Diet Drinks Can Increase Your Waistline and Put Weight On

August 31, 2011 by  
Filed under Drugs & Medication, Food & Nutrition, Health

During the summer we naturally consume more drinks to help with dehydration, and diet drinks are certainly popular for both refreshment and in the mistaken belief they help you lose weight. I say mistaken advisedly as a new study has shown that diet drinks actually cause weight gain and blood sugar spikes.

These diet drinks are made with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and a landmark new study out of Texas confirms that not only do diet drinks not help with weight loss, but they actually cause both weight gain and health problems.

Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) at San Antonio gathered ten years worth of data on 474 participants from a larger, ongoing study called the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging. Among these participants, those that consumed two or more diet drinks a day experienced waist size increases that were a staggering six times greater than those who did not consume diet drinks.

Helen P. Hazuda, a study researcher and professor at the UTHSC School of Medicine presented the study results at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association. She reported that: “Data from this and other prospective studies suggest that the promotion of diet sodas and artificial sweeteners as healthy alternatives may be ill-advised. They may be free of calories, but not of consequences.”

The findings debunk the false notion that switching to diet drinks will help you lose weight. What they do show is a 70 percent increase in waist size compared to those who do not drink them, so it is not clear how calling them ‘diet’ is applicable.

I have mentioned the health dangers of aspartame before, and a related study presented at the same time, found that this chemical sweetener commonly found in diet foods and drinks, is actually responsible for raising blood sugar levels.

This was an animal, not human study, but the results suggest that heavy aspartame exposure might potentially directly contribute to increased blood glucose levels. This could be a major contributory factor to the risk of diabetes, already a worldwide epidemic and growing.

A previous study had linked saccharin to weight gain and according to Dr. Marie Savard, medical contributor for ABC News, there is something about diet foods that changes your metabolic limit, your brain chemistry.The truth is, we’re putting artificial sweetener in so many different things: in water, in yogurt. We have to rethink what this artificial stuff does to us.”

This links to a previous 2010 study conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases that found that the body’s reaction to the ingestion of artificial sweeteners appears to be brain confusion over how exactly to process it, which in and of itself is implicated in causing various other negative consequences.

Certainly it is true that US Food and Drug Administration have had adverse event reports going back several decades that indicate that artificial sweeteners like aspartame are also responsible for destroying brain neurons, which in turn leads to a host of chronic illnesses. These include, but are not limited to, chronic headaches, seizures, strokes, vascular disorders, heart disease, premature birth, dementia and other brain disorders, and cancer.

So if you want a fizzy refreshing drink then please steer clear of diet ones, and for a low calorie option try sparkling mineral water with a few drops of vanilla essence in it for sweetness and flavor.

West Highland White Terriers Could Help Your Health

August 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Medical Research & Studies

Westies, as they are popularly known, are an attractive breed and got a media boost when featured in the Hamish Macbeth tv series, but it seems they may well be man’s best friend in more ways than one as they may hold the aswers to similar human diseases.

The Westie Foundation of America (WFA) has announced preliminary findings in two major studies involving the health of West Highland White Terriers and findings in these and studies of other dogs may hold answers for similar human conditions like Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

In one study, researchers are looking at the role of a mucosal gene driving inflammation Canine IBD, a chronic intestinal disorder that creates a bacterial-driven inflammation in the intestines. In the second, scientists are researching Legg-Calve Perthes Disease (LCPD), a debilitating developmental disease that causes pain, lameness and muscle atrophy of the dogs’ hip joints. Both are considering implications for humans since the diseases share commonalities in disease symptoms and pathology.

In IBD, genetic factors are thought to contribute to the cause of the disease in both dogs and humans and researchers are utilizing unique molecular biology tools to identify key genes which regulate intestinal inflammation, similar to human IBD.

Albert E. Jergens, DVM, PhD of Iowa State University is the study’s lead investigator and he explains: “It is our expectation to identify specific genes which serve as biomarkers for diagnosing canine IBD and for monitoring the effects of therapy. We have now identified a grouping of 17 ‘marker’ genes that may be more critically assessed in future studies. We have preliminary evidence that changes in the composition of the intestinal bacteria accompany the abnormal gene patterns…this situation is remarkably similar to the association between people and their intestinal populations causing human IBD (i.e., Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis).”

LCPD is an orthopedic disease that may require surgery to relieve the clinical signs and researchers are using technology to assess nearly 127,000 points in the dog genome. The goal of this project is to identify genes that contribute to the development of LCPD. Preliminary study findings show LCPD may be inherited in much the opposite way previous studies have shown. Earlier studies suggested LCPD is transmitted in an autosomal recessive pattern but the current data suggest it is inherited in either a dominant or complex fashion. The investigators currently have samples from 58 Westies, 23 of which have LCPD and more research is needed with the results of the candidate gene analysis to be published later this year.

Dogs are used in healthcare in other ways, as hospital visitors for instance where their presence is known to have a calming effect on patients and reduce their blood pressure but that they might help us get a cure for disease and hip disorders is certainly a step beyond that. If you have a Westie then perhaps an extra chew or toy as a thank you might be appropriate on behalf of his/her American relatives?

Is Your Smartphone Making Your Eyes Tired?

August 29, 2011 by  
Filed under featured, Health, Medical Research & Studies

I sometimes feel like the last person on the planet who has a mobile phone that does just that – make phone calls. The rise of the new so-called ‘smartphones has been fast and furious and although we know of the dangers of over use of mobiles, it seems the new technology is throwing up another problem.

Several reports indicate that prolonged viewing of mobiles and other stereo 3D devices leads to visual discomfort, fatigue and even headaches. As more people are using smartphone, ipads, kindle readers and 3D game players this situation is going to get worse, not better. According to a new study reported in the Journal of Vision, the root cause may be the demand on our eyes to focus on the screen and simultaneously adjust to the distance of the content.

This is technically known as vergence-accommodation, and it this conflict and its effect on viewers of stereo 3D displays that the study has reported on.

Martin S. Banks, professor of optometry and vision science, University of California, Berkeley is the lead author of the study and comments: “When watching stereo 3D displays, the eyes must focus — that is, accommodate — to the distance of the screen because that’s where the light comes from. At the same time, the eyes must converge to the distance of the stereo content, which may be in front of or behind the screen.”

Through a series of experiments on 24 adults, the research team observed the interaction between the viewing distance and the direction of the conflict, examining whether placing the content in front of or behind the screen affects viewer discomfort. The results demonstrated that with devices like mobile phones and desktop displays that are viewed at a short distance, stereo content placed in front of the screen — appearing closer to the viewer and into the space of viewer’s room — was less comfortable than content placed behind the screen. Conversely, when viewing at a longer distance such as a movie theater screen, stereo content placed behind the screen — appearing as though the viewer is looking through a window scene behind the screen — was less comfortable.

At the moment we are talking discomfort, and the study was on adults, but presumably long term use and by youngsters will have a more serious impact. My local cinema now offers virtually every film as 2D (or what we used to call just film) and 3D and it is to the latter that the younger audience are drawn as when the new Harry Potter film was launched the 3D showing sold out faster. There has been an explosion of stereo 3D imagery in all areas, not just film and tv, but communication and medical technology as well.

“This is an area of research where basic science meets application and we hope that the science can proceed quickly enough to keep up with the increasingly widespread use of the technology,” added Banks.
The authors also propose guidelines be established for the range of disparities presented on such displays and the positioning of viewers relative to the display but in a world where we want colour, excitement and pzazz from our entertainment it may be that self – or parental – control might be the first step to avoid eyestrain and headaches.

Do Solar Flares Affect Our Health?

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Health

This is a bit more ‘science’ than my usual stories, but I felt it really was applicable to us as a new scientific study shows solar activity affects our physical and mental state

The study was published in the science journal ‘Nature’ and indicates a direct connection between the Sun’s generating of charged particles. These include events such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections (cmes), and coronal holes which on occasion open wide gaps into which highly charged sun particles are pumped out into space and which
often reach the Earth.

The Earth’s magnetic field is the conduit which facilitates charged particles from the Sun to us and it is this very same conduit which steers the natural earth changing events such as climate, weather, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The dormant gene residing within all of us just ready to be tapped is ‘cryptochromes’ and they are a class of blue light-sensitive flavoproteins found in plants and animals.

Cryptochromes are involved in the ‘circadian’ (24 hour cycle) rhythms of daily life on our planet for all creatures and this new study shows consistent evidence of an influence of geomagnetic fields on the light sensitivity of the human visual system. It has been proposed recently that light-sensitive magnetic responses are not only used for directional information, but may also aid as a ‘visual’ barometer by providing a spherical coordinate system for integrating spacial awareness which means having a cognitive orientation of space and in this case, the study is referring to the Earth’s atmosphere.

Lead researcher Robert J. Gegear, from the Department of Neurobiology, University of Massachusetts Medical School said: “Our study suggests humans may be genetically pre-disposed to the influence by geomagnetic flux as it relates to the Earth’s magnetic field and charged particles such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, gamma rays, and galactic cosmic rays.” The pineal gland, which regulates circadian (24-hour) rhythm and melatonin production, is sensitive to magnetic fields. “The circadian regulatory system depends upon repeated environmental cues to [synchronize] internal clocks,” says Kelly Posner, a psychiatrist at Columbia University. In vertebrates, such as migratory birds and sea turtles, the ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field is clearly important for positional and directional information during their long-distance migrations. In many animals, magneto-reception is thought to depend on light-sensitive chemical reactions involving the flavoprotein cryptochrome (CRY).

There is consistent evidence of an influence of geomagnetic fields on the light sensitivity of the human visual system. Moreover, it has been proposed recently that light-sensitive magnetic responses are not only used for directional information, but may also aid visual spatial perception in mammals, by providing a spherical coordinate system for integrating a sense-of-direction. (I think in research speak that means it helps us find out where we are heading). What they were evaluating was the light-dependent magneto-sensing potential in humans and it seems we have the molecular capability to function as a light-sensitive magneto-sensor,.

This could give you a previously unlooked for affinity with dolphins but in practical terms, we know how important getting our circadian rhythms right is for our health, particularly for sleep/wake patterns so if these solar activities are indeed affecting that then it seems to make sense that they would indeed have an influence on us.

I have no advice to offer on protecting yourself from the effects, other than the usual ones of staying as healthy as you can to withstand any onslaught – whether solar or virus!

Gut Week Is Upon Us

August 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Natural Medicine, Vitamins & Supplements

Not a week goes by these days without it being ‘special’ and this week is no exception. We are now halfway through this year’s National Gut Week which began on Monday. To stay healthy you do have to ‘Love Your Gut’ and take good care of your digestive health.

The gut is not only where we digest our food, it is home to 70% of the body’s immunity and where different types of bacteria interact and essential vitamins and minerals from the diet are absorbed into the bloodstream. If your gut is unhealthy, then a wide range of health problems can result such as regular colds and flu, eczema or acne, and low energy levels.

I have mentioned the importance of probioitics before, and usually in a preventive way to protect you while away from home and subject to the stress of unfamiliar diet and surroundings, but it is certainly something to focus on for all round health throughout the year – not just at holiday time. One key way to look after your gut is to ensure that you have a healthy balance of friendly bacteria (probiotics) over bad bacteria (pathogens) and there are several ways to do that.

Obviously a healthier lifestyle creates favourable conditions for good bacteria to survive in the gut and that is basically trying not to keep stress to a minimum, cut out sugar and foods containing additives and preservatives as they can unbalance your system. Also certain medications, particularly antibiotics, also kill off the body’s probiotics and so disrupt the intestinal bacterial balance. Furthermore, stress will naturally diminish one’s levels of good bacteria, so make sure you put your feet up from time to time!

We unfortunately do not produce our own probiotics in the body, just like vitamin C, and it is almost impossible to avoid some of the factors which can have a negative effect on your natural microflora as previously mentioned. However, what you can do is to top up your body’s levels of good bacteria with a natural probiotic supplement.

So what kind of supplement is best?
You may already be taking a probiotic-containing yoghurt but yoghurts only hold one type of probiotic bacteria and have a short shelf-life. Capsules and sachets can contain multiple varieties of freeze-dried probiotic bacteria but these bacteria take hours to activate under rehydration. Symprove contains four varieties of natural live activated bacteria and, as a water-based drink, it passes quickly through the stomach to the lower intestine without triggering digestion and the good bacteria begin to multiply within 20 minutes. It is lactose-free and does not contain any artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners. It has a pleasant taste of mango and passionfruit and you store it in the fridge where it will keep for up to 5 months. It is used by people with wide-ranging digestive and bowel related problems, and it goes to work within minutes of being swallowed.

If you can’t find Symprove in your local health store then visit the website at to order, or find a stockiest near you.

It May Look Like Pond Life – But You Really, Really Need It!

August 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health, Vitamins & Supplements

What if having just a tablespoon or two per day of a simple food could drastically lower your chances of developing cancer, heart disease or stroke, or of contracting a life-threatening virus such as HIV, would you do it?

Spirulina is a superfood is a unique freshwater plant that is one of the most nutrient-packed foods around and is receving a lot of press in the USA at the moment for its protection against radiation, but its health benefits are far reaching beyond that.

Along with chlorella it is blue – green algae, but actually is classified as bacteria because their genetic material is not organized in a membrane-bound nucleus and, unlike other bacteria, they have chlorophyll and use the sun as an energy source, in the way plants and algae do. Spirulina has a very rich protein content—60 percent on average, which is even better than red meat which is about 27 percent protein. Also that protein is biologically complete, containing all of the essential amino acids needed for human health and a potent array of other beneficial nutrients. The proteins in spirulina are of a highly digestible type (83 to 90 percent digestible), due to the fact that it does not have cellulose walls, like yeast and chlorella do.

That’s why it is turning up in more and more foods, particularly health foods such as protein bars, and is a vital ingredient in health-giving green smoothies. Oh and if you think this is a New Age food fad then records of the Spanish conquistadors suggest that the Aztecs consumed spirulina as a food source. So what does it give you?

• Vitamins: B (including exceptionally high B-12) and vitamin K along with other vitamins. Contains vitamin E level comparable to wheat germ, and four times as much vitamin B12 as raw liver
• Minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, and zinc Spirulina has about the same mineral content as milk
• Naturally rich in iodine and contains eighteen different amino acids
• One of best known sources of gamma-linolenic acid and other essential fatty acids Phytopigments phycocyanin, chlorophyll, and carotenoids
• Compounds of proteins combined with metals that bind heavy radioactive isotopes
• Low in carbohydrates – 15-20 percent
There are scientific studies supporting spirulina’s potential usefulness in preventing and/or treating the following health conditions: age-related macular degeneration, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, liver health and decreased damage from heavy metal exposure, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke) and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

It has also been linked to protection from both cancer and radiation protection, bone marrow and blood health (especially during use of anticancer drugs), strengthening immune defenses and modulating inflammatory response, reducing arthritis symptoms and pain sensitivity by inhibiting prostaglandins, which contribute to pain and inflammation

Good for you – and your pets:
There is sufficient scientific evidence for spirulina’s health benefits and its remarkable clinical results with a high safety record. It also seems to be good for our pets as spirulina’s ability to promote a strong immune system, a healthy coat, heart and joint health, and even fresher breath is making it popular with pet owners who add a small amount to their food. You can now buy a specific version now just for them, but I have only seen it on US websites not anything in the UK.

I wish I could tell you it tastes wonderful, but it doesn’t – at least not to me – but when mixed in with a fruit or green smoothie it is fine. Just be aware that the vibrant colour of your normal smoothie will look like mud – I persuade myself it is the colour of milk chocolate which helps, and certainly doesn’t detract from the taste!

As seaweed has just been ‘outed’ as the latest way to fight off heart attacks you could try doubling your health benefit with a supplement that combines seaweed in a blend of 12 chlorophyll rich green foods including spirulina, chlorella, kale sprouts, wheat grass juice, nettles and arctic fresh seaweed. It comes from Pukka Herb and is Clean Greens powder which you should be able to find in your health store.

Top 5 Summer Wellbeing Escapes

August 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Travel

One of the keys to longevity is learning to relax, and if your idea of a holiday is getting away from it all to recharge your batteries then Michaela Olexova from Baoli has put together a list that might tempt you to start packing.

From yoga breaks, fitness retreats to wellbeing escapes, there are hundreds of operators that promise to take you to new destinations across sun lit Europe and recommend inspirational programs to improve your physical and mental wellbeing. To help you with your search of a wellbeing holiday that best suits your nature and fitness level, we have found five wellbeing escapes that deliver it all – gorgeous locations, excellent teachers, delicious healthy food, time to relax and recharge, not to mention a personal service and attention.

If yoga or meditation is your thing then Hazur Vadisi on Turkey’s ‘Turquoise Coast’ might be just want you are looking for. Famous for its warm hospitality, delicious vegetarian food and beautiful natural location Hazur Vadisi runs retreats throughout the year. To forget everyday worries and relax, you should find your way to the popular Czech resort of St. Katerina where you will be spoilt for choice with a variety of wellbeing packages and therapies for both body and mind.

The world class health experts from in:spa’s promise that you will come home fitter, lighter and tighter after a week luxury detox holiday set at the boutique hotel in Andalusia.

And if you would like to extend summer till September then pick one of the following two mountains escapes: fitscape’s personal fitness and training sessions will boost your energy in the Italian Dolomites, while KiYoga run by the popular yoga teacher Kirsty Norton ensures a heightened sense of your wellbeing at a luxury chalet in the French Alps.

More information on these, and more, at

The Myths and Facts Separated

August 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Health

We all know -or think we know – what makes for a long and healthy life but are we right? A new book uses one of the most famous studies in psychology to answer the question of who lives longest — and why. The answers may surprise you, but this study was begun in the early 1920s and our interest in, and knowledge of, health care has also changed radically. The Longevity Project’s authors, Dr Howard Friedman and Dr Leslie Martin are on a search and destroy mission to certainly tackle many of our most deeply held beliefs about longevity.

Myth number one — people do not die from working long hours at a challenging job, many who worked the hardest live the longest. Bizarre as it may seem, hard workers live longer, even those with stressful jobs, because being motivated and engaged keeps you alive.

Myth number two — getting and staying married is not a magic ticket to a long life, especially if you are a woman. In fact those unhappy marriages do often live longer, but those whose marriage ends in divorce actually have shorter life spans.

Myth number three — exercise is not necessarily the key to a longer life. In fact the vigourous exercise can be detrimental, results show that the enjoyable physical activities like gardening or walking are more beneficial than high impact exercise.

Myth number four — it’s not a happy-go-lucky people who survive longest, it is the prudent and consistent who flourish through the years.

Myth number five — if you are concerned that you worry too much, then don’t! Apparently healthy concern for the future makes you more likely to be diligent about your health which means you are likely to live longer.

If you’re not sure just where you fall on the longevity spectrum, then the book contains questionnaires that will help you discover that plus advice on how to stay healthy.

The authors are endorsed by Dr Andrew Weil — one of the most respected nutritional and make a thick doctors in the USA — who even with his enormous range of information and experience says that he learned a lot from this book. Calling it “a compelling and objective assessment of character traits associated with longevity.”

Personally, I found the key personality component self assessment tests absolutely fascinating, and now I am not going to tell you the result! The book is published by Hay House and if you can’t find it in your local bookshop, and you can order it direct from amazon here: The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight Decade Study

The 3 Main Reasons Women Get Hot Flushes – and What to Do About It

August 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Womens Health

It seems that hot flashes are the bane of many women’s lives during menopause – and they have quite an effect on those around them too. Hot flashes come on without any warning and can range from being mildly uncomfortable to downright unbearable. Symptoms range from just a slight redness of the face to a full body sweat that leaves you wringing wet and generating enough heat to boil water. Plus the dreaded night sweats that can seriously disturb your sleep.

It’s estimated that around 30% of menopausal women will get some form of hot flashes. How affected you are will depend on several factors, including where you live and what you eat. Some lucky women never get them at all and they are certainly very much more common in the Western world. There is no word in Japanese for instance to cover this phenomenon because they do not seem to suffer from it – unless they have switched to a predominantly Western diet. If you are unlucky enough to suffer from hot flashes this article will help you learn why they occur. If you’re not yet a sufferer, then it will help you gauge whether or not you are likely to become one.

The Reasons Why
Although some lucky women escape completely, there are some very good reasons why we experience the heat that we associate with menopause:

1 – Blood Vessels
Hot flashes occur when the blood vessels below the skin dilate. This causes more blood to rush to the skin’s surface, and that is what makes you look red and flushed, and feel that tell-tale rise in temperature. The body’s normal response to this is to try and cool you down, and it does this by making you sweat. What is unique about hot flashes is that this mechanism kicks in when the outside temperature can be very low and you do not have any signs of fever.

2 – Fluctuating hormones
Well you know all about this during menopause, and in fact the changing levels of your hormones are the prime cause of hot flashes. When your hormone levels fluctuate they cause the temperature control mechanism in the body to be disturbed. The centre which controls this is in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and it seems that it is changing levels of oestrogen and FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) that can upset this delicate balance and cause hot flashes.

Women having hot flashes usually have decreased oestrogen levels and increased FSH levels, but it is important to remember that it is the changes and fluctuations in the hormone levels – rather than the actual amount of hormone being produced – that produces hot flashes.

3 – Surgical menopause
It is to be expected that menopause symptoms come naturally when a woman’s childbearing years are coming to a close and the menopause or perimenopause is under way. However, women who have a hysterectomy or their ovaries removed at an age when they would not normally be going through menopause are more likely to experience more severe and frequent hot flashes after the surgery than in a natural menopause transition.

Even if the ovaries are retained it is no guarantee that an early menopause will not occur, as their effectiveness at producing progesterone will be affected and will diminish over time.

What Can Help
Those are some of the reasons behind hot flashes, but you also need to know what can help.
Herbal help seems to be the most popular, particularly those that act as a natural oestrogen modulator to help regulate hormone levels.

Black Cohosh is a herb native to North America and which over the last 50 years has gained an excellent reputation amongst western herbalists for its efficacy at easing menopausal symptoms. Modern clinical trials have confirmed just how effective Black Cohosh is at balancing the hormones in menopausal women and subsequently reducing the associated side effects, when taken on a regular basis. A recent review of the different natural remedies available found the herb…, “the most effective botanical.”

Sage is also popular and anecdotal evidence from herbalists has found it particularly effective at helping to ease the sweating associated with hormonally induced over-heating, which makes it effective for women suffering from hot flashes and night sweats.

If you want more immediate relief then again many women turn to acupuncture as it seems to bring a quicker result, though you may need to have regular sessions. If you want other suggestions for dealing with hot flashes you will find them in my downloadable booklet at

An Important New Role for Vitamin C in the Eye and the Brain and for Glaucoma

August 10, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Vitamins & Supplements

We know how important vitamin C is for so many functions in our bodies: supporting the immune system, protection against cardiovascular and heart disease and a protective and preventive role in cancer. However, a surprising new discovery may mean vitamin C is required by the nerve cells in the eye in order to function properly.

The function of vitamin C in the brain is not well understood; in fact, when the human body is deprived of vitamin C, the vitamin stays in the brain longer than anywhere else in the body. This new study by scientists at Oregon Health & Science University in the USA, who recently published their findings in the Journal of Neuroscience, may also throw light on the link between scurvy and depression. Scurvy results from a severe lack of vitamin C and one of the common symptoms is depression, and that may come from the lack of vitamin C in the brain.

As for its effects on eye health, Henrique von Gersdorff, Ph.D., a senior scientist at OHSU’s Vollum Institute (a privately endowed research unit of Oregon Health & Science University) said: “We found that cells in the retina need to be ‘bathed’ in relatively high doses of vitamin C, inside and out, to function properly. Because the retina is part of the central nervous system, this suggests there’s likely an important role for vitamin C throughout our brains, to a degree we had not realized before.”

The brain has special receptors, called GABA-type receptors that help modulate the rapid communication between cells in the brain. These act as an inhibitory “brake” on excitatory neurons in the brain and the OHSU researchers found that these GABA-type receptors in the retinal cells stopped functioning properly when vitamin C was removed. Because retinal cells are a kind of very accessible brain cell, it’s likely that GABA receptors elsewhere in the brain also require vitamin C to function properlyand because vitamin C is a major natural antioxidant, it may be that it essentially ‘preserves’ the receptors and cells from premature breakdown.

The findings could have implications for other diseases, like glaucoma and epilepsy as both conditions are caused by the dysfunction of nerve cells in the retina and brain that become over excited in part because GABA receptors may not be functioning properly. This indicates that a vitamin C-rich diet could be neuroprotective for the retina, particularly for people who are especially prone to glaucoma.

This research is in its early stages and speculative in nature, but it would be a sensible precaution to ensure adequeate vitamin C in your diet. Personally, I take a buffered vitamin C powder daily of at least 1gram and if ill or stressed I increase that to my personal body tolerance which is around 3grams a day. Eating oranges is just not enough to give you the protection you need from this vital nutrient.

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