Optimal Health Institute
August 2009 Newsletter
This month’s articles:
Do We Really Need to Take Nutritional Supplements?
Resveratrol Makes Gains as Health Supplement
Supplements and Weight Loss
More Omega 3 Health Benefits
How to De-Stress a Recession-Riddled Life
Critically Ill Lack Vitamin D
The topics for our regular features are:
Sex: Question and Answer
Just Do It! Walking Downhill Gives Surprising Benefits
On the Lighter Side: The Gynecologist
Frightening Food Fact: Sundae Worst
Recipe of the Month: Sautéed Tuna Steaks with Garlic Sauce
Supplement of the Month: Probiotics and Immune Function
Referral Incentive Program
Do We Really Need to Take Nutritional
As this is a question we hear frequently at Optimal Health, we decided to
answer the question in this month’s newsletter. This article is long, but we’ve
included a lot of information that will help you decide if taking that handful of
capsules every day is really worthwhile.
Supplement Overview: Over the last decade, people are increasingly
turning to nutritional, dietary and herbal supplements to prevent diseases and
promote general good health. But many aspects of our modern lifestyles, such
as the junk food we eat, the toxic water and air we might be exposed to,
conspire to undermine our health. Our bodies are continuously under attack
from all kinds of factors that threaten to damage our health.
Therefore, our bodies struggle to get all the basic elements we need to
function properly. Nutritional supplements can provide the essential elements
our bodies need to thrive, and to achieve optimum health.
One thing we want to emphasize is that although dietary supplements are a
great way to complement your diet, they are no replacement for healthy
eating. Dietary supplements will help improve your health regardless of what
you eat, but taken in combination with a well-rounded diet, our health can
achieve even higher levels.
Who needs supplements? According to the Anarem Report, out of 21,500
individuals, "not a single individual consumed 100% of the 10 most needed
nutrients in the body." The U.S. Senate Document #264 states, "99% of the
American people are deficient in vitamins and minerals..."
If you visit the FDA's own web site, you'll read their new position on nutritional
and natural health supplements. It states in part that supplements of vitamins,
minerals or fiber also may help meet special nutritional needs. Those with
special nutritional needs include people who are older, young children, women
who may become pregnant, people with various illnesses and medical
conditions that include asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, hypertension and
high cholesterol, those who are dealing with stress and those who are taking
certain medications that affect the way that food is metabolized.
In other words, nearly everyone but young adult males in excellent health who
eat a healthy, varied diet that includes all the food groups in all the right
proportions can benefit from taking quality natural health supplements.
Why We Need Quality Health Supplements To Stay Healthy: Once upon
a time, the earth was a rich source of nutrients. Mother Nature regulated the
balance of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in the foods that grew in the
earth. As man became farmer, cultivating the land, he took his cue from
nature as well. Without knowing a thing about depletion of nutrients in soil, he
learned to rotate crops so that each year's crop replaced the nutrients that last
year's crop had drained. By contrast, modern farming methods:
Strip the soil of nutrients by over farming it
Use pesticides that add harmful chemicals to the diet
Rely heavily on nitrogen and artificial nutrients to fertilize the soil - to
the detriment of our health
Genetically modify food to look good - by stripping it of nutrients that
our bodies need
At the same time, industrialization has polluted the earth, water and sky. That
pollution has nearly eliminated some of our healthiest food choices from our
diets. Fish is heavily contaminated with poisonous mercury. Groundwater from
which plants draw sustenance is contaminated with chemicals and other
pollutants. The air is filled with smog, smoke and other poisonous chemicals
that seep into our bodies through our lungs, our skin and the food that we eat.
Studies and research conducted in nearly every country has proven that many
of the nutrients that have been lost or reduced in our diets provide vital
protection to our bodies. Vitamins like C, D, E and the B complex family,
enzymes like CoQ10 and essential fatty acids that are found in fish and certain
vegetable oils all have proven antioxidant properties. Those antioxidants play a
vital role in protecting the body from the damage done by pollution and
Modern food processing methods strip further nutrients. By the time most
foods reach your plate, they have a fraction of the nutrition that the same
foods had fifty or a hundred years ago. Add in our own tendency to favor
highly processed convenience foods, and it's no wonder that the rates of
illnesses connected to poor nutrition are skyrocketing.
Stress, whether emotional or physical or due to injury or illness, depletes the
body of nutrients, especially vitamin C, the B complex and zinc. Vitamin B6
and pantothenic acid are also particularly important in times of stress.
Vitamins C and E and zinc promote the healing process. A comprehensive
approach to good health includes practices that aid in stress management,
regular exercise and proper diet. Diet and nutritional supplements provide the
building blocks to form a healthier, more vital organism.
A Note on the RDAs: The Recommended Dietary Allowances are established
by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council, National
Academy of Science. These nutrient levels are supposed to prevent deficiency
diseases in most healthy people. Unfortunately, the values have been heavily
influenced by the food industry, economic considerations and politics, not just
Many researchers question the value of the RDAs. They make the highly
processed American food supply look more nutritious than it is, and they
appear to be influenced by the food industry. The RDAs are not useful in
establishing optimal health. You are at little risk of developing the deficiency
diseases - pellagra, scurvy, or beriberi. Our modern problems are not
deficiency diseases but degenerative diseases. Nutrients play an important role
in preventing these conditions. The RDAs cannot be used in evaluating the
therapeutic and preventive value of large doses of dietary supplements.
The sad truth is, if you look around, you will see many people who do manage
to get the RDA levels of most nutrients, but they still go on to develop early
heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. They have frequent viral
infections (colds, the flu, herpes), they are overweight, and they lose their
teeth to decay and gum disease. In terms of life expectancy, infant mortality
and health care costs, Americans are not in the most favorable position in
world statistics. Average Americans have a lower life expectancy than citizens
of some third world countries.
In this regard, it is not good to be average - the average American will die
early of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer. You can do many things to
improve your health and reduce your risk of developing the health problems of
the rest of the population. Taking dietary supplements is one of them. And it is
an important one. Let’s explore what nutrients may do for your health, energy
and general sense of vitality and well-being.
The bottom line is that the food we eat no longer contains all the vital
nutrients that our bodies need to stay healthy.
Choosing Health Supplements Wisely: Although we are very proud of our
supplement line at Optimal Health, we encourage our clients to take any brand
of supplements they are comfortable with. That is why we supply you with a
list of ingredients – and the quantities of each ingredient - in each of our
supplements. There are an increasing number of products on the market that
simply list a huge list of ingredients but no amounts under a “proprietary
formula”. Our feeling is that is important information to have. If one is to
benefit from a supplement, it must be present in amounts research has shown
to be effective. And, quite frankly, there is no way some of these products
have sufficient amounts of 100’s of ingredients in just a few capsules.
As the nutritional supplement market grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to
find a high quality, safe product that you can trust. A recent study by the
Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association (Winter, 1999) shows that
only 2.5% of consumers will choose a nutritional product that is both nontoxic
and effective. In other words, there is a 97.5% chance that without
investigating the reliability of the product yourself you could select a nutritional
product that might be hazardous to your health.
Selecting the right vitamin supplement is crucial to the maintenance of
optimum health, so here are some guidelines that will help you make the best
Vitamins are Only Part of the Story: Vitamins are not the only nutrients
that our bodies require in order to maintain optimum health levels - minerals
and other trace nutrients are also necessary to maintain our general health,
and to give our bodies the tools they need to fight off health problems.
Vitamins also require the presence of these minerals to function correctly in
the body, so unless it contains all these nutrients, any vitamin supplement we
take will be useless. Look for a multivitamin supplement that includes
minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and herb
extracts to provide your body with all the tools it needs to maintain good
The Importance of Minerals: Minerals are the invisible ingredients that play
a vital role in almost every reaction that takes places within the billions of cells
in our body. Their functions range from enabling enzymes to activating
chemical reactions, and from building good bone structure to promoting
healthy brain functions.
Since the body cannot manufacture minerals itself, we have to ingest minerals
from the food we eat. The problem begins here, as today the soil does not
contain the essential minerals it once did. Recent studies have illustrated this
clearly, and also shown the effects this has on our health.
A study from Canada shows that in the last 50 years, foods show a sharp
decline in the nutrients they contain including calcium, iron and other minerals.
Another study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that a significant
number of Americans cannot get sufficient amount of minerals such as
calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, and manganese from the food they
This means that even if you consume a diet rich in fresh fruits, veggies and
meat, your health is still at risk due to one or more vitamin and mineral
deficiencies. A mineral deficiency can be even more detrimental to health than
a lack of vitamins, as vitamins themselves cannot function without the aid of
As any nutrient deficiency is an open invitation to health problems, it is crucial
to take nutritional supplements that contain not only the minerals but also
vitamins and other nutrients that are essential to maintain general well being.
Choose a vitamin mineral supplement, which also includes trace minerals,
amino acids, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and herb extracts to help combat all
malnutrition issues at once.
Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamins: There is an overwhelming amount of
information available on the merits of natural vitamins compared with those
synthetically made, but if you have a choice, be sure to select the natural
variety. For example, recent research confirms that natural vitamin E is more
readily useable by the body than synthetic vitamin E, and that the natural type
remains active in the body for a longer period of time. Our bodies seem more
receptive to vitamins in their natural state, which increases their efficacy in
improving our health.
So why do manufacturers produce synthetic vitamins at all? The answer is
simple: because they are cheaper to produce than their natural counterparts.
So make sure that you choose a multivitamin supplement made of natural
ingredients in order to balance your body’s health naturally.
The Synergy of Nature: Because nature operates in harmony, producing a
high quality, effective supplement does not involve simply adding separate
ingredients together. The active ingredients interact in natural ways, and
capturing this natural harmony in a supplement is a task that must be
performed by skilled scientists and nutritionists. The combination of active
ingredients must be undertaken with great care, as many of these ingredients
interact with one another, and an incorrect combination can produce harmful
effects. Before you purchase a supplement, ensure that the manufacturer has
the scientific expertise to produce products that are safe and effective.
Why do I have to take so many pills? You will not get the true vitamin
benefits if you just take single vitamins. This is due to the fact that most
vitamins and minerals do not work in isolation, and their function is
interdependent. Complete vitamin mineral supplementation is the only
effective way to get the full vitamin benefits and ensure that all the essential
interactions take place, and this is why a high-quality multi vitamin/mineral
supplement is necessary.
Bioavailability is a measure of how much of a particular substance can be
absorbed by your body. Not all forms of vitamins and minerals are alike, and
some are more readily absorbed and others. Very few of the vitamin
supplements available today contain ingredients that are more than minimally
bioavailable, thus reducing the vitamin benefits you receive.
The manufacturers of most vitamin mineral supplements think that consumers
will go for the biggest numbers and assume that they will not know any
Most of the quality ingredients that are highly bioavailable take a more
physical space in the pill. This means that supplements of higher quality will
actually be much bigger pills, and will require that you swallow more than one
pill per day in order to receive the adequate amounts of the nutrients and the
full vitamin benefits.
How Do I Choose a Reliable Manufacturer? The supplement industry in
the U.S. is only loosely regulated, and choosing a good supplement can be
difficult. Some products do not even contain the active ingredients they
should, and others do not the correct amounts needed to ensure optimal
health. Worryingly, some of them contain substances that might actually be
harmful to your health. Look for a manufacturer that follows GMP guidelines,
as these are the highest standard available, and will ensure manufacturing and
quality control procedures have been carefully followed.
So What Is In The Bottle? Since what is on the label is no guarantee of
what is actually in your supplement bottle, request a Certificate of Analysis
(COA) for the product, which is available from the manufacturer. This will give
a good indication of the quality and purity of the active ingredients. If the
manufacturer does not supply this with every product they sell, simply choose
If you have any questions about the Optimal Health Institute line of
supplements (e.g., how they were designed, synergy of ingredients,
effectiveness of dosages, etc.) please call us at 423.778.9470.
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Resveratrol Makes Gains as Health Supplement
Dr. Ralph Moss
July 26, 2009
ITHACA, NY. Most of my research involves long hours on the computer or in the
medical library. So it's a pleasure to literally do some fieldwork here in the Finger
Lakes. I'm making my annual tour of wine country, visiting some of New York
State's most innovative wineries. My special interest, aside from sampling some
amazing wines, is in assessing the progress in organic wine cultivation, especially
those containing a natural compound called resveratrol. Some of the Finger Lakes
wines have been found, in a Cornell University study, to have the highest
resveratrol content in the world.
Resveratrol is a natural compound found in the skin of grapes and in various red
wines. It may be that its presence, even in minute quantities, can help explain the
"French paradox." This refers to the fact that the French people have a diet much
higher in saturated fats than most Americans (four times as much butter, for
instance) but also less heart disease. Some scientists attribute this paradox to the
resveratrol that the French get from drinking wine on a daily basis.
There is also some animal experimentation from 2008 showing that mice fed
resveratrol live longer than mice that are deprived of this chemical (Pearson 2008).
It may be that resveratrol triggers production of sirtuins, a class of proteins that
regulate metabolism. The trouble with all these experiments is that they use a level
of resveratrol that is impossible to attain in humans: you'd have to drink between
35-100 bottles of red wine a day. This would be a bit much even for the most
But a lot of scientists are betting that they can design look-alike drugs that can be
made on the model of resveratrol and that can have a positive impact on health
and longevity. In one of the most astonishing business stories of last year, Sirtris, a
startup company that develops drugs with effects similar to resveratrol, was sold to
GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million. Sirtris is working on other drugs that can activate
Teetotalers needn't write in (as they did the last time I wrote in praise of wine) to
remind me of all of alcohol's many downsides. I get it. If you don't drink, you
shouldn't start just in order to boost your consumption of resveratrol. And, yes, it's
also true that red or purple grape juice also contains resveratrol (about half as
much as wine). But if you already do take a glass of wine now and then, and don't
intend to stop, your best bet is to cultivate a taste for Pinot Noir. Because of the
complicated relationships between these grapes, the fungi that attack them, and
the cool lakeside temperatures in which they flourish, Pinots are particularly rich in
resveratrol. I will put in a plug for one of my favorites, the Fleur de Pinot Noir of
Konstantin Frank, cultivated in a biodynamic manner high above Keuka Lake,
about an hour from where I write these words.
I can't leave the subject of wine and cancer without point to the intriguing findings
of Elizabeth T. Eng and colleagues at City of Hope hospital, Los Angeles. A few
years ago they found that a Pinot Noir extract was an effective inhibitor of
aromatase (Eng 2002). Aromatase, as many patients know, is an enzyme that
converts the hormone androgen to estrogen. It is expressed at a higher level in
breast cancer tissue than in surrounding non-cancerous tissue. That is why many
estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer patients are given adjuvant doses of
synthetic aromatase inhibitors. And although it is still too soon to say, perhaps
someday oncologists will no longer prescribe Arimidex (anastrazole), Aromasin
(exemestane) or Femara (letrozole), but a glass or two of Pinot Noir with your
Eng ET, Williams D, Mandava U, Kirma N, Tekmal RR, Chen S. Anti-aromatase chemicals in red wine. Ann
N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;963:239-46.
Pearson KJ, Baur JA, Lewis NK, et al. Resveratrol delays age-related deterioration and mimics
transcriptional aspects of dietary restriction without extending life span. Cell Metab. 2008 Aug;8(2):157-68.
Epub 2008 Jul 3.
Wade, Nicholas. New Hints Seen That Red Wine May Slow Aging. New York Times, June 4, 2008.
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Sex: Question and Answer
Note from Sandra: As part of our focus on Healthy Relationships in 2009, we
have decided to have a Question and Answer section in each newsletter. Now is
your chance to - anonymously, of course, - ask any questions you may have
about sex. Just email Sandra and you will get an answer to your question from
either Tom or Sandra. We will answer every question, but will select one to
appear in each newsletter.
Q: Are Sex Toys Safe? “I was shopping online for sex toys, and came across a site that
seems very knowledgeable, where they say the only safe kind of sex toy to use is silicone.
They claim most sex toys have cancer-causing ingredients. Are there dangers of getting
cancer from using sex toys?”
A: The turn off is understandable. Sex toys - while a lot of fun - are by no means necessary
to having a good (or great) sex life. But if you like them, hopefully the turn off will pass,
and maybe some information on what we know, and don't know, about the safety of sex
toys will help.
Unfortunately there is very little scientific data on the safety of sex toys, and I have come
across websites that, in my opinion, make too many generalizations about the potential
danger of sex toys (sometimes for reasons that seem a little self-serving – like selling their
own toys). For example, there is simply no data that can confirm that “most sex toys have
cancer-causing ingredients”. Also, it is untrue to say that silicone is the only material that is
“safe” to use. It‟s possible that ten years from now we‟ll discover something in the
manufacturing of silicone that poses a health risk. Scientists are constantly learning more
about how the chemicals we come in contact with impact our health and the best we can do
is keep up to date on what the research can tell us. The bad news is that scientists often
leave sex out of their research, with the obvious exception of sexually transmitted disease
research. As such finding information on the safety of sex toys can be difficult. Here are a
few things to consider…
The vast majority of sex toy manufacturers do not disclose what they put in their toys. This
“mystery material” may pose health risks, but we have no way of knowing for sure. Sex
toys are not approved, tested, or regulated by the FDA. They are sold as novelty items, not
We do know that many soft rubber toys are made using phthalates , which have been linked
to several environmental and individual health issues, in a variety of other consumer
products. The most common sex toys that are made with phthalates are called jelly rubber
but many other kinds of soft rubber toys also contain phthalates.
We also know that manufacturers often add an artificial scent (to mask the smell of
phthalate off gassing), and these scents, along with the dyes they use, and the material
itself, could lead to allergic reactions in some people.
There is no doubt that higher quality, hypoallergenic, materials, such as silicone and
elastomers, are the better choice. But they are expensive and out of reach for many of us.
Using a latex condom on an inexpensive toy will reduce the risk of reacting to it, but may
not eliminate risk entirely. And, if you have latex allergies you may want to be especially
careful. Usually if you email a manufacturer, they can tell you whether or not any given
toy has latex in it. Should you ever have a reaction to a sex toy, it is obviously a good idea
not to take a risk by using it again.
Q: My partner is insisting that semen has been found to be an antidepressant – which
I think is crazy – there is a dinner (and “after-dinner” activities) riding on your
answer to this one.
A: Okay, I admit it – I thought that there was no way this was true and that your partner
might be trying to increase his chances of “getting lucky”. BUT – I did find an abstract of
a study from 2002 published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior. We have previously heard
that semen is good for your skin, a good source of protein, and now, possibly, it‟ll turn that
depressive frown upside down. Read, and marvel... (this is the actual study abstract):
In a sample of sexually active college females, condom use, as an indirect measure of the
presence of semen in the reproductive tract, was related to scores on the Beck Depression
Inventory. Not only were females who were having sex without condoms less depressed, but
depressive symptoms and suicide attempts among females who used condoms were
proportional to the consistency of condom use.
For females who did not use condoms, depression scores went up as the amount of time
since their last sexual encounter increased. These data are consistent with the possibility
that semen may antagonize depressive symptoms and evidence which shows that the vagina
absorbs a number of components of semen that can be detected in the bloodstream within a
few hours of administration.
So having sex with men, and without condoms, may decrease your depressive symptoms?
It opens up a host of new pick up lines. Other findings in the study included: women
research subjects who didn‟t use condoms (or used them rarely) had twice as much sex as
subjects who used condoms, and women who abstained from sex altogether had more
depressive symptoms than women who were regularly having sex.
To be fair to the researchers, they do raise (but then quickly discount) several possible
alternative explanations for the relationship between frequency of intercourse, condom use,
semen, and depression. They also clearly state that the study is preliminary and
correlational (as opposed to causational – which would mean having more sex causes less
depression – whereas correlational means that women who have a lot of sex without
condoms also just happen to be less depressed). But this study really just raises more
questions than answers. The reality is that this was a poorly designed study and there could
be a myriad of reasons why women who have more sex are reporting less depression.
Furthermore, the study does not even address the negative consequences of not using
condoms (um, like unplanned pregnancy, HIV or death?)
As far as your dinner (and after-dinner “treats”)– I would recommend going 50-50 (or 6-9).
Gallup, G.G. Jr., Burch, R.L., & Platek, S.M. (2002). Does semen have antidepressant properties? Archives of Sexual Behavior. (31) 3,
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New Research on the Role of Supplements and Weight Loss
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has been making news headlines for the past few years as a
promising supplement for promoting healthy body mass index (BMI) and preserving lean muscle.
Found in high concentrations in meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals, CLA may be
lacking in diets devoid of these foods. Most of the meat and dairy you consume today is
unfortunately from grain fed cattle and lacking CLA. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
recently published a study about weight management that compared a dietary supplement
containing CLA with a diet containing safflower oil (the control group). The participants were 55
overweight, menopausal women who had unhealthy blood sugar levels. The women took either 8
grams of CLA or safflower oil per day for 16 weeks. After a 4 week break, they were switched to
the other oil. The results showed that while supplementing with CLA, body mass index (BMI) and
total fat mass decreased significantly in the women. Safflower oil had no effect on either of these
Mice receiving daily supplements of CLA showed higher muscle mass than control animals,
according to findings published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. Due to
changes in the Western diet and the invention of factory farming where cattle are grain fed, average
intake of CLA has fallen. Additionally, if the fat is removed from a dairy product to make a low fat
version that will be acceptable to consumers, CLA is removed along with it. Dr. Gabriel Fernandes,
one of the study's authors, and his co-workers divided 12-month old mice into four groups, one of
which received a diet with 10% corn oil, while the others were supplemented with CLA. After six
months the researchers note that the CLA group showed "significantly higher muscle mass, as
compared to the other groups". The authors concluded that CLA may prevent age-related muscle
loss during aging."
Additionally, an interesting study was published in the August 2009 edition of The American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study looked at ninety subjects with unhealthy weight in the
abdominal region, but without known unhealthy blood sugar or poor cardiovascular health. The
participants were split into two groups. Both groups were instructed to follow a Mediterranean style
diet for two months. The first group (the intervention group), was closely monitored by a dietician
to ensure all participants strictly adhered to the diet. The second group (the control group) was not
closely monitored. At the conclusion of the study, it was established that those who strictly adhered
to the diet increased their intake of total fat because of an increased consumption of mono-
unsaturated fats, as well as an increased intake of dietary fiber, vitamin C and alcohol when
compared to the control group. It was found that those who closely adhered to the Mediterranean
style diet experienced benefits involving favorable blood pressure and blood vessel flow.
Rallidis L, Lekakis J, Kolomvotsou A, et al., Close adherence to a Mediterranean diet improves endothelial function in
subjects with abdominal obesity, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2009, Pp 263 – 268.
Norris L, Collene A, Asp M, et al., Comparison of dietary conjugated linoleic acid with safflower oil on body
composition in obese postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes mellitus, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
Rahman M, Halade G, Jamali A and Fernandes G, Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) prevents age-associated skeletal
muscle loss, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, June 12, 2009, Pp 513 – 518.
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Low Omega-3 and High Trans-Fat Levels
Predict Nonfatal Heart Attack Better Than
Established Risk Factors
Life Extension Update, July 31, 2009
An article published online on June 9, 2009 in the British Journal of Nutrition reported
the conclusion of a study conducted by South Korean researchers that red blood cell fatty
acid profiles may prove to be a better predictor of who is at risk of heart disease than
Framingham risk factors. Framingham risk scores are calculated from values for the
following traditional risk factors: age, gender, smoking status, total cholesterol levels,
HDL-cholesterol levels, diabetes history and hypertension history. While an individual‟s
Framingham score is 70 to 80 percent accurate in predicting coronary heart disease risk,
it fails to take into account more recently recognized risk factors that could improve its
The researchers, from the Hanyang University in Seoul, matched 50 men and women
with acute nonfatal myocardial infarction (heart attack) with 50 age and gender-matched
controls who did not have a history of heart attack. Red blood cells were analyzed for
levels of trans-fatty acids (undesirable fatty acids found in partially hydrogenated
vegetable oil), and the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (found in fish and the algae they feed on).
The omega-3 fatty acid index, which is the sum of red blood cell EPA and DHA, was
significantly lower in heart attack patients compared with controls, while total trans-fatty
acids were significantly higher. Those whose omega-3 fatty acid index was among the
top third of participants had a 92 percent lower risk of heart attack than those whose
levels were in the lowest third. For those whose total trans-fatty acids were in the top
third, the risk of heart attack was 72.67 percent higher than subjects in the lowest third.
The authors note that omega-3 fatty acids are associated with decreased blood viscosity,
and have anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, anti-arrhythmic, lipid lowering and
vasodilatory effects. Conversely, trans-fatty acids have been associated with an increased
risk of coronary heart disease. “To the best of our knowledge, the recent study is the first
to demonstrate that the fatty acid profile (lipidome) of erythrocytes can allow
discrimination between acute non-fatal myocardial infarction (MI) cases and controls,”
the authors write. “Furthermore, the fatty acid profile significantly and substantially
improved acute non-fatal MI case discrimination compared with traditional CHD risk
factors, suggesting that the erythrocyte fatty acid profile is more powerful than the
Framingham risk score for identifying patients with acute non-fatal MI.”
“Although prospective validation and a larger study are required, fatty acid profiles may
have clinical utility for non-fatal MI risk assessment,” they conclude.
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How to De-Stress a Recession-Riddled Life
Simple strategies should help in staying calm and moving on
By Kathleen Doheny
(HealthDay News) -- Recessions are bad for the stress level, as many in the midst of the current
economic situation know and surveys prove. Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly half of the 1,791
adults polled for the American Psychological Association's latest Stress in America survey said
that their stress had increased in the past year. As a result, more than half reported fatigue, 60
percent said they were irritable or angry, and more than half said they lie awake at night because
of stress. Other researchers have found that stress adds years to a person's life but that those who
cope with it effectively have higher levels of what's known as "good" cholesterol.
But for those who say it's impossible to cope because of a lost job, a retirement account that's
virtually disappeared and a house that's plummeted in value, consider the advice of two veteran
stress-reduction experts. Dr. Paul J. Rosch is president of the American Institute of Stress and a
clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College. Deborah Rozman is
a research psychologist and chief executive of Quantum Intech, the parent company of the
HeartMath Institute in Boulder Creek, Calif., which conducts research on stress management.
As coping strategies, they advise people to:
Volunteer. This might sound counterproductive or even crazy: If you're worried about your job
or already laid off, shouldn't you be looking for another? But Rozman insists it's a great strategy.
"Volunteering actually opens you up to possibilities," she said. Volunteering most anywhere -- at
the church picnic, the local 5K run, the food bank -- can help get your mind off your problems,
she said. It also will "reopen the heart," she said, "because the heart gets shut down when you
Practice appreciation and gratitude. This isn't as difficult as it might sound, Rozman said. "If you
still have a job, appreciate that," she said. Just like volunteering, this "helps the heart stay open."
And she believes it will also help you reconnect with feelings of hope.
Follow traditional de-stress advice, but tweak it. To de-stress, people are supposed to exercise,
eat right, and find a way to calm down. But it's crucial to find the technique or techniques that
work for you, Rosch said. "You have to find out what works for you so that you will practice and
adhere to it because it relieves tension and makes you feel better," he said. "Jogging, meditation,
progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and listening to music are great for some but dull, boring
and stressful when arbitrarily imposed on others."
Decrease the drama in your life. Rozman said that it's typical for people who've been laid off or
fear losing their jobs to sit around and complain. But that only adds to the stress and drama, she
said. "Drama is when we amp up anger, anxiety or fear," she said. So if you find yourself in the
midst of a woe-is-me conversation, she said, don't add to it by complaining more. Rather, try to
change the subject or the tone. She suggests talking about how to improve things, not how bad
Ration your news diet. The news can be full of bad economic tidings, 24/7. So limit your
viewing, Rozman suggested. Decide what amount you can watch and still keep a balance
between being informed and being dragged down.
Stop the comparisons. "Don't compare the present with the past," Rozman said. It's natural but
depressing. Instead, give yourself time to heal after a job loss or other major setback and then
move on. And rather than thinking, "I've lost my nest egg," try: "Here's what I'll do to get it
back," she said. "It's about shifting focus to something that doesn't bring you down," Rozman
More information: The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on managing stress.
SOURCES: Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., research psychologist and chief executive, Quantum Intech Inc.,
Boulder Creek, Calif.; Paul J. Rosch, M.D., president, American Institute of Stress, and clinical professor
of medicine and psychiatry, New York Medical College, Valhalla, N.Y.; American Psychological
Association, Washington, D.C.
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On the Lighter Side:
A gynecologist had become so fed up with malpractice insurance and HMO paperwork
and was burned out. Hoping to try another career where skillful hands would be beneficial, he
decided to become a mechanic.
He went to the local technical college, signed up for classes, attended diligently, and
learned all he could. When the time for the practical exam approached, the gynecologist
prepared carefully for weeks, and completed the exam with tremendous skill.
When the results came back, he was surprised to find that he had obtained a score of
150%. Fearing an error, he called the instructor, saying, "I don't want to appear ungrateful for
such an outstanding result, but I wonder if there is an error in the grade."
The instructor said, "During the exam, you took the engine apart perfectly, which was
worth 50% of the total mark. You put the engine back together again perfectly, which is also
worth 50% of the mark. This equaled an A."
After a pause, the instructor added, "I gave you an extra 50% because you did it all
through the muffler, which I've never seen done in my entire career”.
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Exercise…JUST DO IT!!!
Walking Downhill Gives Surprising Benefits
It Lowers Blood Sugar!
Researchers have found that hills are good both ways. Uphill gives you a cardiovascular
workout and lowers triglycerides, but downhill has now proven superior for lowering blood
sugar levels. Do either to reduce LDL cholesterol. Dr. Heinz Drexel reported his findings to
the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in November, 2004.
Downhill or Downstairs May be a Good Start
Dr. Drexel says that those who find walking uphill difficult can get many benefits by
beginning with downhill walking. His study took 45 healthy but sedentary people and had
them hike either up or down a steep mountain in the Austrian alps each day for two
months, then switch for another two months. He checked their blood sugar, cholesterol and
triglycerides 36 hours after each hike. He didn't expect to see as much benefit from those
walking downhill, but they showed a lowering of blood sugar levels not seen in those
hiking only uphill. Lower blood sugar may reduce the risk of Type II diabetes.
Downhill vs. Uphill
Downhill walking uses eccentric muscle contraction. It also can place strain on the knees
and be difficult for those with knee problems or iliotibial band friction syndrome.
How to Walk Downhill
Uphill walking uses concentric muscle contraction and raises the heart rate more
than walking dowhill or on the level. The huffing and puffing and sweating from a raised
heart rate is an exercise deterrent for some people.
How to Walk Uphill
Hills for Flatlanders
While fewer of us live in the Alps, most people have access to stairs which are as steep as
any hillside. If you hate going up, you can still get good health benefits by taking the stairs
down and the elevator up.
Many treadmills adjust to simulate hills, but generally only for uphill, not downhill. If you
only go up, you may want to add in some downhill walking on stairs.
Reference: AHA 2004 Scientific Sessions: Abstract 3826. Presented Nov. 10, 2004.
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Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Almost half of those in ICU had deficient levels, study shows
By Serena Gordon
In a small study, Australian researchers found that almost half of people in an
intensive care unit were deficient in vitamin D. "Vitamin D deficiency is likely to be
common in seriously ill patients," said study author Dr. Paul Lee, an endocrinologist
and research fellow at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia.
"In our study, 45 percent of critically ill patients were vitamin D-deficient. It appears
that the sicker they were, the lower their vitamin D. However, it is uncertain whether it
is just an association, or whether vitamin D deficiency itself contributes to disease
severity." Results of the study were published as a letter in the April 30 issue of the
New England Journal of Medicine.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body manufactures after exposure to
sunlight, according to the U.S. government's Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
Few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Those that do include fatty fish; such as salmon
and tuna, cheese, egg yolks and some mushrooms. Vitamin D is also found in fortified
milk and cereals.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 200 international units (IU) for adults
under 50; 400 IUs for adults between 51 and 70, and 600 IUs for those 71 and older,
according to the ODS. However, most experts believe these recommendations are too
low, as vitamin D deficiency is increasingly being linked to adverse health outcomes.
Lee said that vitamin D is involved in controlling blood sugar levels, calcium levels,
heart function, gastrointestinal health, defending against infection and more.
In the latest study, the researchers measured vitamin D levels in 42 people being
treated in an intensive care unit. Almost half were vitamin D-deficient. Three patients
died during the study, and the researchers found that they had the lowest levels of
vitamin D in the study group.
Lee said the researchers don't know the exact cause of the vitamin D deficiency. A lack
of sun exposure could play a role, as could a lack of dietary intake of vitamin D. But,
Lee said, "It may be postulated that the tissue demand for vitamin D is increased
during infection, metabolic disturbances and inflammation. Vitamin D may therefore be
used up during critical illness. However, it is a hypothesis, and the relationship
between vitamin D and critical illness requires further studies in the future."
Dr. Kirit Tolia, chief of endocrinology at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Mich., said
his sense is that replacing vitamin D in such critically ill patients may be too late. "If
you go into illness with a significant vitamin D deficiency, it makes whatever the
underlying cause of the hospitalization worse," he said. For example, if someone is
being treated for sepsis -- a serious infection -- if their vitamin D levels are low, it
makes it harder for them to fight the infection, he explained.
Tolia added that he wasn't surprised by the findings, because he sees a lot of vitamin
D deficiency, but that he was "alarmed at the severity of the deficiency and the
prevalence of it." Additionally, he said he believes that healthy adults should get about
1,000 IUs of vitamin D daily, and that those who are elderly or in poor health should
get about 1,500 IUs daily. "That gives them a fair chance of maintaining vitamin D in
the normal range," he said.
SOURCES: Paul Lee, M.B., endocrinologist, research fellow, Garvan Institute of Medical
Research, Sydney, Australia; Kirit Tolia, M.D., chief, endocrinology, Providence Hospital,
Southfield, Mich.; David Weinstein, M.D., nephrologist, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich.;
April 30, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine
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FRIGHTENING FOOD FACT:
“Baskin-Robbins strongly believes in our customers maintaining a balanced diet,” says the
company‟s website. “We hope you enjoy our treats together with a healthy diet and routine
How nice. Baskin-Robbins strongly believes in a balanced diet. That must be why it sells
Oreo, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Snickers
Premium Sundaes along with a new line of 31-Degree Belows. What better way to
balance a healthy diet and exercise? Take the Oreo Premium Sundae.
Thanks to “3 scoops of our delicious Oreo Cookies „n Cream ice cream layered with hot
fudge and marshmallow, then topped with crushed Oreo cookies and whipped cream,” it‟s
got 1,290 calories and 33 grams of saturated fat. That‟s like eating three Quarter Pounders,
except the burgers have “only” 21 grams of sat fat.
A large (24 ounce) Fudge Brownie 31-Degree Below (“vanilla soft serve blended with
brownie chunks and hot fudge”) packs 1,900 calories and 39 grams of sat fat (two days‟
worth). It should take only a brisk seven-hour walk to burn off the day‟s worth of calories
in that “treat”.
Baskin-Robbins does offer “Bright Choices.” Go for a scoop of Fat-Free Vanilla Frozen
Yogurt or a Sorbet for just 130 to 150 calories. Second brightest are the Premium Churned
Light and Reduced-Fat No Sugar Added ice creams, with 150-230 calories and 4-5 grams
of sat fat – about half what you‟d get in a scoop of regular ice cream.
If they’re bright, what does that make the Sundaes and 31-Degree Belows?
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Recipe of the Month
Sautéed Tuna Steaks with Garlic Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Flavor Tip: Substitute salmon for the tuna. If there are leftovers, store them in a covered container
in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For a quick and delicious tuna salad, break the fish into large
flakes, and toss with yogurt or (low-fat) mayonnaise dressing.
Nutritional Info (per serving):
Calories: 295 Carbs: 1 g Sodium: 214 mg Fiber: 0 g
Fat: 13 g Sat Fat: 3 g Protein: 4o g Cholesterol: 65 mg
2 large cloves garlic, minced
One Tablespoon + one and one-half teaspoon olive oil
One Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
One-quarter teaspoon salt
One-eighth teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tuna steaks (6 ounces each), each 1 inch thick
One and one-half teaspoon chopped parsley or fresh basil
In a large, heavy nonstick skillet, cook the garlic in 1 Tablespoon of the oil over very low heat, until
the garlic’s aroma is apparent, 30-60 seconds, stirring frequently. Immediately add the vinegar,
one-eighth teaspoon salt, and half of the pepper. Remove to a bowl, and cover with foil to keep
Season the fish with the remaining one-eighth teaspoon salt and the remaining pepper. Heat the
remaining one and one-half teaspoon olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the fish,
and cook until browned on the first side, 4-5 minutes. Turn, and cook until the fish is just opaque
throughout, 3-4 minutes. Serve topped with garlic sauce and parsley or basil.
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Supplement of the Month
Probiotics and Immune Function
By Dr. Allen S. Josephs
Although we are in the midst of summer, September is right around the corner. With
September and the start of a new school year, the onslaught of fall and winter colds is not
far behind. In a large family of children, it is not uncommon to see colds being passed from
one sibling to the next.
A study1 published in the August 2009 edition of the prestigious journal Pediatrics
examined the use of probiotics. A total of 326 children from China, between the ages of
three to five years old, participated. The children were randomly assigned to three different
groups. One group was given milk with a bacterium called lactobacillus acidophilus,
another group was given the lactobacillus along with another strain of bacterium called
bifidobacterium, and the third group was just given milk (placebo). The children were
given these formulas twice daily from November 2005 to May 2006. Researchers found
that compared to the placebo group, the lactobacillus group had 53% fewer fevers, 41%
decreased incidence of cough episodes, and 28% less nasal congestion and runny noses.
The group that was given the combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium had even
larger improvement in symptom rates. This group had 72% fewer fevers, 62% fewer cough
episodes and 59% fewer runny noses. Additionally, it was found that those children given
the friendly probiotics, aside from having fewer symptoms, also recovered significantly
faster. Compared to the placebo group, the length of illness decreased by 32% with the
lactobacillus, and decreased by 48% with the combination of lactobacillus and
bifidobacterium. The researchers noted that antibiotic use was 68% less in the lactobacillus
group and 84% less in the lactobacillus/bifidobacterium group compared to placebo.
Finally, it was noted that the children who were given the probiotics had less lost time from
daycare by about 30% compared to those in the placebo group.
There was an article2 published in the September 2009 edition of the International Journal
of Antimicrobial Agents in which researchers evaluated a total of fourteen randomized
controlled trials using probiotics to study their benefits for upper or lower respiratory tract
infections. Various forms of lactobacillus strains and bifidobacterium strains were utilized.
The authors concluded that probiotics may have a beneficial effect on the severity and
duration of symptoms related to poor respiratory tract health, but do not appear to reduce
the incidence of poor respiratory tract health.
The authors of a study3 on probiotics published in the August 2009 edition of Current
Gastroenterology Reports noted that the human intestinal tract system contains more than
100 trillion micro-organisms. They reviewed some studies which demonstrated that certain
mixes of gut micro-bacteria may protect or predispose the host to unhealthy weight.
I recall about fifteen years ago when I first became interested in the field of nutrition, I did
not think much of probiotics. However, over the years, the data had become increasingly
compelling to the point that I take a probiotic every day as a foundational supplement to
promote good health. The value of probiotics cannot be overstated. Amazingly, a good
portion of our immune system is actually contained in our gut. Over time, as we age and
with the use of antibiotics, health concerns and so on, our intestinal flora can become
seriously depleted. If you decide to take a probiotics supplement, it appears, as the studies
indicate, the more strains and higher dosages seem to have more benefits. Look for
products with billions to tens of billions of activity per serving and at least several
1. Leyer G, Li S, Mubasher M, et al., Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in
Children, Pediatrics, August 2009, Pp 172 – 179.
2. Vouloumanou E, Makris G, Karageorgopoulos D and Falagas M, Probiotics for the prevention of respiratory tract
infections: a systematic review, International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, September 2009, Pp 197 – 292.
3. Tsai F and Coyle W, The Microbiome and Obesity: Is Obesity Linked to Our Gut Flora?, Current Gastroenterology
Reports, August 2009, Pp 307 – 313.
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Referral Incentive Program
As a nontraditional medical practice, we are very dependent on word of mouth advertising.
We need your help to get the word out about our philosophy of health care and the services we
provide. We pride ourselves on comprehensive assessments and personal treatment plans. If you
have found working with us beneficial, we would like to offer the following incentives for you to
refer your family or friends to us for a similar experience.
Luncheon referral/tour - For every 5 people you refer to us who attend one of our Thursday
luncheons, you can earn:
a microdermabrasion treatment
2 bottles of omega 3 fish oil.
Microdermabrasion Series – For every referral who signs up for a 6-visit microdermabrasion
series, you can earn:
a 1-hour massage
2 bottles of omega 3 fish oil.
Hormone Evaluation Package – For every referral who completes our hormone evaluation and
enters our monitoring/mentoring program, you can earn a combination of any two of the following:
a microdermabrasion treatment
a 1-hour massage
2 bottles of omega 3 fish oil.
Full Evaluation Package – For every referral who completes a full evaluation and enters our
monitoring/mentoring program, you can earn all of the following:
a microdermabrasion treatment
a 90-minute massage
2 bottles of omega 3 fish oil
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GROUP WALK: the 3rd Wednesday of the month at noon. The next one will be August 19th. We will
meet at OHI for stretching first – feel free to bring your spouse or a friend (and don’t forget your
THURSDAY LUNCHEONS: Every Thursday we offer tours of Optimal Health Institute along with a
healthy lunch with Tom and Sandra. We answer all health-related questions – from hormones to
supplements. If you feel like you’ve benefited from our services, then please invite a friend or family
member to join us for lunch. You are welcome to come and bring a friend or two, or give us the
contact information and we will call and personally invite them to learn more about what we do.
HEALTHY CHANGE SUPPORT GROUP: Please join us for a forum to ask questions, provide
feedback and get support from your fellow OHI members and Tom, Sandra and Jeff. The group will
meet at 5:30 the 2nd Wednesday of the month (August 12th). Please RSVP, as the group will be
cancelled if we don’t have at least 3 or 4 attendees.
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK
You can submit your questions (anonymously, of course) to Sandra at slk@optimal-
health.net Additionally, we still want you to brag about your successes – whether in
the area of healthy lifestyle changes or just life in general. This can be anonymous
As always, we wish you Optimal Health,
Jeff Sandra Tom
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