Are You Worried About Cholesterol by Dr Tony Vendryes

 (Jamaica Gleaner) Tuesday | September 22, 2015
 
Garlic
 
 
 Cholesterol-free diet (like strict vegetarians) can still have high cholesterol. Many of the ‘low-cholesterol foods’ being advertised are so full of sugar and carbohydrates that you are swapping ‘black dog for monkey’ when you use them hoping to lower your cholesterol.

 

Find The Cause
 

The common causes of elevated cholesterol include poor lifestyle practices – a high-carbohydrate diet, obesity, lack of exercise, chronic stress, some medications, and hormonal imbalance. It is vital that you detect the cause for your high cholesterol and correct that problem before jumping to drug therapy.

 

Drugs For Cholesterol
 

The popular cholesterol-lowering drugs (the statins) act primarily by suppressing the liver. I call them liver toxins. People on most of these medications need to do regular liver tests looking for signs of liver damage. Yes, statins damage the liver.

Statin use is also associated with a long and scary list of potentially severe side effects. These drugs may damage the heart itself and contribute to heart failure. Muscle pains and muscle damage; brain and the nervous-system problems, including memory loss, and depression are well-known complications. They may also cause digestive problems, including stomach upset and constipation.

Drugs to lower cholesterol should, in my opinion, be used with great caution. If you happen to be on these drugs, I strongly advise taking a supplement called coenzymeQ10 to reduce the risk of side effects. These statin drugs deplete the heart, brain, and muscles of this important substance.

If you want to use a ‘drug’, I would recommend more harmless substances like polycosanol, made from the sugarcane plant (available by prescription as Arteriomixol), or a yeast extract from red rice – red rice yeast.

 

NATURAL CHOLESTEROL CONTROL

Lifestyle plays a major role in balancing cholesterol levels, and lifestyle modification should be the first and most important part of any programme for lowering cholesterol.

FOOD: Let your food be your medicine, but do not just focus on low-cholesterol foods, as is usually recommended. A diet high in fibre and healthy protein, low in saturated and hydrogenated fats, and low in simple carbohydrates (especially sugar, flour, and rice) is ideal. Specific cholesterol-lowering foods include soy, green tea, oats, garlic, and ginger. I strongly recommend 20-plus grammes of soy protein, a few cups of green tea, plus lots of fibre, and eight glasses of water daily.

WEIGHT CONTROL: Correct even mild obesity, with particular focus on losing fat from around the waist. This is vital to the control of cholesterol as well as blood sugar, blood pressure, and triglycerides. As little as 30 minutes of brisk walking four times per week helps lower ‘bad’ cholesterol as well as increases the healthy HDL cholesterol.

STRESS MANAGEMENT: Stress by itself can elevate cholesterol levels as the body manufactures more cholesterol when chronically stressed. Stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, relaxation exercises, tai chi, and the Emotional Freedom Technique are all very useful.

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS: Antioxidants like vitamin C and E and Rosemary help control the oxidative damage that makes ‘bad’ cholesterol unhealthy. High-dose vitamin C may actually reduce cholesterol production by the liver.

The omega 3 fatty acids (three or more grammes daily) lower cholesterol while promoting a healthy heart and circulation and balancing your lipid profiles.

Niacin (vitamin B3) in high doses effectively lowers cholesterol. Use a form of niacin called niacinate to prevent flushing of the skin.

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What You Need To Know About Childhood Cancer by Dr Michelle Reece-Mills

(Jamaica Observer) Sunday, September 20, 2015    

PEOPLE often express surprise that children can get cancer. Cancer in childhood occurs infrequently compared to adult cancers but is very important to know about as it is one of the leading causes of death in children under 14 years of age.

In the United States, 10,000 children under 15 years will develop cancer in 2015. Locally, 50 to 60 children across the island develop cancer yearly.

WHAT IS CHILDHOOD CANCER?

Childhood cancer refers to any cancer developing in a child under 18 years of age.

The most common cancers seen in children include: Leukaemias (blood cancers); lymphomas (cancer of the immune cells); brain tumours; Wilms tumour (a type of kidney cancer) and neuroblastoma (cancer of immature nerve cells).

Other childhood cancers include: Rhabdomyosarcomas (muscle cancer); retinoblastoma (cancer of the eye); and bone cancer (including osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma).

WHAT CAUSES CHILDHOOD CANCER?

This is due to changes in the DNA or chromosomes of the cells (the building blocks of life).

Unlike adult cancers, there has not been any proven environmental or lifestyle associations such as a bad diet or exposure to chemicals.

Therefore, parents shouldn’t feel guilty when their child develops cancer, there is little that they could have done to prevent it.

POSSIBLE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF CHILDHOOD CANCER

These include:

* An unusual lump or swelling

* Unexplained paleness and loss of energy

* Easy bruising

* An ongoing pain in one area of the body

* Limping

* Unexplained fever or illness that doesn’t go away

* Frequent headaches, often with vomiting

* Sudden eye or vision changes

* Sudden unexplained weight loss

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT OF CHILDHOOD CANCERS?

Treatments are chosen for childhood cancers based mainly on the type and stage of the cancer.

Treatment options may include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and/or other types of treatment. Chemotherapy involves the use of chemicals (drugs) given through an IV (the drip).

In many cases, more than one of these treatments is used.

Generally, childhood cancers usually respond well to chemotherapy because they tend to be cancers that grow fast. (Most forms of chemotherapy affect cells that are growing quickly.)

Children’s bodies are also generally better able to recover from higher doses of chemotherapy than adults’ bodies.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF TREATMENT

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause long-term side effects, so children who survive cancer need careful attention for the rest of their lives.

These can include:

* Heart or lung problems (due to certain chemotherapy drugs or radiation therapy);

* Slowed or decreased growth and development (in the bones or overall);

* Changes in sexual development and ability to have children;

* Learning problems; and

* Development of second cancers later in life.

Routine medical checks yearly and avoiding risky behaviours such as drinking and smoking will be important as the child gets older.

PSYCHOSOCIAL EFFECTS OF CHILDHOOD CANCER

No matter what age a child is, a cancer diagnosis will have a big effect on them. A child’s age, level of development and personality will determine many of their reactions. However, most children will feel a mix of being anxious, afraid, angry, or upset at some stage during their illness.

For most children with cancer, their life changes dramatically. Going through tests, doctor’s appointments and treatment will become their new routine. They will have a lot to cope with so it’s important they have people close by they can trust and feel loved by at all times.

Although children can be very strong during a serious illness, understanding a child’s specific needs, maintaining normal routines and providing boundaries, comfort and love, are very important to help support this natural resilience.

Siblings of a child with cancer have their own fears. Hospital visits, seeing their brother/sister upset, in pain or acting differently can all be very frightening to a child. They may feel they have lost the once close and fun relationship with their brother or sister. Feeling alone and lost is not uncommon.

Anger and jealousy are other emotions that may be expressed due to the amount of attention given to their ill sibling. Sadness and guilt that they caused the cancer to occur are other common feelings.

They may also pretend they are okay so as not to upset their parents more than they already are. School performance may suffer with lower marks than usual.

PARENTAL EMOTIONS

Understandably, most parents who are told their child has cancer feel completely devastated. There may be moments when people can feel numb and don’t believe what is happening. Painful emotions of anger, sadness, guilt, fear and denial are all common and normal feelings of parents who have been told their child has cancer.

Parents play a huge role in how a child copes. A calm, loving, present, and reassuring parent can help the child to cope with the treatment.

There is no right or wrong way to feel. Most parents find their emotions go up and down over the course of a child’s treatment. Some days they may feel they are coping and other days may feel completely lost or out of control.

Whilst no-one can fully prepare a parent to cope with their child having cancer we hope the following tips will help.

* Get all the information you can about childhood cancer, treatment and care.

* Ask your doctors where to get information on the Internet – this is crucial as some websites can be misleading.

* Do not try to be “brave” and cope alone. Doctors, nurses and all staff at the hospital want to help you. Talk to them, let them know how you feel and ask for help.

* Relieve yourself of the burden of home duties (cooking, washing, cleaning, shopping) and caring for your other children by asking family members and friends to fill in. They will want to help but may need guidance as to what to do.

* Take care of yourself. Most parents find this the hardest thing to do, as they focus completely on their sick child’s needs. But it is important to take time out for you and not feel guilty for doing this. You cannot be expected to care for your child if you are not looking after yourself.

* Try to talk about your feelings with those you trust. Most people say that when they share their sadness, anger or fear it helps. If you feel you may need some professional counselling ask your doctor at the hospital for a referral.

* Set up a group email or blog for people who want to know how things are going, or delegate a close friend or family member to give information to the rest of your friendship and family groups. It can be overwhelming to try to inform everyone all the time about what is happening for your child. Be sensitive about the information posted in public about your child. They may not want their information out for everyone to see.

* Take time out to spend with your partner, family and friends. Having a child with cancer can put a lot of strain on your close relationships. It is important to maintain communication both through talking and physical intimacy where possible.

TALKING TO CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR CANCER

It is only natural to want to protect a child and their siblings from a cancer diagnosis. However, for most children, the regular hospital visits and tests, missing school and other activities will alert them to the fact that something is very wrong. Most children can pick up on their parents’ emotions. How they react to upsetting news often depends on how the parents are coping with it.

It is best to be open and honest with young people about a cancer diagnosis. Reliable, age-appropriate information can help them understand and cope with changes.

If possible, both parents should talk to their child. This way they can support each other. It is important not to give too much information all at once. Throughout the conversation, get feedback to ensure that the child understands what is being said. Keep things consistent and honest. It is important not to promise a child anything that you cannot be sure of.

Letting children know how adults are feeling will allow them to express their own feelings more easily. Reassure children that whatever they are feeling is normal and that they will be supported throughout.

RECOGNISING WHEN YOUR CHILD NEEDS EXTRA HELP

As stated before, most children with cancer and their siblings will go through a range of emotions. While they usually manage to find a way to cope, there may be times when your child needs extra support. Parents need to be able to recognise the signs if their child has a more serious problem and needs to talk to a health professional.

A child usually needs extra help and support if they:

* Feel sad all the time and cry a lot;

* Cannot be comforted or reassured;

* Show less interest in their school work, hobbies and friendships;

* Cannot concentrate;

* Have severe mood swings;

* Feel irritable, upset and angry often;

* Talk about hurting themselves or thinking of suicide;

* Have weight loss/gain/appetite changes not related to the cancer and its treatment;

* Suffer low energy/fatigue not related to the cancer and its treatment;

* Have trouble sleeping that goes on for more than a week or two.

While this is a turbulent period for the entire family, sticking with and completing treatment offers the best chance for a good outcome. When abandonment (leaving treatment early) occurs, the disease is likely to recur and is harder to treat.

SUPPORT THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILDHOOD CANCER

Local organisations involved in cancer care include:

Angels of Love, a non-profit charity assisting children with critical illnesses;

Leukaemia Care – providing financial support for newly diagnosed children with leukaemia; and parents can also get assistance from the CHASE Fund and the Ministry of Health compassionate fund.

Dr Michelle Reece-Mills is a paediatric oncologist at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

 

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Born fat? Thinking so could get you there

 (Jamaica Observer) All Woman,
 

Believing your weight is outside of your control could lead you to pack on the pounds, make unhealthy food choices and decrease your quality of life, according to a new study.

“If an individual believes weight to be outside of the influence of diet and exercise, she or he may engage in more behaviours that are rewarding in the short term, such as eating unhealthful foods and avoiding exercise, rather than healthful behaviours with more long-term benefits for weight management,” wrote study authors Dr Mike C. Parent and Dr Jessica L. Alquist of Texas Tech University.

Working with data from 4,166 men and 4,655 women, the researchers found that the belief that weight is unchangeable comes with age – and unhealthy eating.

As people age, they are less likely to read food nutrition labels and increasingly shun fruits, vegetables and exercise for ready-to-eat frozen meals, according to the study, “Born Fat”, published in the journal Health Education and Behaviour.

“Although previous research has found gender differences in weight as a motivation for exercise and healthful eating, we did not find evidence that gender affected the relationship between health beliefs and physical activity or healthful eating,” write the authors.

“However, we found evidence that the relationship between belief in weight changeability and exercise, healthful eating, and unhealthful eating differs by age.”

As new research rolls in about the role of gut bacteria in body weight and that of energy-burning brown fat in metabolism, solutions to obesity could be around the corner, whether or not body weight is determined by DNA.

In the meantime, Parent and Alquist’s study supports a 2014 study conducted at the University of Kent, which suggests that emphasising well-being could be more important for health than honing in on an ideal body weight.

Making good food choices, exercising and taking the time to cook bypasses the harmful effects of yo-yo dieting and decreases one’s likelihood to develop eating disorders, say the researchers, whose study was published in the Journal of Obesity.

“By fighting the perception that weight is unchangeable, health care providers may be able to increase healthful behaviour among their patients,” write Parent and Alquist.

 

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Ounce of Prevention: How to eat properly by Dr Tony Vendryes

(Jamaica Gleaner) Tuesday | September 1, 2015
 
 
 MAJOR truth I have constantly reminded readers of is: you are what you eat. But that’s not all. You are also how you eat. Yes, the way you eat your food is also extremely important. Here are some useful tips on how to eat.

 

Eat primarily for nutrition

 

Learn to listen to the signals your body sends. A very simple rule is: Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied. Use food to feed your body, not just to satisfy your emotions.

From the time we were infants, we associated food with safety, security and love. The breast, or the bottle, was used to comfort us whenever we were distressed, physically or emotionally.

Offering something to eat has been a common technique used by women to silence children and men.

As adults, we still try to satisfy our need for love, or to relieve our stress, depression and anxiety with food.

Start listening to your body. Many people eat out of habit or for pleasure, not because their body needs food. This encourages overeating.

 

Eat consciously

 

Be present while eating and try to focus fully on the process of having your meal. Many of us have grown accustomed to eating while watching television, conducting business, using the phone or reading newspapers. This robs you of your awareness of what you are doing, so you will often unconsciously overeat because you have missed the satisfaction of eating and the signals when your body has had enough food.

– Eat in a relaxed environment with minimal distraction. Before you begin eating, take a few deep breaths, relax your body and give thanks for the gift of the meal provided for your body.

– Chew your food until it is liquid, or almost liquid, in your mouth before swallowing. Digestion begins in the mouth with the action of enzymes in your saliva on the food. ‘Cutting and swallowing’ impairs digestion. Become aware of the flavour, texture and sensations you experience from the food in your mouth. A useful exercise is to sometimes count how many times you chew a mouthful before you swallow.

– Do not put the next bite of food into your mouth until you have swallowed the previous one. Try setting down your utensils and relaxing between mouthfuls, instead of being busy piling food on to your fork or spoon. Take time to fully enjoy each bite.

 

Meal timing

 

When you eat is very important. Do not put the next meal into your stomach until you have digested the previous one. This period – at least three hours for most people- is called gastric-emptying time. However, this can vary greatly depending on digestive health and meal contents.

I, and many of my patients, have found the combination of green tea and a meal-replacement protein shake, with or without fresh fruit, an excellent choice for breakfast. At mid-day, when digestive power is greatest, have your heaviest meal. Your body secretes more stomach acid, bile and digestive enzymes at that time.

Earlier in our history, most people ate their main meal in the middle of the day and had a lighter meal in the evening. This practice can improve digestion and enhance sleep.

Acid reflux disease, labelled GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) by doctors, has been greatly encouraged by late-night eating. Do not eat and lounge or lie down immediately after the meal. The time it takes for your stomach to empty after eating is called the gastric-emptying time. For most people, this period is more than three hours, but can vary according to the functioning of your stomach and the type of food consumed. Some light physical activity, such as going for a walk after your evening meal, also aids digestion. Allow at least two hours after your last meal before going to bed.

 

Digestive aids

 

Before a heavy meal, you can boost your digestive function with this simple blend: Mix equal parts of lemon or lime juice with water and honey (a pinch of black pepper is optional). Drink two ounces of this mixture before your meal. Useful digestive aids after your meal include an aloe vera drink (herbal aloe), herbal green tea, ginger and mint teas. More serious digestive problems may benefit from taking probiotics and digestive enzymes.

Remember: How you eat is as important as what you eat!

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Are Soy Foods Safe? by Dr Tony Vendryes:

(Jamaica Gleaner)Tuesday | August 25, 2015

 

I consider soy a miracle food, and have been recommending this humble bean to my patients for decades. Scientific research has shown that eating soy protects against heart disease, cancer, the metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis, while easing the symptoms of menopause. It also is an economical and complete source of protein that can safely replace animal protein in the diet. Yet I am frequently questioned about any potential dangers from soy.

Like many good things, soy has been blamed for all kinds of ills. Right after the FDA, in 1999, took the highly unusual step of allowing a health claim to be made for soy, this food came under strong attack by minority groups, many of whom represented segments of the food industry threatened by soy’s popularity. Most of these accusations, widely publicised on the Internet, are based on anecdotal reports or shoddy research. The bulk of medical evidence strongly confirms the valuable role of soy in preventing disease and supporting health. Let’s look at the most common concerns.

Soy And Cancer
 
Much of the worry about soy has to do with naturally occurring compounds called phytoestrogens, the most abundant being the isoflavone, genistein. As their name suggests, phytoestrogens are substances in plants that have chemical structures similar to that of the hormone oestrogen. This enables them to fit into the body’s oestrogen receptor sites, much as a key fits into a lock. The ability of isoflavones to mimic some of oestrogen’s effects has led to speculation that these substances may promote some cancers like breast cancer.

This is not true. We now know that the cells in the breast have more than one type of receptor. The soy compounds actually fit the receptors that prevent breast cancer. Far from causing breast cancer, this ability to bind to oestrogen receptors allows phytoestrogens to protect the breast from the effects of the much stronger oestrogen made by the body or those which come from toxic chemicals like insecticides. This is one way by which soy is thought to help prevent malignancy like breast cancer.

The majority of research, as well as the experience of Asian populations where soy has been a dietary staple for thousands of years, confirms the protective role of soy. A report published in the May 2001 issue of Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention provides compelling evidence of the anti-cancer effects of soy foods. This study found that, with an increase in soy intake during adolescence, there was a reduction in the risk of breast cancer. Women with the highest consumption of soy had only half the risk of those with the lowest intake. Other studies have also shown a reduced risk of cancers of the prostate and colon with increasing soy consumption.

Soy And The Thyroid
 
Another charge against soy is that it contains ‘anti-thyroid agents’ that can disturb the function of the thyroid gland. This is largely theoretical. Certain compounds in soy can affect thyroid tissue in test-tube studies, but this does not appear to be the case in live human beings. Animals fed vast amounts of soy on a diet deficient in iodine did develop thyroid problems. The problem went away when the animals were give adequate iodine. Humans consuming soy as part of a nutritionally balanced diet have no such problems.

Population studies show no increased prevalence of thyroid disease in countries with a high intake of soy. That debate aside, most researchers agree that consuming soy at the level needed to get its health benefits (about 25 to 50 grams per day) is most unlikely to impair thyroid function. After using soy with hundreds of patients, I have detected no disturbance of thyroid function that I could blame on soy.

However, if you have hypothyroidism, a bit of caution may be in order. Keep your diet well balanced and your soy intake not excessive, and have your thyroid function monitored periodically. Also be aware that taking thyroid medication at the same time as any foods (including soy) may decrease the drug’s absorption. That kind of medicine should be taken on an empty stomach.

Other Benefits
 
An impressive list of epidemiological (population-based) studies confirm the broad array of health benefits associated with a high-soy diet. Diets rich in soy isoflavones are associated with lower rates of heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer, obesity, and obesity-related complications such as type 2 diabetes, circulatory problems and cholesterol disturbances.

Recommendations
 
Include some soy in your daily diet. Soy is now available in many, many forms: soymilk, soy cheese, soy nuts, soups, drinks, protein bars, tofu, and tempeh. There are also textured vegetable protein products like veggie mince and soy burgers. My favorite way to have high-quality soy each day is with a soy protein shake. This is a delicious, nutritious drink that can conveniently replace a meal.

Select high-quality soy products produced by reputable brands. Many so-called soy products have low levels of the key substances that provide the health benefits of soy. Look for the term ‘soy protein isolate’, and check the protein content on labels as a guide in assessing soy products.

Make sure that your diet is nutritionally balanced and contains optimal amounts of the various micronutrients, especially vitamins, minerals and key elements like iodine. The Cellular Nutrition Programme is an ideal way to ensure that you are getting all you need.

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Your Feeling Heart by Dr Tony Vendryes

Heart disease is still the number one killer worldwide. The human heart is an extraordinary muscular pump that automatically pumps blood around the body through thousands of miles of blood vessels. From while you were still in your mother’s womb until you die, your heart will beat more than 3.5 billion times and will pump more than 500 million gallons of blood. In health, the heart does this awesome job with effortless ease. No man-made pump rivals the heart’s exquisite abilities.

Ancient traditions have passed down a strong belief in the intelligence of the heart. Early research into heart intelligence by two physiologists, John and Beatrice Lacey, showed that the heart actually communicates with the brain in ways that greatly affect how we see and respond to the world in which we live.

Only 25 years ago, heart specialist Dr Andrew Armour introduced the term ‘heart-brain’ and explained that the heart possessed a complex nervous system that functioned like a brain.

Here are some interesting facts that modern research has now confirmed about the heart:

– The heart has its own independent nervous system known as “the brain in the heart”.

– The heart starts beating in the unborn foetus before the brain has been formed, and our emotional brain then develops long before the rational one.

– The heart-brain constantly sends signals to the head-brain, creating a two-way communication system between heart and brain.

– The heart directs and aligns many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another.

– The heart also sends us emotional and intuitive signals to help us live more wisely.
 

EMOTIONS AND THE HEART 

Research conducted by the United States-based non-profit organisation HeartMATH has shown that negative emotions put the nervous system out of balance, and when that happens heart rhythms are disturbed and the heartbeat becomes irregular. This puts stress on the physical heart and other organs and can cause serious problems, including sudden death.

Many of us are aware of heart attacks and sudden death being caused by a blockage to the blood vessels in the heart. The drug companies are hard at work convincing us that cholesterol-lowering drugs will solve that problem. On the other hand, most of us are unaware that an irregular heartbeat is another frequent cause of heart attacks and death.

HeartMATH research suggests that the more we learn to tune in to our heart’s intelligence, the wiser and more balanced our emotions become. Without the guiding influence of the heart, we fall prey to reflex emotions such as insecurity, anger, fear, guilt, and blame, as well as other unhealthy reactions and behaviours.

The current epidemic of high blood pressure is influenced in a big way by these unrecognised emotions.
 

STRESS AND HEART HEALTH 

Stress is now a familiar household word often used to blame mental lapses, emotional outbursts, headaches, other unexplained pains, or even major illnesses. From a body-mind perspective, our emotional responses are the main ingredients in the experience of stress. It is our feelings like anxiety, irritation, frustration, being overwhelmed, lack of control, hopelessness that arise when we describe ourselves as stressed.

HeartMATH research indicates that emotions, even more than just thoughts, produce the physical changes in our bodies (and hearts) that occur with stress. Negative emotions do disrupt heart health. Conversely, the emotions we often identify as positive facilitate a healthy heart and optimise the body’s natural healing ability.
 

CARING YOUR HEART 

In the past, I have extolled the benefits to your heart of a proper diet, exercise, weight management, and nutritional supplements, cellular nutrition, vitamins B complex and C, magnesium, the omega 3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10, Hawthorne and L carnithine, and chelation therapy, to name some.

I still do, but please remember that stress and negative emotions can have deadly effects on the heart. Specific stress management tools like Yoga Nidra, meditation, relaxation therapy, hypnosis, breathing techniques, and biofeedback are strategies that have a major role to play in maintaining a healthy heart as well as in correcting pre-existing heart problems. My relaxation training CD, A Time to Relax, has proved to be a very useful stress-management tool.

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Your Feeling Heart……………………………

(Jamaica Gleaner)Tuesday | August 18, 2015
 
Heart disease is still the number one killer worldwide. The human heart is an extraordinary muscular pump that automatically pumps blood around the body through thousands of miles of blood vessels. From while you were still in your mother’s womb until you die, your heart will beat more than 3.5 billion times and will pump more than 500 million gallons of blood. In health, the heart does this awesome job with effortless ease. No man-made pump rivals the heart’s exquisite abilities.

Ancient traditions have passed down a strong belief in the intelligence of the heart. Early research into heart intelligence by two physiologists, John and Beatrice Lacey, showed that the heart actually communicates with the brain in ways that greatly affect how we see and respond to the world in which we live.

Only 25 years ago, heart specialist Dr Andrew Armour introduced the term ‘heart-brain’ and explained that the heart possessed a complex nervous system that functioned like a brain.

Here are some interesting facts that modern research has now confirmed about the heart:

– The heart has its own independent nervous system known as “the brain in the heart”.

– The heart starts beating in the unborn foetus before the brain has been formed, and our emotional brain then develops long before the rational one.

– The heart-brain constantly sends signals to the head-brain, creating a two-way communication system between heart and brain.

– The heart directs and aligns many systems in the body so that they can function in harmony with one another.

– The heart also sends us emotional and intuitive signals to help us live more wisely.

 

EMOTIONS AND THE HEART

 

Research conducted by the United States-based non-profit organisation HeartMATH has shown that negative emotions put the nervous system out of balance, and when that happens heart rhythms are disturbed and the heartbeat becomes irregular. This puts stress on the physical heart and other organs and can cause serious problems, including sudden death.

Many of us are aware of heart attacks and sudden death being caused by a blockage to the blood vessels in the heart. The drug companies are hard at work convincing us that cholesterol-lowering drugs will solve that problem. On the other hand, most of us are unaware that an irregular heartbeat is another frequent cause of heart attacks and death.

HeartMATH research suggests that the more we learn to tune in to our heart’s intelligence, the wiser and more balanced our emotions become. Without the guiding influence of the heart, we fall prey to reflex emotions such as insecurity, anger, fear, guilt, and blame, as well as other unhealthy reactions and behaviours.

The current epidemic of high blood pressure is influenced in a big way by these unrecognised emotions.

 

STRESS AND HEART HEALTH

 

Stress is now a familiar household word often used to blame mental lapses, emotional outbursts, headaches, other unexplained pains, or even major illnesses. From a body-mind perspective, our emotional responses are the main ingredients in the experience of stress. It is our feelings like anxiety, irritation, frustration, being overwhelmed, lack of control, hopelessness that arise when we describe ourselves as stressed.

HeartMATH research indicates that emotions, even more than just thoughts, produce the physical changes in our bodies (and hearts) that occur with stress. Negative emotions do disrupt heart health. Conversely, the emotions we often identify as positive facilitate a healthy heart and optimise the body’s natural healing ability.

 

CARING YOUR HEART

 

In the past, I have extolled the benefits to your heart of a proper diet, exercise, weight management, and nutritional supplements, cellular nutrition, vitamins B complex and C, magnesium, the omega 3 fatty acids, Coenzyme Q10, Hawthorne and L carnithine, and chelation therapy, to name some.

I still do, but please remember that stress and negative emotions can have deadly effects on the heart. Specific stress management tools like Yoga Nidra, meditation, relaxation therapy, hypnosis, breathing techniques, and biofeedback are strategies that have a major role to play in maintaining a healthy heart as well as in correcting pre-existing heart problems. My relaxation training CD, A Time to Relax, has proved to be a very useful stress-management tool.

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Andropause – When Men Pause by Dr Tony Vendryes

(Jamaica Gleaner) Tuesday | August 11, 2015
 The male equivalent to the menopause in women is called the andropause. While not as obvious an event as the menopause, men do suffer from declining hormone levels with age.

While the female sex hormones rapidly fall in women in their 40s, in men testosterone levels drop more gradually starting much earlier in their 30s. As one doctor explained, ‘women suddenly fall off a cliff’ while ‘men slowly roll down the hill’.

After the age of 30, a man may lose up to two per cent of the function of his testicles (where testosterone is produced) with each succeeding year. In fact, up to 50 per cent of otherwise healthy men over 50 have low levels of testosterone. 

TESTOSTERONE – THE MALE HORMONE

A group of several hormones called androgens create and support masculinity, and testosterone is the main androgen responsible for:

– Determining the unborn child’s sexual features;

– Influencing an individual’s sexual preference;

– Regulating the sex drive in men and women (women do produce small amounts of testosterone);

– Male physical characteristics, including physical strength, emotional assertiveness, body shape, hairiness, tone of voice, and even body odour;

– The production and quality of sperm.

Additionally, testosterone plays a role in developing creativity, intellect, thought patterns, assertiveness and drive. It also affects general health during childhood, adolescence and adulthood. 

SIGNS OF ANDROPAUSE

In addition to a decrease in sexual desire and erectile function, men with a lowered testosterone level may also notice changes in energy, mood and emotions, a decrease in lean body mass and strength due to a loss of muscle and an increase in body fat. Additional health risks associated with low testosterone levels include an elevation in cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease, bone fractures and clinical depression.

For the man who is concerned about the andropause, special attention must be paid to the following lifestyle issues: 

DIETARY PROTEIN

An optimal intake of healthy forms of dietary protein like beans, peas, soy, eggs, fish, nuts and organic poultry is quite important for maintaining testosterone levels. How much protein you need depends on your muscle mass, but the average male usually needs over 125gm of protein daily. One can conveniently increase protein intake using protein shakes and protein snacks. The higher your level of physical activity, the more protein you need. 

SUPPLEMENTS

Add vitamin C and E, the amino acid arginine, DHEA, and herbal supplements such as the ginsengs, saw palmetto, pygeum africanum, stinging nettle, and pumpkin seed to your nutritional programme as these improve male hormone balance. The cellular nutrition programme addresses those needs in a simple way.

It is important to detoxify the body and avoid exposure to harmful chemicals as many of these substances act like the female hormone oestrogen. 

EXERCISE AND LOSE FAT

Both a lack of physical exercise as well as excessive physical activity will cause a decrease in testosterone levels. Exercise affects testosterone directly by stimulating the pituitary gland (in the brain) as well as the testicles. The duration, frequency and intensity of the exercise will determine its impact on testosterone levels.

Testosterone is increased most with short, intense bursts of activity (like strength training and weight lifting), and decreased with too prolonged endurance exercise, such as long-distance running, swimming or cycling. Short cycles of intensive exercise (interval training) over about 45 minutes will elevate testosterone, but if prolonged for much longer, the levels begin to fall and stay down for several days. Rest days between workouts are also vital for testosterone production.

It is also critical for men to lose excess abdominal fat, as the fat cells around the waistline make female hormones, and, even worse, can convert the male hormone testosterone into the female hormone oestrogen.

MEDICATION

Eliminate all unnecessary medications. Many commonly prescribed drugs affect testosterone levels. This list includes the anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen,

acetaminophen, aspirin, the cholesterol lowering drugs, some heart and blood pressure medication and some antidepressants. Many of these ‘lifestyle medicines’ may be actually treating the symptoms of testosterone deficiency ineffectively, and you may no longer need them when your testosterone levels are normal.

Minimise or avoid alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking can increase the levels of female hormones and inhibit the body’s ability to produce testosterone. By staying away from alcohol you will improve the balance between your male and female hormones.

REST AND SUNSHINE

Try getting close to eight hours of sleep nightly. If you are chronically sleep deprived, your testosterone status will suffer. Aim to have some direct exposure to sunlight daily. Be outdoors for at least one hour each day. Testosterone rises and falls with the seasons, and sunshine is necessary for healthy body rhythms and optimal testosterone production. 

STRESS MANAGEMENT

There is a strong relationship between stress and physical wellness that is largely related to hormones. The right kind of stress (eustress) positively impacts on our hormones, but chronic stress can be devastating. Ongoing emotional stress and depression are common causes of decreased testosterone levels, leading to premature ageing. Commit to learning healthy stress-management techniques.

HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a powerful medical treatment for the andropause that often produces dramatic improvement in the symptoms and a reduction in the risks. It involves giving back testosterone to the body to restore normal levels. This kind of treatment should be supervised by a health-care professional that is experienced.

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Ounce of Prevention: Epsom salts to the rescue by Dr Tony Vendryes

(Jamaica Gleaner)  August 4, 2015

 MUCH IS said of the importance of well-known minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, selenium and zinc for good health.

Another important mineral, magnesium, is often disregarded, although it is the fourth-most abundant mineral in the human body, found mainly in bones, muscles and nervous system. The body uses it for more than 300 different metabolic processes.

Medical research shows that magnesium deficiencies may be widespread all over the world, and may contribute to many common disorders. Because only one per cent of the body’s magnesium is found in the blood, it is difficult to detect a lack of magnesium by simple blood tests.

A high consumption of soft drinks, alcohol, animal fats and sugar depletes magnesium from the body. Prescription drugs like water tablets, some heart medications, antibiotics and steroids also increase magnesium loss. To make matters worse our modern water supply (including some bottled water), is lacking enough magnesium.

 

CONDITIONS RELATED TO MAGNESIUM DEFICIENCY

Asthma, heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heart beat, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, constipation, depression, digestive disorders, insomnia, dizziness, irritability, nervousness, seizures, poor concentration, migraine headaches, muscle cramps and weakness, kidney stones, premenstrual (PMS) symptoms, menstrual pain, sugar cravings, and temper tantrums are just some of the conditions related to magnesium deficiency.

 

EPSOM SALT

Epsom salt is a mineral compound made up of magnesium and sulphate, known to chemists as magnesium sulphate. It got its name from a natural salt spring at Epsom in Surrey, England, and has been used for ages as a natural remedy for many ailments.

Both magnesium and sulphate are readily absorbed into the skin. This makes Epsom salt very easy to use. Many of the chemical functions regulated by magnesium, reduce inflammation, benefit circulation and improve muscle and nerve function. On the other hand, sulphates improve the absorption of nutrients in the body while helping to flush toxins. All the conditions listed above would benefit from Epsom salt, but let me specifically highlight some.

 

STRESS RELIEF

If you are stressed, you would have increased levels of stress hormones circulating and, at the same time, often deficient in magnesium. Epsom salt dissolved in warm water is readily absorbed through the skin to naturally improve the body’s magnesium levels. Magnesium helps the body produce the anti-stress hormone, serotonin, relaxing chemical in the brain.

Magnesium helps insomnia, depression and anxiety disorders. Magnesium also helps improve energy levels by encouraging the production of ATP, the energy molecule in cells.

 

LOWER HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Magnesium plays a key role in naturally regulating blood pressure. Most people with hypertension are magnesium deficient. Expensive hypertension prescription drugs known as ‘calcium channel blockers’ prevent calcium from invading the walls of the blood vessels and elevating blood pressure. Inexpensive magnesium is nature’s calcium-channel blocker.

Taking magnesium, via Epsom salt, soaks or supplements, plus a magnesium-rich diet including plenty of fruits and green vegetables, is often associated with a lowering of high blood pressure.

 

RELIEVE MUSCLE PAIN AND CRAMPS

Conditions that relate to increased muscle tension, including muscle cramps and stiffness, migraine and tension headaches, or even bronchial asthma, may well improve with soaking in an Epsom salt bath as it relieves both pain and inflammation. If your feet ache after standing all day, soak them in warm water with Epsom salt. It also helps neutralise foot odour.

 

ELIMINATE TOXINS

The sulphates in Epsom salt help to remove a variety of toxins including heavy metals and excess sodium from the cells, relieving inflammation and improve cellular function. Sweating after soaking facilitates detoxification and it is also helpful to drink extra water during and after the soak.

 

USING EPSOM SALT

Epsom salt comes as a crystalline powder and is inexpensive and readily available. Several factors affect the benefits you get from soaking in this mineral bath.

Skin exposure: The more skin is soaked in the bath, the better. Soaking most of your body in a bathtub is the best, but if that’s not possible put your feet in a basin and bathe your legs and arms with the water.

Concentration: The more Epsom salts in the water the more potent the bath will be. Add one to three cups of Epsom salt to a full bathtub. Start with one cup if you are very ill. Use 1/2 cup for children under 60lb and 1 cup for children between 60lb and 100lb. For a foot bath use one tablespoonful per quart of water.

Temperature: The warmer the water, the greater the absorption of Epsom salt. So make the bath as warm as is comfortable for you. However, diabetics need to be careful not to unwittingly burn themselves as they often have impaired sensations, particularly in their hands and feet. If you are diabetic, have someone else, if possible, test the water temperature. Always err on the side of caution.

Length of bath: Twenty to 30 minutes is recommended, but if your body is fully immersed, you may need less exposed time.

Additions to the bath: Adding half a teaspoonful of vitamin C crystals will neutrailse any chlorine in the water. Half a cup of baking soda will make the water more alkaline. Add a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender to provide further relaxation.

In Jamaica, we are blessed with natural mineral springs whose waters are rich in magnesium and other minerals. Bath in St Thomas, Milk River Bath in St Catherine, and Rockfort Baths in Kingston are prime examples. Both locals and visitors should make full use of them.

 
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Are You Digging Your Grave? by Dr Tony Vendryes

(Jamaica Gleaner) Wednesday July 29, 2015
 

Without even realising it, most of us are gravediggers! Yes, the average person in today’s world is working hard at digging their own grave with their teeth. The major causes of premature death are related to what you put in your mouth – what you eat. The American Medical Association has estimated that more than 70 per cent of all the visits to doctors in the US are for nutritionally-related disorders. Here in Jamaica, the major killers – heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are all diet-related problems and, as a society, we are busy eating our way to an early grave.

To make things worse, millions of dollars are spent by the food industry each year programming our people, especially our children to become even more active gravediggers. Then we spend millions more dollars treating the resulting illnesses. This is misguided and self-destructive behaviour of the worst kind. The harsh reality is that the typical modern diet of processed convenience foods promotes disease.

The cellular body

The human body is composed of trillions of tiny units called cells. Cells are the building blocks of the body. Your wellness depends on your cells. When you are healthy, it is because your cells are healthy and when you get ill, your cells have become sick. Amazingly, your body is never static or stuck in its present state. Each and every moment of every day, millions of the cells in your body die and at the same time millions of new ones are created to replace them. By the time you are finished reading this article, your body will be different to the body that began reading it. It is estimated that in any given year, your body will replace more than 90 per cent of its cells.

You are what you eat.

The new cells that your body is creating right now are made from what you eat. If we simply provide the human body with all the nutrients it needs, it has the wisdom to heal, repair, and balance itself while preventing many diseases. Your body was designed to maintain optimal health and wellness, but you need to give it what it needs by proper nutrition.

The scripture puts it this way:

“You are fearfully and wonderfully made”. There is a healer within you capable of incredible things if you provide your cells with what is called “cellular nutrition”. Simply put, this is a way to provide the more than 70 trillion cells in your body with all the nutrients they need.

More than 22 years ago, I heard about the concept of cellular nutrition for the first time even though I had been practising medicine for more than two decades. The idea had never been mentioned in medical school. I had been having my own health challenges at the time and I decided to try the approach myself. The experience changed my health and my approach to medicine forever. I discovered that the body actually could repair itself when nourished appropriately.

The Cellular Nutrition Programme

About 35 years ago, experts in the modern sciences of nutrition, vitamins and minerals supplements along with specialists in herbs created a simple programme, which provides the human body with all the nutrients it needs. It is simple and convenient and I consider it the ultimate healthy fast food.

Today, millions of people worldwide use this approach every day with incredible health benefits. It is a precise plan to supplement your diet so as to optimally nourish the cells of your body. There are three elements to this programme:

A liquid meal: a protein shake that can replace or supplement one or more meals each day. The shake is a nutritionally perfect meal in a drink that is delicious and easy to prepare.

Technically, it supplies your cells with all their macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and good fats. It is also a powerful weight management tool.

A tablet: containing a combination of vitamins, mineral and micronutrients to be taken with each meal.

A capsule: with a blend of herbs and nutrients that protects the cells, strengthens the immune system and facilitates the absorption and use of all the nutrients by the cells.

The simple discipline of consistently supplementing your diet with these nutrients can dramatically benefit your health and well-being. There is actually nothing magical about the supplements themselves. The real magic is in your body with its incredible God-given potential. This concept and this nutritional programme is unique. It is patented, trademarked and owned by a US-based company and is available here in Jamaica. So, stop digging your grave with your teeth and start building a better body with cellular nutrition.

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