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Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction affects more than 30 million men in the United States alone. For those dealing with this depressing disorder, there are many more issues at hand than simply being unable to attain a suitable erection.

Most men suffering from erectile dysfunction will struggle with significantly reduced self-esteem, frustration, and in severe cases, serious depression. Research estimates that as many as one in five failed marriages is a result of ED.

Flavonoids, the compounds that give plants pigment, have long been identified as beneficial to health, with some sources declaring them the world’s healthiest foods. They are among the largest nutrient families known to man with over 6000 identified members. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants, helping prevent disease and providing anti-inflammatory benefits.

Adding to their long list of health benefits, this study concludes that “a higher intake of flavanones, anthocyanins, and flavones was significantly associated with a reduction in risk of ED only in men less than 70 years old and not older men.”

The data suggests that higher intake of flavonoid, which would be a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help prevent, and even reverse erectile dysfunction, as data suggests that “a higher habitual intake of specific flavonoid-rich foods is associated with reduced ED incidence.”

As with a surprisingly long list of ailments, diet and nutrition play an enormous role in health, and erectile dysfunction seems to be no different. A diet rich in fruits and veggies benefits much more than the penis, it leads to complete bodily health.

When it comes to getting well, we all want the latest and greatest treatments. But with some illnesses, sometimes the best overall treatment option is something that’s been tried and true.

Many doctors treat erectile dysfunction not by adding things, but by removing things from the patient’s life. Most often, lifestyle choices cause ED, so eliminating things like excessive drinking, smoking tobacco, and promoting techniques to lower blood pressure can help treat ED without medication.

Erectile dysfunction is one such type of disorder that doctors and researchers are looking to the past for new treatment options.

The proliferation of pharmaceutical designed treatment options for ED, including medications like phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (Viagra, Cialis, Levitra), has led many to abandon traditional treatments; yet, traditional methods have been used with great success, especially in eastern medicine.

Certain plants and plant extracts, specifically those containing polyphenols, have displayed promising effects for ED. Among the useful polyphenols, a specific class called kraussianones have been found to be most effective for erectile dysfunction.

If you’re hesitant to try prescription medication for erectile dysfunction, certain ancient remedies, found in common foods, can be used as a first treatment option.

Saffron is one such food that has been found to help with ED. One study shows that treatments of 200mg of saffron can significantly increase “tip rigidity and tip tumescence as well as base rigidity and base tumescence” in as little as 10 days.

While there isn’t a lot of information on kraussianones, foods high in polyphenols are currently being used effectively to treat ED.

Anti Aging Superfoods

 

When we think of things that we consider to be super, we often think of superheroes. While these marvels only exist in the minds of movie and comic book creators, we’ve got our own superheroes right here on Earth. Many of us consider our parents, our mentors, perhaps even our children as our superhereos as well.

The term superfood is used to describe our most amazing foods available to us, simply marvels in Nature among other normal foods. Using food as medicine, these superfoods top any list for their health promoting benefits. Superfoods are extremely nutrient rich foods that are touted for their extraordinary health benefits for a variety of different reasons.

Among the most desired effects of consuming more superfoods is for their anti-aging properties. Some even regard superfoods as the fountain of youth to help prevent illness encourage radiant looking skin, and potentially slow down the aging process.

Generally. superfoods will contain large quantities of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and mineral…all things that provide their own individual benefits to the body. Many also contain beneficial bacteria or health promoting forms of fiber. Among the most coveted superfoods are green tea, grapes, berries and cherries, nuts and seeds Brassica vegetables, tomatoes, avocados, kefir, medicinal mushrooms, edible seaweeds, and salmon, each a superfood in its own way.

grapes tomatoes green tea cherries

Foods high in antioxidants like green tea, grapes, berries and cherries, and tomatoes help reduce the amounts of free radicals in the body. These superfoods can also help improve brain function, fat loss, and lower the risk of developing certain diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and anxiety.

Tomatoes are prized for their anti-aging properties, as studies show that its main antioxidant, lycopene, can protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Grapes, berries and cherries contain polyphenols, resveratrol and proanthocyanidins, which are other powerful antioxidants great to slow down the aging process. Resveratrol and pterostilbene are antioxidants of particular interest when it comes to anti-aging. The first human-safety study of pterostilbene was published in 2013, and investigations have intensified since then. Pterostilbene is now championed as a more potent form of resveratrol. It’s said to offer all of the previously known benefits of resveratrol but with superior bioavailability.

Omega fatty acids are found in foods like avocado, fish, and nuts and seeds. These beneficial fats help lower triglyceride levels in the body, can help mitigate the benefits of rheumatoid arthritis, and can even help with depression, asthma, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease, among many other healthy benefits.

avocado fish nuts seeds

Several studies were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2007 edition, which all concluded that in the elderly, a diet high in fish and fish products is associated with better cognitive performance in a dose-dependent manner. Maximum effect was observed at an average intake of ≈75 g/d (or 2.5 oz/day). And newer studies show the same results. In a 2017 study, higher fish intake was associated with slower decline in both overall cognition and memory. Consuming ≥4 servings/week versus <1 serving/week of fish was associated with a lower rate of memory decline.

Advancements in our studies of antioxidants like flavonoids, polyphenols, anthocyanidins and all the other beneficial phytochemicals still doesn’t change the basic fact that fish is one of nature’s premier anti-aging foods. Each ounce of salmon contains roughly 500 mg of omega-3. Most of us should consume a 4 oz portion yielding about 2000 mg of omega-3, ideally at least 3 times a week.

probiotics joghurt dark chocolate pickles sauerkraut kimchi

Probiotics are found naturally in the gut and are essential for optimal health. Fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, soft cheeses, sauerkraut, pickles, and even dark chocolate contain high levels of probiotics.

Probiotics help balance the flora in the digestive tract, which helps boost the immune system, improve digestive function and nutrient absorption, can help manage certain skin conditions like eczema, and can help to balance out your moods.

Brasssica (also known as cruciferous) vegetables contain unique sulphur containing compounds named glucosinolates, such as glucoraphanin and glucobrassicin. The glucosinolates are metabolized by our bodies into indoles and isothiocyanates. These sulphur compounds are tremendously helpful to maintain liver health, promote healthy detoxification from harmful chemicals, and may even protect us against certain types of cancer. Brassica vegetables include foods like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts.

seaweed salad

Medicinal mushrooms contain beneficial compounds found nowhere else in Nature. Mushrooms such as white button, Shiitake, Reishi, Lion’s main, and Maitake contain powerful antioxidants, amino acids, and unique forms of fiber which can act as anti-inflammatory agents for your brain, super boost your immune system, and targets anti-again genes.

Edible seaweeds (red, green, and brown) are rich in vitamins and trace minerals, contain antioxidants such as fucoxanthin to protect your body from free radicals, special forms of fiber to support healthy bacterial growth in your gut and promotes weight loss, and improving risks of developing both cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Seaweeds may sound intimidating to you, however, they are extremely versatile and can be used in many dishes, including sushi rolls, soups and stews, salads, and smoothies.

You don’t have to travel to krypton to find a superhero. We’ve got a ton of wonderful superfoods right here in Earth to help you stay healthy, fit, and feeling young for ages to come.

Vaping vs Smoking

Vaping vs Smoking

Someone recently asked us if vaping was safer than smoking, and this question was particularly intriguing to me. It’s a rather new human behavior and very little is known about it. I love research though, so I decided to find out as much as I could about the subject and share the information with you.

First of all, I want to assure you that we are not going to pull a new rabbit out of an old hat – both vaping and smoking are bad, and I want to be clear about that. The simple answer through research is that yes, vaping may be less harmful. It’s not that vaping is healthier, but simply less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

Vaping vs Smoking

What is Vaping?

close up of female vaping with cloud of smoke

Over 500 articles have been published on vaping in the last few years, but very few of them are direct comparisons on the health risks or benefits of vaping versus smoking cigarettes. E-cigarettes are devices that produce an aerosol by heating a liquid containing various chemicals including nicotine, flavorings, and other additives. Users inhale the aerosol and those additives into their lungs. The aerosols produced by e-cigarettes can contain harmful chemicals such as heavy metals, lead, volatile organic compounds, ultra-fine particles, potentially cancer-causing chemicals, and other agents used for cleaning the device. Over 80 compounds are inhaled every time that you use an e-cigarette. Compare that to over 7,000 chemicals that are inhaled every time you smoke a cigarette!

electronic cigarette lying next to regular cigarettes

There has been a recent epidemic of e-cigarette users going to their doctor or even the emergency room because of lung disorders. The onset of respiratory findings, which can include nonproductive cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath, can occur several days or weeks before hospitalization. Systemic findings can include fast heart rate, fever, chills, fatigue, GI distress, and diarrhea preceding the lung symptoms.

Adult smokers who are attempting to quit should use evidence-based smoking cessation treatments, including counseling, nicotine replacement, and FDA-approved medications. Those who need help quitting tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, should contact their medical provider.

Are E-Cigarettes Safer Than Tobacco Cigarettes?  

man holding electronic cigarette and tobacco cigarettes

Smoking tobacco cigarettes is the primary cause of preventable cardiovascular deaths in the United States, and stopping the use of tobacco has long been the focus of public health organizations. According to the Surgeon General Report in 2014, rates of smoking in the US have reached historic lows. Parallel to the decline in cigarette smoking is the use of electronic cigarettes, which were introduced to the US in 2007. The market has since increased, especially among young people, which is a major concern. 3.1 million high school students in 2018 used e-cigarettes or vaped, and only 600,000 of them are illegal age.

E-cigarette use may be less harmful than tobacco use, but it comes with its own risks. Usage has increased from 700,000 users in 2012 to 3.2 million users in 2018. The effects of e-cigarettes on long-term cardiovascular health are rather inconclusive but still concerning. Multiple studies have shown temporary increases in oxidative stress, inflammation, vascular dysfunction, and platelet aggregation as well. These effects are consistent with the properties of nicotine, though the other components of e-cigarette emissions may also contribute to this.

E-cigarette use is less carcinogenic than tobacco smoke, as tobacco smoke is associated with lung cancer and other cancers throughout the body. It’s the number one risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the United States and worsens virtually every health condition we’re aware of. Tobacco smoke weakens the walls of the lungs, so we got plenty of air when we breathe in, but there’s little lung tissue left which means we’re not actually delivering air to the vital cells of our bodies.

vaporiser with different flavors on tabletop

Now let’s be clear: the vapor of e-cigarettes contains less harmful substances than tobacco smoke, but e-cigarettes are not a hazard-free lifestyle product. Just like tobacco, e-cigarettes cause inflammation of the lungs. E-cigarettes are also associated with a higher rate of illicit drug use because other drugs can be used in the vaporizing units.

Vaping with e-cigarettes may be less harmful to your health than tobacco cigarettes and less associated with cancers, but they have their own acute symptoms to be aware of. There’s a recent epidemic of e-cigarettes because of market increase and adulterated agents that you can put in the vaporizers, causing more individuals to need emergency room visits.

If you smoke tobacco, you should certainly move to e-cigarettes. If you use e-cigarettes, work with your healthcare provider to come up with techniques for quitting permanently.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!  

 

 

 

Are you Gluten Free Or Is It Just More Marketing...

Are you Gluten-Free Or Is It Just More Marketing…

It’s difficult nowadays to go a week without encountering someone who claims to have a gluten allergy, but in reality, many people who have diagnosed themselves with a gluten allergy are actually suffering from a gluten sensitivity.

Are you Gluten-Free? Or Is It Just More Marketing…

Gluten-Free by the Numbers

breads, pastas, rice, and other foods with gluten

Gluten-free dieting has gained considerable popularity with the general population. Between 2004 and 2011, the market for gluten-free products reached an annual growth rate of 28%, with sales in 2012 hitting $2.6 billion. In 2012, Amazon listed about 4,800 gluten-free entries, but today lists over 18,000. A Google search at the same time for a gluten-free diet produced 4.2 million results but now has over 375 million results!

The number one reason consumers cite for buying gluten-free products is that they are perceived to be healthier than options containing gluten. Endorsements from celebrities have also contributed to the increased interest of possible health benefits from avoiding gluten, including potential weight loss. In 2014, the annual market share of gluten-free was at $5.94 billion. The global gluten-free market size was estimated at $17.59 billion in 2018 and is expected to expand at a rate of 9% from 2019 to 2025.

It’s estimated that only between 3 and 10% of the population may have a gluten sensitivity, so something is going on here. Are there more people with a gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity, or is the public simply becoming more aware of it because of marketing strategies? Are gluten issues a myth or a real problem?

Living as a Gluten-Free Family

two women preparing a gluten-free meal together in the kitchen

This topic is near and dear to me because I have some personal experience with it. A little over seven years ago, I met and started dating the woman who is now my wife. She eventually shared with me that she suffered from chronic migraines and a skin problem she simply called, ‘itchy bumps.’ These bumps were basically systemic urticaria or hives. As her boyfriend at the time, I asked if she had ever tried to manipulate her diet to see if she was sensitive to anything she was eating. She ended up removing gluten from her diet and hasn’t had a migraine or any itchy bumps ever since.

Now I live with my wife and our two boys in a gluten-free home. I’m not sensitive to gluten but we find it easier to just prepare one gluten-free meal for all of us to eat as a family. I don’t mind at all because the gluten-free options now available are delicious and you can’t tell the difference most of the time.

Sources of Gluten

burger, beer, and fries with gluten on a table

Gluten is a protein consisting of gliadins and glutenins, found in foods processed from wheat and related grains like barley bulgur, couscous, farina, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, rye, and oats. Although oats do not contain the protein gliadin so most people who are simply gluten sensitive can eat oats. Those with celiac disease, a true wheat gluten allergy, tend not to do well with oats.

You do need to watch for hidden sources of gluten including malt, soups, broths, bouillons, cold cuts, French fries, processed cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, sausages, hotdogs, fried veggies with tempura, gravy, canned baked beans, chocolate milk, foods that are breaded, energy bars, wine coolers, meatballs, meatloaf, veggie burgers, roasted nuts, beer, and some vitamins and supplements. You also have to watch out for some topical agents like shampoos, cosmetics, and even pet food.

It’s important to be aware that gluten does not necessarily equal wheat. Gluten is in a variety of products and if you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, you must carefully read ingredient lists.

A Range of Gluten Disorders

wheat intolerant woman holding bread showing her stomach

There is a spectrum of gluten-related disorders including wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease. Wheat allergy is an adverse immunologic reaction to specific proteins just in wheat. A wheat allergy can be treated with wheat avoidance, which means a wheat-free diet can be more permissive than a strict gluten-free diet.

Gluten sensitivity, also referred to as non-celiac gluten sensitivity or intolerance, is characterized by a heightened immunological reaction to gluten in genetically susceptible people. For a clinical diagnosis, it’s generally based on responses to a gluten-free diet. Common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include fatigue, headaches, and skin problems. Symptoms usually include GI distress as well, like gas, bloating, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. All of these symptoms frequently improve with the adoption of a gluten-free diet.

illustration of the intestines and bowels

The inherent subjectivity in the diagnosis and resolution of these symptoms likely contributes to the popularity of gluten-free diets. There is some data to suggest that following a gluten-free diet may improve GI or systemic symptoms in individuals with lupus, dermatitis, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes 1 and 2, thyroid problems, and psoriasis. Gluten-free diets have also been used by patients with autism spectrum disorders, however, there is no definitive data to support this and the American Academy of Pediatrics does not support the use of gluten-free diets as a primary treatment for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Despite the growing popularity and celebrity endorsements of a gluten-free diet for weight loss, there are no published reports showing that gluten-free diets produce weight loss. Is a gluten-free diet good for weight loss? Not unless you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten.

A celiac versus a non-celiac gluten sensitivity differs because celiac is a true food allergy. Food allergies are an adverse immune response to a food protein, most commonly an immunoglobulin called IgE. When the immune system detects IgE in the bloodstream, white blood cells attack and trigger an allergic response.

woman with gluten sensitivity choosing a rice cake instead of bread

Other allergies are mediated by the IgG immunoglobulin, which is characterized by symptoms which appear delayed, sometimes up to three or four days after the food is consumed. Symptoms of allergies include GI distress, skin inflammation, pain, fatigue, osteoporosis, mood disorders, liver problems, infertility, asthma, psoriasis, hair loss, premature gray hair, dental abnormalities, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis.

The real difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is that celiac disease produces antibodies that attack the inner lining of the small intestine, destroying it. For individuals with gluten sensitivities, that does not happen. Either way though, the treatment is the same. Work with your doctor to come up with a great dietary plan and think about supplementing with anti-inflammatories.

Going Gluten-Free

a selection of gluten-free foods like pastas and bread

When it comes to treatment, avoidance works best. Remember that my wife cut out gluten and got much better. When mild symptoms came back later, we figured out that using the same toaster for her gluten-free bread and my regular bread was causing problems. We also switched to gluten-free dog food to avoid problems there. If your sensitive or allergic to gluten, you have to watch out for hidden sources of gluten.

The results of addressing a gluten issue are unmistakable, as most people rave about their increased energy levels, mental clarity, and an obvious decrease in symptoms. There are lab tests, skin tests, and blood tests that can help detect food allergies, but the gold standard is something called an elimination challenge diet. Eliminate all gluten products from your diet for 3-7 days, then challenge your body with gluten and see what happens. If symptoms go away and then return once you start eating gluten again, you know you’re gluten sensitive.

calendar showing the start of gluten-free living

Most individuals who are sensitive to gluten, especially celiac patients, tend to be sensitive to disaccharide sugars like lactose, sucrose, maltose, and isomaltose. Read labels carefully and if the food you’re eating contains one of these disaccharides, test your sensitivity by trying an elimination challenge of those foods as well.

Now it’s becoming easier to be on a gluten-free diet as many restaurants and conventional grocery stores offer gluten-free options. You can find gluten-free bread, pasta, bagels, waffles, pizza, and more. I can tell you from personal experience that they’re getting good at making gluten-free food delicious. Most of the time, you can’t even tell the difference between the gluten-free option and the option with gluten.

If you know or suspect that you have a gluten sensitivity or allergy, let us know. I want to understand what your experience is like and offer suggestions to make a gluten-free diet not just tolerable, but delicious. I’ve been working with patients on nutrition and dietary plans for over 16 years, so together we can come up with a plan that fits your needs.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

5 vegetables and 5 fruits high in potassium (besides bananas) to help fight high blood pressure

High blood pressure has been linked in numerous studies to such ailments as heart disease and stroke, erectile dysfunction, vision and hearing changes, kidney disease, and even may have links to increased likelihood for dementia.

A wonderful natural way to help lower high blood pressure is to increase foods rich in potassium while decreasing intake of foods high in sodium. An essential micronutrient, potassium is responsible for regulating fluid balance in the body, controlling the activity of the heart and other muscles, and counteracts the potentially harmful effects of sodium.

The top 10 sources of sodium in our diets, which include a lot of food we find quite tasty are, in order: breads and rolls, luncheon meats, pizza, poultry, soups, cheeseburgers and other sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, canned foods, and snack foods like potato chips and pretzels. These foods account for 50% of all the sodium we eat in a day.  Changing your sodium to potassium ratio intake of foods can dramatically change your risks for developing high blood pressure.

Studies have shown that those who consumed 4,069 mg of potassium per day had a 49% lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease compared with those who consumed less potassium (about 1,000 mg per day).

When potassium is mentioned, most people think of bananas, but there are loads of potassium in many of the most common foods we eat. Here are 5 vegetables and 5 fruits (other than bananas) high in potassium that you probably were not aware of but should very much consider adding to your diet.

VEGETABLES

Leafy Greens

1. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a fantastic source of potassium. One cup of spinach contains about 839mg, beet greens about 442mg, and amaranth leaves contain as much as 980mg, so don’t skip the salad.  Also consider dandelion greens, arugula, Swiss chard, kale, and bok choy.

2. Regular and sweet Potato with skin

A large sized potato contains approximately 845 milligrams of potassium, with about 88% in the skin. Potato skins are also a great source of iron, providing as much as 57 percent of the daily recommended values for men, and 25 percent for women. Sweet potatoes make a great casserole, go great with Mexican dishes, and are great additives to salads. Consider that sweet potatoes have about 950mg of potassium per one medium-sized specimen and you have one sweet source of potassium.

3. Bean and Legumes

The highest source of potassium is contained in lima beans, containing 896mg of potassium per cup of cooked beans, though all beans and legumes should be considered.

4. Brassica vegetables

Brussel sprouts are the potassium king in this cherished family of vegetables coming in at 495 mg of potassium per cup, though broccoli is a close second at 547 mg of potassium per cup

5. Acorn Squash

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, there’s no better time to load up on potassium than now. Acorn squash are not only delicious, they also contain approximately 900mg of potassium per cup.

FRUITS

1. Avocados

Not only are avocados rich in essential fatty acids, which also help with heart health, but an average sized avocado also has about 1068mg of potassium. Next time, pass on the salsa and enjoy the guacamole.

2. Guava

Guava is a tropical fruit that my sons and I enjoyed daily while living on the Big Island of Hawaii. We ate them whole, made smoothies with them, even made guava ice cubes and ice cream.  They contain a whopping 688mg of potassium per cup.

3. Kiwi

When you find a good kiwi and allow it to ripen to flavor, there’s nothing quite like it. This fantastic fuzzy fruit packs 592mg of potassium per cup.

4. Melons

Both cantaloupe and honeydew take time to grow to size but once ready can provide an excellent source of potassium for you.  I always think of melon salads, breakfast treats, or melon ice cubes to enjoy.

5. Apricots

These tiny fruits are excellent sources of beta carotenes.  They also, both fresh and dried, provide over 400mg of potassium per serving.

We’re all familiar with bananas, but next time you’re in the grocery store, give another rich source of potassium a try. Many foods are much more loaded with this essential mineral and can help break the monotony of a banana-centric diet. Make a difference in your blood pressure levels by choosing to use foods as medicine.

Stress and Hair Loss

 

While we are all aware that some types of stress are necessary and beneficial for us, motivating us to achieve certain successes in life. However, prolonged and excessive stress is responsible for an incredible amount of harmful effects, disrupting nearly every system in the body.

Chronic stress can shut down the immune system, making you more susceptible to sickness. It can upset the digestive system, causing indigestion and other complications, and even lead to hardening of the arteries which brings about increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Oh, and both depression and anxiety can rear their ugly heads with stress as well.

Well, new research says that it’s time to add another side effect of stress to this already long list. Research shows that stress can also cause hair loss. This is true in both males and females.

The way that stress can cause hair loss, or slow down hair growth, is via the endocrine (hormonal) system.

The endocrine system is a set of glands that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, skin and hair health, and mood.

A very important part of the endocrine system is the adrenal gland. Located at the upper area of the kidneys, the adrenal gland is the main mechanism responsible for regulating stress in the body, producing several hormones in moments of stress in order to support your body.

adrenal glands highlighted

This type of function is valuable, aiding us in our fight or flight response and boosting our senses during times of duress. However, prolonged production of adrenal hormones in response to excessive stress quickly becomes a problem, even in your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. Correcting your response to stress can impact your health in positive ways

Another hormone produced during stressful situations is cortisol. Cortisol regulates your body’s response to stress hormones, including blood sugar levels and other natural reactions.

If we consider these hormones, and the chain of events that causes their production, then we begin to understand how prolonged stress can cause hair loss, or slow hair growth down.

Prolonged stress causes the overproduction of adrenal hormones and the under production of other important hormones in the body including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. This cascade can all lead to changes in insulin, which then leads to the sustained overproduction of cortisol. Prolonged overproduction of cortisol can wreak havoc on your body in many ways.

All of this prolonged production of hormones leads to what’s known as adrenal fatigue.

A negative side effect of adrenal fatigue is an increased concentration of the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a derivative of testosterone, again, in both males and females.

While we think of testosterone as a macho hormone, causing men to have more body hair and bigger muscles, though with high concentrations it can actually have a counterintuitive effect on the body, shrinking hair follicles, slowing down hair growth, and in severe cases damaging hair follicles so badly that hair growth is impossible.

healthy food stress free Leading a balanced, healthy lifestyle is the key to reducing stress and its numerous harmful effects on your body. Getting adequate sleep, eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, and practicing stress relieving techniques are all great ways to reduce stress, reduce the workload on your endocrine system, and prevent stress from causing abnormal hair loss. Please consider initiating adaptogenic herbs such as Rhodiola, Schisandra, Eleutherococcus, and Ginseng to support your adrenal hormones. Herbs which curb to negative effects of DHT on hair loss include Saw Palmetto, Pygeum, Pumpkin seed oil extract, Rosemary, White mulberry, and the amino acid L-Carnitine. Take action now to decrease inflammation in your body, better control stress, and nourish those hair follicles.

 

 

Dr Ryan Shelton

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Cholesterol Myth Here's The Truth

Cholesterol Myth Here’s The Truth

Recently, I had a female patient in her early 50s come into my office in tears. She was upset because she applied for life insurance at a premium rate and was denied for the sole reason that her total cholesterol was elevated. I want to share some of the information I gave her so you have the facts on cholesterol and how it’s a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke.

This patient is a professor at a local university, so she’s extremely intelligent and asked relevant questions. Is cholesterol a myth or a controversy? Is there valid debate surrounding the benefit of cholesterol medication or is the evidence and the scientific consensus on one side of the issue? Has data been manipulated by researchers to corroborate their theories simply so they get more grant money?

Cholesterol Myth Here’s The Truth

The Science of Cholesterol

atherosclerosis is an accumulation of cholesterol in arteries

It is clear that among adults in industrialized countries, one-fourth of all deaths result from arterial blockage caused by atherosclerotic plaques. ‘Total cholesterol’ is a phrase used to refer to all circulating cholesterol molecules and is totaled by adding LDL, HDL, and VLDL, and it is distinct from triglycerides. However, LDL and HDL are proteins which envelop and carry cholesterol.

The key thing about cholesterol is the size of the particle, the density of the particle, and whether or not the particle is oxidized. In a lipoprotein, you have proteins carrying fatty acids and cholesterol weaving in and through it. It begins as a chylomicron, which is basically a joint effort between your liver and intestines to absorb fat. Chylomicron becomes VLDL, which becomes IDL, which becomes LDL, which ultimately becomes HDL. As VLDL and LDL go around the bloodstream to distribute fatty acids and cholesterol to cells around the body, it becomes denser.

Apolipoprotein and its receptor site in the liver are key proteins that allow the liver to reabsorb fatty acids and cholesterol. Unfortunately, sugar can glycate and disrupt the apolipoprotein binding site, preventing the cholesterol and fatty acids to be reabsorbed by the liver.

LDL particles binding to LDL receptors on the cell membrane

LDL brings fatty acids and cholesterol from the liver and then circulates them to tissues. They move slowly and are susceptible to oxidation compared to HDL by free radicals. Unfortunately, sugar can oxidize LDL which then contributes to cardiovascular disease. This means that LDL is often named the bad cholesterol, but is ‘bad’ a pejorative term?

In 2016, 16 out of 19 showed an inverse relationship between total LDL and all-cause mortality. That means as total LDL went up, all-cause mortality went down, and vice-versa. Total LDL does not take into consideration the size of the particle or how much it’s oxidized. As a marker, we can use lipoprotein(a) because it only attaches to oxidized LDL particles. HDL brings circulating cholesterol and fatty acids back to the liver in order to clear them from the blood, be recycled, and hopefully removed from the body.

Cholesterol is essential for human health and plays important roles in cell membranes, and it’s a precursor to many hormones and vitamin D. The body produces about 2000 milligrams of cholesterol a day. To put that into perspective, an egg contains about 300 milligrams of cholesterol.

High cholesterol, particularly LDL, may be a compensatory physiological response to arterial injury, inflammation, and stress. Cholesterol is needed for tissue repair and is a precursor to stress hormones like cortisol. You can think of cholesterol as the body’s Band-Aid and attempt to heal the inflammation in the arteries. Cholesterol is not the culprit, but the middleman instead. Inflammation and oxidation are the culprits.

How Atherosclerotic Plaques Form

illustration of fat cells in the bloodstream

Inside every blood vessel is something called the glycocalyx, which is a fuzzy, furry lining. Unfortunately, oscillating sugars, foods high in lectins, and oxidized LDL can damage the glycocalyx. Once it’s been damaged, small LDL particles slip into the subendothelial layer of arteries. LDO and white blood cells called macrophages can slip though as well, forming a huge foam cell. Macrophages start to scavenge receptors for damaged, oxidized LDL particles, which attracts more oxidized LDL particles. This foam cell ultimately attracts calcium as well, ultimately leading to atherosclerotic plaque or hardening of the arteries. The blood flow through the artery decreases, and when it becomes destabilized, there are problems of heart attack and stroke. 

Research of cholesterol and its relationship to cardiovascular disease began in earnest in the 1950s, and then regulation of cholesterol metabolism was extensively studied by several scientists in the US in the 1960s. Cholesterol in the body can be derived from what is absorbed from diet, chylomicrons, and from what is synthesized in the body by the liver. The former type is supplemented by the latter if the required levels are not met. Once the former type of exogenous dietary cholesterol reaches its required level, the liver’s synthesis function of cholesterol is suppressed to prevent excessive production of cholesterol.

doctor holding chalkboard with LDL cholesterol written on it

The suppression of cholesterol synthesis in the liver is mediated through changes of an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase, which catalyzes the conversion of HMG-CoA to another compound. Changes in reductase activity are closely related to changes in the overall rate of cholesterol synthesis. The liver can take up both LDL and HDL, but it cannot take up oxidized LDL.

In humans, cholesterol is produced in the liver and when it exceeds what is absorbed from the diet, the liver backs off its synthesis. This suggested to researches and drug developers that the inhibition of HMG-CoA reductase would be an effective means of lowering plasma or blood cholesterol in humans.

Studying Cholesterol

Three-dimensional molecular model of Cholesterol

The controversy between cholesterol and cardiovascular disease began early. The first studies compared the cholesterol between rabbits and dogs, but other scientists sad, “No, that’s not relevant because rabbits are vegetarian and dogs are carnivores.”

The next study was called the Honolulu Study, which compared Japanese men living in Japan compared to Japanese men who moved to Hawaii. When they moved to Hawaii, their risk factors and rate of cardiovascular disease and stroke went up. Maybe environment or maybe diet has an effect here.

A famous study began in 1948, called the Framingham Heart Study, coined the term risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It’s since become part of medical dogma for cardiovascular disease and stroke ever since.

The next studies were on particular diets, and the first one looked at individuals moving from a diet high in saturated fat to a diet high in polyunsaturated fat. Sure enough, individuals moving from polyunsaturated fat had lower risk factors and incidences of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Drug companies said, “You know what? People aren’t going to change their diet, so let’s develop a drug.” They developed medications that block cholesterol absorption, an HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, and a drug that work through the LDL receptors on the liver.

HMG-CoA reductive inhibitors work through other mechanisms as well. They’re anti-inflammatory, reducing C-reactive protein and decreasing advanced glycation end products. They’re the second or third most commonly prescribed drug in the United States.

Lowering Cholersterol

We know that lowering cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality, but ultimately, we just want to live a long and happy life. A meta-analysis looked at 11 studies with 90,000 total participants to see what the average lifespan increase would be. The average lifespan increase of individuals taking statin with a history of cardiovascular disease was only five to six days, and just three and a half days in individuals without cardiovascular disease.

An increase in LDL receptor statins can cause an increase in LDL receptors in the liver, which is great. They take in LDL, but not oxidized LDL, which can increase the ratio of oxidized to non-oxidized by 10%. When it comes to medication, about 25% of individuals have side effects to statin medications. 1 in 10 cannot tolerate statins, means taking two different statins at the lowest dose instead. Common side effects include myalgia, muscle soreness or pain, liver damage, and an increased risk for diabetes. It also inhibits the production of an important nutrient called CoQ10, which is metabolized by HMG-CoA reductase. If you take a statin medication, please supplement with CoQ10.

Making Diet and Lifestyle Changes

image of a bicycle created with vegetables

The fact is that the benefits of statins are severely limited without diet and lifestyle changes. In fact, a recent quote from Mayo Clinic doctor said, “You can overeat your statin.” A pill will never be a replacement for lifestyle changes.

You need to avoid saturated fats, trans fats, diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unfiltered coffee. These things can exacerbate LDL and oxidized LDL. Skipping breakfast and other meals can be problematic, so eat small meals frequently.

Add more polyunsaturated fats, nuts, seeds, and fish to your diet. You should also add monosaturated fats like olives and olive oil. Specific foods that help LDL and oxidized LDL include rice, bran, oil, oat bran, soy, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, complex carbohydrates, foods high in stanols and sterols, and fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber. I recommend nine servings of five colors of produce each and every day.

Consider taking supplements like vitamin B5, niacin, calcium, chromium, garlic, copper, L-carnitine, and red yeast rice. Garlic has 17 positive studies showing it can reduce LDL and increase HDL. Red yeast rice is interesting because it works on HMG-CoA without the side effects of statins.

selection of keto diet approved foods

Keto and paleo diets are more effective than low-fat diets for LDL particles, oxidized LDL particles, increasing HDL, and decreasing triglycerides. Remember, the culprit is not cholesterol. It’s inflammation! You have to get free radicals, oxidation, and inflammation under control.

There are other important risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, like high blood pressure, high triglycerides, high homocysteine, high c-reactive protein, high lipoprotein-a, high fibrinogen, and high platelet aggregation. Looking at that list, most of these are indicators of high inflammation and not a high total of cholesterol.

The Need for Melatonin

woman stretching in bed after waking up

The final thing I want to point out is that melatonin is one of the most powerful antioxidants our body naturally produces. Melatonin is the sleep hormone produced at night when it’s totally dark, so make sure your bedroom is completely dark with no ambient light, no technology, no alarm clock, or television. Your eyes communicate with your brain when it’s completely dark to promote the production of melatonin. Melatonin is cardioprotective because of its antioxidant properties, so consider taking it as a supplement.

If you have questions about LDL and its relationship to cardiovascular disease and stroke, please let me know. I want you to understand the true relationship between cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. I’ll help you achieve and maintain optimal health.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

Acid Reflux

 

Acid reflux, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux, is where the stomach contents such as food and acidic digestive juices escape upwards into the esophagus. This can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn and other symptoms such as regurgitation, and sour taste, and coughing.

A long-term study recently revealed the number of people who experience acid reflux at least once a week has gone up by nearly 50% in the last 10 years, with women appearing to be more susceptible to the condition than men.

Acid reflux affects much of the population, with 60 percent of Americans having experienced some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, within the last year, and as many as 30 percent experiencing weekly symptoms. GERD is the most severe and recurrent form of acid reflux.

Most acid reflux is easily controlled with diet and lifestyle changes. Losing weight, quitting smoking, reducing salt intake, increasing dietary fiber, slowing down at mealtimes and chewing food more thoroughly, avoiding foods which may commonly act as triggers to reflux, and exercise are among the best non-medication ways to help relieve yourself of acid reflux.

A major concern among healthcare providers is the chronic, over-use of medications by a large percentage of the population to treat the symptoms of acid reflux. Many of these medications, known as proton pump inhibitors, were originally developed as prescription medications and only intended to be taken for short periods of time typically around 6 weeks. These medications work very well to reduce the acid produced by the stomach. However, stomach acid is required to extract certain essential minerals from the foods we eat and long-term deficiencies of these minerals can lead to poor bone density, joint and muscle discomfort, and mood irregularities.

In place of the medications and the diet/lifestyle changes mentioned above, I recommend four natural strategies to my patients to help them safely combat acid reflux.

Eliminate Triggers and Add Bitter Foods

fast food
Common foods which can acts as triggers to acid reflux include coffee, alcohol, spicy peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, onions, mint, and high fat meals.

Many of us are lacking in the consumption of bitter foods. One great benefit of certain foods considered to be bitter is their ability to help eliminate acid reflux. Bitter foods can improve the efficiency of gastric emptying and reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.

A great natural way to help your stomach better digest food is to consume bitter foods like bitter green salads, Brassica vegetables, endive, cranberries, arugula, radishes, and other foods high in bitterness.

Melatonin

waking up

Studies published as early as 2007 have revealed that melatonin, a hormone produced by a gland in the brain that regulates the wake/sleep cycle and other daily biorhythms, may have potential as a new treatment option for those suffering from acid reflux.

The great news about the effectiveness of melatonin in treating acid reflux, is that it is naturally occurring in the body, so no foreign substances are introduced to the body.

Melatonin as a treatment for acid reflux was published in March 2007 in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. Researchers tested the efficacy of melatonin for acid reflux on 60 participants, half of which received a placebo.

Those who received melatonin took 5mg every evening, and after 12 weeks, over half no longer felt symptoms of acid reflux.

Melatonin is widely available over-the-counter at any pharmacy or supermarket in the US and is non-habit forming. In addition, melatonin is much cheaper than prescription medication, and carries the added benefit of helping users fall asleep at bedtime.

Like any other treatment, melatonin won’t help everyone with their acid reflux. But at such a reasonable price, lack of harmful side-effects, and with the added benefit of better sleep – also linked to improved gastric function- melatonin is definitely worth a try.

Heel Drops

glass of water

Another interesting recommendation for relieving acid reflux is what is known as heel drops.

A heel drop is a method most often used by physical medicine practitioners to treat hiatal hernias, a condition which can cause many cases of acid reflux. The heel drop is also effective for treating milder acid reflux.

The method is simple:

  1. Drink approximately 8 ounces of slightly warm water immediately after getting out of bed in the morning.
  2. While standing, raise both arms to your side at 90 degrees, like a capital T, then fold your arms in at the elbows to touch your chest with your hands.
  3. Stand up as high as you can on your toes.
  4. Drop down on your heels.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

After your 10th drop, keep your arms raised and pant in short, rapid breaths for 15 seconds.

The heel drop works by helping to align the stomach and diaphragm, allowing your esophagus to get some relief. Be sure to repeat the heel drop for acid reflux until symptoms subside.

Introduce herbs which help to coat the linings of the esophagus and stomach.

marshmallow root plant

Many natural substances and botanical agents have been used for centuries to help protect the inner linings of the esophagus and stomach against the potentially damaging effects of stomach acid. The most widely available include sodium alginate (a seaweed extract), slippery elm bark, marshmallow root, deglycyrrhizinated licorice root extract, and Indian barberry. Ideally, a combination of these agents should be taken about 20-30 minutes prior to each meal.

Using these four strategies along with the diet/lifestyle changes mentioned above can go a long way in improving your symptoms of acids reflux without the potential negative long term consequences of taking proton pump inhibitors.

Antioxidants for Eye Health

 

For Better Vision, Keep an Eye Out for Foods High in Zeaxanthin, Lutein, Lycopene, and Astaxanthin.

Like everything else with the human body, the eyes eventually degrade with age. If you were lucky enough to experience 20/20 vision in youth, eventually, you too will most likely need some form of corrective treatment whether glasses, contacts, or laser eye surgery.

The good news is that we can use food as preventative medicine.  There are dietary actions that you can take focusing on four distinct naturally occurring carotenoids found in foods in order to prevent the inevitable loss of vision. Small shifts in your diet can relate to you seeing your family members more clearly, reading those books you love so much, and driving with better confidence.

Four great dietary sources you can seek for help with vision are zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene, and astaxanthin…the so called ‘macular carotenoids.’ Each can be found naturally and easily obtained through dietary means. Word of advice, these carotenoids are oxidized and become useless when exposed to air for long periods of time or when cooked at high temperatures. Always use fresh options either steamed or cooked at low temperature for best results.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are pigments predominantly found in the eye.  They are also the exact same pigments which are responsible for the yellow, orange and green colors in many fruits and vegetables. These pigments in the eye act as a filter for blue light, protecting the macular region against oxidation by light.  A healthy macula of the eye, protected against the insults of reactive oxygen species, helps to maintain clear, crisp vision.

  • Foods high in Zeaxanthin and Lutein include leafy greens like spinach, kale, collard greens, romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, and turnip greens. They are also high in corn, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, oranges, apricots, pistachios, pumpkin, and egg yolks.
  • The highest concentration of Zeaxanthin and Lutein are found in medicinal flowers such as marigolds and the Garden nasturtium.

While lutein and zeaxanthin are a little less recognizable, another powerful compound found to aid vision is lycopene. Lycopene is one of the most powerful antioxidants currently known occurring in food, and has many more benefits to us than just aiding vision. Lycopene also helps prevent cancer, prostate issues, and heart disease.

  • Lycopene is found readily in tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, watermelon, guava, papaya, asparagus, red cabbage, and many more fruits and vegetables.
  • A Helpful Hint: Lycopene is actually most concentrated in tomato paste, so make your favorite red sauce for eye health!

Tomatoes contain about 3mg of lycopene per 100 grams but, contrary to popular belief, they don’t pack the most punch when it comes to lycopene.

Guavas are not only delicious, they also contain an impressive amount of lycopene, with 100 grams of guava holding over 5mg of this potent antioxidant.

If you’re looking for help minimizing the effects of age-related vision loss, look no further than these three essential compounds: zeaxanthin, lycopene, and lutein.

Astaxanthin is special, very special. Astaxanthin is a naturally occurring carotenoid pigment found primarily in marine organisms such as salmon, trout, crab, shrimp, and lobster, providing a pink-red color. Among the commercially important microalgae, Haematococcus pluvialis is the richest source of natural astaxanthin which is considered as “super anti-oxidant.” Natural astaxanthin produced by H. pluvialis has significantly greater antioxidant capacity than the synthetic one. Studies have also shown that naturally fermented Astaxanthin may be even more powerful in its antioxidant potential for eye and vision health.

close up of maritime pine bark

A ”Thanks for Reading” BONUS for reading the entire article:

Maritime Pine bark extract is the only herbal agent found in research to actually reverse myopia, also known as near-sightedness.

 

 

Dr Ryan Shelton

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Grass fed beef vs grain fed

Grass Fed Beef vs Grain Fed Benefits from a Doctor and Rancher’s Son

I just drove my boys eight hours across the country to Kansas so they could visit with their grandparents and I wanted to write this post from here for two important reasons. The first reason was to emphasize how deeply I value family. Not just my immediate family, but my extended family including grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If you can foster healthy relationships with your family, friends, and community, science shows that you will live a happier, healthier, and longer life.

The second reason I wanted to write this post from here is because of these cows. My family has operated a small cattle ranch for a few decades and there are a couple of important difference between their cows and conventionally raised cows. Number one, my father treats his cows like they’re part of the family, checking on them several days a week to make sure they’re happy, healthy, and well.

father and son standing together and looking at cows grazing on farm

Number two, the cows are always grass-fed. Let’s talk about the benefits of grass-fed beef versus conventional beef. First of all, it’s healthier for the cows because grass is their natural habitat and natural food. They never get placed in a stockyard with hundreds or thousands of other cows and they’re not fattened up with grain. They eat grass their entire lives, staying happy and healthy.

Raising cows this way is also better for the environment. Multiple studies show that grass-few cows have far less environmental impact than conventionally raised cows or stock-raised, grain-fed cows. For us, grass-fed beef has fewer calories than conventional beef, especially if you choose 90% lean. Even if you choose 85% lean, fewer calories exist in grass-fed beef compared to conventional beef.

Grass Fed Beef vs Grain Fed Benefits

Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Beef

grass fed herd of cows at grazing on green field

Grass-fed beef is lower in saturated fats, and we know that high saturated fat levels in the diet are associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and many other chronic health conditions. These cows are never placed in a stockyard so they’re not injected with hormones or antibiotics, and they don’t develop any superbugs. When you consume grass-few beef, you’re not exposed to the antibiotics or hormones found in conventional beef.

Next, grass-fed beef contains higher levels of something called CLA (conjugated linolenic acid) which has been shown in studies to protect against certain types of cancers. Grass-fed beef is five times higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and protective against free radical oxidation. Grass-fed beef is also higher in micronutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, lutein, and beta-carotene than conventional beef. On top of all of that, protein levels are higher and saturated fat is lower.

Tips for Grass-Fed Beef

grass fed prime rib roast with mashed potatoes and asparagus

If you’re new to preparing grass-fed beef, be sure not to overcook it. Take it out of the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature so you can cook it slowly on lower heat. If you cook it too quickly on high heat, you may lose some of the important advantages of grass-fed beef like Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients.

There aren’t any disadvantages to grass-fed beef other than the cost. It is more expensive than conventionally fed beef, but I encourage you to buy it as often as you can because you will be doing your health a favor. You’re also doing the cows and the environment a favor. If you can afford it, purchase grass-fed beef over conventionally fed beef as often as you can. It’s healthier for you, the cows, and the environment.


Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith LabsIf you liked this video/article, do share it with your friends and loved ones. Subscribe to the Youtube channel for weekly tips on new tools and techniques to improve your health and well-being.

I believe in the original meaning of the word doctor, ‘docere’, which means teacher. I’m here to help educate you on how to take care of yourself in ways that you may not have heard of before, but that are effective. I always want to hear your ideas and feedback so be sure to leave me comments below!

 

 

 

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