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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Friendship and Health

Stay Active for Better Health

No, not physically active (although that's extremely important, too). We're talking about staying socially active to stay healthy. That's right, your ties with friends, parents, siblings, co-workers, former schoolmates, or even neighbors are just as important as, well, your choice in breakfast and your exercise routine.

A recent review of 148 studies done at Brigham Young University found that people with stronger social relationships had a 50% lower risk of dying than those with weaker relationships.

Researchers labeled "social relationships" a new health risk factor. In fact, according to the study, the harm of weak relationships is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes per day or being an alcoholic. Social ties can be more harmful than being obese or not exercising.

Health - "That's What Friends Are For"

We humans are naturally social. Unfortunately, the quality and quantity of authentic relationships are dying down. The study, published in Plos Medicine, found that the number of Americans who report being lonely has increased three-fold in just two decades.

That statistic is alarming considering the exponential growth in online communities and social networks. However, it begs the questions: how healthy are our relationships? Are our friends a relief or a source of stress? Within the online community, our friends may be our "followers". However, are all our "followers" our friends?

We take smoking, exercise, diet, alcohol consumption, family history, and similar risk factors seriously. This study offers compelling evidence that it's time to take social relationships seriously, too. Cultivating meaningful relationships can exert a positive and protective effect on our psychological and physical health.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How to Like Exercise

It's hard to like exercise, let alone love it. Let's face it: gulping down a supplement is far simpler. As important and effective as supplements may be when it comes to helping prevent chronic disease, exercise wins by a landslide. You may be fully aware of all the health benefits. What's stopping you, though?

If you're harboring negative feelings toward exercise, it's time to give exercise a second chance. Everyone has their personal experiences, struggles, and achievements when it comes to physical activity. Considering the widespread lack of exercise in our nation, there may be more struggles than achievements. Read on to find out 4 ways you can transform your struggles into victories and learn to love exercise:

1. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started." (Agatha Christie)

You need a reasonable amount of exercise for good health. Choose a few days during your week and work your way up to 5 or 6 days of exercise. Don't expect your routine to look the same next year or even next month. You may need to make a few changes until you find what works right for you. Exercise for at least 30 minutes. On certain days, work your way up to 45 minutes to an hour to burn more fat. View the time slots you've selected for exercise as an appointment with your body and health. Honor the appointments!

2. If certain exercises feel like torture, it may not be your fault. After all, the first treadmill was engineered to reform and punish prisoners. Remember, though, as boring and as unpopular as it may be, exercise is not the enemy. Once you're familiar enough with the movements for certain exercises, try to multi-task. Find something entertaining to listen to or learn. A book, an audiobook, an audio course, an album, a recorded concert, or a comedy skit.

3. Timing, timing, timing!

It's a great advantage if you can exercise first thing in the morning, especially if you're a "let's get this over with" kind of person. There are less distractions to stumble you from exercising. You'll see and feel the results much faster, including higher energy levels and better sleep. A research study published in the journal Sleep found that morning-exercisers slept better than evening exercisers.

The link between hormones involved in appetite, sleep, and exercise is much more balanced and harmonious. In fact, mornings are when insulin levels are the lowest, allowing for more fat burning. If morning exercise doesn't work with your life, remember any time is better than no time.

4. Find a buddy to exercise with or report to. They can prove to be a major source of help, acting as a human conscience that will bother you when you choose to neglect your exercise routine.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Do You Have a Happy Brain?

If you happen to be hanging out with nine of your closest friends one evening, there's a strong chance one of you is relying on an antidepressant to be there. A recent federal study found that one in ten Americans over the age of 12 are on antidepressants. This doesn't even take into account the many people who suffer from depression or depressive symptoms without treatment.

There are so many uncontrollable factors involved in depression, negative feelings, anxiety, or just a grouchy mood. The question, however, is can diet help?

A growing body of evidence says yes. Changes in diet bring about changes in our brain structure and chemistry. We wouldn't want to underestimate the power of food. It can bring about relaxing, calming, positive changes in our mood. The problem, however, is that most people turn to the wrong "comfort" food when feeling stress, unrest, or depressed.

Positively Protein

The essential nutrients found in your basic healthy foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, etc) are used by the brain, too.

Protein is a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that affects levels of the "happy hormone", serotonin. What do you need to make sure you're getting enough protein for your body and brain? That's a no-brainer! Make sure you inlude a source of protein with all your meals and workouts (from lean meats, nuts, legumes, or a high quality protein powder such as EnergyFirst ProEnergy Whey Protein). In fact, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found alpha-lactalbumin, a component of whey protein, to increase tryptophan and serotonin levels in the brain.

Building meals around your basic healthy foods also ensures an adequate supply of other nutrients that have been shown to improve mild to moderate forms of depression, such as selenium, magnesium, B-complex vitamins, and iron. Deficiencies in these nutrients can cause anxiety, irritability, and fatigue, the perfect conditions for a bad mood. Snack on selenium-rich brazil nuts, throw folate-rich spinach into your salads, or add the earthy flavor of pureed black beans into your classic winter soup for an excellent source of iron and magnesium.

Is your Brain on Fire?

Have you ever been in a fussy mood and had no explanation for it? While the source of your irritability could be the bill you just spotted in the mail, the argument you had with a coworker, or the traffic you dealt with on your morning commute, it also may be due to something else. It may be your brain responding to inflammation. Two breakthrough studies, published in JAMA Psychiatry and the Journal of Neuroinflammation, demonstrate a surprisingly strong link between inflammation (or its byproducts) and mood disorders or depression.

Food intolerances, gluten sensitivities, unstable blood sugar levels, lack of sleep, and untreated stress can all lead to brain inflammation.

How can you treat inflammation naturally? Reduce it with regular, effective, properly-fueled exercise. This isn't enough, though. A nutritionally unbalanced diet can also increase brain-aggravating inflammation. Therefore, your diet is crucial.

Processed foods, high amounts of saturated fats, refined carbs, caffeine, alcohol, artificial colors, preservatives, and additives fuel inflammation. These are moody foods! They disrupt the production of your "happy hormone" serotonin. The stage is set for emotional instability.

Go fishing! Fight inflammation with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are foods you won't find in a vending machine. Try to eat at least two or three oily seafood meals each week (such as salmon) and leave those angry or cranky days behind. Also, choose grass-fed meat instead of corn-fed for an extra boost of omega-3 in your diet. Unfortunately, most people do not get the required amount of omega-3 from their diet. A rich supplement, for instance OmegaEnergy Fish Oil, can cover your bases and prevent a deficiency.

It's time to fill your plates with good mood food!

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2011, 8:94
Psychother Psychosom. 2013;82(3):161-9
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Aug 4;53:23-34.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed - Does it Matter?

You may find it of interest that up until the 1940's, most cattle was "grass-finished" or grassfed. The 1950's brought a revolution in the way beef was being produced. Because of an emphasis on production efficiency, cattle started to be fed a diet of grains. Why? Was it an effort to improve health or nutrition quality? Not at all. The purpose was production efficiency. Grain feeding introduced MORE fat in LESS time.

Numerous studies have compared the nutritional quality of beef from grass-fed versus grain-fed cattle. What does the research have to say? The Journal of Animal Science found that beef from grass-fed cattle has higher concentrations of antioxidants. For example,

• concentrations of alpha-tocopherol, one of the eight forms of vitamin E, nearly triples. This high natural vitamin E content not only extends the shelf life of grassfed beef, but it also imparts numerous health benefits. Vitamin E is strengthens the immune system and can help prevent heart disease.

• concentrations of beta-carotene, a potent form of vitamin A, increases 10 times. (Beta-carotene is a strong red-orange pigment, which explains why the visible fat in grassfed beef tends to be more yellow than grainfed beef.) This form of vitamin A is crucial for protecting the surface of eyes and the lining of the respiratory, urinary, and intestinal tract. Beta-carotene also boosts the immune system by helping produce white blood cells.

• The journal Meat Science also reported a high glutathione content in grassfed beef. This DNA-protecting and cancer-fighting antioxidant is abundant in lush green grass. Thus, grassfed beef is significantly higher in glutathione.

What other goodies can we find in grassfed beef? Conjugated linolenic acid, a form of linoleic acid that accumulates in the fat and muscle tissue of animals. CLA can be produced by the activity of bacteria normally found in the digestive system of cattle. Grains, however, decrease the pH of the digestive system and this lowers bacterial activity.

On the other hand, grass maintains a favorable environment that encourages the activity of the bacteria (a process known as microbial biohydrogenation). As a result, grassfed beef produces 2-3 times more CLA than cattle confined to a grain-filled diet.

What does this mean for your health? CLA reduces atherosclerosis risk and several published studies show that it can inhibit tumor growth, thus playing a powerful role in preventing cancer. A growing body of research in both animal and human studies shows that CLA reduces body fat accumulation.

Let's Talk About Fat

It's a fact that grass feeding cattle generates a leaner product than grain feeding. The difference is usually a 2-4 gram difference in total fat per 100 grams of meat. Why the difference? When cattle are fed high-energy grains, they have a higher fat content because they build less muscle (due to restricted movement in confined feedlots), are fed more glucose, and thus synthesize more fat. This makes grainfed beef higher in calorie content per gram of meat.

How does this translate in terms of saturated fat? Since grassfed beef has less total fat, it also contains up to 1.4 grams less total saturated fat per 100 grams of meat. Of this fat, most of it is "neutral". Most of the saturated fat in grassfed beef is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat considered "neutral" because it has a "neutral" effect on blood cholesterol levels, neither raising nor lowering "bad" LDL cholesterol.

Can the same be said of grainfed cattle? Unfortunately, a review published in the Nutrition Journal found that most of the saturated fats found in grainfed beef are myristic and palmitic acid. These saturated fatty acids are considered to be more detrimental to cholesterol levels.

The bottom line? Grassfed beef has a healthier saturated fatty acid profile.

The Essentials

We all know how important getting our omega-3's are. Omega 6 fatty acids are essential, too. What slips through the cracks, however, is how important it is that we get the right ratio of omega-6 to omega-3's. An excess from one family interferes with the metabolism of the other. Without the proper metabolism of both families, we can't absorb and benefit from either.

Several studies, including one published in the International Journal of Neuroscience and another published in the Journal of Animal Science, found that both the omega-3 content and the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in grassfed beef is favorable.

What happens in grainfed cattle? Researchers found an interesting pattern: as grain is introduced and increased in grassfed cattle, the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids decreases.

From Farm to Table

If the nutritional characteristics are so different, it's no surprise that the aroma, flavor, and look of the meat will, too. Does taste get compromised? Hardly! Most studies testing sensory qualities of the two sources found the juiciness to be same (just less greasy!). As a plus, grassfed beef has lower cooking times because of its lower fat content.

Meat is meat? Not quite!

Research is in! Not all meat is created (or fed) equal. Cattle diet can make a drastic difference. Grassfed beef is loaded with more nutrients and antioxidants. So, ask: Where does my food come from?

Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:10

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Health Benefits of Laughter

Is laughter really the best medicine?. The simple act of laughing can be refreshing as you stretch numerous face and body muscles and oxygenate more tissues by breathing faster. Even more fascinating is the fact that a strong immune system, a healthy heart, and a stress-free body all lie in the power of a good joke. Researchers are finding more and more evidence of the health benefits of laughter, including better memory.

More Laughing, Less Stressing

It may be worth the effort to remember the punchline of your favorite jokes. Stress can damage the brain's neurons, leaving it more vulnerable to mental illnesses and memory loss. A research team at Loma Linda University found that laughter caused by a simple, funny video reduced the amount of brain damage caused by cortisol, a stress hormone. The research subjects who viewed the funny video did better on a memory test than the subjects who did not. In addition to reducing cortisol, laughter can increase the amount of antibodies that fight common infections, including the common cold, thereby boosting the immune system in numerous ways.

A Happy Heart is a Healthy Heart

Researchers at the University of Maryland showed comedies to their subjects and found that the laughter they provoked helped increase blood flow. When the same group of study subjects viewed a disturbing scene from a movie, blood vessels narrowed and blood flow was reduced. Researchers concluded that laughter can help protect the blood vessels from cardiovascular disease.

Sense Humor, Not Pain

A Swiss research study found that laughter can increase pain tolerance. The reason is because every giggle and chuckle can trigger the release of endorphins that help relieve pain and promote a sense of well-being.

Laughter proves to be a great way to reduce one of the common causes of health problems--stress--both physically and mentally. In turn, controlling stress can help you keep your blood sugar levels stable, thus preventing spikes and drops that can reap you of your energy. In the end, laughter proves to be worth the wrinkles.

McClelland D, Cheriff AD. Psychol and Health. 1997; 12:329-44.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cook More!

Don Your Aprons!

Tell us how much time you spend in the kitchen and we'll tell you how healthy you are. No, there's no mistake there. We didn't mean the gym. We mean the kitchen!

A recent study, published in Public Health Nutrition, compared the diets of those who cook meals home frequently with those who do so infrequently. Researchers found that people who cook most meals at home consume healthier meals and fewer calories. That holds true whether they eat meals at home or at restaurants.

Why? First of all, home cooks have more control! Most foods prepared away from home typically contain more fat, salt, and sugar. The opposite also holds true. Home cooked meals are generally lower in these three ingredients. That is why the most frequent home cooks were found to consume about 200 fewer calories per day.

Home cookers also have a better sense of portion control and an awareness of what a healthy, nutrient-dense meal looks like. They also tend to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Diet Plan? Cook!

Bookstores are crawling with cookbooks. Television has plenty of food channels. Markets are around every corner. Unfortunately, home cooks are rare. Many families have given up on home-cooked meals and replaced them with takeout and other sources of meals outside the home.

Why not make it a goal to cook at least 3-4 times a week (heating up a frozen meal doesn't count as cooking). This will likely improve the quality of your diet.

One barrier to cooking is the cost. Many believe it's more expensive. Buying basics in bulk, produce in season, and fresher ingredients rather than ready-prepared convenience foods is actually economical.

Can't cook? You don't have to be a master chef! There are plenty of recipes and food guides to get you started. Start with the basics. Learn how to make a tasty vegetable soup, a healthy salad and dressing, or a simple rice or grain dish. Experiment with different herbs and spices to add extra flavor to your dishes. Take a cooking class every so often. Learn how to work with the vegetables currently in season. Parents, include your children in the cooking process. You'll teach them important skills for a healthier future.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ear Nutrition and Hearing

Ear Nutrition: Hear All About It

In the world of nutrition, it seems some body parts are more popular than others. The first organs or body parts that come to mind when we discuss the effects healthy food (or lack thereof) include the heart, brain, bones, blood vessels, intestines, or eyes. A healthy, balanced diet does have a direct and major effect on all of these body parts. Thankfully, a growing body of evidence shows the protective effect of a healthy diet on another precious organ--the ear. It turns out hearing and nutrition go hand in hand.

Information Worth Hearing About

You may already be familiar with free radicals and the danger associated with them. These are unpaired molecules that go on a rampage throughout the body in search of another molecule to pair with. In the process of robbing molecules, they injure cells, damage their DNA, and create an environment favorable for disease to occur

Free radicals know no boundaries. They can wreak havoc even in the inner ear, the site where most hearing loss is thought to occur. Free radical damage in this portion of the ear can start the process of hearing loss known as presbycusis. The quality of our diet impacts how vulnerable our ears are to hearing loss.

Eat Well, Hear Well

The American Journal of Clincal Nutrition reports that beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamin C protect ears from age-related hearing loss. Participants who had greater intake of these vitamins and minerals had better hearing at speaking level and higher frequencies.

The journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery published findings that deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folic acid impair hearing because of the harmful effect these deficiencies have on the nervous system as well as the coating over the cochlear nerve.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the effects regular, weekly consumption of fish and high intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have on hearing. A regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids can also slow down the development of hearing loss. When blood supply to the cochlea decreases because of some degree of cardiovascular disease, the structure starts to degenerate and lose its function. Researchers suggest that omega-3 fatty acids protect the ear by maintaining adequate blood supply to the cochlea.

Many diets are not only low in the nutrients that prevent hearing loss but they are also high in nutrients that can promote hearing loss. In contrast to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, diets high in sugar can promote hearing loss. The December 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reports that both a high-glycemic load diet as well as a diet high in carbohydrates overall increases the risk of hearing loss by 76%. Although the exact mechanism is not firmly established, most research studies point to the damaging effects of high blood sugar and surges of insulin. These can lead to cardiovascular disease which, in turn, disrupts normal blood flow through the fragile structures in the ear.

Certainly, protecting the ears from noise pollution and loud music has its role. However, research confirms that quality nutrition can prevent or delay the burden of age-related hearing loss. EnergyFirst supplies all these ear-protective nutrients, including our high potency Vitamin C supplement, OmegaEnergy Fish Oil supplement, and our EnergyOne Multivitamin and mineral plus ACE supplement.

J Nutr. 2010 Dec; 140(12):2207-12.
Laryngoscope. 2000 Oct;110(10 Pt 1):1736-8.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Aug;92(2):416-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29370. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Magnesium - The Underrated Mineral

Magnesium - The Underrated Mineral that Deserves More Credit and Why

There are popular minerals. Then there's magnesium. Less than one ounce of our bodies are made up of this crucial mineral. Yet, two-thirds of the world population is deficient in this mineral. That means two-thirds of the world's population is at risk for chronic disease conditions.

What does a magnesium deficiency look like? Imagine the economic impact of a large, important factory closing down in a major industrial city. Multiply that by 300 and you've got yourself a magnesium deficiency. 300 important chemical reactions lose a vital factor, an enzyme kickstarter, known as magnesium.

Probably the most crucial chemical reaction that magnesium is involved in is our main powerplant of cellular energy--the ATP (or adenosine triphosphate) system. What happens when this system goes wrong? Fatigue, confusion, poor learning ability, anxiety, depression, irritability, muscle spasms, or insomnia. If you've ever felt a combination of these symptoms, you know what magnesium deficiency feels like. We need magnesium to convert the food we eat into the ATP we use for energy.

It gets more serious, as if lower metabolic function weren't enough. Magnesium regulates heart rhythym, normal blood clotting, nerve function, bone formation, muscle relaxation (and thus exercise performance). When magnesium levels are low, pro-inflammatory molecules thrive and prosper, setting the stage for chronic diseases. The body is under stress. What's more, this stress reduces the body's ability to absorb and retain the little magnesium it does get.

300-400 milligrams. That is all the magnesium we need in a day to keep our body running smoothly. Our bodies aren't asking for too much, now, are they? Of course not. Two aspects of our daily lives, though, make us prone to magnesium deficiency: our diet/lifestyle and environment.

What YOU Eat and Do

If you put forth a concentrated effort to eat a varied, plant-based diet, you probably do not have to worry too much about magnesium levels. If you're struggling to eat such a diet, your magnesium levels are probably too low. Dark leafy greens like spinach, nuts, seeds, and some whole grains are good sources of magnesium. Keep in mind most of these sources have small amounts of magnesium in them. Therefore, do not rely on a single food for your magnesium foods. Eat a wide variety.

Refined, processed foods are, in most cases, stripped of magnesium. Do not allow the fast-moving pace of modern lifestyles to rob you of your magnesium needs. Speaking of fast-paced lifestyles, according to the journal Clinical Cardiology, low magnesium levels are associated with sleep deprivation. Being sleep deprived can leave you prone to magnesium deficiency.

If you're living a fast-paced lifestyle, your chances of being under stress are unquestionably high. Stress, and the numerous hormones involved in it (such as adrenaline), can lead to (mainly urinary) losses of magnesium.

Even a healthy lifestyle can cause magnesium depletion. After all, during exercise you are using those energy-producing chemical reactions that require magnesium. If you're physically active, you are using up the magnesium you consume.

From Farm Efficiency to Mineral Deficiency

Magnesium is environmentally-friendly. After all, it's a natural earth element. Plant and animal life depend on it. Photosynthesis, for example, cannot work without the magnesium ion found in the center of chlorophyll. But is the environment magnesium-friendly? Since the start of intensive farming practices, the answer has become "no". A population of magnesium-deficient people is more likely consuming magnesium-deficient food produced with soil of little mineral value. In the past few decades, these farming practices have left our soil dirt poor.

One curious researcher by the name of Dr. E.M. Widdowson and his colleagues have been analyzing soil mineral depletion for decades. Their findings, published in the Nutrition and Health journal, include a 26% drop in magnesium found in vegetables and a 16% drop in fruits in just 60 years. Sure, many of these practices make our fruits and veggies look prettier. These numbers, however, speak for themselves. Fresh produce should not be avoided, however. They are still the ultimate natural and intended source of magnesium for our bodies.

Replenish Magnesium Levels!

If you are magnesium deficient, the good news is that you will feel a difference once you correct your levels. (Speaking of magnesium levels, do not solely rely on serum levels to see if you are deficient or not. Serum, or blood, levels will not detect low levels in your tissues. This is why magnesium deficiency is often overlooked.)

Soreness, stiffness, and spasms, oh my! Magnesium can help relax muscles and nerves, including those involved in tension headaches. These benefits also include control of blood vessel spasms associated with hypertension, migraines, and coronary artery disease. What's more, magnesium can relax spasms of the bronchi, which are involved in asthma attacks, and muscle spasms involved in menstrual cramps.

Your workouts will feel different (better!), too. With normal magnesium to supply those 300+ energy-producing reactions, you can workout with adequate oxygen levels and a normal heart rate. The benefits extend to your nervous system, skeletal system (calcium isn't the only bone-building nutrient), and endocrine system as well. Hormones such as insulin are affected by magnesium. For example, low magnesium has been shown to worsen insulin resistance, which can contribute to the medical complications of diabetes.

A reliable way to get the modest amount of magnesium that our body requires is through a mineral supplement, such as the EnergyOne Mega Multivitamin + Mineral supplement available in our Supplements store.

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2014 Jul 8. pii: S0946-672X(14)00131-X
Clin Cardiol. 1997 Mar;20(3):265-8.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Benefits of Calcium

Spotlight on Calcium: More than Just Strong Bones

You know it! "Calcium builds strong bones." Most people become familiar with calcium's role in bone health as early as elementary school. It's for good reason, too. If you get too little calcium, you run the risk of thinning bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Our very familiarity with calcium's bone health benefits, however, may lead us to overlook other vital roles of calcium.

The body has a very specific level of calcium that it maintains to support a number of body functions. Other jobs performed by calcium deserve attentio, too! They include its role in blood clotting regulating muscle, heart, enzyme, and nervous system function.

Calcium is an electrolyte. It helps conduct electricity throughout the body. Nervous system cells and muscles depend on the proper exchange of calcium ions in and out of cells. Calcium is needed for muscles to contract, the heart included. Therefore, calcium keeps your heart beating and your muscles pumping. In fact, a substantial amount of the calcium stored in your bones serves as an "emergency savings account" from which your body can withdraw calcium when critically needed for your heart, muscles, and nervous system.

A small but vital amount of calcium circulating in the bloodstream also helps regulate digestion, metabolism, and nutrient absorption across cell membranes.

Ongoing studies are showing a positive role that calcium plays in atherosclerosis prevention, treating high blood pressure, relieving back pain and premenstrual syndrome, preventing colon cancer, reducing heartburn symptoms, and preventing migraine headaches.

Got Calcium?

Where does calcium come from? Milk and dairy products, including cheese and yogurt are the calcium sources that recieve the most attention. Other good sources of calcium are leafy green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, and kale), fish such as salmon (with bones), beans and peas (such as black eyed peas or whtie beans) and nuts and seeds (such as almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds).

Maximize the amount of calcium you absorb from food by cooking food in a small amount of water for the shortest time possible.

Impaired Calcium Absorption: Oh, the irony!

Be careful about what you pair your calcium-rich foods with. Although healthy for you, foods with oxalic acids (such as spinach, rhubarb, and beet greens) and fibers from wheat bran can actually impair absorption of calcium. Try to eat them separately.

Calcium can hinder the absorption of zinc, iron, and magnesium. If you take a calcium supplement, a multimineral supplement such as EnergyOne Multivitamin/Mineral + ACE can help ensure balanced absorption of these minerals.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mitochondria - The Body's Power Plant

Appreciating Mitochondria –The Body’s Power Plant

When was the last time you heard the term “mitochondria”? You may remember labeling in a diagram of the cell in biology class. This unique yet underappreciated and under-explored organelle is the power plant for your body’s cells. It’s where you get your energy from! They generate the energy your cells need to function properly. Since every cell has unique energy needs, the number of mitochondria in cells can vary from one to thousands to meet higher energy demands.

Aside from producing energy, mitochondria are also busy with other processes, including the cell cycle, cell growth, and cell death. When mitochondria are damaged, however, things can start to go wrong. Mitochondrial damage is linked to a list of various diseases and disorders, the process of aging, and even heart failure. Researchers are even starting to explore the role mitochondrial damage plays in the formation of cancerous tumors.

Mitochondrial Damage—Cause and Effect

In a sense, the role mitochondria play can be considered a double-edged sword. On the one side, they help extract the energy we need from carbs, protein, and fats in the food we eat. On the other side, this process releases many electrons that act as free radicals. Free radicals are the “bad guys” that wreak havoc in our cells and the mitochondria are no exception. Thankfully, antioxidants like lipoic acid can clean up the mess free radicals can make. Lipoic acid is a coenzyme that can reduce the amount of free radicals hanging around the cell and can boost mitochondrial function.

During aging, mitochondria are more and more vulnerable to damage from toxins and oxidation, especially in liver cells. Animal studies have shown that supplementing a diet with lipoic acid can protect cells against toxins. Lipoic acid can reverse the increased vulnerability that aging cells have toward oxidative damage. In other words, the older cells are, the greater their need for this antioxidant. Lipoic acid can meet that need.

A growing body of evidence shows that damaged mitochondria can also play a role in migraine attacks. A research study published in the journal Headache found lipoic acid to be a potential source of migraine relief due to its ability to enhance energy production in mitochondria.

Mitochondria and the Heart

Of all the organs in the body, the heart needs healthy mitochondria the most. Mitochondria play a central role in helping the heart function normally. This is a huge topic of interest for researchers studying heart disease since heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that alpha-lipoic acid combined with acetyl-L-carnitine can reduce blood pressure in patients with heart disease. They found that alpha-lipoic acid works because it is an antioxidant that focuses directly on the mitochondria.

Since mitochondria are found in all cells, it’s clear that healthy mitochondria bring healthier cells. Healthy mitochondria are able to keep up with the energy demands of all cell types. This, in turn, helps all organs function normally and helps you stay energized. Healthy mitochondria can help prevent cardiovascular disease and other mitochondrial-related disorders

A diet rich in antioxidants, especially from fruits and vegetables, is important for cleaning up the mess reactive oxygen species can make in our cells. Two noteworthy supplements that directly support the mitochondria are alpha-lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10 (an enzyme naturally found on the inner membrane of mitochondria). They are a great way to protect from or even reverse mitochondrial damage. As we age, our levels of these potent antioxidants drop. A steady supply of these antioxidants helps keep mitochondria working at their best. For more information on how these supplements can work to boost your metabolism and your immune system, visit the EnergyFirst pages on alpha-lipoic acid and Coenzyme Q10.

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