October 2019 - Wakunaga of America

What Antioxidants Do For Your Health

Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures. Free radicals are waste substances produced by cells as the body processes food and reacts to the environment. If the body cannot process and remove free radicals efficiently, oxidative stress can result, which harms the body1. Antioxidants are known to help neutralize free radicals in our bodies.

Where do antioxidants come from?

In terms of sources of antioxidants, there are only two sources to speak of. Antioxidants are either found in some plant-based foods, which are called phytonutrients, or either they are produced by our bodies.  An example of some antioxidants that are produced by the body, and can also be supplemented in pill form, would be vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, and manganese. And flavonoids, flavones, catechins, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens are all types of antioxidants that can be found in plant-based foods.

What is oxidative stress

Part of fully understanding antioxidants and their role in our bodies is also understanding what oxidative stress is. Oxidative stress, which is a normal part of the aging process, is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, which can lead to cell and tissue damage. The body’s cells produce free radicals during normal metabolic processes. However, cells also produce antioxidants that neutralize these free radicals. Usually, the body is able to maintain a balance between antioxidants and free radicals. But when there is an imbalance, like when the body produces too many free radicals, say, this can cause oxidative stress. It is the job of antioxidants to neutralize or ‘mop up’ these extra free radicals that can harm our cells. Your body’s ability to produce antioxidants is controlled by your genetic makeup and influenced by your exposure to environmental factors, like diet and smoking3. Our modern lifestyles, which include more environmental pollution and less quality foods in our diets, means that we are exposed to more free radicals now than ever before.

Interestingly, your body’s internal production of antioxidants may not be enough to neutralize all of these free radicals. So one way you can help your body to defend itself, is by increasing your dietary intake of antioxidants4. We briefly mentioned a few sources of antioxidants earlier, but we are going to elaborate a little, and talk about some antioxidant-rich foods you can easily incorporate into your diet.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes contain a pigment called lycopene, which is responsible for a tomatoes’ red color. As it turns out, this pigment is also a powerful antioxidant. Tomatoes, in all their forms (including canned tomatoes/tomato juice/tomato soup) are a major source of lycopene. Yes, this even includes ketchup! (But keep it limited due to the added sugars).

Citrus fruits: Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes all possess lot’s of natural substances that are important for disease protection, like carotenoids, and flavonoids (types of antioxidants). As a side note, it is always better to eat these fruits in their natural form, because some of the potency is lost when the juice is extracted.

Tea: Black tea, green tea, and even oolong tea all have antioxidant properties, though the most potent source of antioxidants is in green tea, since it has the most catechins (type of antioxidant).

In addition to these antioxidant-rich foods, another way to up your intake of antioxidants is through a powdered green drink mix. This is a quick and easy way to give your antioxidant levels a boost, and is very simple, since you can just pour a powdered greens blend into a bottle of water, shake or stir and get going! We recommend looking for one that contains ingredients like natural grasses (barley grass and wheatgrass), ancient grains, spirulina, chlorella, kelp, and other superfoods, with no added sugar or artificial flavors. Superfood greens can not only give you a boost of antioxidants, but can also support a healthy immune function.

Protect your body from the inside out, and try adding these antioxidant foods, as well as a quality powdered green drink mix, to your diet today!

References

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/301506.php
  2. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/10-super-foods#1
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324863.php
  4. https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-eating/a10835/antioxidants-and-oxidative-stress/

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Easy Steps to Building Your Immunity

We will be exploring a couple of easy steps you can take to fortify your immunity, by making some simple lifestyle changes, to help you to (hopefully) make it through these tough few months of cold and flu season unscathed. First, let’s explore why our immune system is so important, and what its primary roles are.

The role of your immune system

Our immune system has two major roles. One is to protect us from danger, like infections. The other is to repair our tissues and help our cells “take out the garbage” (i.e. clear up cellular waste/remove dead cells) on a regular basis. The immune system uses inflammation as the primary tool in both of these functions, but that inflammation must be held in almost perfect balance for us to stay healthy. Too much inflammation and we can develop chronic illnesses such as arthritis, diabetes, and dementia, among others1. The good news? We can ‘tune up’ our immune system by modifying some of our behaviors, such as by exercising and eating healthier.

Benefits of exercise

Most people are familiar with the public health recommendations for physical activity to improve our health, which is that adults should do at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity. Physical activity is associated with reduced rate of heart complications, stroke, diabetes, and dementia. It also gives us endorphins and helps us achieve and maintain our weight. Exercise is also thought to improve our immunity, as well. Some studies show that moderate physical activity may help to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may in turn reduce the chances of getting a cold or flu. Exercise can also cause changes in antibodies and white blood cells. For reference, white blood cells are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly after we exercise, which enables them to detect illnesses earlier than they may have before2. Also, the brief rise in body temperature during and after working out may even prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. Lastly, exercise slows down the release of stress hormones, and lower stress hormones may protect you from getting sick. So, step #1 is to get in your weekly exercise! This could be as simple as taking a 20 minute walk, playing golf, or bicycling a few times a week. Get out there and get active!

Eating Right

Maintaining a healthy diet helps keep the immune system balanced and ready to fight against infections and viruses. Since your immune system requires a healthy balance of real foods, these nutrients should be a top priority for your everyday eating pattern. This is step #2: make healthier choices with the foods you eat.

Protein: Protein is the building block of immune cells. A diet lacking in protein can seriously put a damper on your immune function. Most adults need at least 50 grams of quality protein per day (or a palm-sized portion per meal). It may help to make a weekly meal plan so that it’s easier to incorporate healthy protein. This could be doing eggs for breakfast, turkey chili for lunch, and salmon for dinner. Also, throw in a handful of pumpkin seeds, many people don’t know that they are packed with protein!

Antioxidants: Fill your plate with some colorful foods! A general rule of thumb is that the more colorful the foods on your plate, the healthier they are (unless it’s a bag of M&M’s, of course). Deep, rich colors indicate micronutrients and antioxidants, which your body needs for protection and for recovery from illness3. Studies have shown that antioxidants improve immune responses, so don’t be afraid to throw some bell peppers, purple cabbage, and green beans on your plate.

Supplements for success

In addition to these immune-boosting tips, we also encourage you to take a look in your medicine cabinet (or kitchen pantry). Odds are, there are a few different type of vitamins and supplements in there that can help boost your immunity. You can combine several different types of supplements, in order to really fortify and build that immune system. Your vitamin C supplement, combined with a daily probiotic, and even a nutritious powdered green drink, can pack quite the punch to any would-be illnesses, and stop them in their tracks. Something extra to add to the mix is a supplement containing Aged Garlic Extract. Supplements that contain this potent ingredient can really strengthen your cardiovascular and immune system by maintaining circulatory function and promoting overall well-being.

Finding balance in your routine and making changes to diet and exercise habits can be tough, so start small. Try introducing/eliminating one new food item each week, and adding 10 minutes of exercise to your regimen each week as well. Here’s to staying healthy and flu-free this fall and winter!

References

  1. https://health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-07-28/how-to-train-and-maintain-your-immune-system
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm
  3. https://www.oregonclinic.com/about-us/blog/how-healthy-eating-patterns-shape-your-immune-system

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid While Healing Your Gut

These are all classic signs that your gut health may be veering more towards the unhealthy side of the scale. Most of us experience one or all of these symptoms at least once in our lives. While most digestive distress is nothing more than a minor inconvenience, if your symptoms become chronic, it may signal that the body is not getting all the nutrients it needs for optimal health. Before we get into some good nutritional practices for optimal gut health, let’s touch on some common “enemies” of a healthy gut, to bring some awareness to these gastrointestinal threats.

Here are some of the biggest threats to your digestive health1:

  • Exposure to harmful chemicals, such as mercury and mold that damage normal gut function.
  • Overuse of medication such as antacids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics.
  • Alcohol overindulgence. A joint study from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical School and the Mayo Clinic has found that even moderate alcohol consumption may lead to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine and can trigger bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
  • The Standard American Diet, which is low in fiber and nutrients, and is packed with sugar, gluten, and chemical additives.
  • Chronic stress, which can alter the gut’s nervous system. Over time, stress can compromise your intestinal integrity.

Now that you know what to watch out for when monitoring your digestive health, let’s move onto diet, and see how that factors in. When it comes to maintaining your microbiome at its healthiest level, nothing is more important than what you eat and drink. To feed your gut well, trade in highly processed foods for fresh fruits and vegetables, fish like salmon, and lean sources of protein like organic poultry2. Whole, minimally processed foods foster a healthy balance of good to bad bacteria. Sugar and processed carbohydrate, on the other hand, feed your bad bacteria.

The good news is that even a lifetime, yes, a lifetime, of bad eating is fixable, as far as your microbes are concerned. Your body can actually create new microbiota in as little as 24 hours, just by changing what you eat, which is pretty miraculous. When it comes to foods that will help repair your gut and keep it in good shape, there are two categories: prebiotics and probiotics. This is probably why you’ve been seeing somewhat of a surge in popularity of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi, they are all great natural sources of probiotics. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are fibers we don’t digest, so they are consumed by the good bacteria in our gut. Here are some of the top foods for better gut health3:

Kimchi: This fermented cabbage staple is rich in two different classes of good bacteria associated with better gut health, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Research shows that fermented kimchi alters the bacterial environment of the gut, potentially reducing the risk of insulin resistance, obesity, and even high blood pressure.

Garlic: In addition to providing inulin fiber, garlic is also rich in the natural prebiotic fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Research has shown that garlic increases the good Bifidobacterium in our gut, which may help prevent some gastrointestinal diseases and irregularity.

Apples: An apple a day keeps the doctor away…which may be due to its pectin content. Pectin makes up about half of the fiber content in apples and has been shown in some research to increase the total SCFA content (i.e. bacteria’s favorite food) in the bowels. It also appears to reduce bad bacteria in the gut as well.

Now that we know some of the top ‘good gut’ foods, here are the top 3 foods (or drinks) you should avoid, in order to protect your gut health:

Alcohol: We know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for our overall health, but it turns out that it is pretty bad for our gut health, in particular. Research looking at alcoholics suggests that chronic alcohol intake is associated with negative changes in the bacterial microbiome.

Saturated fat: A diet high in saturated fats and trans fat may not be so healthy for the gut. Studies have shown that a diet rich in these fats (like fat from butter or fatty meats) may increase the bad gut bacteria population and decrease the good gut bacteria population.

High animal protein diet: Research has linked animal products like red meat, to an unfavorable microbiome. Studies show that red meat may reduce the beneficial short-chain fatty acids that help feed the bacterial community, promote the growth of bad bacteria, and potentially increase the risk of IBS.

Get your gut on the right path by swapping in (or out) some of the foods listed above, and help your microbiome flourish.

References

  1. https://www.kyolic.com/healthyguides/The-Good-Gut/index.html?page=12
  2. https://www.bulletproof.com/gut-health/gut-health-microbiome/
  3. https://www.rallyhealth.com/food/the-best-and-worst-foods-for-your-gut

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Podcast: Dr. LaValle Discusses Probiotics on “Herbally Yours” Radio Show

Dr. LaValle will show listeners how to become proficient in their probiotic use by sharing three things probiotics can do for your health now that science supports and two things they can’t do, just yet.

To listen to this radio show, click here.

About Dr. James LaValle

Jim LaValle, R.Ph., C.C.N, a nationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board-certified clinical nutritionist, and founder of Metabolic Code Enterprises, Inc. a web platform and practice solution enterprise, launching AIR Support and the Metabolic Code Assessment.

About “Herbally Yours” Radio 

Hosted by Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D., RN, this radio program focuses on current issues in natural health, such as natural foods, herbs, essential oils and mind-body techniques.

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

Podcast: Dr. LaValle Talks Probiotics on “Today Radio Network”

For the full interview, click here.

About Dr. James LaValle

Jim LaValle, R.Ph., C.C.N, a nationally recognized clinical pharmacist, author, board-certified clinical nutritionist, and founder of Metabolic Code Enterprises, Inc. a web platform and practice solution enterprise, launching AIR Support and the Metabolic Code Assessment.

About Bob Gourley 

Bob Gourley’s “Issues Today” has been in on the air since 1998. The first affiliate was the legendary KPPC radio in Pasadena, California. The fast-paced half hour features leading guests discussing the challenges that face us all. Past guests include Ann Coulter, Ben Stein and columnist Michael Barone.

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

All About Inflammation

Inflammation helps the body by producing white blood cells and other substances. When the inflammation process starts, chemicals in the white blood cells are released into the blood and the affected tissues to protect the body. The chemicals increase blood flow to the infected or injured body areas, causing redness and warmth in those locations. These chemicals can also cause leaking of fluids into tissues, resulting in swelling. This protective process can also stimulate nerves and tissues, causing pain1.  So how much do we actually know about inflammation, and how it affects the body?

Different Types of Inflammation

Scientists, over the years, have searched for commonalities behind some of our most common and prevalent diseases, like Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, and more,  and have zeroed in on one factor that seems to play into them all: inflammation. Now, inflammation happens to everyone, whether you’re aware of it or not. Inflammation is classified into two different types, acute inflammation, and chronic inflammation.

  • Acute inflammation usually occurs for a short, albeit severe, duration, and it usually resolves in about a week or two. Symptoms oftentimes appear quickly. This type of inflammation can restore your body to its state before injury or illness. It may include heat of a fever or warmth in the affected area. Acute inflammation is a healthy and necessary function that helps the body to attack bad bacteria and other foreign substances anywhere in the body. Once the body has healed, the inflammation usually goes away.
    • Some examples of acute inflammation include bronchitis, an infected/ingrown toenail, a sore throat, skin cuts, and dermatitis.
  • Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a slower and less severe for of inflammation. It typically lasts longer than six weeks, and can occur when there’s no injury, and doesn’t always end when the injury/illness is healed. Unfortunately, it can continue to attack healthy areas of the body, unless the body’s immune response “turns off.” Chronic inflammation has been linked to autoimmune disorders and even to chronic stress2.
    • Some examples of conditions that cause chronic inflammation include inflammatory arthritis, asthma, periodontitis (inflammation of the gums and other supporting teeth structures), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).

Symptoms of Inflammation

The specific symptoms that you have will depend on where in the body the inflammation is found, and what is causing it. Nevertheless, there are five classic markers for inflammation, which are heat, pain, redness, swelling, and even loss of function. In some autoimmune conditions, your immune system can trigger inflammation that affects your skin, leading to rashes. In other types, it attacks specific glands, which affects hormone levels in the body. With rheumatoid arthritis, for example, your immune system attacks your joints, and you may experience joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, numbness, tingling, and a limited range of motion from inflammation. With IBS, some common symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss, anemia, and bloating.

Ways to Help Fight Inflammation

There are several things you can do yourself, in order to help fight inflammation. The first is to monitor the foods that you eat, because changes to diet really can help! To reduce inflammation, you should limit these three things in your diet: sugar, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrates. Many studies have found that eating foods high in sugar can cause inflammation in the body. When we eat processed sugars, it triggers the release of “inflammatory messengers,” called cytokines. Next, is saturated fats. Saturated fats can trigger inflammation in fat cells called adipose tissue, which increases the inflammation associated with arthritis. Consumption of refined carbohydrates should be reduced, because not only has most of their fiber been removed, but they provide very little “nutrition.” They have also been linked to high levels of inflammatory markers in the blood3.

Another item that might help you to reduce inflammation is to start taking a supplement containing turmeric. Turmeric is sold as a spice and also as a supplement. Dozens of studies and trials have shown that curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric) has anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, curcumin has been found to increase the antioxidant capacity of the body. The reason antioxidants are so important, is that they protect your body from free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress to the body4. Curcumin is great because it can help to neutralize these free radicals, due to its chemical structure, and it also boosts the activity of the body’s antioxidant enzymes. When choosing a curcumin supplement, look for one that is formulated to be bioavailable (natural curcumin does not absorb well and is rapidly eliminated from the body). For example, Kyolic Curcumin supplement contains Meriva® Turmeric Complex that binds curcumin with phosphatidylcholine to increase bioavailability and absorption.

Inflammation is a necessary part of the body’s healing process, and is usually nothing to worry about. But when inflammation is chronic, it can turn into a serious health problem. Watch your diet and take care of your body to keep your immune system in balance. If you are experiencing ongoing inflammation, you should consult with your healthcare professional for more information.

References

  1. https://www.verywellhealth.com/signs-of-inflammation-4580526
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/inflammation#symptoms
  3. https://www.lifespan.org/lifespan-living/foods-fighting-inflammation-arthritis-and-joint-pain
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric#section11

This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.