Update from Patrick Holford on Free Test and Preventing Age-Related Memory Loss

May 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing

You may have seen the item in the newspapers talking about important research that has been completed at Oxford University that shows that you can prevent both the age-related memory loss and brain shrinkage associated with Alzheimer’s disease – and a 15 minute free on-line test.

In case you didn’t, I wanted to pass on this information that came to me from nutritionist Patrick Holford and that he has asked to be passed on to as many people as possible. It is important because what you do next can make all the difference to what happens to your mind later in life.

In essence, what has been discovered is that a toxic amino acid called homocysteine both predicts risk, and causes the brain damage that is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s – and, most importantly, you can lower your homocysteine level (if you need to) with a simple B vitamin supplement. It is especially important to know your homocysteine level if you do have any signs of memory decline. A not-for-profit educational charity, www.foodforthebrain.org has created the first free, on-line Cognitive Function Test, validated for anyone over 50. It takes 15 minutes to complete.

If your score is slightly below par it becomes doubly important to know your homocysteine level. A level above 9.5 micromol/l (the average for people over 50 is 11micromol/l) is associated with accelerated brain shrinkage and memory loss. Your doctor can test your homocysteine level (or you can do it yourself with a home test kit from YorkTest Laboratories). If your Cognitive Function Test is below par it both gives you clear instructions on how to protect your memory and concentration, and generates an optional letter for your GP suggesting homocysteine testing.

If your homocysteine level is above 9.5 this important research has proven that supplementing high doses of vitamins B6, B12 and folic acid stop accelerated brain shrinkage and memory decline. The Cognitive Function Test explains exactly how much you need and how best to get them.

The first step is to take the free Cognitive Function Test. Chris is a case in point. At age 59 his memory was rapidly going downhill – he kept losing his car in multi-storey car parks. His homocysteine was 119, way above 9.5. Now, 12 months later, his homocysteine is below this cut-off point and, His memory and concentration is completely restored, his energy is so good he now exercises for an hour every day and his sex drive has returned. “You have saved my life, or, at least made it worth living again.” says Chris.

If you want to know the full story of this really important breakthrough then visit the Food for the Brain website. If you want to read more about what you can do to help yourself then read Patrick Holford’s book about everything that works in The Alzheimers Prevention Plan.

And, in case you have alrady forgotten it, the free, on-line Cognitive Function Test is at www.foodforthebrain.org

Testosterone Replacement Could Decrease Deaths in Men With Type 2 Diabetes

April 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing, Mens Health

A new study reported at the Society for Endocrinology by Professor Hugh Jones shows that men with low levels of testosterone may die sooner unless they are given testosterone replacement therapy.

Professor Jones’ team conducted a six year study of 587 men with type 2 diabetes, splitting them into three groups: those with normal and low testosterone levels and those with low testosterone levels treated with testosterone replacement therapy for two years or more during the follow up period.

The findings show for the first time that low testosterone puts diabetic men at a significantly increased risk of death. 36 of the 182 diabetic men with untreated low testosterone died during the six year study, compared to 31 of the 338 men with normal testosterone levels (20% vs 9%). Furthermore, only 5 of the 58 diabetic men that were given testosterone replacement therapy died during the study (8.6%), meaning they showed significantly better survival compared to the non-treated group.

It is well known that men with type 2 diabetes often have low testosterone levels, so it is important that we investigate the health implications of this. We now need to carry out a larger clinical trial to confirm these preliminary findings. If confirmed, then many deaths could be prevented every year.

This is the first study to show testosterone treatment can improve survival in men with type 2 diabetes and testosterone deficiency. Further studies now need to be carried out to fully investigate the potential therapeutic benefit of testosterone replacement in diabetic men with low testosterone but such men might well consider looking at natural testosterone supplements in consultation with their doctor.

Breakthrough Gel for Arthritis Treatment

Arthritis is a crippling disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Some suffer only mild symptoms but at its worst it is truly debilitating and extremely painful with treatment bringing patchy relief for many. Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are characterized by often debilitating pain in the joints and a new method of relief could be at hand.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the USA) report on an injectable gel that could spell the future for treating these diseases and others. Among its advantages, the gel could allow the targeted release of medicine at an affected joint, and could dispense that medicine on demand in response to enzymes associated with arthritic flare-ups. Arthritis is a good example of a disease that attacks specific parts of the body. Conventional treatments for it, however, largely involve drugs taken orally. Not only do these take a while (often weeks) to exert their effects, they can have additional side effects. That is because the drug is dispersed throughout the body, not just at the affected joint. Further, high concentrations of the drug are necessary to deliver enough to the affected joint, which runs the risk of toxicity

Nor could this new development be limited solely to arthritis but researchers believe could be useful for multiple medical applications including the localized treatment of cancer, ocular disease, and cardiovascular disease.

Jeffrey Karp, leader of the research and co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics, recently won the coveted SFB Young Investigator Award for this work. It is currently of course possible to inject a drug into the target area, but it won’t last long–only minutes to hours–because it is removed by the body’s highly efficient lymphatic system. There are also available implantable drug-delivery devices but these have drawbacks: most are made of stiff materials that in a joint can rub and cause inflammation on their own and they generally release medicine continuously–even when it’s not needed. Arthritis, for example, occurs in cycles characterized by flare-ups then remission.

A series of experiments confirmed that the gel can release encapsulated agents in an on-demand manner and although the team has yet to test this in humans, they did find that in mice the gelremained stable for at least two months. Further, the gel withstood wear and tear representative of conditions in a moving joint.

Additional tests in mice are underway and a patent has been applied for so they can start research on human subjects.

The Importance of COQ10 in Improving Hypertension and Preventing Heart Failure

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a compound found naturally in the energy-producing centre of the cell known as the mitochondria. CoQ10 is involved in making an important molecule known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which serves as the cell’s major energy source and drives a number of biological processes, including muscle contraction and the production of protein. It is a very popular supplement in the UK, partly for its ability to boost energy, enhance the immune system, and as an antioxidant.

Clinical research reported in the journal Biofactors has now indicated that patients with congestive heart failure that were supplemented with the active form of coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) improved ejection fraction by 39%. Ejection fraction is a critical marker of heart function used to determine the volume of blood pumped by the heart through the vascular system. CoQ10 is essential to convert nutrients to energy and power the cellular engine, and natural production in the body declines with age.

The study conducted at the East Texas Medical Center focused on patients with advanced congestive heart failure that were classified as Stage IV, the most severe form of the disease. Patients were supplemented with 580 mg of the ubiquinol form of coenzyme Q10 daily to increase plasma blood levels by a factor of four.

The researchers found “the improvement in plasma CoQ10 levels is correlated with both clinical improvement and improvement in measurement of left ventricular function.” Prior to CoQ10 supplementation, most of the participants were considered critically ill and confined to bed or a wheel chair. After being given ubiquinol, patients typically improved to the point they were able to carry on a productive lifestyle.

This is a serious problem that affects as many as one in three adults and high blood pressure is closely associated with coronary artery closure due to plaque formation and arterial stiffening as the normally elastic vessels require more pressure to fully circulate blood to the body. The result of a study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that coenzyme Q10 supplemented along with other potent antioxidant nutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium) significantly increased small and large arterial elasticity that led to lower blood pressure and risk of a heart attack.

Subjects in this study received 60 mg of CoQ10 for a period of six months along with moderate amounts of the other nutrients. In addition to improved arterial elasticity, researchers found a significant decline in HbA1C blood sugar levels and an increase in protective HDL cholesterol levels. The authors of the research concluded that the CoQ10 nutrient antioxidant cocktail “has beneficial effect on glucose and lipid metabolism, blood pressure and arterial compliance in patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors.”

Or in other words, they made a real difference to the patients’ health.

New Device Uses Submarine Technology to Diagnose Stroke Quickly

April 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Healthy Ageing

I am avoiding all references to ‘up periscope’ but this is a wonderful example of the inventiveness of engineers in adapting new technology to different applications.

A medical device using submarine technology has been developed by retired U.S. Navy sonar experts for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of strokes. This breakthrough was reported at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 36th Annual Scientific Meeting in Chicago recently. Stroke is a leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the US as when a stroke occurs (when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks) this interrupts blood flow to an area of the brain. When this happens, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs and the faster it can be detected then the more positive is likely to be the outcome for the patient.

All it takes apparently is a laptop-based console and a headset for each type of stroke and brain trauma to be detected, identified and located in just one or two minutes . The device’s portability and speed of initial diagnosis means it can be used virtually anywhere and not just confined to hospital use. Initially both ambulance paramedics and the military have seen its advantages as it allows them to assess situations quickly and efficiently in order to provide patients with the best immediate treatment.

It has been developed from on decades of submarine warfare technology research and application by Kieran J. Murphy, M.D., FSIR, professor and vice chair, director of research and deputy chief of radiology at the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The system is very simple in principle, yet it yields exceedingly rich data and the device’s basis in submarine technology means it works to measure a patient’s complex brain pulsations and to provide information on the type and location of an abnormality in many of the same ways as sonar works on submarines. Both use an array of sensors to measure movement and generate signals to be processed and analyzed, matching the signals to objects or conditions. As sonar sorts out whales and other objects from vessels, the device sorts out cerebral abnormalities such as aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs, an abnormal connection between veins and arteries), ischemic strokes and traumatic brain injury from normal variations in physiology.

Murphy said this technology could easily differentiate normal brain from life-threatening conditions, such as swelling and bleeding. “For example, when a physician suspects a stroke, time is of the essence, so doctors could use the system to determine treatment that needs to begin immediately and the device’s continuous monitoring capability — unique in neurodiagnostics — will allow immediate detection of changes in a patient’s condition.

Why Statins Are Not Good for You and Why High Cholesterol Does Not Cause Heart Disease

As well as my abiding interest in alternative health, I also run a website specifically on hormone health, and one of my regular contributors is Jeffrey Dach MD. He has wide ranging experience and was originally trained in clinical medicine, worked as an Emergency Room doctor spent 25 years as a hospital based physican and is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. He now runs his own clinic seeing a variety of patients so when he speaks I for one tend to listen.

He has sent me information on why he believes it is so important to get patients off statin drugs and I know a number of my readers are concerned about this and I do update you regularly, but Dr Dach has specific concerns that I want to share with you.

Jeffrey Dach illustrates his points with actual case histories so: “Case Number One, Martha who is 55 years old, healthy and no history of heart disease. Nonetheless, Martha has been taking a statin drug for “high cholesterol” under the care of “the top cardiologist” in South Florida for the past five years. Martha has also been under my care taking a bioidentical hormone program for menopausal symptoms, and doing very well. Every six months, we run a lab panel which always shows low cholesterol of 170, courtesy of her statin anti-cholesterol drug.

Every time Martha comes into the office to review her lab results, I print out a 2004 JAMA article by Judith Walsh, MD who reviewed thirteen statin drug clinical trials from 1966 to 2003 and from which Dr. Walsh concluded that cholesterol lowering drugs provide no health benefit for women. I give her this article and, at the same time, explain to her that no woman should be on a statin drug. Lowering cholesterol with a statin drug has no health benefit for women, that’s a fact, and public information readily available.

Every six months I recommend to Martha stopping the statin drug, and every six month, her cardiologist puts her back on the statin drug. This has been going on for three years now.
On her last visit she is sitting in my office recounting multiple health problems for which she sees numerous doctors: back pain, asthma, sinus infections, skin problems, and allergies. I suggested to Martha the possibility that many of her health problems are caused by the low cholesterol from the statin drug. Martha finally sees the light, goes home and tosses the bottle of pills into the garbage can.
About a week later, Martha called me and reported, “I feel so much better off that statin drug, thank you so much! “. Apparently, the statin drug was causing adverse health effects, and Martha was now feeling much better. This case illustrates the difficulty in convincing patients to stop their statin drug. It is difficult to counter the drug company propaganda, and convince these patients they are harming their health with the statin drugs. Many continue to believe in the myth that cholesterol causes heart disease, and they go on to become statin drug medical victims. I see them every day. When we have a success like Martha who finally gets off her statin drug, this is a cause for celebration.

In case you think the non-benefits of statins only apply to women, here is Case Number Two – Roger who is a seventy one year old retired executive, and an avid tennis player. He has no history of coronary artery disease and has always been healthy. Two years ago, his cardiologist said his cholesterol of 210 was “too high”, and prescribed a statin anti-cholesterol drug. A year later, Roger’s tennis game deteriorated, he found his timing and balance was off, and he lost every game to players who could never beat him before.

I suggested to Roger that the decline in his tennis game was most likely an adverse effect of the statin drug on his muscle and nerve function. He was losing his balance and coordination. I recommended stopping the statin anti-cholesterol drug. Sadly, many people – and their doctors – still believe that lower cholesterol means less heart disease.

In order to counter the drug company cholesterol propaganda, I gave Roger a copy of the book, Fat and Cholesterol are Good for You, by Uffe Ravnskov MD PhD. This book reviews the medical studies which supposedly show that cholesterol is the cause of heart disease, and reveals that they do no such thing. This is a medical myth. Neither cholesterol consumption nor cholesterol blood levels cause heart disease. Similarly, many medical studies demonstrate that anti-cholesterol drugs work very well to reduce blood cholesterol levels, however, this treatment does not prolong life and makes most people sick with adverse side effects.

Two weeks later, off the statin drug, Roger was back to his old self, prancing about the tennis court like a gazelle, and winning every game with ease.”

AnnA’s comment:
Statins have been shown to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality among individuals with clinical history of coronary heart disease, but it is the prescribing of statins as a ‘preventive’ for those without such history that is the issue here. They are routinely being given to people who are deemed at risk due to age and to lower cholesterol levels but there is so far no proof that they are of benefit for such people.

If you are still thinking of taking statins, then take a look at this study published July 2010 in the Archives of Internal Medicine by Dr. Ray. He reviewed 11 statin drug clinical trials with 65,229 participants followed for approximately 244,000 person-years. The astounding results showed the statin drug group all-cause mortality was THE SAME as the placebo group and there was no benefit from the statin drugs. This article was published in the mainstream medical literature but don’t be surprised if your doctor hasn’t read it.

Improved Outcome for Stroke Patients

February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing

I have two new pieces of information that came in this week that could be critical in improving the health and outcome for stroke patients. First, a Swedish discovery by brain researchers at Lund University could lead to a new effective therapy with a substance that opens up the possibility of treatment up to two days after a stroke. The opportunities to treat a stroke have long been limited to the hours after an attack and the loss of brain function caused by the stroke has previously been regarded as permanent.

The only acute treatment for a stroke currently available is thrombolysis which uses drugs that dissolve the blood clot responsible for the stroke. However, this only reaches around 10 per cent of stroke patients in time to prevent lasting damage. For other patients, there are no other effective drugs that reduce the loss of brain function following a stroke.

Swedish and American researchers have discovered a substance that reinforces the brain’s self-healing functions after a stroke. It has long been known that people affected by a stroke can regain some lost function during the first six months. Professor Tadeusz Wieloch and his colleagues have found a way to activate a protein in the brain, the sigma-1 receptor, which plays an important role in the brain’s recovery during the critical period after the injury.

The idea is to recreate and reinforce the brain’s natural response to an enriched environment. By injecting the activating substance, brain repair is stimulated. This result of Swedish basic research, which started over 15 years ago, has led to a clinical trial on stroke patients by a Japanese pharmaceutical company. It is not available yet, but it shows great promise for helping many thousands more stroke victims than at present can be treated with the usually prescribed drugs.

Physical Therapy Improves Recovery by over 50%:
Secondly, just a year after having a stroke, 52% of people who participated in physical therapy as part of their recovery programme experienced improved functional walking ability according to the results of a trial being presented this month at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011 in Los Angeles.

The 408 participants (average age 62 with recent stroke) were recruited from 6 US stroke rehabilitation centers between April 2006 and June 2009. All were assigned to 36 sessions of 75 to 90 minutes for 12 to 16 weeks in either a structured and progressive task-specific walking program that included body weight supported treadmill training provided early (2 months post-stroke) or late (6 months post-stroke), or a structured and progressive home-based exercise program of strength and balance provided 2 months post-stroke.

The researchers had thought that the body-weight supported treadmill and walking program would be superior to a home exercise program but they were wrong. After one year, the early walking group, late walking group, and exercise program targeting strength and balance achieved similar important gains in walking speed, motor recovery, balance, functional status, and quality of life.

All participants made the greatest improvements in outcomes after the first 12 sessions, but 13% of the subjects continued to make functional gains in walking recovery by 24 sessions and another 7% improved by 30 to 36 sessions.

What this suggests is that undertaking physical therapy will considerably improve quality of life and that patients recover faster and sustain recovery when the intervention is given early. If your doctor has not suggested physical therapy then take it up with them and also talk to your local group for support. You will find help via The Stroke Association at www.stroke.org.uk

Natural Help for Rheumatoid and Osteo Arthritis

January 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing

Arthritis is a serious complaint, with about 9million people in the UK being affected. Sufferers can be in constant pain and aching and experience restricted movement, stiffness and swelling of the joints. This can occur whether it is the result of the general wear-and-tear version of the condition, or the potentially more crippling disease, which occurs when the immune system attacks the joints.

A new dietary supplement, Serrapeptase from Lifeplan, may be able to bring some relief.
Like many another healthy discovery this comes from Eastern Medicine, though not in this case of ancient origin and actually it is tied to the silk industry. It was only in the early 1980’s that Japanese scientists discovered that the enzyme, Serrapeptase, produced by the silkworm to break-down the cocoon wall and allow the butterfly to escape, possessed amazing health benefits.

It soon became popular as a supplement for its anti-inflammatory properties and recent studies have also illustrated the enzymes’ benefit for those experiencing joint problems, such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. You don’t have to worry about the silk worms welfare either as today, Serrapeptase is produced by a natural fermentation process. It works because its amazing ability to break-down dead or damaged tissue, but crucially, without harming the healthy tissue alongside it. The enzyme helps reduce inflammation, speeds up drainage and allows tissue repair to occur.

One of the main concerns of those with arthritis is the constant misery of the pain and serrapeptase has also been shown to alleviate pain, without the unwanted side effects often associated with conventional anti-inflammatory medication.

One problem with supplements can be that they have to be able to withstand the harsh environment of the stomach and so Lifeplan’s Serrapeptase benefits from a special enteric coating to allow gradual release of the formulation into the body, which aids absorption. Should be available at your local health store, but if not visit www.lifeplan.co.uk

Another source of natural help for osteoarthritis is to eat plenty of garlic, onions and leeks, which researchers at King’s College London and the University of East Anglia have discovered could help women have lower levels of hip osteoarthritis. Particularly effective in garlic is a compound called diallyl disulphide which limits the amount of cartilage-damaging enzymes.

As Hippocrates, known as the Father of Medicine, so wisely said ‘let food be your medicine and medicine your food’.

Three quarters of Hip Fracture Patients Deficient in vitamin D

December 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Health, Healthy Ageing

The International Osteoporosis Foundation reported last week on an Indian study that could prove to be a useful index for the assessment of hip fracture risk in elderly people.

There has been much in the press recently about a recent report from the US Institute of Medicine which found that most people in the U.S. and Canada do not need vitamin D supplements as they are getting enough from their diets. Previous research has shown that low vitamin D levels increase the risk of cancer and heart disease and strokes, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, auto-immune diseases, infections and depression, and to play a role in muscle strength and multiple sclerosis. Studies have suggested many Americans don’t get enough vitamin D because they spend long periods indoors and wear sunscreen when outside which prevents vitamin D being absorbed.

This study from New Delhi India has revealed high rates of vitamin D deficiency among hip fracture patients, confirming the conclusions of similar international studies which point to vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for hip fracture. It may be that Indians in general have low levels due to skin pigmentation, traditional clothing and the avoidance of sunlight.
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to development.

The US study recommended amount is 600 international units of vitamin D daily and good food sources are oily fish and eggs but the main source is from sunlight on the skin.

New Supplement for Joint Health Help

December 13, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health, Healthy Ageing, Vitamins & Supplements

I went to a press conference last week that along with some staggering statistics (80% of over 70’s have osteoarthritis) provided a very splendid lunch – just getting my ‘expenses’ up front, unlike our MP’s- and news of a new and unique formulation designed for maintenance of joint health.

Two doctors fronted the information, and although frankly I don’t find the medical profession to be the best informed on supplements, or nutrition, they set the case out fairly clearly. If you can avoid getting old, you can probably avoid osteoarthritis – any takers?

Osteoarthritis is a painful, often crippling, condition and the main news from the press conference was that prevention was a darn sight better than cure which involves either pain ful injections into the joint or replacement surgery.

If you have been relying on chondroitin for your joint health then the other surprising fact to emerge was that current research does not show it to be that effective and Regenovex® contains no glucosamine or chondroitin but depends instead on two natural ingredients – Natural Marine Bionovex Oil and Hyaluronic Acid.

Natural Marine Bionovex® Oil may be more familiar to you as Green Lipped Mussels (GLM) which has been popular for joint health for a number of years as it contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3s, and is particularly rich in eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA), an omega-3 unique to GLM. ETA has been scientifically shown to have special properties to help maintain joint health and the Bionovex Oil in Regenovex has a concentration of ETA that is up to 40 times greater than in conventional GLM powders.

Marine lipids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory activity in laboratory studies and , of benefit to joint health in various clinical studies. Marine lipids have been shown in studies to inhibit both the cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) inflammatory pathways, which means they support your body’s normal processes to relieve discomfort. Unlike non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs – a common painkiller prescribed for osteoarthritis) marine-derived lipids do not seem to have any of the stomach or digestive problems associated with NSAID’s such as bleeding.

The other key ingredient is hyaluronic acid® (HA) and it works in a different way. It is naturally found in the body in a wide range of tissues, to cushion joints and supplementing fluid within the joint, which helps to stimulating the joints’ own HA production, supporting the strengthening of cartilage structure, and generally maintaining joint health. In people with joint problems, particularly osteoarthritis, as the cartilage becomes more and more damaged both the amount and molecular weight (or structure) of HA in the joint changes. This results in further cartilage damage, increased inflammation and a reduction in the synovial fluid function and Regenovex® helps maintain joint health by providing the joint with the type of HA it needs to supplement the synovial fluid,.

As well as helping maintain the health of joints and the supplement claims to also tackle the two main causes of joint wear and tear:

• Physical Damage
• Internally released harmful chemicals which affect joint comfort, which can happen after physical damage, wear and tear or aging.

Glucosamine and chondroitin can be helpful for joint health but they are only effective with one aspect of joint discomfort. The combination of Bionovex oil and Hyaluronic in Regenovex® help to harness the nutritional benefits of both hyaluronic acid and omega-3 fatty acids to help maintain joint health.

In a recent trial, 74% of users who took the one-a-day capsules who noticed a difference did so within 30 days and further trials and a scientific study are currently being undertaken It comes in three forms: one-a-day capsules, . a gel for targeted application to individual joints and a flexible patch which continues to work for up to 12 hours and is ideal for day and night time use.

CAUTION: because it contains marine oil it should not be used by anyone who has an allergy to shellfish.

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