Health Researchers Gather to Talk about Tea

There’s a growing body of evidence suggesting a role for tea in preventing and treating many chronic diseases, writes Maureen Williams ND.

Researchers recently gathered in Washington, DC, for the Fifth Annual Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health, an event that showcased results from the most recent and not-yet-published studies on the health benefits of tea.

A range of reported benefits

Here are some highlights from the new research presented at the symposium:

  • Tea may lower risk of stroke. A meta-analysis of studies looking at tea consumption and cardiovascular disease conducted by a pair of researchers from UCLA determined that drinking tea was associated with stroke prevention.
  • Tea may improve alertness and focus. A researcher from the Netherlands presented a review of studies looking at the effect of tea on mood and mental functioning. In total, she reported, the evidence suggests that taking tea can improve alertness, attention, and mood.
  • Tea extract may keep blood vessels healthy. This preliminary trial demonstrated that taking tea flavonols (antioxidant compounds) could reduce blood pressure and improve results on tests of blood vessel function in people with mild high blood pressure. It also found that people who had taken the tea flavonols for one week were protected against the deterioration in blood vessel function and blood flow that occurs after eating a very high-fat meal.
  • Tea may assist weight loss. A presentation reviewing the research on tea and weight loss included data showing that tea increases metabolic rate, fat breakdown, and weight loss and may help prevent rebound weight gain.
  • Green tea may prevent some cancers. Two papers reviewing the effects of tea on cancer risk were presented. They suggested that green tea and its antioxidants may have general anticancer effects and reviewed the findings from trials looking at green tea and specific types of cancer. One of the papers noted in particular the promising results from studies looking at green tea and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract: mouth, oesophagus, stomach, liver, and colon.
  • Tea may prevent bone loss. A researcher from Texas reviewed the data on tea’s impact on bone turnover, suggesting that tea, and especially green tea, may improve bone health and prevent fractures.

Specific tea antioxidants—how they work and what they might do for health—were the subject of other studies and reports.

Putting it in perspective

At conferences, researchers always want to present their most exciting new findings, but it is important to keep in mind that none of the papers presented at the symposium have yet been reviewed by third-party experts or published in credible journals. Still, they do show an impressive and growing body of evidence suggesting a role for tea in preventing and treating many chronic diseases.

“As the second most consumed drink in the world next to water, tea accounts for a significant amount of the flavanol intake worldwide,” states Joe Simrany, President of the Tea Council of the USA, which has been a leading force behind the International Tea and Human Health Symposium since 1991. “This gathering of renowned global nutrition scientists is the world’s leading platform to release new research on tea, and acts as a catalyst for continuing research on tea in areas as diverse and novel as cognitive function, bone growth, weight management, cancer, and vascular function.”

Abstracts from the symposium are posted at the Tea Association of the USA’s website, http://www.teausa.org.

(Fifth Intl Scientific Symposium Health Abstracts 2012, The Tea Association of the USA, accessed September 27, 2012; http://www.teausa.org/index.cfm/14748/fifth-intl-scientific-symposium-health-abstracts)

Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Most people suffer from D-ficiency

Did you know that doctors prescribe Vitamin D?

The reason is that it is such an important vitamin in terms of calcium absorbtion and bone health, but in our later years our ability to produce the Vitamin D decreases. It also thought to help fight major diseases and can help with the pain of arthritis, muscle strength and coordination. Not to mention it ptobably keeps you thinking clearly in later life too.

However, different people need different amounts of Vitamin D (though most of us don’t get enough of the vitamin in the first place). So, it’s important to see a doctor about taking the right amount in the first place.

You can get Vitamin D from the sun, but the fact that so many doctors are prescribing it shows that our Vitmain D intake really does need supplementing.

The respected supplement company, Pharma Nord, produce Vitamin D capsules in various strengths. Once you have established how much you need and have started on a course, your Vitamin D levels could well return to normal.

Also, ask your doctor about which type of Vitamin D to take, because it come as both Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.

 

Keep zinc and magnesium levels up to avoid hair loss

Do you know which minerals you need for your health? Take this test to see how much you know…

Everyone knows calcium is important for healthy bones, but did you know that zinc and magnesium are too? They are especially important if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; also, growing children, menopausal women and the elderly need extra calcium, zinc and magnesium for changing bodies too.

Hair loss
Hair loss is one of the results of magnesium deficiency

One of the well known problems if you’re lacking these minerals is hair loss. It’s easy to keep topped up in zinc and magnesium by munching pumpkin seeds and the like. Alternatively, you can enjoy the ease of a daily dose of Floradix Saludynam which provides the right balance of magnesium, zinc and calcium plus Vitamin D in a fruity liquid form. There’s no additives, preservatives or colourings, no gluten, just a perfect formula for strong bones, teeth and hair.

One last word of advice. because the balance of these vitamins in your body can be so vital, it is worth having a chat with your doctor before using a zinc/magnesium supplement.

Cod liver oil makes a come back

There was a time when cod liver oil was feared by children the world over. Forced to gulp down horrid spoonfuls of the vile tasting liquid, they would do anything to avoid it, and all in the name of health.

Healthy oils for body and mind
Healthy oils for body and mind

But life has changed a lot since then. Most importantly it was realised that the Omega Fats in fish oil are excellent for strengthening the brain and heart and decreasing blood pressure. Add to this the benefit of being able to swallow doses in small capsules (thus helping with the taste) and children everywhere began to breathe a smile of relief.

Now Seven Seas are taking the revolution one step further combining a range of healthy oils, vitamins and minerals renowned for their beneficial properties. They’ve got some snazzy names too:

Radiant You
– Fish Oil blended with Biotin and Zinc for healthy hair, skin and nails.
Perfect Harmony
– Fish Oil with Primrose and Starflower Oils for hormonal balance.
Healthy Heart
– Fish Oil with Garlic and Vitamin B1 for the cardiovascular system.
Energetic You
– Fish Oil with B vitamins and CoQ10 for daily health and vitality.
Immune Defence
– Fish Oil with Vitamin C and Zinc keeps you fighting fit.
Flexible You
– Fish Oil with Calcium and Vitamins D & K for healthy bones, muscles and joints.
Active Mind
– Fish Oil blended with Ginkgo and Zinc for mental performance.

With advances like these, once tormented children can say hello to a daily dose of health without fear.

Why do you need Prebiotics? And other musings…

Why do you need Prebiotics?

They cultivate good bacteria in your gut and kill off the bad ones. A healthy balance of good bacteria means you’ll have a better immune system, absorb nutrients more efficiently (especially calcium), and improve your bowel health.

Why do we need Calcium?

We all know that calcium is good for the bones. It is also essential for your metabolism and muscles, it protects your heart and improves premenstrual moods. Too little calcium and your body can soon be in a mess, but if you overdose on it you won’t absorb nutrients properly.

Why do we need Cranberries?

Cranberries inhibit bacteria at work in your body and helps reduce inflammation. The knock on effect has been linked to heart health, kidney stones, urinary health, gum disease and cancer.

Why do you need Flaxseed?

For Omega 3 apart from anything else. It has been found to have an impact on the symptoms of arthritis, colitis, cancer, heart disease and even acne. Flaxseed helps your hormone levels and is a natural way to normalize the menstrual cycle, manage menopause, and lower the risk of osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease.

How can you get them?

Calciflax is a new food supplement from Lifestream which is 100% natural and has Calcium, Flaxseed, Prebiotics and Cranberries in it. It is ethically made and can easily be added to cereals or smoothies, yoghurts and salads.

If you’re interested, take a look

Are you getting enough minerals? – Quiz

Our bodies can’t make minerals. We get them from what we eat and drink. You don’t need loads but they are as vital as vitamins are. They are needed for structural strength, fluid control and energy conversion.

So here’s a test: Count up the foods in each category (A,B,C etc.) that you eat on a regular basis (several times a week). Then compare your score with the guide at the bottom.

A Apples, Kale, Broccoli, Live yoghurt, Cottage cheese, Cheddar cheese, Sesame seeds, Whitebait, Sardines, Salmon (tinned)
B Tomatoes, Broccoli, Onions (raw), Liver, Chicken, Turkey, Oysters, Mussels
C Avocados, Asparagus, Chickpeas, Barley, Hazelnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Pistachios, Sesame seeds, Walnuts
D Spinach, Apricots (dried), Chickpeas, Kidney beans, Lentils, Soya beans, Tofu, Liver, Beef, Lamb, Venison, Prawns, Anchovies
E Pumpkin, Lettuce, Spinach, Brown rice, Spelt, Whole wheat, Hazelnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Brazil nuts, Cashews, Pumpkin seeds, Scallops, Salmon
F Pumpkin, Seaweed, Peas, Beef, Lamb, Poultry, Game, Liver, Cheese, Yoghurt, Eggs, Pecans, Pine nuts
G Cabbage, Onions, Brussel sprouts, Peas, Red meat, Poultry, Eggs
H Potatoes, Avocados, Tomatoes, Sun dried tomatoes, Dried fruits, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Cucumber, Peppers, Bananas, Celery, Lettuce (dark), Herring
I Pineapples, Sweet potatoes, Spinach, Peas, Leeks, Chickpeas, Kidney beans, Lentils, Soya beans, Tofu, Barley, Brown rice, Oat, Wild rice, Hazelnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Sunflower seeds, Almonds, Sesame seeds, Walnuts


Results

A = Calcium levels. You are: 1-3 probably deficient, 4-6 possibly deficient, 7-10 adequate
Maintains strong and healthy bones and teeth. Also aids blood clotting, muscle and nerve function, lowering blood pressure.

Continue reading

Vitamin K2, of osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s fame, discovered in Spirulina

There is a  growing body of research showing benefits for Vitamin K2. Among other benefits Vitamin K2 is believed to:

* Support blood health
* Support cardiovascular health and circulation
* Support bone health and benefit people with osteoporosis

These are very significant areas of health and in addition to this list, exciting new research is showing that Vitamin K2 may be beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease, a variety of cancers, varicose veins, and skin aging.  That is some line up indeed.

In general one of Vitamin K’s job in our bodies is to put the calcium in the right places and keep it from being deposited in the wrong places so helping to avoid bone spurs and calcification of soft tissues. It also helps prevent calcification of arteries which contributes to ageing.

It is only relatively recently that the role of Vitamin K in the balance of calcium within our bodies has been appreciated, whereas the other balancing nutrients of Vitamin D3  and Magnesium have been recognised for much longer.

Vitamin K is a fat soluble compound which is important for blood coagulation generally found in plants and in the ‘good bacteria’ of our bodies. In normal situations our bodies have no trouble storing Vitamin K, but antibiotics and other drugs can hinder it’s production.  This is a very brief summary of a complex issue which can be read more fully here or here.  However the good news I have for you is that  Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica provides approximately 15 mcg / 3gm daily serving or 19% of the Daily Recommended Value of Vitamin K2, and 75 mcg / 3gm daily serving of Vitamin K (including all forms) or 94% of the Daily Recommended Value of Vitamin K based on analytical results from an independent laboratory.

Hawaiian Pacifica Spirulina is already recognised as one of the world’s most nutrient rich foods. To hear, in addition to this, that Spirulina is also a good source of Vitamin K2 is indeed a bonus.  The manufacturers have told us : ‘ We have long known that Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica is an excellent source of Vitamin K, with 94% of the recommended Daily Value; but until now no Spirulina product has been shown to specifically contain Vitamin K2. We are delighted.’

See the full range of Hawaiian Spirulina

Winter Wonders!

Winter is one of the busiest times of the year, so it makes good sense to make sure that we’re as healthy as we can be. Tackle all kinds of winter health problems… the natural way.

Feeling it in your bones?

The phrase “feeling it in your bones” is not so stupid – in fact, changes in atmospheric pressure in the autumn and winter can aggravate bone conditions, increasing inflammation and swelling. As well as good old-fashioned high strength cod liver oil, there are plenty of more modern remedies to help keep joint problems at bay. Take glucosamine sulphate, for example. You can now get it as a tablet which you drop into water or you can use gel patches. If you are choosing a supplement, remember to take at least 1500mg daily in the first three months. This is the level which has been used in research. Long term, consider a bone formulation to nutritionally support joints health. These contain minerals, and vitamin D which are important for the bone matrix.
SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) is another remedy which reduces pain, stiffness and swelling and green lipped mussel extract is also a popular anti-inflammatory, reducing joint tenderness and morning stiffness.

If you prefer herbal remedies, then there are plenty which are aimed at managing inflammation and swelling; willow, black cohosh and sarsaparilla are good examples, and there are some tailor-made herbal preparations you can try. Some even come in balm or rub-form, using strong essential oils such as the mints and ginger (which smell very Christmassy!) and soothing plant extracts like chamomile and calendula.

Strengthen Your Defences…

At this time of year, our immune systems are having to work overtime. The change towards damper weather, short sunlight hours and lethargy after nearly a full year at work can all take their toll. Coughs, colds, flu and general feelings of being under the weather can leave you feeling drained. But there are things that you can do to help…

Vitamin C, taken at 1000mg daily (sometimes recommended three times daily) will help to reduce duration of the common cold. If you have an established cold, high potency is the only way of getting research levels of nutrients, a recommended dose would be 1000mg vitamin C, with 40 to 50mg zinc. Support this with a general antioxidant formulation.

Echinacea is a highly popular remedy at this time of year. You can use it to improve the action of white blood cells – helping your body to manage any infection. At the same time, another popular remedy – ginseng – can be used to help the body adapt to physical, mental and emotional stress (prevalent at this time of the year).

Think holistically too – looking at your diet. Include more garlic (or take a supplement) as this herbs is naturally antimicrobial. Fortify your diet with dried fruits and vegetables, immune-strengthening shiitake mushrooms, no-caffeine drinks, green teafruit juices and other nonalcoholic drinks (some naturopaths argue that alcohol depresses the immune system’s ability to fight infection). If your diet is poor, take a high potency multinutrient, PLUS a combination formula of essential fatty acids omega 3 and 6for at least 3 months.

Don’t forget that stress affects immune function. Unwind using essential oils which are good for immune function and act as decongestants such as Eucalyptus, peppermint, cajuput.

Saving Face

With our immune systems being under pressure from stress, lack of antioxidant nutrients from fresh produce and a barrage of seasonal infections, it’s hardly surprising that some people become more susceptible to bad skin and cold sores. There are all kinds of lip balms that you can recommend for general lip (and mouth) health, preventing cracking and soreness, but to tackle cold sores head on, recommend one to three grams of lysine, a powerful antioxidant formulation, and plenty of products to manage stress, such as CDs, candles and essential oils (lavender, mandarin).

For general skin care, recommend a skin formula (including B vitaminsvitamin C) and a supplement of essential fatty acids including fish oils and evening primrose oil. Herbals which are good for the skin include: echinacea, ginkgo biloba, pine bark, milk thistle (there are many to choose from, so refer to a herbalist if the problem is very person-specific).

Tackle coughs and colds head on.

If you do get a cough or a cold, then herbal remedies are for you. There are all kinds of products which are tailor-made for various symptoms; marshmallow and slippery elm are mucilage and can soothe a sore throat, goldenseal (which contains berberine and canadine) is antimicrobial and has immune-stimulating components), and there are other herbs for tickly coughs, headaches, runny noses, blocked sinuses and barking coughs and phlegm.

Beating the Christmas Stodge

If there’s one time of year when digestive problems such as bloating, wind and acid indigestion are on the up, it’s Christmas. People tend to eat heavier foods, so a supplement of betaine hydrochloride (which adds stomach acid, assisting softening and breakdown of food in the stomach) can be useful to many. This is often found as an inherent part of a digestive enzyme supplement, most often made using plant-source enzymes to break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins (great when any rich, or hard-to digest food is eaten). Herbals are useful, including chamomile, fennel, peppermint, turmeric to calm the stomach, and artichoke, devil’s claw and boldo to stimulate the digestive system.

Senna, aloe vera and fruit cubes are great for constipation, which is common when a lot of refined foods are being eaten. Essential oils, applied using massage to the stomach can be great for crampy and bloated (windy) stomachs, using coriander, dill, clove or peppermint.

Natural Lifestyle © Natural Lifestyle in connection with Natural Health Week

Supplements for Women

Whatever your time of life there is something to help…

PMS, Conception and Pregnancy

  • Chasteberry (agnus castus) has shown itself effective for the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, also try black cohosh. Evening primrose oil and vitamin B6 relieve breast tenderness and mood swings in some women, while calcium and magnesium supplements can help ease cramps.
  • Supplement with folic acid for three months before conception and continue during pregnancy.
  • For morning sickness try ginger or acupressure wristbands.
  • Eat oily fish or take a fish oil supplement (not cod liver oil) as the essential fatty acid they contain is vital to brain development in your growing baby.
  • Raspberry leaf tea can help prepare you for labour but should only be drunk in the last couple of months of pregnancy.
  • Specially-formulated pregnancy supplements are available that provide the combination of nutrients needed to help ensure a healthy mother and baby.

    Menopause Moments

  • Black cohosh is useful for mood swings and night sweats; evening primrose oil or borage oil for breast pain and fatigue; agnus castus, which helps stabilise hormone levels; red clover and soya for their phytoestrogens; and essential fatty acids for mood swings and concentration.

    Get Good Bones

  • Eat calcium-rich foods (for example green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach) and consider a calcium supplement combined with vitamin D.
  • The minerals boron, magnesium and zinc are also necessary for bone health so consider supplementing with an appropriate multi-vitamin and mineral formulation.
  • Glucosamine has been shown to maintain healthy joints.
  • Weight-bearing exercise – such as walking, aerobics, running – is also important as it strengthens your bones while stimulating the creation of new bone.

    Stresses of Life…

    Do you smoke? Take at least an extra 200mg vitamin C daily (smoking Increases body requirements for vitamin C).

    Do you drink? Consider milk thistle and dandelion to detox your liver and kidneys, vitamin C and a fish oil supplement to improve your concentration.

    Natural Lifestyle © Natural Lifestyle Magazine in connection with Natural Health Week

  • Fish Oils

    Cod Liver Oil has been used as a medicine for centuries although its clinical use did not begin until the mid 17th century when it was given to people suffering with bone disease and rheumatism. At that time no-one knew why it worked.

    A Time-Honoured Remedy

    Research continued and cod liver oil was found to contain many nutrients that were not easily obtained from non-marine sources. Cod liver oil is a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins, A, D and E and also contains polyunsaturated fatty acids (EPA and DHA) which have essential roles in the body’s metabolism.

    In 1970, two Danish doctors discovered that Eskimos in Grenland had a low incidence of coronary heart disease, associated with eating large amounts of fatty fish and seafoods. Further tests showed that EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) is contained in far greater quantities in the blood lipids of Eskimos, as is DHA (docohexaenoic acid). This is needed in high proportions in the grey matter of the brain, the nerve tissue and the retina of the eye to ensure healthy functioning of these organs.

    So perhaps the “old wive’s tale” of fish being good for the brain is not so far fetched!

    Researchers at the University of London have shown that fish oils can lower the risk of heart disease and reduce cholesterol levels and it has also been indicated that EPA can help with arthritis and rheumatism.

    A Dutch researcher carried out surveys in more than 16 different countries to measure fish intake relative to heart disease frequency. His results showed that the groups eating no fish have a 10 times greater risk of heart disease than groups like the Japanese or the Eskimos who eat a great deal of fish.

    More importantly, it is also shown that eating a limited amount of fish reduces the risk significantly so that changing the diet from eating no fish to eating 50g a day will reduce the risk by half. (One tsp of cod liver oil is equivalent to 50g fish.)

    There is also good news for those who have had heart trouble. A study carried out by the Medical Research Council gives direct evidence that increasing the fish oil intake can reduce the risk of death from heart disease where one heart attack has already been suffered. One group advised to take 6 cod liver oil capsules a day (or eat fatty fish at least twice a week) had a 35% better survival rate.

    Could fish oils calm us all down?

    The intriguing possibility that eating more fish or supplementing the diet with fish oil capsules could calm us down has been raised by research published in the Lancet.

    The idea comes as a result of a study suggesting that people with a high level of a certain type of fat in their blood tend to be more aggressive. Researchers in Edinburgh took samples from 1,500 randomly selected middle aged men and women. These were then measured for the different types of fat and the subjects’ personality profiles examined, assessing them for factors such as hostility and the extent to which they looked down on, or tended to dominate, other people.

    After taking into account factors such as smoking and drinking habits, it was found that those with the most aggressive attitudes had higher levels of the triglyceride type of fat in their blood. The connection with fish lies in the well-established fact that eating more of the oil found in fish lowers the level of triglyceride due to its Omega-3 polyunsaturates content.

    “A reduction in aggressiveness may be one more of the factors contributing to the explanation of how eating more oil-rich fish reduces heart disease risk” comments Fish Foundation chief executive, Dr Ray Rice.

    Daily Dose

    During the period from 1930 to 1950, the Government provided cod liver oil through the NHS as a vitamin A and D supplement to ensure healthy growth and bone formation in children and it was not until 1971 that the free distribution of cod liver oil was dropped at health clinics because of decreased demand.

    For many of us, the daily dose of cod liver oil is a never to be forgotten experience as it tastes so unpleasant. Cod liver oil remains the subject of very extensive research and the good news is that much as been done to make it far more palatable.

    Who Should Take Fish Oil as a Supplement?

    • Those with arthritis or rheumatism
    • Those concerned with heart health
    • Those with dry skin and hair