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Maria Augustyn

(Naturopath)

Maria Augustyn - BLOG

Blog

The amazing human brain

Posted on August 19, 2020 at 3:43 AM Comments comments (0)
The Amazing Human Brain 

If you are ever feeling uninspired, take a moment to consider the amazing marvel between your ears – your brain!

Did you know that although your brain makes up only 2% of your total body weight, it consumes approximately 20% of your energy? Or, did you know that the brain is composed of 100 billion cells that make a million connections every second of our lives? 

Do we really have to end up "over the hill"? Up until recently, we have understood that all the growth and development of the brain occurs early on in life. We were previously taught that the brain reaches its maximum weight around 20 to 25 years of age, and after that it's all downhill as the brain loses about 10% of its weight over a lifetime. 

However, advances in neuroscience now reveal that early brain development sets the stage for ongoing development throughout adulthood, and into old age. We now know that the brain can continue to grow neural pathways and to forge new connections – all it takes is repetitive use of these neural pathways. In accordance with the health of the whole body, subtle changes occur in the chemistry and structure of the brain throughout midlife in most people. 

It appears that neurons can readjust to various degrees of damage and degeneration, as long as the neuronal cell body remains intact, where nearby surviving neurons can compensate, in part, by growing new dendrites and synaptic connections. Neuroplasticity – Not a plastic brain, but an evolving one! 

This capacity of the brain to reconfigure its wiring is called neuroplasticity, a process whereby neural pathways are laid down to develop our unique individuality. Neuroplasticity was previously thought to be relevant only in utero and in children and adolescents; however, it has now been demonstrated that our brain continues to grow well into adulthood. This discovery holds revolutionary hope for a wide range of applications, from protecting against degenerative age-related change, to greater levels of recovery in those who have suffered brain injury, to strengthening and optimising healthy brains well into the later stages of life. It also holds that we can literally "change our minds" by deliberate concentrated thought processes and deliberate practice of new skills to build and strengthen new neural pathways. Of course, this ability to change may be positive or negative, as we also have the power of choice. 

Give the brain smart nutrition... 
So how do we support and nourish this marvelous organ and encourage positive neuroplastic growth? We may have overlooked the health of the brain in the past whilst we managed the health of the body, but in reality we need to support the cellular health of every organ. It's true that if things go "wrong" with the brain, from injury or trauma through to depression or psychosis, it is very frightening. 

We do need to rely on the skills of neurosurgeons and psychiatrists for specialist assessment, diagnosis and treatment for life-saving strategies, but don't underestimate the profound, supportive role that Natural Health Practitioners can offer in supporting those with brain dysfunction, stress and mood disorders, substance abuse or age-related neural degeneration. 

We can offer unique, complementary nutritional, herbal, dietary and lifestyle support for patients and work in harmony with the multiple modalities that are often required for holistic management of brain dysfunction and stress and mood disorders. 

Wellness for the brain CELL The maxim "prevention is better than cure", couldn't be more true when it comes to the brain. Targeting nutritional strategies at optimum brain health, and consequently mental function, is essential to enhance every

Annual check-ups can uncover some serious risk factors

Posted on March 4, 2014 at 1:29 AM Comments comments (0)
Annual Check-Ups 
Can Uncover Some Serious Risk Factors


Introduction
I would like to share this story with you to inspire you to take charge of your own health today.

A 41 year old male was referred by his Doctor as a recent medical checkup had revealed an abnormal blood profile. The Medical Practitioner told the patient that if he could not normalize his cholesterol levels in four months, the patient would have to start taking medications to lower his cholesterol. His total cholesterol was 6.6 mmol/L and LDL 5.0 mmol/L; and he had mildly elevated hsCRP. The patient weighed 95.5 k and was carrying excess fat, particularly around his waist. This combination of signs and symptoms clearly marked him as being in a very high risk category for cardiovascular disease. He also had a family history of cardiovascular disease and was under significant stress at work. At the time he was taking a multivitamin but no pharmaceutical drugs or other supplementation.

Prescription for Better Health
To reduce cardiovascular risk and improve long-term health, the holistic treatment plan included a high fibre, low glycaemic load, calorie-controlled diet, as well as aerobic and strength training exercise. The exercise regimen was prescribed to increase muscle mass, promote fat loss and support healthy cardiovascular function. The supplements listed below were also prescribed. The patient was highly motivated and was fully committed to his supplement regimen, nutritional plan and exercise routine.
  • Therapeutic doses of high quality clean fish oil (no mercury or pesticides) 
  • Bio Q10
  • Antioxidants
  • Natural-cholesterol-reducing tablets

Reducing Risk Factors in Just 10 Weeks…
In just ten weeks, this holistic treatment protocol yielded impressive clinical results. The patient's Medical Practitioner had never seen such significant results in such a short time-frame, which negated the need for cholesterol-lowering medications.

Real Clinical Results Come from Real Commitments to Change
This patient achieved substantial improvements in his cardiovascular and metabolic health parameters in just ten weeks, thanks to some simple recommendations and his great attitude, motivation and hard work. He was able to improve his cholesterol levels and reduce his cardiovascular risk profile significantly, without resorting to pharmaceutical interventions. It is common in clinical practice to see patients who have been given a relatively short period of time to normalize their cholesterol levels through non-pharmaceutical methods. Case studies such as this demonstrate that correct Nutrition and Natural Medicine can achieve great results even within these short time frames, helping reduce cardiovascular risk. This case study proves how appropriate Natural Medicine, together with diet and lifestyle choices, have the power to significantly change physiology and reduce the risk of chronic disease in patients.

 "Don't Wait to Get Sick 
to Get Better"
Maria Augustyn ND, BHSc, RMT

 

Can I eat Bacon and be healthy?

Posted on August 17, 2013 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (0)
I found this interesting article and would like to share it with you.
Please note the emphasis given to a balance diet, low in simple carbohydrates, rich in vegetables and wholesome unprocessed foods.
Healthy food should be delicious and interesting. Sometimes it may include a little bacon.
Enjoy the reading.
 
Having protein in your breakfast together with vegetables, may start you on a very energetic day.The TRUTH About Bacon
 
When people today think of bacon, they think of clogged arteries, love handles,and sin. They also think of Homer Simpson.

That’s right: eating bacon means that you’re destined for heart disease, a fatbelly, and a lifetime in Satan’s dungeon-Doh!
 
But, thinking this way is aterrible misconception. In truth, bacon is a very good addition to your diet,and should be something enjoyed more often than you endulge in pancakes andsyrup or crepes with brown sugar.

Pancakes and syrup may look good to some people, but it is not good for you atall…

Bacon is not an unhealthy food when chosen correctly. By reading this article,you’re going to learn why and how to properly add bacon to your diet, andyou’re going to start doing it now.
 
What IsBacon?
 
Bacon is a cured meat (a naturalway to prevent the meat from spoiling by way of salt, and often nitrites) thattraditionally comes from a pig. It consists of both the meat of the pig, plusthe fat (known as lard).
 
Bacon usually comes from eitherthe belly of the pig, the back, or the sides. The amount of fat (lard) in bacondepends on how fat the pig is, with the belly usually being fattier than theback, especially in America.

Today, you can also find bacon made from turkey. But if you actually spent timereading the label of turkey bacon, you’d see it contains a laundry list ofingredients, many of which are not good for you such as hydrolyzed corn gluten,soy protein, wheat gluten, disodium inosinate, silicon dioxide and nitrites.
 
EuropeansHave It Right
 
All over Germany, pork reignssupreme. From bacon to sausage to lard, no parts of the pig are left unused.And, if you take a good look at traditional Germans, you will notice that theyare not as overweight as Americans, nor suffer the same incidences of chronicdisease.

Unlike modern-day Americans, Europeans use lard for most of their baking andcooking. Previously in the US, we also used to incorporate a lot of lard intoour daily diets, but with the notion (from our government) that pig fat is too“saturated” and unhealthy, we shifted to the use of hydrogenated plant oils(aka., vegetable shortening ) which actually made us sicker, fatter, and morediseased.
 
Why Baconis Better
 
To understand why bacon, and thefat it's rich in (lard), is a healthy choice for us to use in our diets alongwith other beneficial fats and proteins, let’s look at the nutritional scienceof this food.
 
If we take 1 tablespoon of purelard, we see that is consists of an even balance of saturated andmonounsaturated fatty acids, with some polyunsaturates and cholesterol (allanimal fats contain cholesterol), but no trans fats. Specifically, itcontains*:
 
• 5.9 grams of saturated fattyacids
• 6.4 grams monounsaturated fatty acids
• 2 grams polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly omega-6)
• 14 mg cholesterol
*analysis from Mass Spectrometry at University of Alberta, 2003

If you compare lard to vegetable shortening, you get**:
 
• 3.8 grams saturated fatty acids
• 6.7 grams monounsaturated fatty acids
• 3.9 grams polyunsaturated fatty acids (mostly omega-6)
• 2 grams trans fatty acids (man-made)
• 0 mg cholesterol
**analysis from ESHA Food Processor

What’s most frightening is the trans fats found in this man-made, fake lardsubstitute – trans fats have now been linked directly to heart diseasemorbidity and mortality, and there is a strong move to rid our shelves of thisdangerous fat as soon as possible.
 
SaturatedFat is Not Bad
 
Some people still think saturatedfats are evil, and as a result have banned bacon from their homes. However,fatty acid experts today emphasize that saturated fat from natural sources likemeats, dairy, and tropical oils (coconut, palm) are not detrimental for ourhealth, but instead much better than the polyunsaturated and hydrogenatedsubstitutes we’ve been recently using.

Sure, maybe it’s confusing to try and tell yourself that saturated fat isn’tbad like we once thought. However, it’s important that you realize that we werefed lies and deception that only made us fatter, sicker, and unhealthier. Weneed to change this way of thinking.
 
The bottom line is that saturatedfats, like that found in bacon, CAN and SHOULD fit into a healthy diet – a dietlow in sugar, processed carbohydrates, and synthetic chemicals, but high infresh low-pesticide vegetables, organic meats and fish, and nuts and seeds.

Essential Omega-6 and Omega-3 Balance
 
What about the omega-6 fats inbacon? Some people feel that bacon and other foods containing omega-6polyunsaturated fats should be minimized, and a focus placed on omega-3 fatssuch as fish, flax, and certain nuts - which is both true and untrue.
 
It is correct that we should tryto keep a fairly close balance between the omega-6 fats (found in most meatsand some nuts and seeds) and the omega-3 fats, but we can’t completelyeliminate omega-6s in favour of omega-3s.
 
Not only is it almost impossible,unless you eat completely fat-free meats and avoid all nuts and oils, but yourbody needs omega-6s because they are ESSENTIAL – meaning necessary for propermetabolic and physiologic function.
It’s more important to maintain a healthy ratio of omega-6 fats found in foodslike bacon, with omega-3 fats found in DHA-enriched eggs and omega-3 rich fish.
 
For example, a great breakfastcombination would be a few slices of bacon with omega-3 DHA eggs topped withorganic salsa and avocado. Delicious and nutritious!

The Science of Bacon Fat
 
In 2003, I conducted a researchstudy at the University of Alberta looking at the effects of a high bacon fatdiet compared to a high palm oil diet on the cholesterol synthesis andinflammation profiles of ten healthy men.
 
I cooked all the food for theseguys every day, so all they ate was what I gave them. They ate things like:
 
• (BLLTs) Bacon, Lettuce, Lardand Tomato sandwiches
• Hash Browns cooked in lard
• Bacon and Egg Omelets cooked in lard
 
(To say I smelled like bacon all thetime was a compliment…)
 
After 6 weeks on each diet, theirblood was analysed for cholesterol synthesis rates, cholesterol, andtriglyceride concentrations, and markers of inflammation.
 
What was found was that the highlard diet compared to the high palm oil diet produced significantly lower totalcholesterol, and total-cholesterol/HDL cholesterol levels, with slightly lowerLDL-cholesterol and inflammatory marker levels.
 
What this means is that fat fromlard may be less cholesterolemic and inflammatory than fat from palm oil. Thisdoes not mean that palm oil is a bad fat, but instead suggests that lard may bebetter when consumed often.
 
ChoosingHealthy Bacon
 
Now that you know that the fat inbacon is not bad for you, or harmful for your health, don’t immediately go outand purchase bacon and eat it everyday.
 
First, you need to look for baconthat is nitrite-free.

Nitrite (sodium nitrite) is a preservative used in bacon to not only preventspoilage, but also keep bacon a nice red colour.
 
However, nitrite is also a knowncarcinogen and is related to increased risk and incidences of cancer.
 
So, if you do decide to choosebacon to help you either stick to a lower carbohydrate diet, or just eatinstead of toast and jam, make sure you choose wisely – natural nitrite freebacon is the best.
 
With bacon, you don’t have toworry about the pig being full of artificial or natural hormones, because theseare not allowed to be used on pigs.
 
Eat aBetter Breakfast
 
A healthy breakfast can include colourful vegetables. Now you know that bacon is a goodbreakfast food, but it can also be used to enhance the taste of your favouritesalads for lunch, or as a side dish at dinner.

No matter what you choose to do with your diet, bacon or not, remember thatbacon is not bad for you, and will not ruin your health. Also, when eaten in thecontext of a low-sugar, vegetable-rich-unprocessed diet, it will not make yourbelly look like a pig’s.

Enjoy!
 
By Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic, PhD, RD
 
 

Pollution and your heart's health

Posted on November 17, 2011 at 6:57 PM Comments comments (1)
A CLEAR LINK:
AIR POLLUTION AND HEART DISEASE 

Environmental toxicants such as dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides can pose a risk for cardiovascular disease.

For the first time a link has been demonstrated between atherosclerosis and levels of long-lived organic environmental toxicants in the blood. 

The study, carried out by researchers at Uppsala University, was published this week in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes, are the most common cause of death in industrialised countries, and the most important underlying cause of these diseases is atherosclerosis. Unbalanced blood fats, diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure are traditionally recognised risk factors for atherosclerosis.

Previous studies have also reported possible links between cardiovascular disease and high levels of persistent (long-lived and hard-to-degrade) organic environmental toxicants, such as dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides. These compounds are fat-soluble and can therefore accumulate in vessel walls. However, no earlier studies have investigated possible links between exposure to these compounds and atherosclerosis.

The current study measured the circulating levels of the above group of compounds in about 1,000 Swedes living in Uppsala. Atherosclerosis in the carotid artery was also measured using ultrasound.
The findings show a clear connection between increasing levels of environmental toxicants and atherosclerosis, even after taking into consideration the traditional risk factors. There was also a link to tangible signs of fat accumulation in vessel walls.

"These findings indicate that long-lived organic environmental toxicants may be involved in the occurrence of atherosclerosis and thereby lead to future death from cardiovascular diseases," says Lars Lind, professor at the Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University.

"In Sweden, and in many countries in the world, many of these substances are forbidden today, but since they are so long-lived they're still out there in our environment. We ingest these environmental toxicants with the food we eat, and since they are stored in our bodies, the levels grow higher the older we get," says Monica Lind, Associate Professor in Environmental Medicine at Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The researchers will continue to study how these compounds affect atherosclerosis in experimental models. In addition they will monitor the individuals included in their study to determine whether a direct connection exists between exposure to these substances and the occurrence of heart attacks and strokes in humans.

Funding: The study was funded in part by the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Research Council Formas. 

Source: P Monica Lind, Bert van Bavel, Samira Salihovic, Lars Lind. Circulating Levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Carotid Atherosclerosis in the Elderly. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011

Omega 3 and Depression in the elderly

Posted on September 19, 2011 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)
 
 
50 grams daily of food2liveprovides 3 grams of essential fatty acids. Also it is an anti-inflammatory food, and the ingredients have the ability of adding protection from  many of our modern diseases.
 
 
 
 

Low Cholesterol may cause depression

Posted on June 2, 2011 at 11:13 PM Comments comments (0)
Are Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Regimens Causing Depression?
 
Low cholesterol is a risk factor for depression, according to integrative psychiatrist James Greenblatt, MD, of Waltham, MA. Speaking at the recent iMosaic conference, Dr. Greenblatt said there are 11 studies showing strong correlations between low total cholesterol and increased depression and suicidality.

The brain is the most cholesterol-rich organ, and cholesterol is a building block for many important hormones. This doesn’t mean that high cholesterol levels are healthy, but neither are levels that are too low. Dr. Greenblatt contends that America’s statin-mania is a key contributor to the epidemic of depression.

He’s seen patients in whom serious depression resolved simply by reducing statins and allowing cholesterol to rise up. "I sometimes go against cardiologists, but you’re not helping anyone if you increase risk of suicide while trying to prevent a heart attack"
Panaxea
 
About cholesterol (blood fats) 
 
Blood fats include triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol. When levels of these fats are abnormal or disturbed patients are at risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke and a number of other disorders.
The most common types of blood fat disorders that patients can present with (either alone or in combination) are:
 
High LDL: low-density lipoproteins (LDL’s) transport cholesterol and triglycerides away from cells and tissues that produce cholesterol (e.g., liver), towards cells and tissues which are taking up cholesterol and triglycerides (e.g., peripheral tissues, muscles, nerves, etc). When too much LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it can slowly build up on the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. Together with other substances LDL can form plaques, thick, hard deposits that can clog those arteries. This is why cholesterol inside LDL lipoproteins is called bad cholesterol. The risk of having a heart attack or stroke rises directly as a person's LDL cholesterol level increases.
 
Low HDL: high-density lipoproteins (HDL’s) carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it's excreted via the hepatobiliary excretion route. HDL also removes excess cholesterol from plaques in arteries, thus slowing the progress of cardiovascular disease. This is why HDL cholesterol is known as the "good" cholesterol. Low HDL cholesterol levels increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.
 
High triglycerides: triglycerides are fats that contain a glycerol molecule attached to three fatty acids. These fats come from foods and are also made endogenously by the liver. The fat stored in the body is predominantly made from triglycerides. LDL carries triglycerides from the liver into the peripheral tissues and deposits it there; HDL carries it from the peripheries back to the liver for excretion. For this reason, hypertriglyceridaemia is commonly associated with high LDL and low HDL levels. High blood triglyceride levels are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
 
Symptoms & Signs
High cholesterol levels may cause few, if any, symptoms. Diagnosis is usually made through blood tests. Severe symptoms may include:
Fat deposits that form growths that look like yellow plaques  in the tendons and skin.
Extremely high levels of triglycerides may cause enlargement of the liver and spleen, and pancreatitis, such as severe abdominal pain.
Can also cause symptoms of cardiovascular disease such as angina and hypertension.
 
Aetiology / Risk Factors
Major causative factors and risk factors that can contribute to dyslipidaemia (blood fat disorders) include:
Obesity
Diet rich in cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fatty acids
Excess calories in diet, particularly sugar and refined carbohydrates
Low fibre diet
Sedentary lifestyle
Stress
Smoking cigarettes
Hypothyroidism
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Obstructive liver disease
Acute hepatitis
Acute and chronic alcohol abuse
Poorly controlled diabetes and/or insulin resistance
Overactive pituitary gland
Nephrotic syndrome and/or kidney failure
Porphyria
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Multiple myeloma
Lymphoma
Medications (e.g., oestrogens, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids, beta blockers, anabolic steroids and isotretinoin)
 
Diet and Lifestyle
Dietary and lifestyle guidelines that may assist in the management of dyslipidaemia include the following:
Weight reduction where appropriate is essential. A Ketogenic Diet is a safe fat loss program that burns fat quickly, helps to lower blood triglycerides and increase beneficial HDL levels.
Maintaining dietary fibre is an important part of dietary management of dyslipidaemia. Water soluble fibres, taken with adequate water, swell in the stomach to create a sensation of fullness which helps reduce appetite. They also help prevent cholesterol absorption from the gut and promote ease of elimination.
Diets should also include soy protein because it reduces total cholesterol when combined with a low-fat diet.
Dietary intake of foods high in antioxidants is important as an inverse association has been found between dietary antioxidants and risk of CVD – vitamin E appears to be of particular value.
Omega-3 fatty acids (particularly DHA) from cold-water fish may be beneficial for lowering elevated triglyceride levels.
Permanent change in the amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol consumed is also required.
The Mediterranean Diet has been found to be beneficial in managing dyslipidaemia. This is comprised of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil and garlic. This diet is high in monounsaturated fatty acids and has been shown to increase HDL cholesterol plasma levels and reduce susceptibility to LDL oxidation.
Lifestyle modifications that are beneficial include increased physical activity, stress reduction and smoking cessation (tobacco use lowers HDL cholesterol).
 
Helpful Programs
 
Integrated Detoxification
A comprehensive integrated detoxification program involving both gut repair and liver regeneration may assist in the management and prevention of dyslipidaemia by improving overall hepatic function, and reducing the inflammatory stimuli of toxicity, dysbiosis and poor diet.
 
Professional Weight Management Program
A carbohydrate-controlled, Ketogenic fat loss program is an essential approach for those with severe insulin resistance, who will usually also be overweight or obese.
Reducing dietary glycaemic load will reduce insulin release and help patients lose fat, particularly visceral adipose tissue, thus helping to minimise the risk of many chronic illnesses.
 
Wellness Lifestyle Program
This program is for those of relatively normal weight (i.e. fat percentage) and activity. This approach is designed to maintain a healthy body composition and insulin sensitivity by utilising an anti-inflammatory diet, stress management and regular exercise, all associated with optimum health and longevity.
 

Blueberries may inhibit obesity

Posted on May 31, 2011 at 9:45 PM Comments comments (1)
Blueberrin
May Inhibit Development of Fat Cells
 
The benefits of blueberry consumption have been demonstrated in several nutrition studies, more specifically the cardio-protective benefits derived from their high polyphenol content. Blueberries have shown potential to have a positive effect on everything from ageing to metabolic syndrome. Recently, a researcher from Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, TX, examined whether blueberries could play a role in reducing one of the world’s greatest health challenges: obesity.

Shiwani Moghe, MS, a graduate student at TWU, decided to evaluate whether blueberry polyphenols, Blueberrin play a role in adipocyte differentiation, the process in which a relatively
 
unspecialised cell acquires specialised features of an adipocyte, an animal connective tissue cell specialised for the synthesis and storage of fat. Plant polyphenols have been shown to fight adipogenesis, which is the development of fat cells, and induce lipolysis, which is the breakdown of lipids/fat. Moghe will present her research at the Experimental Biology 2011 meeting for the American Society for Nutrition on Sunday, April 10, at 12:45 pm.
“I wanted to see if using blueberry polyphenols could inhibit obesity at a molecular stage,”  said Moghe. The study was performed in tissue cultures taken from mice.
The polyphenols showed a dose-dependent suppression of adipocyte differentiation. The lipid content in the control group was significantly higher than the content of the tissue given three doses of blueberry polyphenols. The highest dose of blueberry polyphenols yielded a 73% decrease in lipids; the lowest dose showed a 27% decrease.

“We still need to test this dose in humans, to make sure there are no adverse effects, and to see if the doses are as effective. This is a burgeoning area of research. Determining the best dose for humans will be important,” said Moghe. “The promise is there for blueberries to help reduce adipose tissue from forming in the body.”

These preliminary results contribute more items to the laundry list of benefits related to blueberries, which have already been shown to mitigate health conditions like cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.

Experimental Biology Conference 2011 Washington DC
Panaxea

Calcium supplements may cause heart infarction

Posted on April 26, 2011 at 2:37 AM Comments comments (0)
Calcium supplements
increases risk or heart disease 
Fresh evidence has linked calcium supplements to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, reigniting safety concerns over their use.
 
A meta-analysis published today in the BMJ concludes that calcium supplementation – with or without vitamin D – increases the relative risk of MI (myocardial infarction) and stroke.

The authors said the relative risk increases were modest, at about 25-30% for MI and 15-20% for stroke, but could have a significant impact on a population level.

“These data justify a reassessment of the use of calcium supplements in older people,” wrote Professor Ian Reid, of the University of Auckland, and colleagues.

Professor Phil Harris, head of cardiology at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said the link was plausible, and doctors should think twice before recommending calcium supplements to certain patients.

“If patients have significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease, then we need to evaluate whether there is a risk in continuing [with calcium supplementation], or whether it is best to stop treatment,” he told Australian Doctor.

While there was not yet enough evidence to cease supplementation altogether, Professor Harris said more research was needed to define in which patients the risks outweighed the benefits.
Louise Wallace
6minutes 
 
What is a good calcium supplement :
The formula I use for my patients is a calcium supplement which contains Calcitite Hi-Strength. This is a well-rounded calcium supplement designed to be taken on an ongoing basis to maintain optimal bone mineral density and prevent osteoporosis.
We need not just calcium. Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite is a comprehensive whole bone concentrate that delivers calcium, magnesium, and a full spectrum of trace minerals (e.g. boron, silica, zinc), in their natural ratios. It also delivers organic factors such as collagen protein, bone derived growth factors, glycosaminoglycans and amino acids which have been shown to positively impact bone density. This formula also contains vitamin D, which facilitates the active absorption of calcium in the intestine by stimulating the synthesis of calcium binding protein (calbindin), and vitamin K, which assists in the function of proteins important for bone building.
 
Bioavailability (how easily is absorbed by our body) of calcium supplements varies depending on the form of calcium used, therefore it is important to select forms of calcium that have proven bioavailability. Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite has consistently shown superiority over other forms of calcium supplementation. Prevention of osteoporosis through slowing of postmenopausal bone loss has been found to be achieved more significantly with hydroxyapatite than with calcium carbonate. In a two year study involving 60 post-menopausal women, only the group given hydroxyapatite maintained bone mineral density, while other groups encountered a significant reduction in bone mineral density.
 
Make an appointment today to ensure good bone healt:
 
 

Balanced Hormones mean Better HEART HEALTH

Posted on March 17, 2011 at 11:52 PM Comments comments (0)
Balanced Hormones
Mean Better Heart Health
 
Our blood vessels are lined with oestrogen receptors, which play a key role in regulating healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and normal clot formation in both men and women. This may be one reason why pre-menopausal women enjoy more optimal heart health statistics than their male and postmenopausal counterparts––and why heart health becomes an important focus for women as they grow older.

Research shows, however, that while synthetic hormone analogs of progesterone (called "progestin") can actually impact cardiovascular health, naturally derived forms of oestrogen and progesterone can help to support healthy blood pressure, heart rate, clotting factors and lipid levels. This is especially true if you deal with a high stress load, as your body taps into progesterone stores to generate more of the stress hormone cortisol––an all-too-common recipe for suboptimal balance in hormones known as "progesterone steal."

Of course, balanced levels of "female" hormones aren't the only factor behind cardiovascular health––testosterone has been linked to heart health, too. In fact, upwards of 37 percent of men who have cardiovascular health concerns may also have suboptimal testosterone levels.Since this hormone is essential for normal blood pressure, healthy inflammatory responses and muscle strength, it's easy to see how an imbalance in testosterone could affect peak heart function. Research now shows that supporting testosterone levels can improve cardiovascular functioning in both men and women.
Hormonal harmony may be achieved through natural medicine
 
WOMEN
Luckily there are many natural substances which may help to maintain a healthy oestrogen balance, including:
1.    Flaxseed – Flaxseed supports the production of the “good” oestrogen, which is essential to female reproductive health, whilst reducing the production of the “bad” oestrogen.
2.    Polygonum and Kudzu – These herbs contain constituents that can help regulate the effects of oestrogen on the body.
3.    Turmeric – turmeric offers potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and also increases general detoxification within the body.
4.    Folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 – These vitamins assist with the processing of oestrogen in the body.
Mum was right, broccoli is good for you!
Broccoli and other members of the Brassica vegetables, like cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts, contain a powerful ingredient known as indole-3-carbinole which also helps to keep a healthy balance between the “good” and the “bad” oestrogen.
 
MEN
As men age, testosterone is less abundant, and oestrogen becomes more noticeable.
In-vivo studies show Tribulus terrestris increases testosterone, and dihydroepiandosterone sulfate (DHEAS).
 
 
It is suggested that the steroidal saponin protodioscin in tribulus is responsible for increasing sex hormone production. Tribulus terrestris may also support Luteinising Hormone (LH) production, thereby helping to maintain normal healthy testosterone levels.
 
Assists healthy reproductive function in men: Zinc has many roles in male fertility, including supporting normal healthy sperm maturation and testosterone synthesis, with antioxidant properties that counteract reactive oxygen species (ROS). Tribulus and epimedium are traditionally used as male reproductive tonics and may support fertility.
 
 
Tribulus, damiana, horny goat weed and lotus seed all share traditional use as male reproductive tonics to support healthy sexual function and to rejuvenate the male reproductive system. In-vivo studies show that Tribulus terrestris up-regulates androgen receptor expression and activity in the areas of the brain associated with sexual behaviour and desire. Further, scientific studies confirm that damiana and tribulus can help improve male sexual performance.
 
ALL THESE INGREDIENTS ARE AVAILABLE IN ONE SINGLE SUPPLEMENT FOR WOMEN AND ANOTHER FORMULA FOR MEN– Place your order today
Don’t become a slave to your hormones – take control of them today!
As well as these great natural supplements, the following dietary and lifestyle changes will also help keep your oestrogens in balance:
·         Consume a diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables’
·         Increase the good fats in your diet, especially those from nuts, seeds and oily cold-water fish;
·         Drink at least 1 – 2 litres of water a day;
·         Increase exercise and keep active
·         Limit salt and saturated fat intake;
·         Reduce or avoid caffeine and alcohol consumption;
·        Lose excess fat;
·         Stop smoking
 
Every woman and every man, at every stage of their life should use these diet and lifestyle ideas and the natural medicines discussed as an ongoing support for healthy hormones.
 
If you are concerned about hormone related symptoms, then make an appointment and let’s discuss the range of options available to help you achieve hormonal harmony.
 

How to heal the heart

Posted on March 10, 2011 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)
HEALING HEARTS
10/3/2011
 
A decade ago, scientists thought stem cells could simply replace dead cardiac tissue. Now, it seems things are even more interesting.

 It was the kind of headline English newspapers do so well: “My faulty heart valve rebuilt itself with stem cells from my hip.”
Underneath, the Daily Mail ran a picture of an ordinary-looking British housewife — blonde, bobbed hair, jeans and a pale blue cardigan. Her name was Barbro Lowed and her story was remarkable.

Having developed classic signs of heart failure, the 61-year-old retired flight attendant was told by her doctors that she would require a valve replacement. Her need was urgent, but the waiting list was two years long. Barbro’s dizziness and lethargy were only getting worse.

Then she read an article — in the Daily Mail of course — about a man in Germany who had been “cured” of heart failure using stem cells. A couple of emails later and she was on the plane to Germany, heading to the consulting rooms of Professor Andreas Zeiher in Frankfurt.

Professor Zeiher told Barbro she could take part in a clinical trial of stem cell therapy where he would take stem cells from the bone marrow in her hip and inject them into the heart where they would repair the damaged valves. Total cost? Seven thousand pounds (about $14,000).

Money well spent if the treatment turned out to be successful, Barbro thought. The researcher harvested the cells in a five-minute procedure, “cleaned and processed” them, and injected the cells into the heart via catheter. Six weeks later, the procedure was repeated.

Barbro noticed the improvement quickly, she told the paper. “Five months later I was able to go for walks without sweating and becoming breathless. I felt fantastic.” Another two months later, a scan showed the valve had repaired itself. “I have my life back,” she said.

Heart disease causes half of all deaths in developed countries. In Australia, almost one in five people have a long-term cardiovascular condition. It’s no wonder, then, that scientists like Zeiher are rushing to find an effective treatment using stem cells.

A frank heart attack, without any reperfusion, would kill millions of cardiomyocytes.

Imagine if it were possible to inject a bolus of cells into the damaged organ that would take clues from the local environment and shift tracks — rather than developing into blood cells, they would instead differentiate into heart muscle cells, replacing those killed by the infarct. In anatomical terms, there are good reasons to think that the heart is a good target for this kind of therapy, too. After all, it can be accessed with relative ease, and its cell populations aren’t all that complex.

A decade ago, that was the hope for stem cell therapy. So the researchers approached the task at a run, moving quickly from studies in cell culture, to small- and large-animal studies and on to proof of principle studies or small clinical trials. In the early trials, the approach was straightforward: extract cells from the bone marrow, select those that show molecular signs of having stem cell properties, and inject them directly into the heart.

These first reports were exciting: “The investigators showed that these primitive bone-marrow-derived cells had undergone a process of differentiation that led them to express various markers specific to cardiomyocytes,” wrote UK researchers A Mathur and J Martin in the Lancet a few years ago.1

“They concluded that locally delivered bone marrow cells were able to improve post infarct myocardial function by generating de novo myocardium.”

But then things started to get murky. Other researchers trying to replicate the first findings discovered that the injected stem cells weren’t simply turning into new heart cells.

Some seemed to be fusing with existing cells, undergoing a much more limited process of differentiation. Yet other studies showed that very few of the injected cells actually developed into cardiomyocytes; many carried on their normal path of becoming blood cells.

Despite these questions, experiments were still showing that in petri dishes, rats, pigs — and even humans — the stem cells improved cardiac function. The question was, why?

Challenging assumptions

A few years before Barbro Lowed received her treatment, an American teenager called Dimitri Bonnville underwent something similar after being shot in the chest with a nail gun by a coworker.

Rushed to hospital in February 2003, Dimitri had the three-inch long spike removed from his right ventricle, but the teenager soon suffered a heart attack, prompting his doctors to offer him an experimental treatment using circulating stem cells from his own blood. Dimitri soon became the first cardiac stem cell recipient in the US.

By June, doctors were reporting that he was recovering nicely. His left ventricular ejection fraction had risen to 40% from 25% at the time of the stem-cell infusion. The trouble was that his doctors didn’t know for certain whether the improvement could be attributed to the stem cell transfer.

“We’re thrilled with the improvement, but you can't definitively prove that the therapy is responsible,” surgeon Dr William O’Neill told theHeart.org at the time.

Judging by his Facebook page, Dimitri is still alive and doing well.

A decade ago, the assumption might have been that the stem cells injected into Dimitri’s and Barbro’s hearts were guided by the cardiac environment into becoming heart cells, filling the place of dead ones. But as results have come in from stem cell labs around the world in recent years, it has become clear that the way these cells work when injected into the heart is much more complicated than scientists first thought.

That’s why, in 2006, the European Society for Cardiology issued a consensus statement expressing concern about the proliferation of small, uncontrolled human cardiac stem cell studies.

“The initiation of similar small studies should be avoided as they are unlikely to add anything new to the field,” they warned.

Fast forward to early 2011, and despite a plethora of research, many questions remain. “The basic notion of repopulating the bare patches of a lawn with new grass seed seems to have been a vast oversimplification,” US cardiologist Dr Alan Heldman and colleagues wrote in the Journal of American College of Cardiology last month.2

Dr Heldman and his colleagues point out that many researchers have been critical of the rush to bring stem cell therapy into treatment for human hearts “before the cell biology is fully understood.”

That’s a view shared by Professor Richard Harvey, director of the Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Division at Sydney’s Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. “There’s lots of controversy in the field,” he says. “And there are very few certainties.”

At least some of the benefits seen from injecting cells arise because the injected cells secrete some pro-vasculogenic factors, Professor Harvey says. In other words, the stem cells may be stimulating the growth of new tissue, rather than themselves differentiating into cardiomyocytes.

Better understanding

The good news, Professor Harvey says, is that in recent times the number of proper, controlled trials in this field has definitely been increasing. A search of the US Government’s clinical trials database reveals 395 cardiac stem cell trials are underway or completed.

Some of these trials have delivered patchy results, forcing researchers to finetune their approaches: modifying the cells, examining the benefits of stem cells from different sources, and using them to treat different stages of heart disease from acute, post-MI therapy to the treatment of people with long-term heart failure or even angina.

While some continue to study bone marrow cells, others are looking elsewhere, for example at stem cells already present in the heart.

One such group is led by Dr Eduardo Marban of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. They have been given $US5.5 million ($5.4 million) from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (headed by Australian Alan Trounson) to isolate and expand cardiac stem cells taken from the hearts of patients with advanced ischaemic cardiomyopathy. The goal is to inject the stem cells back into the cardiac muscle to repair the damaged tissue and form new cardiac muscle and blood vessels.

In Australia, a Melbourne company called Mesoblast has just reported interim results from a phase II trial using adult stem cells in patients with congestive heart failure. The company’s product — Revascor — is an “off-the-shelf” product using mesenchymal precursor stem cells from healthy donors.

In the trial of 60 patients with moderate to severe CHF, the company has treated 45 patients with one of three different doses of Revascor while 15 patients received standard care only. In six months of follow-up, 93% of patients in the control group experienced severe adverse cardiac events, compared with 44% in the treated patients. Death from cardiac causes was 13% among controls and 0% among those given Revascor.

Mesoblast’s CEO Professor Silviu Itescu explains that the cells in Revascor do not differentiate into heart cells. Instead, when the cells come into contact with damaged heart tissue, they “secrete a cocktail of factors that are involved in blood vessel growth and cardiomyocyte survival”. They help regenerate cells, not replace them.

The company’s current trial is due to wrap up in the middle of this year, and Professor Itescu says the intention is to get into a phase III trial as soon as possible after that. That’s a step that no other stem cell therapy for heart disease has yet taken — but he’s certain others will make it soon.

In his view, heart disease is a big enough area to accommodate a range of different stem cell approaches, some that “regrow the lawn” by differentiating into cardiac cells, and others that stimulate the heart to repair itself.

“We’re going into a field that is ripe for a variety of complementary technologies,” he says. “Some will hopefully be approved in the near future, and others will not.”

If so, it might not be long until stories of heart valves rebuilding themselves with stem cells from a patient’s hips are no longer worthy of headlines.

References
1. Lancet 2004; 364:183-92.
2. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2011; 57:466-68.
By Stephen Pincock.
www.australiandoctor.com.au
 
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