Are you losing sleep because of daylight savings?

With the recent daylight savings time changes, it can be distressing to hear that you are going to lose an hour of sleep.  Especially if you are already feeling like you do not get enough sleep every night.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average adult should get between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night for optimal health.  Most American adults get about 7.5 hours a night according to the most recent Sleep Index Survey.

With the addition of daylight savings time, losing an hour of sleep may put many in the unhealthy range for sleep hours per night. This can have a major impact on well-being since sleep affects many parts of our body. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep can affect such things as:

  • memory
  • ability to learn
  • mood
  • healing and repair of heart and blood vessels
  • hormone balance
  • immune system response

Therefore, without adequate sleep, a person can be at higher risk for anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, and increased blood glucose levels.

Manage your sleep, manage your health

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that in order to ensure proper sleep each night, to stick to a sleeping schedule.  Without a scheduled bed time each night, you may be at risk for staying up late.  In addition, without a set bed time, you may end up engaging in mindless activities such as playing on the computer or watching television, which could affect your ability to wind down and have restful sleep.

Furthermore, limiting alcohol and caffeine intake can help improve sleep quality. Therefore, try to limit consuming caffeine-containing foods and drinks such as coffee, tea, and chocolate in the later half of your day to prevent over-stimulation.  On a similar note, limit alcohol consumption to improve sleep quality and quantity. Although, you may fall asleep faster after a glass of wine, alcohol actually reduces rapid eye movement (also known as REM). REM sleep is a deep state of sleep, so without it, you may feel tired upon waking.  Therefore, after drinking alcohol, you may fall asleep fast and then wake up earlier and unrested.

Natural supplements such as melatonin, such as that found in Vita Science’s Somnova may also help sleep.  Somnova contains a powerful blend of melatonin, L-Theanine, and magnesium, which work together to promote healthy sleep.  Melatonin is a hormone that helps to maintain a health Circadian rhythm in the body.  Visit Vita Sciences website to check out some other supplements that can help you live a healthier, fuller life.

Also, be sure to visit the National Sleep Foundation website for more tips, research, and Homeinformation about how you can improve your sleep.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (Feb 22, 2012). “Why Is Sleep Important?” https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why

National Sleep Foundation (accessed 2017 March 20). “How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

National Sleep Foundation (accessed 2017 March 20). ” How Alcohol Affects the Quality- and Quantity- of Sleep” https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/how-alcohol-affects-sleep

University of Maryland Medical Center (Feb 3, 2016). “Melatonin” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/melatonin.

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Three ways you can control your hypertension today

Are you one of the 85 million Americans with high blood pressure? If so, it is important to know what you can do to control your blood pressure and prevent heart disease.  In many cases, there are not any obvious symptoms of high blood pressure.  Therefore, it is important to keep track of your numbers and visit your doctor regularly to control your blood pressure.

If you want to control your blood pressure today, follow these three steps to get started on your heart healthy journey.

1.) Lower your sodium intake.  A recent study of the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looked at salt intake and high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.  Between 1999 and 2012, the sodium intake of those with hypertension rose nearly 14-percent from 2900 to 3350 milligrams daily.  The recommended sodium intake for those with hypertension is 1500 milligrams a day, while those without hypertension should limit intake to 2300 milligrams daily.  It is important to note that that 2300 milligrams of sodium is equal to just one teaspoon of salt.  Furthermore, reports show that three-fourths of the sodium most people consume daily is not from added salt.  Instead, most excess sodium intake is from consuming processed food products. Therefore, it is important to limit prepackaged foods such as:

  • chips
  • crackers
  • canned soups
  • boxed meals
  • deli meats, sausages, and hot dogs
  • take-out food

These convenience foods contain high levels of sodium-based preservatives that make them shelf stable. Therefore, stick to consuming mostly fresh, whole foods such as lean meats, fiber-rich fruits and veggies, and whole grains to maintain healthy levels of daily sodium.

2.) Stay active every day. According to the American Heart Association, at least 40 minutes of exercise each day, 3-4 days a week can help control blood pressure. A recent study in the journal Hypertension looked at the link between exercise and risk of high blood pressure in African Americans.  High blood pressure risk was nearly one-fourth lower in those who exercised at least 150 minutes a week versus non-exercisers. However, it is important to note that the exercise found to be most beneficial was done in bouts of at least ten minutes.

3.) Take your medicine and supplements daily.

Be sure to take any prescribed medicines as suggested by your healthcare provider.  This is because for some people, diet and exercise may not be enough to maintain blood pressure at a healthy level.  In addition, there are some supplements that may be able to help support healthy blood pressure levels. One of these supplements is Presura by Vita SciencesPresura contains niacin, which is found to dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and in turn lower blood pressure levels. Therefore, visit Vita Sciences to find supplements that can help support your heart healthy lifestyle today.

For more information on how to control your blood pressure, visit the American Heart Association website or Medline Plus for the latest research findings.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (2017 March 10) “The Facts about High Blood Pressure” https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/The-Facts-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002050_Article.jsp

American Heart Association (2016 December 13) “Five Simple Steps to Control Your Blood Pressure” https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/Five-Simple-Steps-to-Control-Your-Blood-Pressure_UCM_301806_Article.jsp

Medline Plus (2017 March 8) “Americans with High Blood Pressure Still Eating Too Much Salt.” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163977.html

U.S. News World Report (2017 January 30) “Exercise May Help Black Americans Lower Blood Pressure Risk” http://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2017-01-30/exercise-may-help-black-americans-lower-blood-pressure-risk

 

 

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Could vitamin D protect against bone loss?

Are you one of the 44 million Americans with low one density?  If so, and if you are over the age of 50, you could be one of the 10 million Americans with osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a dangerous condition in which your bones become fragile and at risk for fractures.  In older individuals, osteoporosis can lead to hip fractures that can limit mobility, or even spine fractures that could be debilitating.  Older women at are most risk for osteoporosis, but this condition can occur to both men and women at any age.

osteoporosis, vitamin D, bone health

Osteoporosis can weaken bone strength over time increasing risk of hip, wrist, and spinal fractures.

If you want to prevent osteoporosis, there are a few controllable factors that you can take charge of to lower your risk.

  • Quit smoking or don’t start if you don’t smoke.
  • Limit drinking alcohol.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D

A recent study by researchers from Harvard-affiliated Hebrew Senior Life found that older adults who consumed calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, milk, or cheese had higher bone mineral density in the spine and less bone loss in the hip.  However, this risk was only reduced significantly along with consumption of vitamin D supplementation. It is suspected that this finding is due to vitamin D’s important function of assisting with calcium absorption.  Without vitamin D, our body cannot adequately absorb all of the calcium goodness from the foods that we eat. In turn, our bones cannot receive the strengthening elements of calcium needed to preserve bone and prevent bone loss.

If you are not sure if you are vitamin D deficient, be sure to check with your healthcare provider.  Furthermore, if you are vitamin D deficient, it will be important to start on a vitamin D supplementation regimen.  However, check with your healthcare provider to find a regimen that will be best for you. Other ways to increase vitamin D include consuming foods rich in the vitamin such as:

  • fish oils
  • fatty fish
  • mushrooms
  • beef liver
  • cheese
  • egg yolks
  • fortified milk

Also, by increasing your sunlight exposure you can naturally increase your daily intake of vitamin D.   However, the amount of sunlight exposure needed to provide the most benefit will differ for everyone.   This is because the time of day, where you live, and skin pigmentation can all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin makes.

Furthermore, pair your healthy bone regimen with a supplement like Osteovent from Vita Sciences. Osteovent is power-packed with bone healthy vitamins such as vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, and boron that are recommended by the Open Orthopaedics Journal.

Visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation website for all of the great work they are doing to help increase awareness of osteoporosis and improve bone health efforts.

Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Institutes of Health (2017 March 1). “Older Bones Benefit from Dairy Plus Vitamin D” https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_163861.html

National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center (2014 Nov). “What is Osteoporosis? Fast Facts: An Easy to Read Series of Publications for the Public” https://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/bone/osteoporosis/osteoporosis_ff.asp

Calcium/Vitamin D

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Could lowering your blood pressure save your life?

Could you be the one in five people who has high blood pressure without knowing it?  You may ask what symptoms you should look out for to know if you have high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, the scariest thing about hypertension is that it usually has no symptoms.  Furthermore, a recent study found that more intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could save over 100,000 early deaths each year.hypertension, blood pressure, heart health

When looking at blood pressure numbers, the bottom number represents systolic pressure, while the top number represents diastolic pressure.  Systolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting during heartbeats.  On the other hand, the diastolic pressure shows how much pressure your heart is exerting between heartbeats.

Knowing Your Numbers

It is important to keep track of your blood pressure numbers to know if you are at risk for hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, a healthy blood pressure number is 120/80 mmHg. However, once this number starts to rise, a person climbs into the pre-hypertension range.  Furthermore, when your number moves up to around 140/90 mmHg and above, you become hypertensive.  It is at this point when you should see your healthcare provider for advice on any medications or lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your numbers.

Lowering Systolic Pressure Could Save Lives

A study by researchers at Loyola University Chicago looked at the effects of intensive systolic pressure lowering treatment on hypertensive adults over the age of 50 years.  Each person in the study received at least two hypertensive medicines.  Patients were observed over several years. It was found that when blood pressure was lowered to less than 120/80 versus less than 140/90, there was a 27-percent reduction in mortality from all causes.  In other words, for every 300 people given this intensive treatment over one year, one life would be saved.  When considering that around 18 million people would qualify for this treatment, it could save around 107,500 lives each year.

Therefore, check your blood pressure at least once a year.  Check your numbers more often if you have a family history of hypertension or other risk factors such as obesity or being a smoker.   If you are pre-hypertensive and are not currently on a heart healthy regimen or medication treatment, see your healthcare provider for assistance.  Simple changes to your lifestyle such as reducing sodium intake and walking for 30 minutes a day can improve your numbers.

In addition, natural treatments may also help to support lower blood pressure numbers. Presura from Vitasciences contains natural ingredients such as Hawthorn Berry, Niacin, and Garlic Extract that work together to decrease pressure against the walls of blood vessels. Visit Vitasciences today to get more information on Presura and how it can be a great addition to your  heart healthy lifestyle.

-Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (2016 Oct)  “Understanding Blood Pressure Readings” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/Understanding-Blood-Pressure-Readings_UCM_301764_Article.jsp#.WLPQvoWcHIU

American Heart Association (2016 Oct) “Why High Blood Pressure is a ‘Silent Killer'” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandSymptomsRisks/Why-High-Blood-Pressure-is-a-Silent-Killer_UCM_002053_Article.jsp#.WLPRO4WcHIU

Loyola University Health System (2017 Feb 23) “Intensive lowering of systolic blood pressure could prevent 107,500 early deaths per year.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170223092400.htm

Mayo Clinic (2016 Sept 9) “High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Risk Factors” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/basics/risk-factors/con-20019580

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Could Breakfast Improve Your Heart Health?

Are you one of the 30-percent of the American adults that skips breakfast? Time and time again you may have heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  A recent study has found that breakfast may improve heart health by reducing risk of heart disease.

Breakfast and Heart Disease Risk

According to the American Heart Association, eating more in the morning and less at night may reduce the odds for a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiac and blood vessel diseases. This is because those who skip breakfast tend to snack more throughout the day. Furthermore, such snack options may not be the healthiest choices. When people eat breakfast, they have been found less likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In addition, breakfast eaters tend to have less risk factors for heart disease such as obesity, diabetes, and overall poor nutrition.

It is thought that meal timing may be the primary reason for this correlation between breakfast eating and lower heart disease risk.  It is thought that humans do not process sugars as well in the night time hours as in the morning. Therefore, a person that eats breakfast will most likely in turn eat a sensibly-sized dinner. This sensible dinner, as opposed to snacking or overeating, will contain less sugar than the latter.  Therefore, breakfast eaters will likely have less chance of elevated blood glucose levels and excessive caloric intake that could lead to obesity and related conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.  However, there is a chance that some individuals that add breakfast could actually gain weight. This is likely related to the food choices and portion sizes that are being made during each meal time.

What is a healthy breakfast?

A healthy breakfast, or any healthy meal for that matter, should consist of a good balance of protein and fiber. Protein from lean meats, dairy products, eggs, or plant-based protein such as nuts, seeds, or beans would be balanced along with a fiber-rich serving of whole grains, fruits, or veggies. In addition, limiting salt intake, red meat, as well as high-sugar foods can also reduce risk of heart disease.

What else can I do to improve heart health?

Other lifestyle changes that can be made to improve heart health include:

  • planning and prepping meals ahead of time so you do not rely on convenience foods
  • having grab-and-go healthy snacks available if you have a busy schedule; examples include smoothies, portable fruit like apples, oranges, or bananas, or healthy non-perishable protein-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, and low-sodium turkey jerky
  • stopping “kitchen hours” at a certain time to prevent overeating at night and mindless snacking

Finally, you can also add a heart-healthy supplement to your daily regimen such as Alestra. Alestra is a plant-based supplement containing Gugulipid, niacin, garlic bulb herb powder, cayenne, and phytosterol concentrate.  It works to support healthy cholesterol levels and support heart health. Visit the Vitasciences website for more information on Alestra, or one of their other heart-healthy supplement products.

Be sure to visit the American Heart Association website at Heart.org for more information on the latest research and other helpful information on ways you can improve your heart health.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Rapaport, Lisa (2017 Jan 31) “Skipping breakfast may be bad for your health, doctors say” Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-cardiovascular-meal-timing-idUSKBN15F2GW

St.-Onge, M-P, et al. (2017 Jan 30) “Meal Timing and Frequency: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association.” Circulation, Volume 135: Issue 7.

 

 

 

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Healthy Blood Pressure Begins With These Three Compounds

It may be difficult to understand what it means to get heart healthy.  Heart healthy living can consist of eating plenty of fruits and veggies, limiting red meat, exercising most days of the week, and quitting smoking.  However, even after making some lifestyle changes, losing weight, or reducing stress, your blood pressure may still need some help in getting into a normal, healthy range.  Here are three natural compounds that may help you to lower blood pressure and increase heart health today.

  1. Niacin, otherwise known as B3, helps the body produce certain sex and stress hormones and works to improve circulation.  In addition, niacin can reduce risk of heart disease by suppressing inflammation.  Niacin can reduce risk of heart disease by lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and blood triglyceride levels.  In turn, reduce hypertensiojn, blood pressure, heartrisk of heart attacks and death by taking niacin with cholesterol-lowering medicine. Beets, beef liver, tuna, salmon, sunflower seeds, and peanuts all contain niacin.  When taken as a supplement, however, keep intake levels below the upper limit of 50 milligrams. Otherwise, dangerous side effects such as liver damage and stomach ulcers may occur.  However, niacin is a water-soluble vitamin excreted in the urine daily. Therefore, a person is unlikely to overdose on niacin.
  2. Hawthorn is a berry plant that has been used for thousands of years to treat heart disease.  The leaves and flowers can improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and improve heart failure treatment outcomes.   Furthermore, the antioxidant flavonoids present in the parts of the Hawthorn plant aid in dilating blood vessels and protecting blood vessels from damage.
  3. Garlic is an edible bulb plant used as an aromatic flavoring to many dishes.  In addition, Native Americans, Egyptians, and Greeks, to name a few, used garlic for health purposes for many years. For example, the 2016 AGE at Heart trial found that aged garlic extract is effective in reducing peripheral and central blood pressure in patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

After reading this list, you may wonder how to get all of these compounds in your daily regimen. Vitasciences has fit all of these heart-healthy compounds in one high quality supplement, Presura.

Visit the American Heart Association website to see if you may be at risk for high blood pressure. Furthermore, if you are at risk for hypertension, ask your healthcare provider to see Presura,  along with a heart healthy lifestyle, could help you.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016 Sept.) “Garlic” https://nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm

PubMed Health (2012) “Garlic for Hypertension” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0048277/

Ried, K, et al. (2016 Jan 27) “The effect of aged garlic extract on blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors in uncontrolled hypertensives: the AGE at Heart trial.” Integrated Blood Pressure Control, 9: 9-21.

University of Maryland Medical Center (2015 Aug 6) “Vitamin B3 ( Niacin)” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b3-niacin

University of Maryland Medical Center (2015 Jan 2) “Hawthorn” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/hawthorn

 

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Ten Steps To Heart Health

February is American Heart Month.  In celebration of this annual event, look below for a list of ten things you can start doing right now to support your heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with every one in three deaths from the condition.  Prevention is key, so start taking charge of your heart health today.

  1. Exercise More. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking each day for at least 5 days a week.
  2. Eat More Fiber-Rich Foods. Getting at least 25 grams of fiber a day from fresh fruits, veggies, and whole grains has been found to lower risk of high cholesterol.
  3. Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco. Chemicals found in tobacco have been shown to narrow and damage the blood vessels.  In addition, tobacco can also lead to hardening of the arteries.
  4. Limit Processed Food Intake.  Many packaged foods are high in sugar, fat, and salt, all of which do not support a heart healthy diet.  Stick to fresh or frozen produce, minimally processed food products such as yogurt, cheese, and other fresh dairy products, lean meats, and plant-based proteins such as nuts and seeds.
  5. Limit Alcohol Intake.  In moderation, red wine may be heart-protective, but anything in excess can be harmful to your health. Therefore, limit alcohol to no more than one standard drink a day for women and two standard drinks a day for men.  One standard drink is equal to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and 1.5 ounces of liquor.
  6. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Carrying excess weight around your abdominal area can increase risk of heart disease. Therefore, keep your waistline below 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women to reduce your heart disease risk.
  7. Get Plenty of Sleep. Sleep is important for many aspects of health. Most importantly though, it is during slumber that your body regulates fluid and blood pressure in the body. Therefore, sleep is important for maintaining heart health.
  8. Manage Stress. Whether it be traffic, work, relationships, or financial issues, life can be stressful sometimes. However, it is important to learn to manage your stress to reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Therefore, use relaxation breathing, meditation, yoga, or prayer to help keep you calm during daily stress.  However, in some cases, you may need support from a healthcare professional or support group to help you manage life’s stresses.
  9. Visit Your Healthcare Provider Often. The key to optimal health is prevention. Therefore, if you want to reduce your risk of chronic disease, be sure to visit your healthcare provider on a regular basis to get your numbers checked.  Blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides are just some of the numbers that will help you keep track of your heart health status.
  10. Try Presura from VitaSciences. One to three capsules a day of Presura can support healthy blood pressure and heart health. This is because this heart-healthy supplement contains vitamin B6, B12, C, and the heart-healthy herb Hawthorn berry extract.

Visit the American Heart Association and VitaSciences for more ways you can take control of your heart health.

-written by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

American Heart Association (accessed 2017 Feb 1). “7 Small Steps to Big Changes.” http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/My-Life-Check—Lifes-Simple-7_UCM_471453_Article.jsp#.WJLJYoWcHIV

American Heart Association (2017 Jan 25) “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2017 At-A-Glance.” https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/ahamah-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_491265.pdf

Diane, A. et al. (2016 Sept 14). “Hypolipidemic and Cardioprotective Benefits of a Novel Fireberry Hawthorn Fruit Extract in the JCR: LA-cp Rodent Model of Dyslipidemia and Cardiac Dysfunction.” Food and Function, 7(9): 3943-52.

Harvard University (accessed 2017 Feb 1) “Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12.” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b/#b-vitamins-heart-disease

Mayo Clinic (2016 June 17) “Strategies to Prevent Heart Disease.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/art-20046502

Mayo Clinic (2015 June 12) “Top Foods to Improve Your Numbers.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192

Moser, M.A. and O.K. Chun (Aug 2016) “Vitamin C and Heart Health: A Review Based on Findings from Epidemiologic Studies.” International Journal of Microbiological Sciences,   17(8): 1328.

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Top Three Ways Probiotics Can Improve Gut Health

Probiotics, or gut-loving bacteria, started to blossom back in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s as part of a healthy lifestyle.  It was during this time that Scientist Elie Metchnikoff proposed that consumption of yogurt with Lactobacillus helped decrease the amount of toxin-producing bacteria in the gut and increased life years in hosts.  The advent of probiotics has improved gut health for many.

About Probiotics

You may have heard about fermented foods, probiotics, and how good they are for you. However, do you really know what they are, and why they are so healthy?  The conversion of carbohydrates in the foods to alcohol or organic acids produces fermented foods. This is done by using microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria under the absence of free oxygen.  As a result, the fermentation process can lead to increased concentration of vitamins and  nutrients in the final product. In addition, other benefits of fermented foods include enhanced flavor and increased digestibility. Finally, it is important to note that fermented foods are only probiotics if the bacteria culture survives long enough to provide benefits to the GI tract.  

Probiotic Foods

These are some fermented foods that are considered probiotics.

  • Yogurt, which is milk fermented with bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus. 
  • Kimchi, or spicy pickled cabbage, which is a popular dish in Korean culture.
  • Sauerkraut, which is a pickled cabbage commonly eaten in German culture.
  • Cheeses like Gouda, Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan. Not all cheeses have probiotic qualities, but in these particular cheeses the bacteria survives long enough to benefit the GI tract.  Furthermore, during digestion  beneficial bacteria is protected by the fat in cheese.

Probiotic Drinks

There are also some fermented drinks that provide probiotic benefits.

  • Cow’s milk fermented with bacteria creates the sour yogurt-like drink called kefir.
  • Live cultures added to milk creates buttermilk. However, cooked buttermilk can deactivate these gut-beneficial cultures.
  • Sweet tea fermented with yeast and bacteria creates Kombucha.

Probiotic Supplements

With so many different probiotics on the market containing so many different bacterial cultures in so many different amounts, it can be difficult to know which will provide the most benefit.  However, Vitasciences makes it easy for you when it comes to choosing the proper probiotic.  BioVia30 contains a diversity of bacterial strains containing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium that helps to increase the good bacteria in your gut. Therefore, choose Vitasciences when shopping for your supplement needs.

-by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Sources:

Battcock, M. and S. Azam-Ali (1998) “Fermented Frutis and Vegetables: A Global Perspective.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. http://www.fao.org/docrep/x0560e/x0560e00.htm#con

Cruz, A., et al. (2009 Aug) “Probiotic cheese: Health benefits, technological and stability aspects” Trends in Food Science & Technology, 20(8):344-354.

Ganesan, B. et al. (2014) “Probiotic Bacteria Survive in Cheddar Cheese and modify  populations of other Lactic Acid Bacteria.” Journal of Applied Microbiology, 116(6): 1642-56.

 

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Can Ashwagandha Support Hypothyroidism Treatment?

Hypothyroidism occurs when the body is not producing enough thyroid hormone.  As a result of this, an individual with hypothyroidism can experience fatigue, feeling cold often, weight gain, constipation, depression, and in some cases numbness and tingling of the hands and feet.  These symptoms can not only cause discomfort physically, but can also cause stress in the patient mentally due to the neurological effects it can have on the body.

Hypothyroidism and Inflammation

According to the American Thyroid Association, thyroiditis, or an inflammation of the thyroid, can lead to thyroid disorders.  While rapid thyroid cell damage leads to hyperthyroidism, the opposite is true for hypothyroidism.  A slow, chronic damage and destruction of thyroid cells can lead to a fall in thyroid levels in the blood.

Natural Thyroid Support

Ashwagandha is a popular herb know  for its anti-inflammatory properties.  Also known as Indian ginseng, ashwangandha has been found to relax the central nervous system. A 2014 study in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine suggests that ashwagandha may also help to increase thyroxine levels. Therefore, the herb may be helpful in supporting
treatment of hypothyroidism.

Thyradol is a supplement developed by Vitasciences that contains ashwagandha along with other thyroid supportive compounds such as B12 and selenium.   Therefore, instead of taking a handful of supplements, thyradol can make taking care of your thyroid simple.

Visit the American Thyroid Association at thyroid.org to show your support for thyroid awareness and research.

-by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

 

Sources:

American Thyroid Association (accessed 2017 Jan 21) “Thyroiditis” http://www.thyroid.org/thyroiditis/

Gannon, J.M., et al. (2014 Oct-Dec). “Subtle Changes in Thyroid Indices During a Placebo-Controlled Study of an Extract of Withania somnifera in Persons With Bipolar Disorder.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 5(4): 241-245.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2015 Dec 29) “Ashwangandha.” https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/ashwagandha

University of Maryland Medical Center (2016 April 27) “Hypothyroidism.” http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/hypothyroidism

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Hypothyroidism May be Linked to Vitamin B12 Deficiency

hypothyroidismThyroid conditions can be very frustrating and uncomfortable for those affected.  Hypothyroidism in particular can cause disruptions in daily living through symptoms such as fatigue, difficulty losing weight, and depression. Additional symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

  • feeling colder
  • constipation
  • forgetfulness
  • drier skin

Current Treatments

Since hypothyroidism involves an underactive thyroid, traditional treatments have focused on replacing the hormone that your body cannot make.  Therefore, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4 levels should be checked often to make sure hormone levels are brought into and maintained into normal levels.

The gold standard for treating hypothyroidism is levothyroxine.  This is because levothyroxine is easy to use, its low risk of side effects, good intestinal absorption, long serum half-life, and low cost.  This medicine works to help normalize thyroid and TSH levels in the body.

If a patient’s levothyroxine dose is higher than expected, the healthcare provider should check for other conditions. These conditions include Heliobacter pylori, gastritis, or celiac disease.  Treatment of any such conditions could help lessen the symptoms of low thyroid levels in some individuals.

B12 deficiency may cause symptoms of hypothyroidism

Another condition that may affect thyroid levels in the body is B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products as well as in fortified products such as cereals and breads.  Therefore, those most at risk include those that do not eat these foods such as vegans and vegetarians. In addition, those who are older adults, pregnant and lactating women, and those with malabsorption issues may be low in B12.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency that may parallel those symptoms of impaired thyroid include fatigue and weakness.  In addition, B12 deficiency can cause anemia, constipation, loss of appetite. And if uncontrolled or severe, lack of B12 may cause neurological symptoms such as confusion or numbness and tingling in hands and feet.

  • anemia
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • difficulty balancing
  • confusion

Since B12 has been found to be lacking in many people with the condition, it is suggested that those diagnosed with autoimmune hypothyroidism should be tested for B12 deficiency.

Thyradol is a supplement blend containing vitamin B12 as well as alternative medicine compounds like ashwagandha thought to improve thyroid health.  Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.  This is because it is important to make sure this supplement does not interfere with your current medical treatment.

If you want to find out more about the condition and how you can support research efforts, visit the American Thyroid Association website at thyroid.org for more details.

by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

 

 

American Thyroid Association (accessed 2017 Jan) “Hypothyroidism (Underactive)” http://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/

Collins, AB and R Pawlak (2016) “Prevalence of vitamin B12 deficiency among patients with thyroid dysfunction.”  Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 25(2): 221-6.

Jabbar, A., et al. (2008 May) “Vitamin B12 deficiency common in primary hypothyroidism.” The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 58(5): 258-61.

Medline (2015 Jan 15) “Levothyroxine” https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682461.html

National Institutes of Health (2016 Feb 11) “Vitaman B12: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet.” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

 

 

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