Nutritional Research: Busy Month

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I’ve had the feeling recently that everybody’s getting tired of prescription medications. To begin with, we’re taking far too many unsavory chemicals for problems mostly attributable to our unhealthful lifestyles–controlling adult-onset diabetes, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, cooling heartburn, sedating our stress-laden lives.

And did I mention side effects? Not just the standard-issue nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and constipation, but the ultimate side effect: death. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, each year about 120,000 people die from correctly taken medications. These deaths, by the way, are mainly allergic reactions to new medicines, so don’t get overly anxious if you’re already taking something. Your body is likely tolerating it well.

Medications are also exorbitantly expensive.

I’m seeing a lot more research in nutritional medicine from countries where there’s universal health coverage and the government picks up the tab for prescription drugs. Those countries are trying to get their citizens to take fewer medications and look kindly on nutritional supplements that can be used instead.

Here’s some data to ponder while shopping for groceries and nutritional supplements:

Vitamin D made headlines throughout 2007 for two reasons. First, because doctors are measuring levels in their patients, it turns out we all seem to more deficient in this vitamin than originally thought. This is probably being caused by a combination of dietary deficiencies and not enough sunlight. Second, adequate blood levels of D prevent a wide variety of serious illnesses, including breast cancer in women and colon cancer in both sexes. In December researchers from Great Britain showed that vitamin D actually slows the aging process (you can read the summary here). This may be helpful if you’re worried that life’s stresses are pressing fast-forward on your own aging button. You can purchase an excellent vitamin D product from our apothecary by clicking here.

Let’s make 2008 the year of lignan appreciation and learn about foods with a high lignan content. Lignans are chemicals found in certain plants with antioxidant and anti-estrogen activity. High-lignan foods include flaxseed, sesame seeds, soybeans, whole grains, broccoli and other veggies, beans, and berries. According to a study out of Toronto, women who eat more high-lignan foods have a dramatically lower rate of breast cancer. Foods are ideal sources, and our apothecary offers two products with very high lignan content as well; Indolplex and Meta IC3.

Carotenoids are pigments that give fruits and vegetables their beautiful colors. They’re also potent antioxidants. According to a study from France, a high intake of fruits and vegetables reduces your risk of developing age-related dementias including Alzheimer’s disease. Another study, from Australia, showed that a high carotenoid intake reduces a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. Ideally, boost your fruit and veggie intake. You can also supplement your carotenoids with this product.

Finally, the pinto bean is emerging as a hero in the world of cholesterol control. A good study from an agricultural research center in North Dakota showed that eating pinto beans regularly improved all aspects of the cholesterol profile: reducing total cholesterol while raising the good (HDL) and lowering the bad (LDL) cholesterol in the process. If your cholesterol is somewhat elevated and your doctor is waving a Lipitor prescription at you, wave back with a bag of pinto beans, start eating them regularly, and have her recheck you in a couple of months.

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