Protein Intake Changes In Seniors

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that our diet changes over time. We like different foods, we tolerate different foods, we CHOOSE different foods at different stages of life. As we get older, these diet changes impact our chances of getting certain diseases.

There was a study published recently that looked at protein intake in seniors. They found that WHERE the protein in your diet comes from is associated with your risk of aging in an unhealthy way.

Researchers in Spain studied over 1000 seniors and had them fill out questionnaires about their diet and other habits and about their health status. Following them for over 8 years, they found that changes in where their dietary protein intake came from was associated with changes in their health status.

protein rich foods

Seniors who increased their calorie intake from vegetable protein showed healthier aging markers than those who decreased their plant protein intake. Similar changes were NOT seen in those who increased animal protein in their diet.

We have many instances of plant foods helping people improve their health and reduce their risk of disease. This is just one more example of the benefits of protein rich plant foods (like nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, soy, quinoa and others) for human health.

This won’t come as a surprise to many of my long-term readers who know I’ve been a plant-based eater for over 8 years. With my medical patients I recommend a plant-based diet for just about all humans. In fact I can’t think of a single condition that is improved by eating meat or dairy.

Looking for a simple way to get more plant protein in your diet? Yep, I’ve got a Shaklee solution! We’ve got both soy and non-soy options and they are super tasty – we guarantee you’ll like them. Want more suggestions? Shoot me an email at DrJen@jenniferwurstmd.com and let’s talk!

QUESTION: What are YOUR favorite protein-rich foods? Do you tend to reach for meat and dairy? Will this info change your habits?

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Healthy Cleanse Recipes

So in 2 days I’m starting my 7-Day Healthy Cleanse as part of my Prove it Challenge. I’ve done this Cleanse before – meaning I’ve used these products before. But I haven’t really done the Cleanse RIGHT. I’ve cheated.

This time I’m DETERMINED to do it right. I won’t cheat. I’ll eat fruits and vegetables that are approved for the Cleanse. I won’t eat soy. I won’t eat nuts. I definitely need help! Shaklee provides a LOT of support, and part of the support is a long list of suggested Cleanse recipes.

I was poring through the lists of approved Cleanse recipes to get ideas for low-carb, veggie and fruit recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I know if I let myself get overly hungry it is going to be MUCH harder to stick to it and stay away from the no-no foods.

Here are the three Cleanse recipes I’m most excited to try, and most likely to keep using beyond the Cleanse.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. rosemary
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 jalapeno (optional)
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 green onions

DIRECTIONS

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add diced sweet potato, cover and let cook for approximately 10 minutes or until it begins to soften, stirring occasionally.

While the sweet potato cooks, dice the red onion and mince the garlic. Add to the skillet. Dice bell peppers, jalapeno, green onion and rosemary (if using fresh) and add to skillet. Cover and let cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until sweet potato is tender. Enjoy!

Tomato Bisque Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes, drained of their juices
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. low-sodium vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 °F. In a mixing bowl, combine drained whole tomatoes, carrots, shallots, and 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, and toss to coat. Season vegetables with pepper and place on a baking sheet. Roast until caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add remaining olive oil and allow to warm. Add crushed red pepper flakes and garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 1–2 minutes, then add 2 Tbsp. of vegetable broth. Cook another 2 minutes. Add roasted vegetables, crushed tomatoes, and remaining vegetable broth.

Season with pepper and simmer for 15 minutes. Purée the soup with an immersion blender until uniform in texture. Add more vegetable broth to adjust consistency if desired.

Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium head (about 24 oz.) cauliflower, rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1-½ limes
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS

Remove the core and let cauliflower dry completely. Coarsely chop into florets. Place half the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice or couscous—don’t over process or it will get mushy. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, scallions, and garlic and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the cauliflower “rice” to the pan. Cover and cook approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. Remove from heat and place in a medium bowl, and toss with fresh cilantro, lime juice, and pepper to taste.

I LOVE to cook but don’t usually make much time for it. I think one of the things I’m looking forward to with these Cleanse recipes is the opportunity to be more creative and intentional with my food! One thing is for sure – I’ll be eating healthy, and eating well 🙂

QUESTION: Do you have a favorite low-carb grain-free vegan recipe you can share with me?

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The Prove It Challenge

Whew! I just got back from a week in Las Vegas, attending Shaklee’s Global Conference. It was my 8th Conference and, as far as I’m concerned, the best so far!

There were NO new products revealed. Better than that. Shaklee has unveiled the simplest way to feel better in 30 days: the Prove It Challenge. Please watch this video to learn more about this new program!

I run across a lot of people who don’t feel well. They feel sluggish. They have digestive problems. They catch every cold and flu bug they come across. They suffer with stress and anxiety, can’t sleep, feel tired. They struggle with their weight and their joints hurt. They have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, any number of problems that contribute to poor health.

I ALSO run across a lot of people who suffer with poor FINANCIAL health. They work two jobs to make ends meet. They live paycheck to paycheck. They aren’t able to take vacations, travel or live their best life. The Prove It Challenge is ALSO a good opportunity for these folks! More on that later…

So what’s the Prove It Challenge? Pretty simple:

Start with the 7-Day Healthy Cleanse. A 7-day liver cleanse (NO not a colon cleanse, no staying close to the bathroom for a week, LOL!) to encourage the liver to clear the backlog of toxins that tends to build up in the body. Very clean eating with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, lots of fresh clean water, and a simple supplement packet in the morning and at night. The Cleanse by itself improves focus and energy, improves sleep, improves digestion and reduces cravings while jump-starting weight loss. And it’s free with the Prove It Challenge!

For 30 days you take one Vitalizer strip and replace your breakfast with a Life Shake. Vitalizer comes in formulations for women, for men and for seniors. One unusual thing is that Shaklee makes Vitalizer Gold (for seniors) with and without vitamin K. The without-vitamin-K formulation is for those who take the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) for heart and blood clotting problems. It’s really hard to find a multivitamin without vitamin K for those who take blood thinners – look no farther, Vitalizer Gold without vitamin K is for you!

Life Shake comes in several flavors and two protein blends. The soy protein blend comes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and cafe latte. The non-soy plant protein blend comes in just chocolate and vanilla. All of them are yummy! Both blends provide 20 grams of non-GMO plant protein containing all 9 essential amino acids. They both have 6 grams of prebiotic fiber to aid digestion and keep you full longer. Both have 23 vitamins and minerals and are free of artificial ingredients like colors, sweeteners and flavors. And they are gluten free, low glycemic and keto-friendly with no added sugar and less than 1 gram total sugar per serving.

If you do the 7-Day Healthy Cleanse, take one Vitalizer Strip daily and replace your breakfast with a Life Shake for one month and do not feel amazing, Shaklee will cheerfully refund your money. Try taking the empty containers of a month’s worth of supplements and meal replacement shakes back to your local vitamin store and asking for your money back – you won’t have much success!

But Shaklee has been offering a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee on completely empty packages for over 60 years. Over that 60 years less than 1/3 of 1% of products have been returned. Pretty amazing to have a 99.7% satisfaction rate over 60+ years!

The Prove It Challenge is a simple way to start your health journey. It is also a simple way to start improving your finances. One problem I hear from people I discuss Shaklee’s business opportunity with is that there are 350+ products – how do you keep it all straight?! The answer is, you don’t need to. The Prove It Challenge is a simple way to share the benefits of better nutrition with your friends and family while earning an income from home.

If you’ve been considering a home based business (and studies have shown over 50% of people will have a side hustle of some sort in their life) please email me and let’s talk! I don’t know if Shaklee is right for you, right now, but we should definitely talk about it!

So what now? If you need to feel better or would like to lose weight, please click this link to check out the Prove It Challenge. You can order from this link and you’ll get your 7-Day Healthy Cleanse, your membership and your shipping for free! If you’re already a member of my Shaklee family, this offer is only good for us until August 31, 2019, so order now! Any questions? Please email me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com!

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The Nutrient We Miss The Most

I spend most of my time (in a professional sense) talking to people about nutrition.  I encourage them to eat right.  To get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  To skip the processed food, junk food and fast food.  To take a good-quality multivitamin.

But most people still skimp on one very important nutrient.  What is it?  What is the nutrient we miss the most?

It’s WATER.

Think about it.  Your body needs about one ounce of water per day for every two pounds of body weight (up to about 100 ounces per day).  For the average person that’s 60-80 ounces of water, or a half gallon or more.

Not coffee, not iced tea, not soda or lemonade.  WATER.

Water helps keep your blood pressure down.  It removes toxins and improves your digestion.  It fights fatigue and keeps your mind sharp.

When you’re a little thirsty, this can be interpreted by the brain in as hunger.  So staying well hydrated helps control appetite and promotes weight loss.

Every organ in your body depends on you staying well hydrated.  From your kidneys to your digestive system to your brain, water is critical for normal function.

So why is it so hard for us to get enough water?  I can’t speak for you, but I know why I have a hard time staying hydrated.

First of all, the most plentiful source of drinking water is the kitchen tap.  And tap water is NASTY.  Have you tasted it lately?  Ew!  It doesn’t help that I know more than is good for my mental health about what is actually in our tap water.  Pesticide runoff, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, substances like orthophosphate added during water treatment, and other chemicals interact to make me not want to drink straight from the tap (or from the garden hose, but that’s another story…).

Your local water department has water quality reports available for download at their website, for those who use city water.  Cleveland’s water quality report for 2018 is available here, if you’d like to see.

The second problem I have with getting enough water to drink is that when I drink the water I should, I have to pee.  A LOT.  When I’m in the office that’s inconvenient but manageable.  When I’m traveling or pressed for time it becomes difficult for me to get all the water I need.

Honestly, there isn’t a good fix for this problem, I just tell myself to suck it up.  Every time I go, I think of all the toxins being washed away and that makes it easier to just do it.

The last problem my patients report with drinking copious amounts of water is that it’s BORING.  “I don’t like water, it doesn’t taste good.”  Which is silly, because fresh clean water has no taste at all.  It’s clear and cold and wet and refreshing!

What people are telling me when they say they don’t like the way water tastes is that they have trained themselves to expect flavor from everything that goes in their mouth, whether it should have flavor or not.  What I tell them is that their tastebuds may not like it (for now) but their bodies certainly do like water.  In fact, they NEED it, and they do NOT need all the sugar and flavorings and additives in their usual beverage of choice.

So if our tap water is so gross, what water should we be drinking?

Bottled water?  No, that’s not a good choice.  For one thing, it’s expensive.  It also puts tons of unnecessary plastic in the landfill and isn’t necessarily cleaner or safer than drinking tap water.  Often we don’t know where the water comes from or what testing was done.

My choice for lots of fresh, clean drinking water is Shaklee’s tabletop pitcher filter.  It is certified to remove lead (most tabletop pitcher filters, including Brita and Pur, are not) and has a replaceable carbon filter so that everything else is reused.

Do you have a water filter at home?  You can check the Water Quality Association’s website to see what your filter is proven to remove from the water you drink.

And it’s CHEAP!  Just did a price check on Deer Park spring water at Giant Eagle.  Buying bottled water (this brand, anyway), costs $2.21 per gallon and leaves you with lots of plastic bottles to deal with.  Shaklee’s Year of Get Clean Water costs just 33 cents per gallon at member price, 39 cents per gallon at retail price.  And after the initial investment of the reusable plastic pitcher, replacing the carbon filters gives you clean, fresh water for only 25 cents per gallon retail price.

So what are you going to do about your hydration problem?  For me, there’s only one choice.  Saving money, drinking fresh clean water, and avoiding putting unnecessary plastic in the landfill is a win-win-win situation!

QUESTION: Do you drink enough water?  How do you get your drinking water?

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Cherry Extract Health Benefits

What if I told you there was a supplement that improves blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes control, decreases inflammation, reduces muscle soreness after exercise and improves markers of oxidative stress?

No, I’m not channeling Morpheus from the Matrix. There is such a supplement. Cherry extract has all these benefits and is becoming a very popular supplement.

Higher intakes of fruits and vegetables are associated with lower inflammatory markers and lower overall disease burden in humans. We are meant to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Most of us don’t get the number of servings we need.

Credit: https://heartsandmindspurehealth.com

Fruits that contain polyphenols (red and blue pigments that are powerful antioxidants) have incredible health benefits for our bodies. Besides cherries, red, blue and purple fruits like berries and pomegranates are rich in polyphenols. If it will stain a white shirt, it probably is good for you!

I was looking for scientific support for the cherry extract claims and found a great article published in 2018 that summarizes the current research.

  • Better control of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol
  • Lower markers of inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Decreased uric acid and gout attacks
  • Less pain, muscle damage and recovery time after exercise
  • Better sleep
  • Decreased anxiety and improved memory and mood

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any third-party quality testing guidance on cherry extract supplements. If you’ve been following the blog for awhile you know I always recommend supplements from the Shaklee Corporation, and you can click this link to read about why.

Shaklee’s PM Recovery Complex is part of the Performance line of sports products and was developed to reduce muscle damage and pain after exercise. From now until the end of July this product is on sale for a 15% reduced price. Even better, from now until 7/21 Shaklee is offering free membership with any purchase!

Shaklee membership is forever and provides a 15% discount on product purchases AND you get me! Your distributor is there to provide personalized guidance based on your health goals and preferences and help handle any problems. We get to know our Shaklee family members so as to take care of them and help them live their best and healthiest life 🙂

If you have any concerns about your blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol, have joint pain or other inflammatory conditions, or struggle with mood and sleep problems, you might want to give cherry extract a try. If you try it with Shaklee you’re not taking any risk – it’s guaranteed to help you!

QUESTION: Have you heard of cherry extract supplements? Have you tried them?

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Glucosamine And Joint Pain

Ellie is an older lady I see for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  She is a sweetheart who until recently worked in a day care.  A few years ago she came to me worried that she might have to stop working because her joints were hurting her too much to keep up with her toddlers.

Changing diapers, tying shoes and bending and lifting were really taking their toll.  She was interested in ANYTHING that would help her feel better and able to keep doing what she loved.  We talked about trying glucosamine because she had used anti-inflammatories and they bothered her stomach.  She also was worried about her heart risk with NSAIDs.

A significant proportion of adults use glucosamine for joint pain.  One survey of over 10,000 American women reported 15% take glucosamine.  What is the evidence that glucosamine is helpful for joint pain?

First of all what is glucosamine?  Glucosamine is a sugar-protein hybrid molecule that is used by the body to make and repair cartilage and produce fluid to lubricate joints.  Tendons and ligaments which support joints also contain glucosamine.

Most people are familiar with using anti-inflammatories like Aleve and ibuprofen for joint pain.  They are effective for short-term relief of pain but they have significant side effects.  They are hard on the GI tract and increase the risk of stomach ulcers.  They block the effect of aspirin in heart disease patients (if you take aspirin for your heart do NOT take over-the-counter NSAIDs without talking to your doctor).  And they do not prevent the progression of osteoarthritis, which is the slow progressive loss of cartilage in the joints.

How does glucosamine compare to NSAIDs in improving joint comfort in arthritis?  Studies have shown that glucosamine is as good as celecoxib (brand name Celebrex) and significantly better than placebo at improving both joint pain and joint function.  As mentioned above, celecoxib (an NSAID) caused stomach upset and glucosamine did not.

What else can be done to improve arthritis?  In one study comparing glucosamine and exercise, both treatments significantly improved joint pain.  However, exercise was also effective at improving the thickness of the cartilage cushion.  So if you have arthritis, get moving!  Exercise helps the joints heal in addition to improving pain.

About a month after starting Shaklee’s Joint Health Complex, Ellie reported she felt significantly better, but what happened a few months later really made my day.  I caught up with her to see how she was feeling and she said she’d been meaning to call me.

“Guess what happened?” she said.  “I took a basket of laundry up the stairs.”

Puzzled, I said “That’s great,” thinking “okaaaaay…”

“No, you don’t understand,” she replied.  “I normally have to stand at the bottom of the stairs and get ready to go up, knowing it’s going to hurt my knees.  I just found myself at the top of the stairs one day, and my knees were OK.  Sore (because they’re always sore), but OK.”

I got it.  Not only was she not hurting as much, she wasn’t AFRAID of hurting.  She wasn’t limiting herself anymore out of fear of joint pain.  She was just going about her life and getting done what needed done.  And that’s the best result of all!

Are you limiting yourself?  Are you afraid to do things because of joint pain?  Why not try Shaklee’s Joint Health Complex?  After all, if it doesn’t help there’s no risk.  As always, Shaklee’s products have a money-back guarantee.

We have special pricing for Joint Health Complex this month because it’s Men’s Health Month.  Until June 30th, Joint Health Complex is 15% off – so don’t wait to order!

Don’t miss out on any more bike rides, long walks and games of Frisbee or bocce with your family.  Click here to order Shaklee’s Joint Health Complex today!  Reach out to me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com for more information.

QUESTION: Do you suffer with joint pain?  Have you found anything that helps?

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Essential Fatty Acid Testing

Have you ever been told to take fish oil?  Well, as many times as you’ve heard that advice, I’ve probably told ten times that many people to take it.  How much should you take?  Well, I went over some rough guidelines in my blog about fish oil some time ago.

I was doing some reading some time ago and came across an article about doing blood tests to guide fish oil therapy.  Hey!  I didn’t even know blood tests were available to determine how much fish oil a person needed to take!  On I read…

Turns out, just like treating other problems of the blood chemistry (like electrolyte disturbances, low magnesium, high cholesterol and vitamin D deficiency) fish oil therapy can be guided by blood testing.  However, more information can be gotten from those blood tests than just how much fish oil a person should be taking.

Blood fatty acid testing can give an overall “wellness score” for the body.  It’s known that omega-3 fatty acids (like those found in fatty fish, flaxseed oil, borage seed oil and walnuts) are very good for you and are generally deficient in the Western diet.  On the other hand, omega-6 fatty acids (found in olive oil, corn oil and many other oils used in cooking and baking) are very prevalent in our diet.

In the body, a healthy ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is about 1:1.  In other words, your polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) should be balanced between omega-3 and omega-6.  The more heavily skewed your blood PUFA levels are towards omega-6 fatty acids, the less healthy you are, in general.

A very brief scan of the literature revealed LOTS of evidence of positive health effects of a high omega-3/omega-6 ratio. For instance, higher ratios were protective against progression of prostate cancer, cognitive decline in the elderly, neurologic deterioration after acute stroke, and progression of coronary plaque after heart attacks (even when patients were taking a statin drug!).  Asthma patients with higher ratios have better outcomes and fewer symptoms.  Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were also associated with lower blood pressure.

There are two other fatty acids that can be measured, that give a lot of information about inflammation in the body.  Those fatty acid are arachidonic acid (AA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).  The ratio of AA to EPA is increased in inflammatory states.  The lower it is, the better.

So how can we use this research to help influence your health?  First you need to get tested.  If you have a cholesterol problem, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, or any other inflammatory condition, ask your doctor to order these tests:

  • Total omega-3 fatty acids
  • Total omega-6 fatty acids
  • Total polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Arachidonic acid (AA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)

The first measure to understand is the omega-3 fatty acid/total polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio.  Ideal would be about 50%.  To alter the ratio, you would eat more omega-3 fatty acids and less omega-6 fatty acids.  This would translate to eating more fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, anchovy, sardine and herring (SMASH is the acronym for fish with high omega-3 levels) and taking more fish oil supplements.  Using less cooking oils and eating less processed foods (which have added oils in them) is helpful too.

The second measure to calculate is the AA/EPA ratio.  The higher this ratio is, the more inflammation is present in your body.  A low level would be under 3, moderate is 3-6, elevated is 7-15, and high is >15.  If you have a high ratio, your best approach is to adopt a Mediterranean-type diet with lots of fresh colorful vegetables and fruit, fatty fish, lean meats in moderation, nuts and seeds.  Limit sugar, added oils and white starches.  Avoid food additives, especially partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils, like the plague.

These tests can be repeated to gauge progress.  If you make changes in your diet and add fish oil supplements, a repeat test can help to see if you’re moving in the right direction.

Don’t guess!  Test!  Then you’ll know whether your diet is helping nourish your body or if you’re causing inflammation and increasing your risk of a whole host of medical problems down the line.

QUESTION:  Do you think essential fatty acid testing would be helpful for you?  Why, or why not?

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Low Back Pain

You bend over to pick something up off the floor and suddenly feel a sharp pain in the low back.

You have a piece of furniture that REALLY belongs in the other corner of the room but you’re home alone.  It’s not that big, right?  I can move it myself.

You get home from work after 8 hours on your feet and think “I have to do something about my back.  I can’t handle another shift like that, the pain is too much.”

Do you have low back pain?  If so, you’re not alone.  Low back pain is one of the most common problems family doctors see.  From weekend warriors overdoing it at the gym, to sports injuries, to shoveling snow and pulling weeds and moving furniture, there are many ways to injure your back.

In fact, I’m having some trouble with MY low back this weekend!  Since yesterday afternoon I’ve had a sharp, aching pain in my right low back.  Standing up from sitting, rolling over in bed, picking things up off the floor and putting on my shoes have been an adventure today :-/

The most common cause of low back pain is a musculoskeletal injury.  For instance, you might slip on the ice and land on your back.  You also might lift something heavy or twist while carrying a baby. (That’s how I herniated a disc in my back over 10 years ago, bent over and twisted while putting my son in his crib.)

If you have low back pain, what do you do?  Well, of course the first thing to do is to see the doctor, especially if your pain is more than a simple “I overdid it” that goes away in a few days.  The doctor will ask questions about your pain, examine you, and may order tests and prescribe medicine to help you feel better.

When I see a patient with musculoskeletal back pain the first thing I do is to send them to physical therapy.  Most cases of low back pain are caused by two things: mechanical imbalance in the spine, and weak core support.  The therapists will help figure out what the patient is doing that might be making back pain worse (like bending and lifting improperly), teach strengthening exercises to address core weakness, and add treatments to relieve pain like traction, electrostim or ultrasound.

As I discussed in a previous post, chiropractic therapy is very helpful for low back pain as well.  Often manual therapy like massage and osteopathic or chiropractic adjustment can improve or relieve back pain very quickly.

If physical therapy and manual therapy don’t relieve symptoms in a few weeks we may discuss imaging like an Xray or MRI.  More serious problems may be present that need specialist care like injections or even surgery.

What are some of the danger signs that suggest low back pain is an urgent problem?  If you are having trouble emptying your bladder or controlling the bowels you need to see the doctor right away.  So-called “saddle anesthesia” which is numbness in the area between the legs (the part of you that would touch the saddle when riding horseback) may indicate damage to the spinal cord and should be checked out immediately.  Also, if you have a personal history of cancer then back pain could be a sign of a recurrence and should be reported to your doctor right away.

There are a few supplements that are helpful with musculoskeletal back pain.  Magnesium helps to relax muscles and can decrease pain from spasm.  Fish oil is helpful for painful conditions of all sorts, but you have to take a lot of it, as I wrote in a previous post.  Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties.  (This is not an all-inclusive list, of course.)

Millions of people suffer with back pain every year.  Luckily most of the time it goes away without too much muss or fuss, with some simple strengthening exercises and pain-relieving medicines.  Most patients also benefit from some education on how to take good care of their back so the pain doesn’t come back.

Low back pain doesn’t have to take over your life!  It takes some time, work and patience, but straightening out the problems with your back is so worth the effort!

QUESTION: Do you have low back pain?  What have you found that helps?

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Multivitamin Benefits: Are They Good For You?

What do YOU think?

Anyone who knows me knows what my opinion is, but it’s been awhile since I sat down to review what the scientific research says about multivitamin benefits.

Many people believe that if they just eat healthy they will get all the nutrition they need.  Worse, health professionals like doctors and dietitians perpetuate this myth.  The research is very clear that people do NOT get all the nutrition they need from the food they eat.  Whether or not they SHOULD, they DON’T.

So if people are going around deficient in one or more nutrient every day, does supplementation help?  Can you get the nutrition you need from pills?

vitaminbottlesIn a word, no.  You can’t get all the nutrition you need from pills.  You need to eat healthy.  This is basically because we need to know that you need a nutrient before we can put it into a pill.  And whole-foods supplements (where they basically juice a food and dehydrate it and package what’s left into a pill) aren’t adequate because you’d have to take huge numbers of pills daily in order to get the content of a single piece of fruit or a vegetable.  You still need to eat healthy balanced meals and sensible portions of food.

So what’s a person to do?  The short answer is to eat healthy AND take a high-quality supplement.  I did a literature review and here are five studies from the 1980s to today.

1.  In 1985, a study was published examining blood nutrient levels in female college students living on-campus and eating a diet specifically designed for them by the college dietician.  These young women’s blood nutrient levels were significantly improved by taking a multivitamin.

2.  A study of healthy adults over age 60 showed that those who took a multivitamin-mineral supplement spent one-third as many days sick with infection-related illness as those who did not take the supplement.  (My friend Amanda knows this is true.  Her kids don’t share nearly as many colds with her since she started taking Shaklee supplements!)

3.  Calcium and vitamin D supplementation have been shown to decrease the rate of bone loss in postmenopausal women (many studies demonstrate this).

4.  Use of an herbal supplement (marketed by the Shaklee Corporation under the trade name NutriFeron) was associated with  significantly decreased menopausal symptoms, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and plasma triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol.  Researchers also found lower plasma hepatitis C viral levels in patients with chronic active hepatitis C and improved symptoms as well in study participants who used NutriFeron.

5.  Long-term users of a number of supplements produced by the Shaklee Corporation were shown to have lower blood pressure, better cholesterol profiles, lower levels of certain inflammatory markers, lower risk of diabetes and were more likely to rate their health as “good” or “excellent.”  Here is the study link.

There are many more studies I can cite, but I think you’ll agree that the evidence is clear that taking a carefully designed program of supplements including a high-quality multivitamin is an important ingredient in a healthy lifestyle.

I should add that all the research I discussed above was supported and published by Shaklee.  There are over 100 research studies published in peer-reviewed journals supported by Shaklee, which you can check out at the Shaklee Health Resource.  How many studies has your supplement company published?

If you’d like more information about what supplements would be appropriate for you, please fill out a HealthPrint assessment or email me at drjen@jenniferwurstmd.com.

Question:  Do you take a multivitamin?  Do you think it makes you healthier?

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Fish Oil Is Good For Body And Mind

What if I told you there was a supplement that has proven to be good for your heart, your mind, your brain, your immune system, your joints, your digestive system AND improves women’s health?  There is!

It’s fish oil.  Yep, the lowly fish oil capsule can help ALL these parts of your body.

As you know, I’m very interested in nutrition and supplementation and their role in health.  It’s been fascinating to read research supporting the role of fish oil in general health.

I’m beginning to think EVERYONE from birth to death should take fish oil.

First let’s talk about all the physical and mental benefits of fish oil supplementation.  I’ll try to be brief!

HEART HEALTH

  • Reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation after heart attack
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Eliminates aspirin resistance
  • Helps keep grafts open after bypass surgery
  • Decreases triglyceride levels
  • Improves heart function and decreases hospitalizations in heart failure patients
  • Inconclusive evidence about preventing both first and subsequent heart attacks

MENTAL HEALTH

  • Reduces anxiety symptoms by 20%
  • Prolongs remission and decreases depression symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder
  • Decreases depression symptoms and aggression in patients with borderline personality disorder
  • Decreases symptoms and promotes remission in major depression
  • Decreases psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia

BRAIN HEALTH

  • Improves cognition and behavior in children with developmental disorders
  • Inconsistent benefit in Alzheimer’s patients (some studies show benefit, some don’t)

IMMUNE RESPONSE / PAIN

  • Decreases pain and stiffness in rheumatoid arthritis
  • Decreases symptoms in systemic lupus
  • Decreases pain and the need for pain medication in patients with nonsurgical neck and back pain
  • Decreases need for rescue inhaler in exercise-induced asthma

DIABETES

  • Decreases risk of type I diabetes in children
  • Decreases insulin resistance in type II diabetes

WOMEN’S HEALTH

  • Significantly reduces menstrual symptoms in women
  • Reduces the frequency of menopausal hot flushes (but not their severity, unfortunately)
  • Decreases testosterone levels in women with PCOS
  • Decreases the rate of preterm birth when used in pregnancy

Wow, fish oil is good for such a long list of conditions and problems!  So how much fish oil is the right amount?  It depends on why you’re taking it, and what your diet is like.

In the USA we eat a LOT of omega-6 fatty acids.  They are found in nearly every oil used in cooking.  Omega-3 fatty acids are harder to get.  They are in flaxseeds, hemp seeds, purslane and walnuts as well as in fatty fish.

The best and safest sources of fish oil are small oily fish (like anchovies, sardines and herring) found low down on the food chain.  Fish high on the food chain (like tuna, mackerel and shark) tend to store up toxins from fish they’ve eaten, a phenomenon called bioaccumulation.

Recommended dosages vary based on why you’re taking it.  For general health purposes it’s reasonable to take 500-1000 mg daily.  Those with heart or vascular disease (including high cholesterol) should consider 1-3 gm daily.  Much higher doses are needed for those with autoimmune disease, neurological or psychiatric problems, or chronic pain.  A therapeutic trial of 5-10 gm daily is reasonable for these conditions.

Be careful which fish oil products you buy, some are not labeled accurately according to a review I found at ConsumerLab.com.  (I subscribe to this website because it gives me third-party testing results for all sorts of supplements.)

Want to know what fish oil my family and I take?  (Bet you can guess, if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile.)

OmegaGuard from the Shaklee Corporation is ultrapurified fish oil made from sardines.  Two capsules gives 1200 mg fish oil, free of mercury and other contaminants.

And no fish burps!  Yay!

Here’s a link to more information about OmegaGuard.  You can order it through this link.

QUESTION:  I was surprised to learn that fish oil was so effective in controlling chronic pain.  Was there one use for fish oil that surprised you?

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