When I read newspaper headlines like "Trans Fat Could Stop Your Heart" and "New Food Labels Indicate 'bad fat' Content" I know the tireless work by health food educators on the dangers of 'bad' fats has now become mainstream. With obesity rates skyrocketing scientists, doctors and health care officials have switched their focus from low-fat, no-fat diets to evaluating the type of fat in the diet—something I have been expounding for over two decades.
Statistics Canada reports that Canadians are eating 10.75 kilograms of shortening every year, up from 8.2 kg in 1987. To put that into perspective that's 24, one pound blocks of shortening. A frightening statistic since shortening is a source of deadly trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids are formed by high temperature and hydrogenation that turn refined oils into margarines, shortenings, and partially-hydrogenated vegetable oils making them solid or semi-solid and shelf stable. Trans-fatty acids damage our cardiovascular system, promote cancer, disrupt cellular membranes and impair immune function and more. Trans-fat is found in all fast food, potato chips, french fries, baby biscuits, breakfast cereals, cookies, light microwave popcorn, margarines to name just a few. Scientists at the University of Guelph state that, "Trans-fatty acids are almost twice as bad as saturated fats in terms of damage to your cardiovascular system." Health Canada announced in January of this year that new regulations will require all pre-packaged foods to list the trans-fat content and eventually these regulations will move to the fast food industry so that you will know the trans-fat content of your fries and donut. The United States is right behind with its trans-fat labelling requirements.
McDonalds and Kraft foods have both vowed this year to make their foods healthier. Why after all these years? McDonalds, for the first time in their history had reduced earnings in the first quarter, causing them to evaluate their products and services. They discovered people are eating healthier foods. Kraft decided they should take some responsibility for helping North Americans lose a few pounds. They have formed a panel of heath and nutrition experts to review all their products and recommend solutions to reduce obesity. The panel will look at total calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, salt and especially trans-fatty acids. Kraft wants to eliminate all trans-fats or cut them to a half a gram per serving in their cookies and cakes. Although I applaud fast food companies recognizing the need to provide healthier foods the timing seems a bit suspicious in the wake of the new labeling laws. Now that the governments in both Canada and the United States have mandated labeling trans-fats, large food manufacturers have to reduce or eliminate the trans-fats because you will be able to read the percentage of these deadly fats and make alternate food choices to avoid them. If you knew that the baby biscuits for your cherished infant were high in deadly 'trans-fats' you would not purchase them. Food manufacturers know this. My concern is what will they use to replace the hydrogenated oils they are currently using? In the past the no-fat, low fat foods replaced fat with sugars. We don't want to trade one evil for another.
The Food and Drug Association in the U.S. has estimated that by simply revealing the trans-fat content on the label, allowing consumers to make healthier choices, between 2,000 and 5,000 lives will be saved annually. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the organization that determines nutrition levels, states that there is no safe level of trans-fats that it could set. Nutrition writers have been advising for over two decades to completely avoid trans-fats and balance fat intake by consuming plenty of healthy, fatty acids from fish, flaxseed, olive oil, evening primrose, coconut and other nut and seed oils. Bravo to all the pioneers who broke new ground and taught the mainstream scientific world about fat! Read my new book co-authored with Karlene Karst called Healthy Fats for Life.
Natural Support for Hypothyroidism Back to Top
by Dr. Michael Murray, ND
|Dr. Michael Murray has an excellent newsletter and has offered his article on low thyroid to be reprinted for my subscribers. His website is www.doctormurray.com where you can also sign up for his newsletter. He also has an excellent new book called How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine which I highly recommend.|
A low level of thyroid hormone is a common problem, affecting perhaps one out of five women and a smaller percentage of men. If your thyroid activity is reduced, your body may not respond as well as it should to nutritional or supplemental strategies. For that reason, a crucial step in attaining or maintaining good health is to make sure your thyroid is working properly.
What is the thyroid gland? Back to Top
The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck below the voice box. It is just about the same size and shape—and is in the same location—as a small bow tie. The thyroid secretes two hormones that are crucial for regulating metabolism: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The numbers refer to the numbers of iodine atoms each molecule of hormone contains. T4 is the major player, because it affects virtually every cell in the body.
Since thyroid hormones affect every cell of the body, a deficiency or hypothyroidism will usually result in a large number of signs and symptoms including low body temperature, intolerance to cold, weight gain or an inability to lose weight, depression, lack of concentration, hair loss, and fatigue. Hypothyroidism is an extremely common condition that is estimated to affect nearly 20% of all women and 10% of all men in North America.
Common signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Dry skin
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Menstrual problems
- Recurrent infections
- Sensitivity to cold
Your doctor can conduct blood tests that measure thyroid hormone levels. The test assesses the quantity of T4 and T3 hormones and determines how well the body's cells respond to the hormones by measuring the level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), a chemical released by the pituitary gland. High levels of TSH indicate that the cells of the body are not receiving adequate thyroid hormone. As a result, the pituitary is in overdrive, frantically trying to signal the thyroid to step up its hormone output.
Although a low level of thyroid hormone or an elevated TSH clearly indicate low thyroid function, in milder cases of thyroid hormone insufficiency, the blood tests may show that hormone levels are within "normal" ranges, even if the person is experiencing symptoms. In these individuals, I recommend that they try to boost thyroid hormone activity by taking THYROSMART. This recommendation is especially useful in people that have a TSH value is greater than 2.0 IU/ml (International Units per milliliter), but less than the 5.5 IU/ml level indicative of hypothyroidism.
Before rushing off to your doctor for a blood test, however, I suggest that you first determine your basal body temperature. Your body temperature reflects your metabolic rate, a rate that in turn is largely determined by thyroid hormone activity. When your thyroid is out of whack, your temperature often falls. Many experts agree that the basal body temperature is the most sensitive functional test of thyroid function.
Many health experts believe that determining your basal body temperature - the temperature of your body at rest - is the most sensitive test of thyroid function. The test is simple: all you need is a thermometer.
Taking Your Basal Body Temperature Back to Top
- Before going to sleep, if you are not using a digital thermometer shake down a regular thermometer to below the 95-degree mark and place it by your bed.
- Plan to take the test first thing in the morning after you wake up, because it's important to measure temperature after you have had adequate rest.
- Immediately upon waking, place the thermometer in your armpit (if using a regular thermometer keep it there for a full 10 sec.). Hold your elbow close to your side to keep the thermometer in place.
- Read and record the temperature and date.
- Repeat the test for least three mornings (preferably at the same time of day).
- A reading between 97.6 and 98.2 degrees F is normal. Readings below 97.6 may indicate hypothyroidism.
Dealing with hypothyroidism Back to Top
Severe hypothyroidism requires the use of supplemental thyroid hormone - available only by prescription. Mild or sub clinical hypothyroidism may respond to nutritional and herbal support such as THYROSMART. Like other glands, the thyroid has special nutritional needs. Here are some of the key nutrients required for proper thyroid function that are found in this formula:
- Iodine. The thyroid gland needs iodine to make its hormones. In fact, iodine's only role in your body is in making thyroid hormones. Too little iodine can cause impaired thyroid function, while too much iodine can actually interfere with the thyroid's ability to produce hormones. The dosage range for iodine supplementation is 300 to 400 mcg per day. Read the labels on your multivitamin supplement and on any thyroid preparations you are taking. Keep your intake of iodized salt to a bare minimum. Make sure that your total amount of iodine intake is within the recommended range - not too low or too high.
- Tyrosine. The other key ingredient in thyroid hormones is the amino acid tyrosine. Taking L-tyrosine alone or as a component as a nutritional supplement at a dosage of 500 mg daily may enhance thyroid function.
Two herbs long used in Ayurvedic medicine - Withania somnifera (ashwaganda) and Commiphora mukul (myrrh) - have shown an ability to boost thyroid function in experimental studies in animals. The two plants appear to exert synergistic effects. Specifically, withania extract appears to produce a significant increase in the level of thyroid hormone (T4) while commiphora extract enhances the conversion of T4 to the more potent T3 form.1-4 Both of the plants appear to boost thyroid function without influencing the release of the pituitary hormone TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) indicating the herbs work directly on the thyroid gland and other body tissues to exert their effects. This action is quite important as 95% of all cases of hypothyroidism are not due to a problem with the pituitary. The problem is with the thyroid gland itself and an impaired conversion of T4 into the more potent T3 in tissues outside the thyroid gland. The recommended dosages for thyroid support for the two herbs are:
- Withania somnifera root extract (standardized to contain 1.5% withanolides) - 150 mg
- Commiphora mukul extract (standardized to contain 2.5% guggulsterones) - 100 mg
As I have previously described in other newsletters, I am a firm believer in building a strong foundation. In that goal, there are three key dietary supplements that I recommend to provide a strong foundation for a proper nutritional supplement plan:
- A high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral formula.
- A "greens" drink product.
- A pharmaceutical grade fish oil supplement.
An important dietary recommendation is to avoid goitrogens. Some foods, especially when eaten raw, contain substances that interfere with your body's ability to absorb and use iodine. Because these foods can contribute to the risk of goiter, they are classified as goitrogens. Examples include turnips, cabbage, mustard, cassava root, soybean, peanuts, pine nuts, and millet. Because these foods contain many other valuable nutrients, I recommend that you avoid them only if low thyroid hormone levels are a problem for you. Cooking usually inactivates goitrogens, so don't be concerned about these items in your diet if you serve them cooked. Also, the BIG concern over soy isoflavones inhibiting thyroid function appears to be overstated as recent studies have shown no adverse effect on thyroid function.5
The nutrients recommended in Dr. Murray's article are sold THYROSMART. Key References:
- Panda S, Kar A. Withania somnifera and Bauhinia purpurea in the regulation of circulating thyroid hormone concentrations in female mice. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;67(2):233-9.
- Panda S, Kar A. Changes in thyroid hormone concentrations after administration of ashwagandha root extract to adult male mice. J Pharm Pharmacol 1998;50(9):1065-8.
- Panda S, Kar A. Gugulu (Commiphora mukul) induces triiodothyronine production: possible involvement of lipid peroxidation. Life Sci 1999;65(12):PL137-41.
- Tripathi YB, Malhotra OP, Tripathi SN. Thyroid stimulating action of Z-guggulsterone obtained from Commiphora mukul. Planta Med 1984;(1):78-80.
- Doerge DR, Sheehan DM. Goitrogenic and estrogenic activity of soy isoflavones. Environ Health Perspect 2002;110(Suppl 3):349-53.
Attention Deficit Disorder and Immunity
Back to Top
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD is a common condition affecting between 4 to 10 percent of school-age children. Studies of families suggest that ADHD is often inherited but scientists have had difficulty understanding how our genes played a role in this disorder - until now. Israeli scientists have discovered that there may be a subtle variation in a gene that makes the immune protein (IL-1) that protects the brain from injury due to viruses, bacteria and toxins. This immune protein is also involved in the maturity of brain cells that are important for cognition and development of attention and impulse control. Researchers believe that if they are on the right track that by improving the activity of certain immune cells and the proteins they secrete ADHD may be treatable at the genetic level of the immune system. Molecular Psychiatry
Depression has also been linked to this protein as reported in Healthy Immunity newsletter number 6.
Why we should supplement with ESTROSMART to eliminate carcinoestrogens. Back to Top
Dairy products especially cheese have been found to contain high levels of estrogen which increase our risk of testicular, prostate, breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.
Common household products and cosmetics contain xenoestrogens.