The Land of Oz

Sometimes it feels like I am living in the land of Oz. Who would have thought that when Oprah introduced us to Dr. Oz, that he would create such a large following. I guess we should have all known. Now that he has become so popular, his audience literally hangs on to every word he has to say. Day after day, week after week, his followers listen to his advice, just waiting for something to treat their problems with. Weather it is the great Dr. Oz or one of his many guests on the show, there is surely something to learn from the discussions. After all, he is a doctor and a lot of his guest speakers are too. They must know what they are talking about, right?

If I might dare, I would like to put forth a little something to think about the next time you are watching Dr. Oz. No two humans are alike. Genetic predispositions never mean that we will get something our parents had, for sure. A television audience has a very large variety of watchers. Even the studio audience right there with Dr. Oz is a mixed bag. So, how in the world can he make claims that everyone would get 100% the exact same response to a suggested treatment? The answer is, of course, it just can not happen. Period.

In our store and on the phone I hear some one mention Dr. Oz just about daily. It’s more like multiple times a day. Most times the request is for something that those of us who buy nutritional supplements, from knowledgeable, reputable health food stores already, would have had access to a decade or more in the past. Neptune Krill Oil comes to mind. This source of essential fatty acids blipped on our radars nearly fifteen years ago. The first drawback of this omega3 source is the low potency of about 300 mg per capsule. Humans require about 3000 mg per day for each 100 pounds of body weight. For me, that would require 20 capsules of Krill oil. The second drawback is the cost. Krill oil costs about four times what fish oil costs.

My wife asked me to watch a taped segment where Dr. Oz. had a guest discussing his DNA Diet. After watching the piece, neither of us could figure out how to find a method of identifying which DNA we had in order to know what diet was for us. Many customers ask me for items Dr. Oz has suggested only to find (after a quick internet search) that the item is ONLY available online. A more recent request was for artichoke. When I asked the customer which artichoke did they want, Jerusalem (the edible roots of one variety), Globe (the edible tops sold as produce), or Milk Thistle (the seeds from a specific variety)? The customer walked out with nothing. Sad.

I believe Dr. Oz does have a genuine enthusiasm for legitimate information to assist in all of our well being. His suggestions have sent a number of new faces into our little store. His messages have sparked a groundswell of interest in all people, to improve their nutritional health. But remember, Dr Oz is a cardiac surgeon. He does not own a health food store. He has not seen the sheer numbers of customers that frequent a health food store, and I’ll bet he has never worked in a health food store either. Here’s how it works in a store. A product manufacturer brings us a new item, teaches us of the benefits, leaves literature to back up the claims, and sometimes samples to try first. We educate our customers and they try it. If the customer returns with positive results, chances are good that others might get a similar result. On the other hand, When we promote a supplement that gets poor feedback, we stop promoting and selling the item. Eventually the item gets discontinued in our store. The less I order from my vendor, the less they produce, and eventually the vendor will just stop making it.

I suspect that Dr. Oz. And his guests fall prey to the hype of some of these supplements. I would even bet some of his guests are, in fact, the authors of the research papers used to promote the sale of the supplements they push. Still other guests are the manufacturers, or at least, representatives for some of the companies that now have old stockpiles of the products they are trying to move.

If there were some way for Dr. Oz to give his listeners the power to ask the experts, who sell nutritional supplements, what they feel would be the best fit for that individual, even more benefits would be had. Right now, the health food store, where information abounds, has been put back behind the advise of Dr. Oz and his guest speakers. I am sure glad he sends new potential customers to us, I just wish they were open to listening to an expert other than Dr. Oz. Health food stores have the most current and up to date information on nutritional supplements. We chose this occupation to assist people with their own and individual nutritional needs. Never a “one size fits all” approach.

Oranges and Apples

I know I have written about some of this recently, but I think more details are needed. Very often I will get a call asking me if I have a specific supplement. Either by name or by the ingredient, it can, sometimes, be difficult coming up with a yes or no answer. You see, what might seem like a simple request can have hidden curves in it. Not all supplements are created equally. Even in nature, for instance, if I asked you to picture an apple, what color do you see in your mind? Is it a granny smith that is green? Is it a golden delicious with yellow skin. Or do you see a bright red variety with or without stripes? If I asked you to picture an orange, you might have fewer mental images to choose from. But, are you aware that there are different varieties of oranges too, like blood oranges that are red on the insides? Oranges and apples are both fruits, but are definitely not the same.

Television doctors and info-mercial experts can seem very convincing. Your neighbor who has been selling nutritional supplements from her living room for the past twenty years certainly deserves credibility. Even the pictures of popular brands in the mail order catalog look familiar. So, really, how different could they be from what is sold in your local health food store? The answer is, they are as different as oranges to apples. Let me explain.

National drug store chains, big box retailers, and even most grocery stores all sell nutritional supplements. So, lets look a little closer at the bottle they sell. If you look at the information panel on the back of the bottle, it spells out for you exactly what is in the product. The front of the bottle might promise relief for arthritis, while the back claims to have the ingredient glucosamine. But wait, what form of glucosamine do you see? Aha, it has the wrong type, HCL. You should see the word sulphate after glucosamine. Glucosamine sulphate has been clinically studied for its benefits. The cheaper form glucosamine HCL has not. O.K. lets say you want the national brand multivitamin over 50. Looking on the back panel shows the man-made, synthetic form of vitamin E. Natural vitamin E is identified as D Alpha (or mixed) tocopherol. Synthetic E is identified as DL Alpha tocopherol. Notice the slight difference? That’s right, the difference between fake or real is one tiny letter. What about all the products listed as sugar free? Right again, artificial sweeteners that cause cancer. What a trade off huh?

Alright, another example, lets say you have tried melatonin for sleep, and it didn’t work for you. Well, when the guy on the bus suggested it to you a year ago, I’ll bet he didn’t tell you what form to buy it in did he? So you ordered it on line or from a national order catalog to save a couple bucks. How fresh was the bottle you ordered? What was the dosage offered? Are you sure it was even melatonin? Was it offered in sublingual form? The reason I bring up those questions is because the mail order catalogs have limits to what they have to sell. Are you starting to see a difference yet?

The truth is, let’s say a national manufacturer makes too much of a product. The item might have three years of shelf life. After two and a half years of sitting in a warehouse, the product needs to move quickly so the manufacturer can make a fresh batch. They sell the old stock to mail order, discount outlets, and Internet retailers for pennies on the dollar. The discount place pays very little for this old product and only marks the product up a little bit. Now their prices are at deep discount compared to fresh product available on the store shelves. Mail / Internet discount retailers can not afford to purchase the best quality. They look for the bargains just like you and I would. In this case, is finding the best bargain worth skimping on your personal health?

The next time someone approaches you with a nutritional supplement or health drink that they sell from their home, consider why the item cost so much more than what you would pay in the health food store. The companies main goal is to convince you that you could save money on the product if you become a member of their selling club. So, the focus becomes more about a home based income source rather than helping your nutrition. The companies that make those type of products choose not to put the highest quality into the manufacturing or sourcing of their raw materials so they end up with a cheaply made liquid or powder. Then they pay gobbs of money for un-realistic testimonials from a doctor or pretend customer. Reputable manufacturers that supply your health food store spend a lot of money sourcing the freshest ingredients, independent testing, and state of the art tableting machines. And yet they can still sell a similar product for less than the home based products.

Support your local health food store. Get your nutritional supplements that are made using the latest machinery, with fresh ingredients and stored properly. Make sure the person selling them to you is capable enough in their nutritional knowledge to connect you with the proper supplement for your own personal need. You will spend less time and money while supporting a local business that hires local staff and contributes to the local tax revenues.

Candida, a Yeast Problem

It may be a surprise to learn that the typical yeast infection that some women get is similar to the thrush infections that newborns get. It might also surprise you to find out that men can get an overgrowth of this same yeast. This natural bacteria is found vaginally in women and men have it in the colon. Normal levels of candida albicans are maintained with proper diet and good hygiene.

Some prescription medications can cause an imbalance enough to allow increased levels of candida. Antibiotics, cortisone type drugs, and birth control pills just to name a few. Once you have higher than normal levels of candida, you might have a number of strange symptoms. For women they could be problems with the menstrual cycle, P.M.S. complaints, vaginal discharge, and some troubles with reproductive organs. For Men it could be problems with impotence, low libido, and problems with reproductive organs too.

Other symptoms of candida overload might include; indigestion (as heartburn, gas, belching, diarrhea, and constipation), skin problems (such as fungal infections, itching, rashes, athletes foot, jock itch and psoriasis), bad breath, poor memory, chronic ear infections, and joint swelling.

When you bake a loaf of bread or you make a batch of home-brew, you understand the role of the right forms of yeast. The yeast require sugar and some form of liquid to grow. Your intestines are a perfect breeding ground for growing yeast. So, when you get symptoms of yeast overgrowth, it is time to make it more difficult to support the life of the yeast. I will get back to that shortly.

Let’s say that your symptoms have been relatively mild. Or you have dismissed some of the symptoms as something else. And you have let the imbalance continue for a long period of time. The candida that used to live in a fairly small area starts to spread up into the intestines. They implant themselves into the walls of your intestines. As they grow, they create small openings into your blood stream known as leaky gut syndrome. Those holes allow small food particles to enter the blood. Candida will follow that food source. Once the candida enters the blood stream, it is considered to be systemic. That is how you end up with symptoms all over your body.

With a proper diagnosis of systemic candida, the next step is to reduce the population of candida. This process requires a two pronged approach. First is to eliminate the things that feed and promote new candida. Since sugar feeds yeast, then refined sugars and refined flour are the first to be eliminated. Fruit juices, bread, pasta, and rice need to go also because the carbohydrates in these items are just longer chains of sugar molecules. Beer and wine are both produced with yeast, so they go too. And second, you will need to wipe out the colonies of the candida that are currently residing in your system. Many plants have anti-fungal properties. Some are already in your kitchen. Garlic, onions, and oregano are a good start. Coconut oil has medium chain triglycerides that kill yeast The last three killers are: An herb known as Pau-d-arco, then an ingredient found in the castor bean known as undecylenic acid and finally caprylic acid.

Keep the focus on the two pronged treatment for a couple of weeks (starving the new yeast and killing the existing ones). If you must use sugar, you are in luck. The natural sweetener xylitol will not feed yeast. Just be careful how much you consume at first. Xylitol can loosen your bowels if you get too much. During this time of elimination there are a few things that might occur. The first possibility is known as a yeast “die-off” that may feel similar to mild flu like symptoms. Expect your stools to change in color (a little darker), they might be extra smelly (putrefied yeast), they might look and feel slimy like there are strands of mucous throughout, and finally you might be a little gassy at the beginning.

I always suggest taking probiotics so the intestines get a fresh supply of the beneficial bacteria to take the place of the candida yeast as you eliminate it. If you do not put the good bacteria in the gut, the candida will eventually find it’s way back. Many people continue to take probiotics on-going just to make sure.

Acne

This subject might spark a few memories from Jr. and High school. I remember having the second worst case of acne in high school. Just one kid had it worse than me. But then as a senior, I took a home-economics class made up of only guys. We learned how to use the sewing machine, cook a steak to perfect done-ness, and proper hygiene. Mrs. Slings taught us how our hands were very dirty. Under the nails was even worse. “Your hands should not contact your face!” is the message I took away from her class. Bacteria and germs are on everything you touch from the money in your pocket, to the doorknobs, and from the toilet flush lever, to the shopping carts in the grocery stores. So, wash your hands many times through the day.

I remember all the other kids in school who accused me of never washing my face. Or all the stories about eating chocolate or eating greasy foods. Who knows how much of all that contributes to acne. I have learned over the years that an imbalance in hormones can play a role in acne too. All I know is that when your face is filled with pimples, it takes over your world. There is a frantic attempt to try everything to eliminate it!

Here is a brief description of what happens to make a pimple. Your skin has pores in it for a variety of functions. The pores will allow outside things to enter the body and the pores will eliminate poisons out through the same hole. In an attempt to regulate this entry/exit capability, your body produces a waxy plug known as sebum that sits at the base of these pores. A strong soap and hot water dissolves this sebum plug.  As your liver tries to send toxins out through your pores, your hands can bring environmental toxins to those same face pores. This backup of junk has no where to go and so it sits there until your immune system takes over and sends protective mucous to the spot. This puss indicates a small infection. Red swollen bumps that sometimes turn white just before eruption. Then in a few days, (if you are lucky) the skin starts to heal.

Doctors have used antibiotics for years in attempts to minimize infections. Prescription strength cleansing programs are thought to keep skin infections at bay. Diet, exercise, and proper hygiene are suggested to reduce toxic load. But still there is acne.

Over washing, fancy cleansers, aggressive toners, drying masks, and strong astringents all act as stimulants to your skin. Overactive skin types get better results with a calmer, gentler approach. What worked for me way back then was to discontinue ALL skin stimulants. Over the years, I have learned of many other products that I did not know about back in High school.  For example, I now know of a company that has been making a bar shampoo for over a century that does not use harsh acids to strip the hair. It does not contain perfumes, dies, or preservatives either that might irritate the face skin.  In fact you need no conditioners (that contain waxes and pore plugging, chemical moisturizers) because it leaves your hair shiny and squeaky clean. In stead of soap for your face, I suggest using the bubbles you just used to clean your hair on your face. When you are done in the shower, put Jojoba oil on your clean dry skin, now that the pores are open. Jojoba oil serves two purposes. One is to dissolve the sebum from the bottom of the pore. The second is to moisturize with this extremely light penetrating oil so your skin will not have to produce its own pour plugging oils. And just in case your diet is not the best, I suggest a good liver support blend of herbs. Then, multiple times throughout the day, find some clean, cool water to splash on your face. Remember to wash your hands first then pat your face dry with a paper towel. If you still think you need to cleanse your face, once or twice a week, I would try a Tea Tree oil based cleanser. You might also try spraying your face with some lavender infused water in a spray bottle to help relax the skin surface.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA), are a linked chain of three essential amino acids. An essential amino acid is one that the body can not manufacture on its own. There are about nine of the nearly thirty individual aminos that are considered essential for life. Amino acids are the smaller building blocks that make strands of proteins. The proteins that you eat in your daily diet are made up of different compositions of amino acids. The goal should be to eat a variety of protein in order to provide your body with a larger selection of individual aminos. A whole egg (yoke included) provides the human body with nearly a perfect combination of amino acids. Most other sources of proteins require a combination to achieve that perfect profile of aminos. Beans and rice is a good example of a protein combination that provides all essential amino acids, for instance.

L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, and L-Valine are the three aminos that are the BCAA’s. Each one of them has a list of benefits on their own. This discussion is about the three of them in combination form. Branched Chains make up to 50% of your muscle tissues. Amino acids are reserved in the body for up to four hours. So, a fresh supply should be coming in 3-5 times through the day. BCAA’s are used by anyone who is trying to support muscle repair. I rarely play tennis. I got a tennis racket for Christmas one year. So, I went out and played for a couple hours. By bedtime I was already sore. I took a handful of BCAA’s and was just fine the next day.

Branched Chains are used for any anabolic exercise. Anabolic exercise promotes the building of muscle tissues. BCAA’s will help to maintain muscle and at the same time preserve glycogen stores in the muscle. Branched chains are not catabolic, which means they inhibit muscle break down. BCAA’s are used by body builders and athletes undergoing intense exercise. Branched chains are also used post surgery and during chronic illness to improve healing and recovery. 3 to 5 grams during exercise will delay fatigue and improve performance. Another 3 to 5 grams within 90 minutes after strenuous exercise or play might turn sore muscle pain into a non-issue.

Shop Local

I am sure that phrase means something different to almost everyone. In light of the current economic times, nearly every customer who visits, asks “how is your business doing”? I assume they mean the overall health of our store. By now, most of you have read about Morrison’s deli, bar, and upstairs closing. They were next door to us. The Maritime seafood and grill on the other side closed a year ago. The parking problems we had during lunch and dinner are no longer. Our type of business is not as dependant on walk-by traffic. When folks need a refill on their nutritional supplements, they make our store a destination. Don’t get me wrong, we are always looking for new customers and walk-by traffic has created a large number of regular customers.

After we moved our family to Woodland in 2001, I kept hearing a recurring comment to questions about where to shop for specific items. If you want a certain kind of restaurant, go to Sacramento. Want a good selection of clothes, go to Sacramento. What about organic foods? You got it, go to Davis. Want to walk around in a pleasant downtown? Davis. Farmers Market? Yep, Davis. Sorry Sonjia. Want to watch a first run movie? Not here! It baffles me to hear so many people with similar attitudes towards our local businesses.

My eyes were opened recently when a neighbor who lives across the street from our house held a party for their high school child. First, around 7pm we began to notice all these newer, smaller cars packed with teens, take up all available street parking, and then the carload of teens went up to this one house. These cars continued to snake around the block, and then to the next block over. In less than an hour we counted over 100 students. By 9pm the music and population had grown to un-controllable levels. By 11pm, the police arrived and had to brake it up. It was like watching an anthill when you get it wet. The outgoing procession of kids was un-imaginable. The following morning, the single mom who had thrown the party for her child came over to explain what had happened.  Her story was that because of Facebook, more kids showed up than were originally invited.

That incident pointed some things out to me. First, all those kids were driving nice cars. Moms and dads who still have enough money to buy their kids new cars. Secondly, there are a lot of people who live in Woodland assuming all those kids were in one grade level. Is this the same city that identifies itself as a “small town”? No, there are still many people who live here and many of those people still have money. Where are all of their parents shopping? And finally, what really struck me was the power of Facebook and it’s possibilities for more positive applications to communicate directly with a large group of people.

So, putting this all together, What can I do to avoid the pitfalls of my business neighbors? How can I enhance the “health” of my own business, Woodland Nutrition?

As I wrote at the beginning, shopping locally has different interpretations, depending on who you ask. To me I like to use the bullseye design. In the center you have mom & pop style businesses. The next ring out would be a franchised business owned by locals who hire locals. Farther out would be the Big Box types, at least they hire locals. Extending to the outer rings would be county, state and then nationally. That same bullseye design could be used for restaurants, clothing, and even your groceries. If we all made the effort to patronize businesses closer to the center of the bullseye, I believe our local economic “health” will improve.

Many of you readers have commented directly to me about reading my Nutrition Navigator columns. The blog archive of all my past articles can be found by googling “My Nutrition Navigator”. If you do Facebook, I have created a way of communicating at nearly “real time” with you. Just search for Woodland Nutrition. Please feel free to join discussions, ask questions, or just keep me updated with your progress along your nutrition path.

Cholesterol

I was reading an article in one of my trade magazines (Whole Foods December, 2009). It was an interview between Doctor Richard A. Passwater, PH. D. and author Sheldon Zerdon, about his most recent book titled The Cholesterol Paradigm: The greatest Health Scam of the Century. This marked the third of such interviews between Dr. Passwater and Zerdon. The first was in 1997 with Zerdon’s book titled The Cholesterol Hoax. And a second interview later in 2004 with The Best of Health: The 100 Best Health Books.

In 1977 Dr. Passwater authored Supernutrition For Healthy Hearts. On the cover of his book he challenged “If anyone can step forward and prove that eating cholesterol causes heart disease, I will donate all of the proceeds from my book to the American Heart Association (AHA).” Back then, the media took the challenge and tried to find cholesterol proponents to prove their case. Good Morning America, major newspapers and television shows around the world interviewed Dr. Passwater with his challenge. It even earned him frequent guest spots on the radio shows of Dr. Robert Atkins, and Carlton Fredricks. No one has offered proof that eating cholesterol caused heart attacks, to date.

So, Dr. Passwater asked Zerdon why he wrote this book. Zerdon was concerned about the problems associated with cholesterol levels that got too low and the damages being done by dangerous medications used to lower cholesterol. Zerdon claimed that thirty one studies reported higher cancer and / or total death rates with subjects who have lower blood cholesterol levels. “There have been 33 clinical trials of the Cholesterol Diet-Heart Disease hypothesis in the last 30 years. The evidence clearly shows this is not a sound hypothesis”. “Three independent studies proved that two, three, and even four eggs eaten each day showed virtually no change in blood cholesterol levels of healthy individuals”. Zerdon also refers to the Framingham Study that found identical death rates for subjects of either sex across a range of blood Cholesterol levels from 205 to 265 Mg/dL. He then sited the largest trial (362,000 men screened to select 12,000 overweight, hypertensive smokers with high blood cholesterol), the MRFIT Study proved that across the entire range of blood cholesterol levels (150 to 350 mg/dL.), the coronary heart disease death rate only increased by 0.13%. A French study showed old women with very high blood cholesterol levels live the longest.

As you can see there is quite a dilemma in front of you. This questionable issue of high cholesterol takes some of the punch out of the argument connecting cholesterol and heart disease. Even so, you ask, is there any thing I can do to make the numbers better for my next doctor visit? Sure, a diet high in polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats (in vegetable oils) makes the plaque in arteries that causes heart disease. So decrease vegetable oils. The body needs saturated fats (from animals and coconut oil) to use other key nutrients like fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. Eat eggs for breakfast in stead of oats. Get rid of anything in your diet that contains trans fats (hydrogenated oils) like baked treats and margarine. Consume fiber like that found in ground flax seeds to help soak up existing fats in the blood. Increase fats like those in fish oil to raise the right kind of cholesterol. Make sure the meat you buy is raised on grass not on corn.

If those dietary changes do not produce enough of the results you and your doctor want, there is additional support. Fat blockers like Plant Phytosterols and Red Yeast Rice are used extensively in other countries. Just remember to take additional Co Q 10 while on these supplements, as they block fat indiscriminately.

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