Author Archives: Dr Isaac Eliaz

About Dr Isaac Eliaz

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a respected author, lecturer, researcher, product formulator, and clinical practitioner. He has been a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980s. Dr. Eliaz is a frequent guest lecturer on integrative medical approaches to health, immune enhancement, and cancer prevention and treatment. Visit www.dreliaz.org

The fatty foods that protect your heart, mind and body

Published: September 27, 2015 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

Our complex relationship with dietary fats has been receiving a lot of attention lately, especially since researchers and medical professionals have begun shifting their views on the risks and benefits of certain types of fats. For example, earlier this year scientists reported that saturated fat doesn’t increase risks of heart disease, validating what traditional foods advocates have been saying for decades: that organic butter, grass-fed and organic meats, coconut oil, and other saturated fat products can play an important role in health. Trans fats, on the other hand, are beginning to get the infamy they deserve as unhealthy, processed ingredients that can wreak havoc on cellular and overall health.

In general, we need a moderate supply of healthy, dietary fats for optimal brain and immune health, hormone balance, skin health and more. In fact, we are biologically programmed to detect fats in our environment. A recent study conducted in the U.S. and the Netherlands found that many people can figure out the fat content in milk simply by smelling it.

This makes perfect sense. For most of human existence, we had trouble getting enough to eat, and fats are calorie-dense. Now, of course, we have a different problem. Many of us take in too many calories, leading to obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and other conditions related to our poor diets.

For many years, the food industrial complex has advertised low-fat and no-fat foods as a way to eat healthier. But this contradicts some pretty fundamental facts about our biology. We need fat. Every cell in our body contains fat. The cell membrane, largely composed of fats, is vital to the life of the cell. It even functions as the “brain” of the cell, receiving and processing messages from the environment as well as sending messages. Healthy fats mean healthy cell membranes that function as they were designed to.

So the issue is not whether we should banish fat from our diets. The issue is what kinds of fats we should consume.

The Right Fat

Healthy fats support immunity, cognitive function, healthy immune response, hormone balance, the cardiovascular system and numerous other areas of health. Bad fats, quite often, do just the opposite.

So let’s start with the good kinds of fat. First, we have monounsaturated fats, found in olive oil, avocados, high oleic sunflower oil, sesame seed oil, hemp seed oil, cashews and other sources. In moderation, these foods support healthy cholesterol levels and can help moderate inflammation.

The other recommended fats are called polyunsaturated. Think salmon, other fatty fish, nuts and seeds. These foods contain the polyunsaturated fats, omega-6 and omega-3, in varying ratios. Our American diets contain a higher ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. What we want is a better balance with equal or higher omega-3s such as the ratio found in flax and chia seeds as well as salmon and other fatty fish. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, are excellent antioxidants and have been shown to help people lose weight, as they can enhance both fat and glucose metabolism.

Saturated fats, common in meats, whole milk, butter, coconut and other sources, were once thought to be associated with heart disease and weight gain; however, new research is showing that these fats can play an important role in nourishing the body and brain. Recently, large-scale studies reported that saturated fat does not increase the risks of heart disease, contrary to what we’ve been hearing for decades. Experts assert that these findings are not conclusive, as there isn’t a large body of clinical data on the effects of certain fats. However, preliminary studies have demonstrated that the right kinds of fats can support immunity, reduce inflammation, balance cholesterol levels, enhance neurological and cognitive function, regulate hormones and more.

The Wrong Fat

There is another class of fat that’s been getting a lot of press lately — trans fats. Trans fats are typically made when hydrogen is forcibly added to vegetable oil, and are found in margarine and countless processed foods. Manufacturers like hydrogenated oils because they act like traditional shortening and increase a product’s shelf life. Ironically, the scientists who discovered the hydrogenation process won the Nobel Prize.

According to the American Heart Association, trans fats raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce good cholesterol (HDL). They also increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes. They boost inflammation, and they have been associated with cancer. Trans fats have even been linked to aggressive behavior. By comparison, saturated fats are superfoods!

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced a ban on trans fats, noting that simply removing this harmful ingredient from our diets could prevent 20,000 heart attacks a year. Other research has found that eliminating trans fats could prevent as many as 20 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease.

Nitro Fatty Acids Support Heart Health

Keep in mind, trans fats aren’t exiled from foods yet, so we still need to be careful consumers. That means avoiding any product with hydrogenated oils. The easy way to do this is to simply stop eating processed foods. French fries, donuts, chips, crackers — these are generally loaded with trans fats.

Fortunately, there are a lot of healthy fats to choose from, and studies showing the benefits of a Mediterranean diet demonstrate how the right kinds of fats can be beneficial for heart health. A compelling new study published in the journal PNASshows us that when we add olive oil, nuts and/or avocado to a meal with lots of vegetables high in nitrites and nitrates, such as spinach, celery and carrots, a synergistic action occurs. The fats react with the nitrogen compounds in the vegetables, to produce what are called nitro fatty acids that can have significant benefits for cardiovascular and overall health — particularly for healthy blood pressure. Researchers say these new findings help explain previous studies showing that a Mediterranean diet — which emphasizes these food combinations — can reduce risk of stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular disease.

There are two ways we can get in trouble with fats: Either we eat everything that looks good and don’t worry about it, or we go to great lengths to eliminate all fats. The best path is the middle one: Understand what fats are, carefully choose the healthiest varieties and reduce or eliminate the fats that we know are bad for us. These good choices will be rewarded with better weight control, better cardiovascular health and a multitude of long-term benefits on the cellular level.

Fighting Inflammation = Fighting Arthritis

Published: September 25, 2015 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

Arthritis is a painful, chronic disease that can have a major impact on quality of life. As joints deteriorate, simple tasks likeopening a jar, walking to the mailbox and handling tools become difficult. Over time, mobility becomes more restricted. What’s worse, arthritis sufferers must face the unkind reality that their condition may gradually worsen.

But that doesn’t mean we have no recourse. While arthritis is often incurable, there are measures we can take to help mitigate the pain and stiffness and even slow its progression. The key is understanding the disease and making the right lifestyle adjustments.

What is arthritis?

Most people are familiar with the two main types of arthritis: rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. But there are actually more than a 100 forms of the disease. While these conditions are most common in older people, there are 300,000 children with arthritis in the United States. Overall, nearly 46 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis.

While arthritis is mostly associated with joints, it can also damage other parts of the body. Some forms, such as rheumatoid, attack major organs and systems, such as lungs, skin and blood vessels.

However, the most common form, osteoarthritis, generally strikes the joints. Over time, normal wear and tear causes cartilage, the natural cushion between bones, to wear out. This leads to pain, stiffness and increased inflammation.

At its base, arthritis is an inflammatory disease, so the key to controlling the symptoms is mitigating that inflammation. To achieve this we have a number of natural remedies at our disposal. These include diet, activity and targeted supplements. By combining these, we can put together an effective strategy to tackle arthritis.

Controlling inflammation

We are often told that we are what we eat. Yet, as a nation, we really don’t take that advice to heart. Many of our most popular meals are highly inflammatory. Fast and processed foods, refined flour, sugar and factory-farmed red meat are all known to increase inflammation. Factor in alcohol, caffeine, stress and exhaustion, and we get a perfect storm for chronic inflammation and the many degenerative conditions it can fuel.

But it all starts with food.

After we’ve reduced or eliminated inflammatory ingredients from our diet, we need to emphasize the anti-inflammatory variety: whole, nutrient-dense foods like sprouted grains and legumes, lean proteins, healthy fats, green vegetables, bright colored fruits like berries and mango, culinary herbs and spices, and lots of filtered water.

Foods like sprouted whole grains contain a lot of fiber, which will help detoxify the body and reduce inflammation. Brightly colored fruits and green leafy vegetables are both high in phytonutrients and antioxidants which help scavenge harmful free radical molecules, detoxify the body and fight inflammation, while offering numerous other protective benefits.

I particularly recommend alkaline vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and avocado. These help control acidity in the body, as well as reduce toxins. Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cabbage, are rich in sulfur compounds, which slow inflammation and support joint and tissue health.

For protein, choose sprouted legumes, organic meats or fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines. These fish are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support. Omega 3s can reduce the joint pain associated with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis and have also been linked to improved cardiovascular, pulmonary and emotional health. Omega 3s are also found in walnuts, flax, chia seeds and other sources.

For those who cannot bear the morning without hot caffeinated beverage, switch from coffee to green or black tea. Tea is rich in antioxidants and polyphenol compounds that reduce inflammation, support immunity and promote numerous other areas of health.

Activity 

One of the unique things about cartilage is that it gets very little blood flow. The movement of our joints lubricates cartilage, brings in nutrients and eliminates waste. For that reason and many others, movement is an important component to joint health.

I am a particular fan of gentle activity over strenuous work outs that can damage muscles and joints. Walking and swimming are excellent ways to increase circulation and lubricate the joints. Walking, in particular, can be done anywhere. It’s as simple as seeking out the farthest parking space, rather than the closest.

Exercise also serves another important function: It reduces stress, which is a major contributor to chronic inflammation. Long-term anxiety increases production of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which feed inflammation. As a result, anything we do to control stress reduces this inflammatory environment and supports both joint and overall health.

In addition to gentle exercise, I also recommend mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, which have been shown to improve both mental and physical health and control inflammation. There are also moving meditations, such as yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, which combine the benefits of healthy exercise with mindfulness.

Key supplements

Bone and joint health are inextricably linked together. For that reason, it’s always a good idea to support strong bones. Calcium has been touted for years in dairy ads to increase bone density, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t act alone. Yes, having more calcium in the body can be quite helpful, but we also need Vitamins D and K, as well as magnesium to help bones absorb that calcium. Vitamin K is particularly important, as it helps ensure that calcium goes where it should, rather than depositing on artery walls or other areas where it can cause a problem.

While we’re on the subject, dairy may not be our best source for calcium anyway, as it’s difficult for many people to digest. Kale, oranges, broccoli, almonds and turnip greens are all calcium rich.

I also recommend methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), an organic sulfur compound that reduces joint pain and inflammation. Sulfur is a major component in many connective tissues. MSM can be taken in capsule form, but is also found in grains, fruits and vegetables.

Glucosamine and chondroitin, which are found naturally in cartilage, have shown some benefits as well. In one large multicenter study, the combination helped relieve pain in many participants with severe arthritis. They were less effective, however, for people who only had mild pain. While more research needs to be done, glucosamine and chondroitin certainly have their place in a larger anti-arthritis regimen.

Another excellent anti-inflammatory is curcumin, a highly active compound derived from turmeric root. Curcumin has been shown to regulate inflammatory proteins on the cellular level. Another excellent spice with anti-inflammatory qualities is ginger.

Modified citrus pectin

One of the most interesting anti-inflammatory supplements comes from an odd source: orange peels. Citrus pectin has been used for many years to support digestive health, but because the molecules are so large, the body doesn’t absorb it particularly well. However, modified citrus pectin (MCP) is a special form of pectin which is easily absorbed and does an excellent job at mitigating inflammation.

The reason is a protein called galectin-3, which is known for its ability to generate inflammation, causing some serious health issues. Galectin-3 has been associated with invasive cancer, heart disease and fibrosis, the buildup of scar tissue associated with arthritis and many other conditions. MCP has a special affinity for galectin-3, binding and blocking galectin-3 to reduce systemic inflammation and fibrosis in organs and tissues – including joints — and it seems to have a particularly powerful impact against arthritis.

In addition to blocking galectin-3, MCP is also known for its ability to chelate heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Since these toxic metals tend to accumulate in joints, removing them can have a beneficial effect on arthritis. For those who are interested in more information about modified citrus pectin, I recommend a book called “A New Twist on Health.” Details about the book can be found at www.newtwistonhealth.com.

Arthritis can be difficult to treat because there’s no magic bullet or fast-acting natural relief. While this is a challenge, it shouldn’t stop us. By harnessing diet, exercise, mindfulness and targeted supplements, we can reduce the inflammation and scar tissue buildup, increase lubrication to the joints and consequently control the associated pain and stiffness.

Additionally, by managing chronic inflammation, we also reduce our risks for cancer, cardiovascular disease and numerous other conditions. In the long run, these simple changes can increase overall health to help us not only live longer, but live better with more energy and vitality for the things that keep us going.

Meditation Fights Cancer And Promotes Longevity

Published: September 13, 2015 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

Calmly meditating produces exciting, beneficial effects on your body. It can protect your DNA against cancer-promoting genetic developments and free you from everyday stresses and distractions. That’s why meditation is one of the most powerful, but often neglected, tools for maintaining optimal health.

Physical Vitality

Most of us don’t think of meditation as being important in maintaining physical vitality. We know that healthy diet, proper supplementation, regular exercise and a positive social support system are important for our health on all levels — physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. However, despite these healthy habits, many of us still struggle with managing our stress levels. Science is proving over and over that chronic stress can be deadly, contributing to our most serious health conditions.

This direct mind-body connection is something that Eastern philosophies have taught for millennia, and recent research has supplied us with a revealing new technical perspective. Clinical studies demonstrate that chronic stress may have a profound effect on our DNA by shortening our DNA telomeres. Telomere deterioration puts us at higher risk of developing cancer and other harmful conditions. The good news: There’s an ancient and well-known mind-body practice which is now proving successful in physically repairing this telomere DNA damage, while restoring peace of mind at the same time. What is this practice? Simple meditation.

What Are Telomeres?

Our genes are located on twisted, double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. At the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres. These are essentially caps that protect our genetic data, allow for cells to divide properly and reflect how we age. Similar to the plastic covers on the ends of shoelaces, telomeres protect chromosomes from fraying due to aging, poor health and environmental influences. Telomeres are shortened every time the cells divide; and when they become too short, the cells are not able to divide properly. While researchers are already aware that telomeres shorten and deteriorate with aging, new studies demonstrate that chronic stress also contributes to their reduction. Further research shows that as telomeres shrink, cancer risk grows.

Telomeres And Cancer

There is a scientifically established correlation between shortened telomeres and the incidence of many types of cancers, including pancreatic, bone, prostate, bladder, lung, kidney, head and neck tumors. Shortened telomeres and reduced telomerase activity have also been identified as important contributing factors in prostate carcinogenesis, ovarian cancer, genomic instability and breast cancer pathogenesis.

Without telomeres, chromosome ends can fuse together and cause the health of the cell to deteriorate, making the cell malfunction, become cancerous or die. Research is showing more and more evidence that loss of telomere function, either by altering telomere-binding proteins or by loss of telomeric sequences, is associated with the deterioration of cellular health leading to increased aging and disease.

Meditation Protects Telomeres

The inevitable wear and tear of your telomeres cannot be halted altogether, but it can certainly be delayed and even reversed through the activation of a key enzyme calledtelomerase. Telomerase protects the ends of telomeres from weakening and fraying. So how do you reap the benefits of this super-charged enzyme? Studies show that psychological changes associated with regular meditation improve your ability to cope with stress and contribute to increased telomerase activity.

“We have found that meditation promotes positive psychological changes, and that meditators showing the greatest improvement on various psychological measures had the highest levels of telomerase,” says Clifford Saron, associate research scientist at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain.

Regular, mindful meditation promotes relaxation, stress relief and improved circulation. This allows for advanced telomerase activity, naturally promoting cellular health and longevity.

Simple Practice For Beginners

If you’re not sure how to begin meditating, studies show that even just 10 minutes a day can provide significant mental, emotional and physical health benefits. Here’s a simple technique to get you started: Simply sit quietly and focus your attention, as well as your breathing, on a particular object such as a small stone. As thoughts and emotions arise, simply acknowledge and release them, bringing your attention back to your breath. As your practice unfolds, you may find that there is more and more space between your internal monologues, allowing for a sense of openness and freedom from everyday stresses and distractions. This is where the meditation and healing process truly begins. Initially, you should notice tangible benefits like better mental focus, improved emotional balance and increased energy.

Meditation And Healing Retreat

My own two-year meditation sabbatical has been profound for me; and, as this process winds down, it is my deepest desire to share what I have learned with anyone seeking deep healing and rejuvenation. In this spirit, I invite you to join me April 26 to 29 for a meditation and healing retreat at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, Calif. (For more information, go here.) During this retreat, I will be guiding participants through the practical aspects of meditation and healing, based on my extensive experience in the field combined with insights and techniques I’ve gained from years of dedicated meditation practice. My previous retreat, held in September, was a great success among participants. I am honored to have the chance to share this important aspect of healing again in 2012.

Meditation Can Benefit Anyone

No matter your age, health or belief system, simple regular meditation practice can benefit you on all levels. More and more doctors and health practitioners are recommending this ancient, time-tested practice; and meditation now holds a well-deserved, positive reputation in the medical field. It is a simple yet powerful and safe modality for supporting health, preventing illness and increasing overall quality of life.

Ditch The Blues With Mood-Boosting Foods

Published: September 4, 2015 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

Junk foods, including heavily processed, fried and artificial foods, produce serious negative impacts on the brain and emotions, similar to narcotic drugs. They stimulate short-term reward centers in the central nervous system. But over time, they can lead to dependency and mood imbalances, along with all-too-common long-term health consequences.

On the other hand, a number of studies show that people, young and old, who eat more vegetables and fruits have better emotional stability and more happiness, along with less stress and anxiety. Recent research has also demonstrated that antioxidants — abundant in many plant-based foods — can promote emotional well-being.

One 2013 study, published in theBritish Journal of Health Psychology, examined the relationship between diet and mood in 281 young adults. In this study, participants who ate more fruits and vegetables felt calmer, happier and more energetic, leading the researchers to call for further studies to explore these connections.

A much larger study, published late 2012 in the journal Social Indicators Research, examined the diets of 80,000 people in Britain. Results showed that happiness and emotional well-being were “dose dependent” on the amount of vegetables and fruits people ate, suggesting that emotional well-being peaks with seven servings of fruit and/or vegetables a day. Measurable indicators included self-reported life satisfaction, mental well-being, happiness, nervousness and others.

Apparently, seven daily servings is the magic number of fruits and vegetables you need to consume in order to reach a greater plateau of mental and emotional wellness, say the authors of this study. However, this level of wellness likely can be surpassed to bring even greater health and happiness, if you combine good-mood foods with other measures such as regular exercise, mind-body practices and targeted natural supplements.

Good Mood Super-Foods

If you eat the right foods, you can go a long way in boosting your mental, emotional and overall physical health and wellness. The whole foods I describe below are rich in antioxidants, minerals and nutrients to support relaxation and boost mental clarity and happiness. They also support numerous other areas of health in the process.

Greens

Leafy greens, like spinach, beet greens, collards and kale, are loaded with nutrients that the brain and body love. In particular, these foods contain copious amounts of magnesium (spinach is a good example), which is essential in promoting relaxation and helping the brain to increase GABA activity. (GABA is a neurotransmitter involved in relaxation and stress relief.)

Greens also contain B vitamins and folate, which are essential in managing stress. Microalgae like spirulina are also considered green foods because of their high chlorophyll content. Spirulina contains a good percentage of stress-busting vitamin B-12 as well as protein and minerals; and it helps to balance blood sugar, an essential in promoting a healthy mood.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables, particularly broccoli, are some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. They contain a number of active compounds that promote many areas of health, including mental and emotional well-being. Cabbage contains tryptophan and selenium (along with numerous other phytonutrients), which help relax and support a healthy mood. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, which helps combat the effects of increased cortisol. Furthermore, these vegetables are excellent detoxifiers and contain an abundance of antioxidants to help promote long-term physical, mental and emotional wellness.

Avocados

Avocados are nutritional superfoods. Packed with healthy mood and brain-supporting fats, protein, vitamin B-6 and folate, avocados support numerous areas of health, including a balanced mood. Avocados also contain tryptophan, which helps promote healthy relaxation and helps create the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin.

Asparagus

This long, stalky vegetable is a top source of tryptophan. It also contains folic acid, another important mood-boosting nutrient that plays numerous critical roles in health. In addition, asparagus is a source of vitamins A, B6, C, K, thiamine, zinc and beta carotene. When you eat asparagus, you also get glutathione, a key nutrient for anti-inflammatory and detoxification functions.

Coconut

Today, you can purchase numerous coconut-based products, including coconut milk, kefir and coconut butter. As more and more people discover coconut as a source of healthy fat and unique nutrients, they’re often surprised at the noticeable boost in their emotional well-being. Coconut’s medium-chain fatty acids help support brain health and a better mood. Many people report a rapid mood-enhancing effect even after eating just a spoonful of coconut oil.

Botanicals

An excellent way to support relaxation and a healthy mood is with the botanical, purified honokiol extract. Honokiol is an ingredient isolated from magnolia bark, an ancient staple of traditional Chinese herbalism. Traditionally used to address anxiety, pure honokiol works to support a healthy mood, in part, by helping to regulate GABA production. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that crosses the blood/brain barrier to support cognitive function in numerous ways. At higher doses, it’s a powerful cellular health agent, helping to promote optimal cell function and reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Intimate Connections

Physical health and mental/emotional health are intimately connected. As your body becomes stronger and healthier — with the right anti-inflammatory foods, lifestyle habits and targeted natural supplements — happiness, relaxation, brain function and vitality increase as well. Overall, these self-care practices help nourish the positive outlook and energy you need to optimize health and wellness for life.

 

Don’t Be a Stroke Victim

Published: | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

When a stroke strikes, time is of the essence. Stroke patients need targeted medical intervention within the first couple of hours to prevent brain cell death and help save their lives. But long-term stroke prevention also needs to be a priority.

The sooner you can reduce your stroke risk factors, the better your chances of avoiding this all-too-common event. Since strokes fall under the category of chronic cardiovascular disease (a slow-moving condition), they require long-term defenses. Diet and lifestyle changes, along with specific supplements, offer ongoing support to reduce not just stroke risk, but other cardiovascular risks as well. The goal is to decrease chronic inflammation and combat free radicals, while supporting strong circulation and healthy cholesterol levels.

And the sooner you get started, the better — for all areas of health.

Anti-Plaque Approaches

Chronic inflammation combined with other dangers such as excess free radicals, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol, oxidized cholesterol and high lipoprotein in the blood can be eventually deadly. Together, they cause fatty plaque deposits to build up on artery walls, reducing blood flow. Plaque formations can also break free from their original site and block circulation. This artery-clogging process — called atherosclerosis — is a primary cause of strokes and heart attacks. Smoking, eating processed foods, chronic stress and obesity increase the risks.

So one of the most important steps in stroke prevention (and overall cardiovascular health), is to control the arterial plaque that can cut off blood to the brain. Stroke prevention also requires that we strengthen circulation by improving vascular health and reducing blood viscosity (thickness). In my clinical practice, there are several targeted supplements I recommend for this, along with diet and lifestyle measures discussed below.

Diet And Lifestyle

A low-sodium, anti-inflammatory diet emphasizing vegetables, healthy fats and high-quality protein such as sprouted legumes, seeds and grains as well as free-range meats and eggs has been shown to offer significant protection against strokes and cardiovascular disease. Good hydration, targeted supplements, regular exercise, adequate sleep and healthy stress relief are equally important. Combined, these measures can keep us vibrant and healthy over the long term, adding precious time and quality to our ledger of life.

Mind-body relaxation practices such as mindful meditation may be particularly effective in improving cardiovascular health and reducing risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. In addition to the stress-relieving benefits of mindful meditation and other related practices such as yoga and tai chi, these time-honored exercises are shown in multiple studies to directly benefit cardiovascular function, reduce inflammatory markers, improve immune function and support cognitive health and emotional well-being.

Herbs And Supplements

One of the most-researched supplements — with more than 50 years of published research — is a Tibetan herbal formula containing 19 botanicals, including Icelandic moss, neem fruit and costus root. This formula has been shown in numerous published studies to control chronic inflammation, improve circulation and reduce arterial plaque. It also offers powerful antioxidant and immune support.

The enzyme nattokinase — derived from natto, a fermented soy product — has been shown to improve circulation and help to dissolve blood clots. Aged garlic can promote healthy blood lipid levels and support cardiovascular health. Ginger extracts may reduce atherosclerosis and improve cholesterol, while supporting cardiovascular health. Also important, vitamin D deficiency has been found in many stroke victims, so supplementation with this critical nutrient may also help prevent strokes by strengthening the cardiovascular system.

Another recommended supplement is modified citrus pectin, derived from the pith of citrus peels and modified for enhanced absorption and activity throughout the body. Modified citrus pectin is gaining a reputation because of its ability to block excess galectin-3, a pro-inflammatory protein in the body. At elevated levels, galectin-3 fuels chronic inflammation and fibrosis. It also is involved in the formation of arterial plaque in particular and cardiovascular disease in general.

Strong preclinical research  shows that the botanical extract honokiol offers protection against a number of neurological problems, including protection against stroke damage. Honokiol is derived from the bark of the magnolia tree, a commonly used herb in traditional Asian medicine. In addition to being a powerful anti-inflammatory and cellular health agent, pure honokiol has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and offer neurological benefits as well as relaxation and relief from anxiety, without causing dependency or drowsiness.

Act FAST

Once a stroke has occurred, the time for effective intervention is brief and every second matters. If you notice any of these signs of a stroke, remember the FAST acronym and get to the emergency room immediately:

Face: Facial drooping on one or both sides.

Arms: Weakness or difficulty raising the arms.

Speech: Slurred or difficult to talk.

Time: Call 911 as soon as possible.

Other sudden symptoms that can also indicate a stroke include: numbness in the face, arms or legs or on one side of the body; confusion or disorientation; dizziness; vision problems; headache; and trouble walking. If possible, record the time symptoms began — this can help guide treatment. Remember, when it comes to strokes, early intervention can make a world of difference!

Is Dental Health At The Root Of Cancer?

Published: August 10, 2015 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

Chances are your family doctor has never looked at your teeth. That’s an oversight. The condition of your teeth and gums reflects the health of the rest of your body and can offer insight into your vulnerability for cancer, heart disease and other devastating conditions. The cutting-edge field of holistic dentistry is designed to bridge this knowledge gap, because keeping your mouth and teeth healthy can keep the rest of you from getting sick.

They Don’t Ask, They Can’t Tell

Very few general medical practitioners ever ask about the health of their patients’ teeth. Hardly any oncologists ask whether their cancer patients have root canals or mercury amalgam fillings. As a result, most medical doctors steer clear of making recommendations about dental health. When you visit the doctor and are asked to stick out your tongue for a health exam, it is only to look at your throat.

In Western medicine, we have severed the perception of connections between dental health and overall physical well-being. As a result, we have lost a critical vantage point for evaluating the potential root causes of many life-threatening conditions such as cancer, heart disease, immune disorders and more. The good news is this lifesaving integrative perspective is proving its value through the cutting edge field of holistic, or biological, dentistry.

Regular Dentistry vs. Holistic (Biological) Dentistry

Most conventional dentists are only dimly aware of connections between gum disease, chronic dental infection and overall health. Dentists rarely refer you back to your doctor for further testing or give more than the fairly superficial, though important, advice about brushing, flossing and diet. On the other hand, holistic dentistry takes an in-depth look at dental and overall health, guided by leading research in the field. In particular, holistic dentistry looks hard at the relationship between conventional root canals, periodontal disease, mercury amalgam fillings and other all-too-common dental issues and the progression of any number of chronic diseases throughout the body.

In traditional medical systems, such as Chinese and Tibetan medicine, the examination of the mouth and tongue represents a primary diagnostic tool for gathering information about imbalances in the rest of the body. Today, more and more skilled holistic practitioners and dentists are working together within the field of integrative medicine to collaborate on optimal treatment programs for patients. The holistic dentistry movement is gaining a widening appreciation of the holistic perspectives implicit in traditional healing systems and is being driven by the growing body of published research linking dental health issues and chronic illness. Repeatedly, patients with serious, life-threatening illnesses have experienced dramatic health improvements after skilled holistic dentists have coordinated their evaluations and treatments with integrative health practitioners.

Dental Health Linked To Cancer

Of special importance is the link between cancer and dental health. This is an area on the cutting edge of cancer investigation, and scientists have not yet agreed whether there is a direct cause. From a clinical standpoint, however, I, along with many of my colleagues, have seen time and again that there is a strong correlation between chronic infection associated with root canals and the presence of cancer.

Even more interesting, from an integrative medical perspective, each tooth has associated acu-meridian tooth-organ relationships. (In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is home to lines of force — acu-meridians also known as acupuncture meridians — that connect various organs.) Different acupuncture meridians run through the teeth, and specific organs and tissues are associated with each tooth. A chart developed by Dr. Ralph Wilson which you can see here outlines the relationship between each tooth and its associated organs, glands and body areas.

Infected Root Canals Often Don’t Show Symptoms

The most concerning finding in holistic dentistry is that extensive infection can be present in a root canal as well as the bone of the jaw which holds the tooth, in the absence of any direct symptoms. All too often, we rely on our subjective experience of symptoms (like pain) to warn us of problems. In this case, these warnings come usually after significant damage is done, so it is crucial to get proper dental evaluation and testing with regard to root canals and periodontal disease.

At Amitabha Medical Clinic, we refer our patients with root canals for what is called a cone beam scan, which is essentially a CT (or computed tomography) scan of the mouth. A cone beam scan produces 3D digitalized imagery on the computer screen, revealing details which a classic full mouth X-ray does not detect. These scans can tell practitioners whether there is chronic infection in the root of a tooth which needs to be addressed using careful and thorough methods. I encourage my cancer patients to limit the number of CT scans they have because of issues with cumulative radiation; but if you have root canals, the cone beam scan may be the only way to evaluate them. I think it’s worth doing, and the radiation exposure is much lower than a traditional CT. The truth is, the dental profession is largely ignoring the long-term effects of the root canal procedure. For this reason, I encourage you to seek out holistic dentists who have the knowledge and the tools to help you deal with root canals and other common dental issues in a careful and competent way.

Patient Stories

The importance of addressing these types of health issues with an integrative approach are evident in these examples:

    • A patient with Stage III colon cancer was found to have infection (with no symptoms) in the root canal associated with the colon. Upon further examination of old dental X-rays, it was found that the tooth had been cracked for many years prior to the root canal. Therefore, it most likely had been chronically infected for a long time prior to the root canal placement and before the colon cancer diagnosis.
    • A patient with metastatic breast cancer (with no symptoms) and with several old root canals who was not responding well to her chemotherapy treatments was found to have occult infection in the tooth associated with the breast on the same side as the cancer. The bone above the tooth was almost completely destroyed; the tooth was barely connected. The infected teeth were removed and the area was sterilized with ozone, a specialized form of oxygen therapy. After clearing up the infection, the patient had a better response to the same chemotherapy regimen.
  • A patient with endometrial (uterine) cancer who was not responding to treatment and whose surgical scar would not heal because of infection was found to have an extensive infection in the tooth associated with the uterus. She had no oral symptoms. When the tooth was removed, her surgical wound healed quickly, and she began to have a positive response to her chemotherapy regimen.

The Future of Integrative Cancer Therapy

As a health practitioner who specializes in integrative cancer care, I can cite numerous similar clinical examples highlighting the correlations I have seen between dental health and cancer, and the positive effects of clearing up chronic infections in the mouth. Even though we don’t yet understand all of the underlying mechanisms, we have enough evidence to recognize the seriousness and the importance of attention to this area of health. As more and more published research points to the connections between root canals, mercury amalgams, periodontal disease and chronic illnesses, I encourage all of my readers and patients to become familiar with this important area of integrative health. Stay tuned.

The Healing Pharmacy In Your Garden

Published: July 29, 2015 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

For countless years, traditional healers have taught the benefits of easing illness with a healthy lifestyle and the use of herbs and botanicals. But don’t think you have to get all your herbs from a jar. Many remarkable healing herbs are growing in your yard. Herbs and spices can be picked a few steps from your front door and used to perk up your cooking and your health.

Medicinal Plants

Today, it’s easy to forget that some of the most beneficial medicinal plants can be found growing in our own backyards. Some are considered pesky weeds even though they are valuable herbs.

While Western medicine relies heavily on prescription drugs, most practitioners of Eastern medicine disciplines, as well as traditional naturopathic doctors and herbalists, consider many herbs and botanicals to be safer — and sometimes more effective — alternatives. As an integrative medical doctor and natural product formulator, I base much of my clinical practice and my formulations on the use of all-natural nutrients, herbs and botanicals which promote health via numerous mechanisms of action. Using medicinal herbs and botanicals in their whole, natural form allows you to benefit from the synergistic effects of complex chemical components such as antioxidants and phytonutrients, as they occur in nature. Surround your home and fill your gardens with healing herbs and plants, and support your health from multiple angles.

Here are some commonly grown herbs and botanicals which offer powerful health benefits.

Thyme

Thyme contains potent therapeutic essential oils and compounds and is considered one of nature’s most powerful antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial plants. Thyme is most commonly taken as a tea, and has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes throughout the centuries. As a decongestant, it is useful in the treatment of acute and chronic bronchitis, whooping cough and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. It is a powerful agent for boosting immunity and treating various types of infections. Thyme tea can also help relieve headaches and menstrual pain, and helps alleviate digestive issues.

Garlic

Garlic contains a number of active components, including allicin, alliinase and sulfur compounds, which contribute to its potent antibiotic, antiviral and fungicidal properties. These components make garlic highly potent in protecting against infection, lowering high blood pressure, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and boosting the immune system. Garlic can effectively protect blood cells and blood vessels from inflammatory and oxidative stress, and can naturally decrease the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attacks. Garlic’s diverse cardiovascular benefits derive from its sulfur compounds and its high levels of vitamin C and vitamin B6. Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant that protects against damage to blood vessel walls and reduces levels of oxidizing free radicals in the bloodstream. Vitamin B6 lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage blood vessel walls. Garlic is also a sulfur agent helpful for the removal of toxins and heavy metals from the body.

Mint

In addition to carrying a distinct, pleasing fragrance, mint is a cooling herb that can settle the digestive tract or decrease the severity and length of stomach aches and digestive discomfort. The herb can be added to teas, salads or eaten raw to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, hinder the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach and reduce inflammation of the digestive tract. Mint is highly useful for clearing congestion of the nose, throat and lungs, helping to provide relief of respiratory distress in people with asthma, colds or allergies.

Cilantro

Cilantro is a popular Mediterranean herb whose leaves and seeds (known as coriander) contain powerful compounds known to efficiently remove heavy metals and other toxic agents from the body. The compounds in this herb bind to heavy metals, loosen them from the tissues, blood and organs, and then assist in transporting these toxins out of the body through the body’s organs of elimination. Cilantro is naturally rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber, helping to reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol,” while increasing HDL or “good cholesterol.” The plant’s leaves and stems contain an abundance of polyphenolic flavonoids like quercetin, which have been shown to modulate proteins linked to cell survival and healthy cellular growth/behavior.

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the cruciferous vegetables, a group of plants including cabbage, collards, cauliflower and kale, that offer powerful health benefits. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, and is a natural source of critical compounds that support health like DIM and indole-3-carbinol. These and other phytonutrients in broccoli help boost immunity, increase DNA repair, protect cardiovascular health, fight against cancer growth and proliferation, and support overall health and wellness. Your mother was right to urge you to “Eat your broccoli!”

Ginger

Ginger has long been used to relieve gastrointestinal issues like nausea, indigestion and infection. Studies show that compounds called gingerols, naturally present in the ginger plant, have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Fighting inflammation is perhaps the most critical quality of ginger’s natural healing properties, since chronic inflammation is the precursor to serious health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Ginger is a warming herb that promotes circulation, heat and sweating, helping to clear your body’s systems of toxic buildup and fight infections. Ginger is hearty and can grow outside of its native tropical climate. But if you live in a colder area, simply keep it in a pot and bring it indoors during winter to avoid freezing.

Easy To Grow

There are numerous common herbs, botanicals, fruits and vegetables that can be easily grown from seeds or starters, and provide a multitude of health benefits, especially when eaten fresh. Turning to your garden for safe and natural plant-based remedies is a simple, eco-friendly and affordable way to maintain health and vitality, while building immunity and preventing many common illnesses. Spring is the perfect time of year to cultivate a healing garden, and nurture your blossoming health. For more practical information on all-natural remedies, visit http://www.dreliaz.org/.

Delicious Immunity: Top Immune Foods and Ingredients!

Published: May 12, 2015 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

With cold and flu season approaching, it’s more important than ever to make sure your immune system is primed and ready to support optimal vitality. And a healthy diet packed with immune-friendly foods is one of the best ways to do just that.

Supporting a healthy immune system means making the right lifestyle choices, not just during seasonal challenges, but all year round. In addition to eating the right foods, we also want to find healthy ways to relieve stress, get plenty of quality sleep, stay hydrated with pure filtered water, and choose high quality nutrients and botanicals that can support a healthy, balanced immune response.*

Coming up with a list of the best foods for immune system health is a tall task — because of how many incredible and delicious choices there are out there! Here are some flavorful immune foods that pack a powerful punch.*

Fermented foods- Whether you’re having sauerkraut, kimchi or organic yogurt, you can’t go wrong adding more fermented foods into your diet. Cultured, fermented foods are rich in probiotics – beneficial microbes that support digestion, immunity, brain health and more.*

Berries- Berries tend to have some of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any fruit, and they also contain many different phytochemicals that help to supercharge your immune system. Try to get a variety of organic berries in your diet for more immune boosting power. Blueberry, raspberry, and strawberries are great common choices, as well as more exotic varieties like acai and goji.*

Teas- Several studies demonstrate that antioxidant compounds and phytochemicals in green and black teas support the immune system and offer other important benefits.*

Turmeric- High in antioxidants and powerful health promoting compounds, turmeric root is easily one of the most important immune supporting spices available. Numerous published studies show the remarkable benefits of this ancient, time honored spice.*

Garlic- Packed with allicin, an ingredient that fights harmful invaders, garlic is a powerful way to support immunity, and it grows during flu season when it’s needed most. Garlic is best when taken raw or lightly cooked in its whole form. Making homemade pesto in a blender with olive oil, raw nuts, fresh basil or cilantro and plenty of garlic is one of the healthiest – and most delicious—ways to reap the benefits.*

Onions- High in quercetin and other antioxidant compounds, onions are excellent foods for supporting immunity and helping to control seasonal allergies.*

Mushrooms- One of the most overlooked yet important immune modulating foods, beneficial mushrooms are an excellent way to help balance healthy immune function for optimal response.

Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years by herbalists, particularly in traditional Asian health systems. Some of the most delicious beneficial mushrooms to eat whole include shiitake, oyster and maitake.*

Immune Support Supplements

Formulated by integrative health expert and researcher Dr. Isaac Eliaz, MD, LAc, EcoNugenics offers a number of advanced immune nutraceuticals to help balance and support optimal immune function.*

Some of our top selling immune formulas and ingredients include:

MycoPhyto Complex®– This unique mushroom formula contains a potent blend of six beneficial mushrooms species, specially cultivated on a bed of immune-supporting herbs and organic brown rice. Additional beta-glucans give this formula an extra boost to support optimal immune function all year round.*

Padma Basic®- Based on an ancient Tibetan formula, Padma Basic contains 19 unique botanicals and extracts and has been shown in dozens of published studies over the last few decades to support balanced immunity, promote cardiovascular health and offer other important benefits.*

PectaSol-C® Modified Citrus Pectin- The only clinically researched form of Modified Citrus Pectin, PectaSol-C supports cellular health, promotes safe heavy metal detox and helps maintain healthy immune function.*

Natural Ways To Beat Cancer: The Strategy Of Synergy

Published: August 4, 2014 | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

Cancer is notorious for its ability to evade treatment. Even when one approach proves effective, ongoing mutations allow the disease to shield its vulnerabilities, resist drug protocols and continue growing. For this reason, conventional oncologists often attack cancer with a variety of aggressive approaches: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation. In alternative medicine, this is called the “cut, poison and burn approach.”

Sometimes this conventional approach works. In my clinical experience of seeing hundreds of cancer patients, however, what is most effective is a dynamic, individualized treatment program that works to fight the cancer and promote the patient’s health simultaneously. True integrative oncology combines modalities that work together synergistically on numerous therapeutic targets, through multiple mechanisms of action. The goal, of course, is to get ahead of the cancer and attack it from every possible angle.

As an integrative M.D., acupuncturist and cancer specialist, I have been treating cancer patients for more than 25 years using targeted therapies drawn from diverse medical modalities such as Western allopathic, traditional Chinese, homeopathic, naturopathic. This integrative approach can significantly enhance our ability to prevent and treat cancer.

Cancer does everything it can to survive, grow and invade healthy tissues. Therefore, we have to be highly strategic to overcome the disease. We need to combine the most powerful tactics at our disposal. Western medicine provides an impressive toolbox, but often has limits. For optimal clinical outcome, an individualized combination of targeted therapies that work together synergistically to fight cancer and support health is the wisest approach. It can work by enhancing the effectiveness of conventional treatments, limiting their toxicity and damaging effects, and supporting the patient’s overall health and vitality, a key component often ignored during conventional therapy.

Outsmarting Cancer

Successful integrative oncology directs treatment to multiple therapeutic targets and combines a synergistic array of scientifically researched botanical, pharmacological and mind-body therapies. An integrated, multifaceted approach — tailored to the unique needs of each individual — helps doctors and patients stay ahead of the disease and greatly increases the likelihood of outsmarting the cancer altogether.

It’s true that there are many benefits to Western medicine. At the top of this list are advanced diagnostic tests that help us understand the nature of an individual’s cancer and shed light on possible pre-conditions that may contribute to cancer formation and metastasis. These cancer markers and oncogenetic tests are extremely valuable. They allow us, as practitioners, to refine highly individualized treatment protocols, so the more we know, the better.

The Role Of Galectin-3 And Modified Citrus Pectin

We have to be on guard against the protein made in the body known as galectin-3. It is a key cancer marker and therapeutic target that has been extensively researched for its role in promoting cancer and chronic disease. Galectin-3 aids tumor growth, metastasis and angiogenesis (new blood vessel formation that feeds the tumor). Galectin-3 also fuels inflammation and the progression of chronic inflammation to fibrosis of organs and tissues. What’s more, there is a direct relationship between elevated galectin-3 levels and poor outcomes for cancer patients.

Published research shows that modified citrus pectin (MCP), a natural supplement derived from citrus peels, inhibits the harmful effects of galectin-3 MCP — of the correct molecular weight and structure — has been proven to bind to galectin-3, block cancer cell aggregation, prevent angiogenesis and reduce metastasis. Equally important, MCP enhances chemotherapy, even against resistant cancers, and protects against cellular damage from radiation treatment. Published research also shows how MCP ramps up the immune system and eliminates heavy metals from the body, including lead and mercury, without affecting essential minerals. These benefits place critical importance on MCP as a leading integrative cancer therapy.

A number of scientific studies show that MCP can work synergistically with certain chemotherapy agents such as doxorubicin and paclitaxel. Data shows the ability of a specific form of MCP to increase the effectiveness of these drugs against aggressive cancers, possibly allowing for lower dosages with greater clinical benefits. One study showed that a form of MCP works synergistically with doxorubicin against aggressive prostate cancer cells. Another recent study showed that the same MCP enhanced the effects of paclitaxel against aggressive ovarian cancer cells, through the inhibition of galectin-3.

Synergistic Anti-Cancer Botanicals And Supplements

Numerous published studies have confirmed MCPs powerful anti-cancer effects. In addition, two poly-botanical formulas, one for breast and one for prostate cancer, showed significant synergistic enhancement in experimental studies, when combined with MCP. This means that the MCP and the poly-botanical formulas achieved greater anti-cancer and anti-metastatic effects when used together. In terms of cancer prevention, these same botanical formulas and MCP provide multi-targeted protection, helping to promote and maintain cellular health.

Another natural product, the botanical extract honokiol, has been extensively studied in preclinical cell and animal models and shown to fight cancer through numerous mechanisms of action. Honokiol is derived from Magnolia officinalis bark, and is highly regarded for its anti-tumor, anti-angiogenic and antioxidant effects. It has also been shown in preclinical studies to enhance the benefits of some chemotherapies and natural agents.

Increased Options

April is National Cancer Control Month. The most important thing to remember this month and all year long is that we now have more diagnostic and treatment choices for fighting cancer than we ever had access to in the past. Treatments are constantly evolving as scientific developments shed new light on therapeutic targets and approaches.

To stay current on this leading edge of medical advancement, we draw on the important body of integrative oncology research and clinical practice. Integrative oncology’s rapidly expanding materia medica incorporates the most effective of Western and complementary approaches to promote optimal clinical outcome in cancer and beyond.

New insight into how to lose weight

Published: | By Dr Isaac Eliaz

The statistics on how overweight Americans have become are stunning. As many as 80 million people are considered obese, meaning they have a body mass index (BMI) above 30. What that means: If you are 5’ 7” and 192 pounds, your BMI is 30. And being that heavy is not even considered obese. You have to be heavier to be in the obesity category.

To be a normal BMI (18.5 to 25), someone that tall would have to weigh 159 pounds or less.

Obesity is a skyrocketing public health crisis. More and more people are becoming obese and developing metabolic diseases. Obesity raises your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis and a long list of other conditions. Some estimates put the national obesity cost at about $200 billion each year.

Many people have trouble losing weight and keeping off weight. There are a multitude of factors involved. From a simplified evolutionary standpoint, the problem stems from storing energy. When you lose 5 percent or 10 percent of your weight, the body doesn’t think this is healthy and tries to stop the loss.

In the past, before the modern food supply was stabilized, losing that much weight usually meant famine, not the intentional weight loss diet that we do today. But because the body interprets the cutback in food to be an emergency situation, the body responds with hormones that encourage you to eat more and store fat.

That circumstance alone makes losing weight difficult, but there’s another problem. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that these fat-promoting hormonal levels can persist for at least a year after you lose weight. In other words, the hormonal baseline in obese people is set to their higher weight, and the body does its best to get back there.

Attaining Satisfaction

The New England Journal study lasted only a year, so there is certainly a chance that hormones equalize after that. Accomplishing satiety is crucial for staying on track with long-term weight loss, especially during the period when the body is readjusting. We can eat nutrient-dense meals that fuel the body and help us feel satisfied, reduce cravings and limit extra fat storage. The first step you should do is eat foods with a low glycemic index.

The glycemic index measures how rapidly the body digests and processes glucose from food. Low-index foods are lower in starch and sugars and get absorbed by the body more slowly, essentially time releasing energy that is spread over a couple of hours.

High-index foods like breads, candy, pasta and starchy carbs are metabolized rapidly, generating a glucose rush, followed by a crash that causes feelings of hunger. Think about the donuts in the break room. The first one satisfies you for about 20 minutes, and then all you can think about is eating one more.

This craving doesn’t happen by accident. Many processed foods are designed to perpetuate junk food habits and even influence areas of the brain related to addiction and compulsion. What you need to do is concentrate on low glycemic foods that minimize glucose spikes. Vegetables are ideal: greens, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cucumber. Sprouted whole grains, raw nuts and seeds and other sources of high quality protein are all on the list of foods to eat.

I also recommend an integrative metabolic formula that contains chromium, amino acids and traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbs to support healthy glucose response, reduce cravings and promote optimal metabolism.

Countering Stress Hormones

Spikes in blood sugar generate stress hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine and glucagon. In general, these trigger inflammation and impair immunity. However, cortisol also tells the body to store fat.

In addition to increasing our supply of low glycemic foods, you should also increase your healthy stress-relief practices. Meditation, social support, spending time in nature, doing art and playing music are just a few of the proven ways to reduce stress hormones and support health. Getting adequate sleep is also an important part of the equation.

Exercise in general is an excellent way to control weight and stress, mitigating circulating glucose, boosting metabolism and balancing cortisol. Yoga, tai chi and qi gong can all help. These moving meditations are excellent at lowering stress levels, helping balance hormones and countering weight gain.

New Study: Early Morning Light

There are numerous factors that can influence our BMI. A great example is morning light.

A new study shows that exposure to early morning light can help keep us lean. Researchers at Northwestern found that early morning light exposure is associated with lower BMI compared to light exposure later in the day. The earlier the light exposure, the lower an individual’s BMI. The later in the day a person was exposed to bright light, the higher the BMI.

Light exposure is the most powerful way to influence circadian rhythms, our internal biological clocks that regulate numerous processes in the body, particularly hormone function. Researchers say 20 to 30 minutes of bright light exposure between 8 a.m. and noon is enough to affect BMI. This may be a missing link to rebalancing our hormones for optimal weight loss. The study showed that the influence of light exposure affects BMI independently of diet, exercise, sleep patterns or age.

Research into circadian rhythms is a fast growing field of study. More and more data support the importance of maintaining healthy circadian rhythms with proper sleep and light exposure, in order to decrease risks of cancer, obesity and metabolic diseases.

Herbs And Supplements

One of our secret weapons in weight loss is sitting right on the kitchen counter: black pepper. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that piperine, a spicy active ingredient in pepper, tells the body not to produce fat cells. Piperine actually influences the genes responsible for fat production.

Green tea is also an excellent addition to any weight-control program because it stimulates metabolism. As an added benefit, compounds in green tea possess powerful anticancer properties.

Probiotics

It’s important to boost the health of your gastrointestinal system with probiotics (beneficial bacteria). This has been a hot topic lately. Hardly a month goes by without a new study showing how healthy flora enhance immunity, nutrient absorption, digestion and even emotional health, along with helping to control weight. Try fermented foods, such as organic low fat yogurt and kefir, kim chee and sauerkraut that are rich in probiotic bacteria.

There are a number of other botanicals that are known to support digestion and help in weight control. Ginger reduces acid reflux and inflammation. Pomegranate seed strengthens digestion by boosting enzyme production. Tangerine fruit helps with nutrient absorption, controls bloating and stimulates lymph flow. I recommend a natural digestive formula which contains these and other botanicals, along with enzymes, medicinal mushrooms, zinc and chromium to support healthy digestion, metabolism and nutrient absorption.

Losing weight may be difficult, especially when there’s an entire army of hormones that seem to be arrayed against the effort. But by carefully choosing our diets, lifestyles and supplements, we can achieve balance and that ultimate goal — satisfaction.

For more information about supporting your metabolism, download a copy of my free metabolic wellness guide here.