having the condition. Sexual abuse, emotional abuse and emotional neglect were most closely associated with chronic fatigue syndrome. Patients with the syndrome also were more likely than controls to have depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cortisol levels were decreased in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome who experienced childhood trauma, but not in those with chronic fatigue syndrome who had not been subjected to trauma. Therefore, stress early in life may cause a biological susceptibility to chronic fatigue syndrome, the authors note.

"Our results confirm childhood trauma as an important risk factor of chronic fatigue syndrome," they write. "In addition, neuroendocrine dysfunction, a hallmark feature of chronic fatigue syndrome, appears to be associated with childhood trauma. This possibly reflects a biological correlate of vulnerability due to early developmental insults. Our findings are critical to inform pathophysiological research and to devise targets for the prevention of chronic fatigue syndrome."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The top 10 healthiest diets in America

If losing weight is at the top of your resolution list, you're not alone. An estimated 80 million Americans go on diets every year, spending more than $30 billion annually on programs and products.

Relax -- some diets are more about burning calories than counting calories.

Relax -- some diets are more about burning calories than counting calories.

That's a lot of money, a lot of advice, and a lot of emotional investment. So, which diets really work -- and work safely? To find the weight-loss programs with that golden balance of nutrition, calorie-control, motivation, and activity, Health harnessed a panel of experts to put more than 60 well-known diets to the test and narrow them down to the top 10. Here's the list:

• The Structure House Weight Loss Plan (Fireside)

Don't recognize this plan? That's because for more than 30 years its author, Gerard J. Musante, PhD, has been working quietly and very successfully running the actual Structure House, a Durham, North Carolina-based residential treatment center for obese adults. That's a lot of time spent with patients and a lot of attention paid to the broad factors that affect weight loss -- particularly the relationship people have with food.

But can an excellent residential program transfer to an effective at-home plan? The answer, according to our experts (meet them at right), is a resounding "yes," which is how this below-the-radar plan grabbed highest honors from its better-known rivals.

With top-shelf scores on every aspect of healthy weight-loss, Structure House won an "outstanding!" from obesity expert Tim Church, MD, on its exercise component (often a weak spot in diet programs). And several panelists raved about the plan's motivational components. "It focuses on the 'why' behind overeating," says registered dietitian Maureen Callahan, "and helps dieters learn to put their lives in balance."

Health's Senior Food and Nutrition Editor Frances Largeman-Roth agrees: "This book takes a holistic approach to weight loss, asking you to fill your life with things other than food -- outdoor activities and time with friends and family, for instance. Plus, the recipes, such as Balsamic Dijon Chicken and Classic Pesto, won high marks for tastiness, another factor in long-term weight-loss Lose weight on fast food--- really!

The Step Diet (Workman Publishing)

We all know that walking 10,000 steps a day can really make a huge difference healthwise. But now we also know that the diet inspired by this fundamental, healthy approach to movement and activity is a big winner. And it even comes with a pedometer, a device that studies have shown can be a huge motivator for staying active and losing weight.

Our panelists agree that establishing a lifestyle regimen that combines intentional walking with spur-of-the-moment step-building (parking farther away, taking the stairs) is a healthy, all-ages, all-levels-of-fitness diet prescription. "This is more about calories burned than calories cut," Health's Frances Largeman-Roth 5 tips to keep office snacking from derailing your diet

The nutritional approach of the Step Diet, devised by weight-control experts from the University of Colorado, is profoundly simple: Cut food intake to 75 percent of what you currently eat. "This plan is for people who like things simple," nutrition expert Christine Palumbo says. "Simply cut back on what you normally eat." With suggestions (not hard-core regimens) for making healthy meals and a food diary for building mindfulness, this plan can work well for dieters who like to have daily control and choices.

Our panelists also noted that the cut in calories combined with the steady increase in activity can lead to a safe, healthy rate of weight loss and a naturally active lifestyle. "This is a doable, concrete approach to adding daily physical activity and losing pounds," dietitian and fitness expert Samantha Heller says.

 Weight Watchers

It's a classic for a reason. It works.

And over the years, this gold-standard weight-loss program that harnesses the power of group support to help motivate dieters has kept up with science, not to mention changing lifestyles. For this aspect, Weight Watchers earned the highest motivational marks (including several perfect scores) from our panel of experts, who also lauded the plan's overall healthy weight-loss pace and exercise component.

Most noteworthy: Weight Watchers, while maintaining its meetings-based system, has added an online version for those dieters who, in the words of panelist Largeman-Roth, "aren't into group hugs." Diet tricks the stars use to stay thin

What's more, dieters following the program can choose from two distinct weight-loss approaches. The first, Weight Watcher's famous points-based Flex Plan, which is packed with major education on making wise and healthy food choices, gets kudos for providing both motivation and a simple framework for success. The second, the Core Plan, focuses dieters on eating nutritious, satisfying foods--without counting calories.

The Weight Watchers program offers strategies that will work for every dieter. And the support specifically for men was a real bonus, as was the ability to get tasty, already-prepared (and points counted) meals at your local grocery store.

• The EatingWell Diet (The Countryman Press)

This new entry into the field in 2007 has built beautifully on the latest understanding of the broad approach necessary for effective weight loss. Author Jean Harvey-Berino, PhD, RD, developed the fundamentals of the EatingWell Diet at the University of Vermont, where she chairs the department of nutrition and food science. The focus on behavioral changes--including finding and facing eating triggers, eating and shopping mindfully, and cultivating regular, joyful exercise habits--combined with a 28-day mix-and-match menus gained the highest overall rankings on calorie-intake and weight-loss-rate criteria from our panelists. Reviews of more than 40 popular diets

"Hallelujah," says registered dietitian Maureen Callahan. "Here's a diet plan that tells the truth about weight loss. Dieters lose about 21 pounds in six months, or about a pound a week. This kind of steady weight loss is the real thing, the kind that stays off." Another nifty extra: a Diet Food Diary that includes a calorie-count chart.

 The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Harper Collins)

Nutritionist Barbara Rolls, PhD, has tapped into a fundamental human quality: We like to feel full. This may sound obvious, but it's based, in fact, on extensive work Rolls has done as director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior at Pennsylvania State University. Rolls says you'll eat better and lose weight if you focus on the energy density of foods. And her Volumetrics plan explains how low-density foods like fruits and vegetables, as well as soups and stews, fill you up without overloading you with calories.

This diet scored highest for its safe weight-loss-rate and nutritional components because it's "based on sound nutrition principles and overall healthy food choices," judge Samantha Heller says. And our panelists found the plan's 150-plus recipes appealing. Another plus, judge Christine Palumbo says, is Volumetric's creative approach of showing photos of low- and high-density foods side by side -- a simple way to help dieters visualize good choices.

Though exercise plays a secondary role in the Volumetrics plan, it is required. And a guide for logging 30 to 60 minutes of daily activity provides motivation. But Health's Frances Largeman-Roth wondered if some dieters would need more exercise challenges and support.

• The Best Life Diet (Simon & Schuster)

Bob Greene is forever linked with superstar (and dieter) Oprah Winfrey. And his high-profile guide, which offers a sane, healthy approach to overall lifestyle changes, earned consistently high marks from our experts. Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, who looked at the motivational elements of each diet, was impressed by the realistic goals embraced by the Best Life plan, as well as the weekly menus and recipes offered on its Web site (which also features message-board support groups, a good source of dieting motivation).

Best Life has three phases that each dieter is encouraged to embark upon at his or her own pace, a strategy that leads to slimming, nutritional eating and increased physical activity. Dietitian Christine Palumbo gave this staged approach a perfect 10: "For people who like to ease into lifestyle changes in order to get used to them oh-so-gradually," she says, "this is a good bet."

Greene doesn't advocate keeping strict track of calories, which may make the Best Life more challenging for rule-loving dieters, yet panelists applauded his holistic approach to healthy eating. "He's emphasizing healthy foods in reasonable portions," nutrition expert Maureen Callahan says.

"Dieters shouldn't feel deprived on this plan," Health's Frances Largeman-Roth says. "However, the fact that this diet doesn't have 'magic' foods or promise rapid results may make it less attractive to dieters looking for a silver bullet." And that may be its best recommendation of all.

The Solution (Collins)

"This program excels at helping people figure out why they're overeating," Callahan says, "and that's what's going to keep the weight off." Squarely facing the emotional and behavioral underpinnings of overeating, dietitian Laurel Mellin's method is based on The Shapedown Program, a successful weight-management plan she created for overweight children and adolescents in the late 1970s. Mellin views obesity not so much in terms of diet and exercise but as another expression of the interaction of mind, body, and lifestyle. And The Solution, designed for dieters of all ages, targets five root causes of weight problems: unbalanced eating, low energy, body shame, setting ineffective limits, and weak self-nurturing skills.

The food aspects of this program center on four "light" lists--grains, proteins, milk foods, and fruit and vegetables. And Mellin's guidelines and food suggestions got high marks on healthy balance from our panelists. Largeman-Roth liked the variety of the plan, as well as its overall moderation. And Palumbo awarded it a hat-trick of perfect 10s in all nutritional aspects.

• You: On a Diet (Free Press)

"No wonder Dr. Oz is Oprah's favorite doctor!" Palumbo raves, hailing the friendly diet book that is the centerpiece of the "You" docs Mehmet C. Oz and Michael F. Roizen's mini-empire of healthy lifestyle guides and products (including a very interactive Web site). This diet, Palumbo adds, "teaches and motivates about weight (and waist) loss with a sense of good humor and fun."

Indeed, the book offers a lot of education amidst the menu plans, which include recipes for Stuffed Whole Wheat Pizza, Grilled Peanut Shrimp with Sesame Snow Peas, and Sweet Beet and Gorgonzola Salad. Panelist Samantha Heller praised its easy-to-understand nutrition information, while Dr. Rajapaksa gave points for its good explanations of how the body works. The weight-loss trajectory centers on cutting about 500 calories per day, and panelists liked the easy calculations that help readers figure out their own calorie needs.

Palumbo also credited the plan with adding to the healthy (but not terribly exciting) 30 minutes of daily walking some equally valuable recommendations of stretching, metabolism boosting, muscle building, and strength training. Added benefit: Illustrations show how to do the exercises sans a trip to the gym.

• The Sonoma Diet (Meredith Books)

There's an undercurrent of celebration in this best-selling diet that continues to inspire with delicious recipes using staples of Mediterranean eating: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, fish, and nuts.

Dietitian and PhD Connie Guttersen's plan opens with a strident 10-day jump-start phase called "Wave One," designed to purge habits of eating sugar and highly processed foods, which judges Maureen Callahan and Samantha Heller caution may be a little too calorie-restrictive for some beginning dieters. But subsequent phases--active weight loss and maintenance--garnered high marks from our panel. Exercise is encouraged but not actively prescribed, a missed opportunity in the minds of several judges.

Overall, our panelists loved the creative recipes and menus. And they applauded the plate-and-bowl approach to portion control, a hallmark of long-term, sustainable eating habits. "This diet teaches you to eat slowly and savor your meals," judge Palumbo says.

• The Spectrum (Ballantine)

Famous in the 1990s for advocating a program to combat heart disease, Dr. Dean Ornish, MD, has been criticized for prescribing nutritional edicts that are just too hard to sustain. The Spectrum, Ornish's newest diet, both broadens and softens his program by moving along four separate paths to health--nutrition, exercise, stress management, and personal relationships.

Our panelists liked the plan's holistic approach, particularly rewarding its counsel on reducing stress and giving it high marks for including a meditation DVD with the book. And our nutrition judges were glad to see that Ornish has tempered his tough stance on fats to a more sustainable level, but one panelist feels he's still too strict. "There's no reason not to eat nuts, seeds, and avocados; use maple syrup and honey; or have a glass of wine, periodically," panelist Heller says. She notes, though, that Ornish's whole-body approach, which includes a vegetarian lifestyle, stress management, and exercise, is on target in terms of health, disease prevention, and reaching a healthy weight.

Judge Palumbo awarded Ornish's plan some of her highest scores. "This 'diet' plan addresses the lifestyle diseases of the 21st century," she says, "such as diabetes, certain cancers, and cardiovascular disease. This book is ideal for people who are looking for an intelligent, thoughtful, science-based weight-loss program."

By Tracey Minkin/CNN Heth

And a great addition to any diet program is the Big Red Juice - FreeLife's Himilayan Goji Juice or GoChi