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.

Teenage Girls, Hormones and Stress

August 9, 2011 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Natural Medicine

Teenagers and hormones are almost a joke – and certainly appear in enough tv sitcoms and magazine articles for us to take the state for granted – but could supplementing with natural hormones help teenage girls in particular?

Dr David Zava is the CEO of ZRT Labs and the co-author with Dr John Lee of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer and he has been involved for many years with analyzing and tracking the effect of natural hormones. A particular problem can be seen in teenage girls and came to his attention through a retired nurse who asked his advice.

She wanted to have more information on the use of progesterone cream to normalize cycles in teenagers as she had found that both her own daughters had benefited from using progesterone in the latter half of the cycle to normalize their cycles when they were stressed. The teens are like a pressure cooker and stress is endemic: whether over schoolwork, exams, appearance, peer pressure and so on and often can result in depression and hormone related migraines. She was curious as she found that such stress was often is responsive to rebalancing estrogen with progesterone but could find little literature or information on the subject so turned to an expert for his opinion.

Dr Zava confirmed her own research that there have been no double-blind, placebo controlled studies with thousands of subjects as this is expensive and as natural progesterone is not patentable there is no interest from pharmaceutical companies in funding trials. The trials that are done tend to be small scale and anecdotal, and there are numerous studies indirectly supporting its use. For instance in one trial for a small group of teens with PMS. Half were given progesterone cream for the last two weeks of the cycle, half on placebo, and there was indeed substantial improvement in the group taking the cream. One study showed that in the first year after starting to menstruate 80% of girls did not ovulate, meaning they did not make progesterone. Three years after their periods had started 50% did not ovulate, and by the sixth year 10% did not ovulate. That represents a lot of girls with premenstrual bloating, weight gain, mood swings, irritability and anxiety – all of which are symptoms of oestrogen dominane.

Unfortunately there is a considerable amount of oestrogen in the environment which means that teens and young adults are much more likely to be estrogen dominant – and accounts for the increasing number of teenage boys with ‘breasts’. In teenagers the adrenal glands can pick up some of the slack in progesterone production if it is not being produced in the right quantities by the ovaries, but in a stressed young adult the adrenals will be busy elsewhere.

The suggested therapeutic dose suggested by Dr Zava and doctors in the USA who specialize in treating teenagers is 15 to 20 mg of progesterone cream during the last week or ten days of the menstrual cycle can be enormously helpful. You can find more articles on hormone balance at and if you are interested in Dr Zava’s work you will find more on his website at

More on the Diet Front – herbal and emotional!

August could be the time when you are ready to lose a few pounds as you gaze lovingly at yourself in the mirror – more on that later – but first news of a herbal based diet much loved by models, actors and ballet dancers. Created by Dr. Pamukoff, who has been studying the active ingredients of plants for more than 65 years and one of the founders of the discipline of scientific phytotherap, which is another name for modern herbalism. He has devised SLIMPAM® which is a natural product made with rare grades of roses and herbs including liquorice, peppermint and dandelion.

He ought to know what he is doing as he has won many international awards and treated over half a million patients since first working with herbs in 1942. Consisting of a two part regime of capsules daily and herbal tea it is an effective slimming natural supplement that helps to regulate metabolism, digestion, constipation and the cardio-vascular system with long- lasting results.

This is not a diet plan based around food but on taking a tea and supplement that are based on natural herbal ingredients and award-winning research and most people are able to lose 4 to 7 of fat can be lost in 4 weeks in a natural way by following a healthy eating regime without exhausting diets or exercise.
Sounds like a dream scenario, but it starts in the engine room by cleansing the colon and this has an accumulating effect. One warning if you have never done a colon cleanse then it can have a sudden and dramatic effect on your visits to the loo, but if that occurs you can reduce the daily dose, but never exceed the maximum recommended. Dr Pamukoff says that on this plan you will see changes in your metabolism in week 3 and then significant weight loss in week 4

If you are after a faster weight loss then this is not for you as Dr. Pamukoff is in tune with contemporary thinking as after more than 30 years of research he has found that losing weight faster can be achieved but this is not advisable. Anyone who has been on a crash or very low calorie diet knows that when you lose weight too quickly your skin may not adapt to your new shape and it may end up being loose with wrinkles, so SLIMPAM® contains herbs rich in antioxidants as well as vitamins A, E and C to help maintain skin elasticity.

The ingredients come primarily from Bulgaria: the roses used are the same as used in Chanel No 5 and are apparently excellent for regulating the digestion and the herbs come from the same valley. The dandelions give excellent support for your metabolism and is rich in vitamins A, E, C, B1, B6 and B12. Another interesting ingredient is flax seeds which are one of the richest sources of omega fatty acids.

There are two variants – one for men and one for women – and his herbal combination has been effective and successful for more than 30 years. I tried it and found it had a good detox effect but at first was puzzled as to the instructions as they differ for odd and even days.

Days 1, 3, 5….29 before your evening meal you put 2 to 3 SLIMPAM® herbal sachets in a mug of boiling hot water and allow to steep for 30 minutes for maximum benefits, then squeeze the herbal sachets before drinking. Drink this before your meal together with 1 to 2 of the capsules.

Days 2, 4, 6 (even dates) in the morning on getting up you take 1 SLIMPAM® capsule.

I found 2-3 teabags too strong a taste for me and so only had 1 and I sweetened it with a little honey so I do wonder if the initial pack of 30 herbal teabags and 30 capsules would last as suggestedfor a month, as it must be less if take the maximum dose. As this is a full month programme, and you only see real weight loss in week four then I would have thought a bumper pack might be more sensible. However, it relieves you from any worries about counting calories as you eat normally, but sensibly.

If you would like to know more visit and as for that loving your body I mentioned earlier it seems from new research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity that if you improve your body image then you will enhance the effectiveness of weight loss programs based on diet and exercise.

Researchers enrolled overweight and obese women on a year-long weight loss program and half were put on weekly group sessions where issues such as exercise, emotional eating, improving body image and the recognition of, and how to overcome, personal barriers to weight loss and lapses from the diet were discussed. This group lost more weight than the control group and in particular were able to reduce their ‘comfort’ eating and maintain the weight loss. Researchers also saw a considerably reduced amount of anxiety about other peoples’ opinions, and positive changes in eating behavior in this group.

Why Women On HRT Should Eat More Parsley and Celery

August 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Natural Medicine, Womens Health

A new study by the University of Missouri has found that a compound in parsley and other plant products can stop certain breast cancer tumor cells from multiplying and growing.

Why is this particularly relevant for women on HRT? Because of the well established research showing that certain synthetic hormones used in HRT (a progestin called medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) can accelerate breast tumor development. When tumor cells develop in the breast in response to MPA, they encourage new blood vessels to form within tumors and the blood vessels then supply needed the nutrients needed for the tumors to grow and multiply.

This study was published recently in Cancer Prevention Research and highlights the work of Salman Hyder, Professor of biomedical sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center. This was not a human trial, but exposed rats with a certain type of breast cancer to apigenin, a common compound found in parsley and other plant products. The rats that were exposed to the apigenin developed fewer tumors and experienced significant delays in tumor formation compared to those rats that were not exposed to apigenin.

Hyder found that apigenin not only blocked new blood vessel formation, thereby delaying, and sometimes stopping, the development of the tumors but it also reduced the overall number of tumors. However, this is only an animal trial and while apigenin did delay tumor growth, it did not stop the initial formation of cancer cells within the breast.

If you want to be proactive around breast cancer risk, then there are some simple changes to your diet that can help.

So What Should You Eat?
Apigenin is most prevalent in parsley and celery, but can also be found in apples, oranges, nuts and other plant products. Because apigenin is not absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream at the present time scientists are unsure of how much can or should be taken as there are no specific dosage for humans yet. However, it appears that keeping a minimal level of apigenin in the bloodstream is important to delay the onset of breast cancer that progresses in response to progestins such as MPA so in which case crunch on some celery and start eating the parsley you have been decorating your dinner plates with!

The Dietary Way to Avoid, or Reverse, Type 2 Diabetes

July 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Diets, Food & Nutrition, Health, Natural Medicine

It is estimated that by 2050 as much of thirty percent of the American population could suffer with diabetes and usually where they lead we in the UK do tend to follow. As new studies show that diabetics also have nearly double the risk of cancer compared to the rest of the population it seems only sensible to be proactive and diet is the first and simplest step on that road.

All of the following have been shown to help prevent diabetes so stock up your larder and add them to your regular shopping list:

• It may seem odd that a sweet substance is on the list, but maple syrup can protect against both diabetes and cancer and contains a newly identified substance called Quebecol, formed when the sap is boiled, and is full of antioxidants.

• Ayurvedic medicine has long suggested the use of spices that offer some protection against diabetes: turmeric, curcumin and fenugreek. All are found in Indian cooking so makek a weekly date with your favourite restaurant or take away.

• The link between obesity and diabetes has been challenged by a recent study involving the Yup’ik people of Alaska where 70% are classified as obese, but only 3.3% of them have diabetes. The key may be in consuming indicates that consuming the type of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as mackerel, salmon, lake trout, herring, tuna and salmon.

• A 2006 Italian study found that dark chocolate reduces the risk of insulin resistance, but the best comes from raw, unprocessed cocoa without any refined sugars added so minimal processing and maximum cocoa content is the key here with cocoa powder and baking chocolate containing the highest levels of the protective flavonoids.

• Coffee, in moderation, increases blood levels of testosterone and oestrogen. These hormones have long been thought to play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

• Polyphenols, the natural chemicals found in red grape skin and red wine, help the body regulate glucose levels, preventing potentially dangerous plunges and surges in blood sugar levels – same advice as for chocolate – in moderation!

• Phytochemicals – naturally occurring antioxidants – found in blueberries, cranberries and strawberries can also reduce your risk of diabetes, with the added benefit of helping you lose belly fat, according to a 2009 University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study.

• Cherries are abundant in natural chemicals called anthocyanins, which increased insulin production in animal pancreatic cells by 50% in laboratory trials. Other sources include strawberries, red grapes and blueberries.

• Red and black beans can help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels so can help prevent diabetes, or minimize its effects if you are already diagnosed.

• Coconut oil has smaller, easily absorbed medium chain molecules that supply the cells with essential fatty acids without glucose and without inhibiting insulin production.

• Almonds and walnuts prevent diabetes by regulating blood glucose, particularly if eaten before a meal as that can help regulate blood sugar levels, and regular consumption did improve insulin levels in a 2009 study.

• Buckwheat helps control blood sugar levels and in an animal trial t heir glucose levels went down by twelve to nineteen percent. Easier to find as Japanese soba noodles in the supermarket.

• Cinnamon provides antioxidants and the powdered bark is also effective against diabetes. It improves blood sugar regulation by significantly increasing your glucose metabolism and has insulin-like effects in the body. Proanthocyanidin, a bioflavonoid found in cinnamon, changes the insulin-signalling activity of your fat cells.

• Tea: Green tea lowers blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics and reduces associated complications such as cataracts and cardiovascular disease Black tea contains polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that includes starch and cellulose, that may benefit people with diabetes by slowing glucose absorption. A Scottish study found that natural chemicals found in black tea may protect against diabetes by mimicking the effects of insulin in the body.

• Seaweed, in the form wakame, helps promote fat-burning protein and promotes the synthesis in the liver of DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), a fatty acid also found in fish oil. It is also said to help prevent prostate cancer, support thyroid function, and assist in blocking the growth of breast cancer tumours.

Some of these changes are easy, others may be harder, but if you vary your diet and expand your culinary horizons you will definitely reap the benefit. Eating out from India to Japan and China won’t be too hard will it?

A Tastier Green Tea Option?

You know how fond I am of green tea for all its many health benefits – and if you are trying to lose weight then it is helpful in that area as well as taking care of your heart – but I know many of you don’t find it entirely palatable. Happily, there are ways around it from adding lemon and honey to finding a tea which has a taste you enjoy and I might have just the thing for you that comes from Vietnam.

If you have ever visited that country then you may have been given Vietnamese lotus tea – a type of green tea flavoured with the scent of the Lotus Flower. It is a specialty product of the Vietnamese tea industry and drunk as part of celebratory events or festivals as it seen as something rather special. The unique floral taste adds a whole new dimension to green tea and if you are fond of jasmine tea after a Chinese meal then it could hit just the right spot for you.

The traditional way to produce Lotus Tea involves using only the stamen of the Lotus flower and infusing it with green tea leaves and although there are several modern versions of the tea on the market now they are using flavourings or perfumes. For the authentic taste of Vietnamese lotus tea you need the actual ingredient, not a flavour, and that has become available in the UK for the first time from Natural Boutique.

They have a wide range of health giving teas, including an Artichoke tea which helps digestion and a rare and exotic Green and Java tea for aiding weight loss. If you can’t find Natural Boutique’s Vietnamese Lotus Tea in your local health store then visit the website at

Calcium Supplements Risk for Heart Problems

If you have been taking these to help your bones, there is a hidden danger that has been exposed by new research in the British Medical Journal which adds to mounting evidence that calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks, in older women.

Nutritionists have been saying for some time that calcium supplements alone are not a good idea, but these new findings suggest that their use in managing osteoporosis should be re-assessed. They are often prescribed to older (postmenopausal) women to maintain bone health and sometimes they are combined with vitamin D, but there are a whole range of heart supplements that are needed, not just calcium alone.

A team of researchers, led by Professor Ian Reid at the University of Auckland, re-analysed a seven-year trial of over 36,000 women to provide the best current estimate of the effects of calcium supplements, with or without vitamin D, on the risk of cardiovascular events.

What they found was that the women who were not taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial but then were given a combined calcium and vitamin D supplement were at an increased risk of cardiovascular events, especially heart attack. By contrast, in women who were taking personal calcium supplements at the start of the trial, combined calcium and vitamin D supplements did not alter their cardiovascular risk.

The authors suspect that the abrupt change in blood calcium levels after taking a supplement causes the adverse effect, rather than it being related to the total amount of calcium consumed. High blood calcium levels are linked to calcification (hardening) of the arteries, which may also help to explain these results. The authors concluded that these data justify a reassessment of the use of calcium supplements in older people.

If you do want to keep your bones strong, and not impact your heart, then gentle regular weight bearing exercise is a start, and add plenty of black pepper to your diet as it contains four anti-osteoporosis compounds and boron, which is also good for bone health, is found in abundance in cabbage. Also healthy for bones are garlic, onions and eggs plus cod liver oil A which is a natural source of vitamins A and D3. If you do want to take a supplement look for one with a good mix of bone building nutrients including vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, silica and boron. Higher Nature make a good one called Osteo Food and the best natural way to build bone is to have good levels of progesterone as that is the first bone-building substance the body needs.

What Can Double or Triple the Risk of DVT’s for Women?

July 19, 2011 by  
Filed under At Home, At Work, featured, Health, Natural Medicine, Travel

The risk of blood clots and DVT’s are well publicized in relation to air travel, but what you may not be aware of is that just prolonged sitting around at home or the office can also be potentially life threatening – particularly for women.

New research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) shows that although the greatest risk factor for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is surgery, most people associate it with long-haul flights and the Pill but they could be tragically mistaken. The amount of time spent sitting every day – wherever you are – means you could be putting yourself at risk of developing potentially life-threatening blood clots.

This study was done in the USA, and found that women who sat for a long time every day had double or even triple the risk of a dangerous blood clot in the lungs.
While the women most at risk had sat for more than 41 hours a week (on top of their work hours), the research is the first to prove a sedentary lifestyle increases the dangers.

DVT is caused when the wall of a blood vessel is damaged through injury, such as a broken bone or surgery, or if the blood clots more easily than normal as a result of medication or genetics. They fact here though is that it can also be triggered by the blood flow slowing down considerably — such as when you’re immobile for a long time through lying or sitting down.

What Can Help?
First of all realistically monitor how much time you do spend sitting down and reduce it in simple ways. First of all bin the TV remote and get up to change channels, if you work at a desk or on a computer get up every hour and just move around for five minutes. If you have the choice of stairs or a lift, use the stairs for at least part of the way.

When travelling try to drive no more than two hours without a break, even if you just pull into a car park and walk round it for a few minutes. By air, it is not now frowned on to get up and walk round the plane, though your way may not always be clear it is worth the effort to avoid the duty free carts or if stuck in your seat try tensing and releasing the muscles in your buttocks, legs and feet. By curling or pressing the toes down, which causes the muscles to contract and squeeze on the leg veins, helps to pump the blood along. Another way to help move blood to the heart is to wear compression stockings, which put gentle pressure on the leg muscles as studies in healthy people have shown that wearing compression stockings minimizes the risk of developing DVT after long flights. Avoid socks, or knee highs for women that have very tight elastic bands at the top and do not sit with your legs crossed for long periods of time, which constricts the veins.

Keep the fluid flowing:
Sorry, not alcohol but you need to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration as this causes blood vessels to narrow and blood to thicken, increasing the risk for DVT. Reducing alcohol and coffee consumption, which both contribute to dehydration, is also recommended.

If water is not your thing there is also a new fruit juice which has been proven to benefit blood circulation. Sirco™contains a tasteless tomato extract, Fruitflow®, that has been scientifically proven to have heart and circulation health benefits because in several clinical trials it has been shown to help maintain a healthy blood circulation by preventing the “clumping” of blood platelets which can lead to blood clots. The blood platelet smoothing action of Sirco™ takes effect within 1 ½ to 3 hours from drinking it and lasts up to 18 hours and is suggested as a natural alternative to a daily aspirin that many people take for this action. It fits well into the healthy Mediterranean diet eithos and comes in two 100% pure fruit juices mixes; Pomegranate/Orange and Blueberry/Apple.

You should find it in your supermarket or local health store or go to

Got Diabetes? – Eat More Strawberries

Wimbledon may be over, but we are still in the wonderful English strawberry season and now there is a powerful health reason to eat more of them. A recent study from scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggests that a strawberry a day could lessen the complications of diabetes. Or more accurately, the fisetin they contain as this naturally-occurring flavonoid is found most abundantly in strawberries.

Fisetin is a naturally-occurring flavonoid found most abundantly in strawberries, and to a lesser extent in other fruits and vegetables, and has been found to be able to target multiple organs. This research describes for the first time a drug that prevents both kidney and brain complications in a type 1 diabetes model and strongly suggests that a single drug could be used to mitigate numerous medical complications.

Fisetin was originally identified as a neuroprotective flavonoid ten years ago and in plants it act as sunscreen and protects leaves and fruit from insects. The types of fruit and vegetables containing fisetin are found in the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ and contribute to the protective effect of that regime.

The researchers evaluated effects of fisetin supplementation with reference to the serious complications of diabetes such as diabetic nephropathy or kidney disease, retinopathy, and neuropathies in which patients lose touch or heat sensations. Improvements were seen, but remember that to achieve a similar effect you would need to eat 37 strawberries a day so let’s hope they manage to turn the fisetin into a supplement form fairly soon.

Interestingly, the fisetin was also effective in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease so there is certainly more research to be done.

In the meantime what about a strawberry and blueberry smoothie to get the maximum fisetin into your system in a palatable way?

An Alternative to Antibiotics

Antibiotics are among the greatest achievements of medical science, but we have learned to treat them with caution. This once-perceived all-purpose weapon has failed in the battle against infectious diseases and bacteria are increasingly developing resistance to antibiotics. The good news is that researchers have now found a therapeutic equivalent which could replace penicillin and related drugs.

The World Health Organization is warning about resistance to drugs which were once so potent as more pathogens are becoming immune to antibiotics and some bacteria can no longer be combated WHO figures show that in 2010 nearly half-a-million people were infected with a strain of tuberculosis which is resistant to many antibiotics and that one third of those infected died.

The growing spread of resistant pathogens is directly attributable to the indiscriminate use of penicillin and other antibiotics so congratulations to the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Leipzig who have found an alternative to the established antibiotics. In the future, antimicrobial peptides will take up the battle against pathogens.

They have already identified 20 of these short chains of amino acids which kill numerous microbes, including enterococci, yeasts and molds, as well as human pathogenic bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans, which is found in the human oral cavity and causes tooth decay. Even the multi-resistant hospital bug Staphylococcus aureus is not immune, and in their tests its growth was considerably inhibited. Antibiotic peptides unlock their microbicidal effect within a few minutes and work at a far lower concentration compared with conventional antibiotics. Another key factor is that the peptides identified in the tests do not harm healthy body cells.

Not just us, but also our food could benefit from the antimicrobial peptides given that the bacterial contamination of food products costs the industry billions every year. Fresh lettuce, for example, are badly contaminated by yeasts and molds and this breakthrough means that the shelf-life could be improved by adding antimicrobial peptides during the production process.

We are still not there yet, so in the meantime if you want to fight infection and bacteria there are some natural aids you can use instead. Garlic, aloe vera and Echinacea have been in use for years and a relative newcomer is grapefruit seed extract which is a very powerful natural antibiotic.

Next Page »