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Unlock the Power of Quercetin: Discover the Amazing Benefits for Your Health

Unlock the Power of Quercetin: Discover the Amazing Benefits for Your Health

Quercetin, a type of plant pigment, also known as a flavonoid, is found in many foods including fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

It's known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been the subject of numerous studies exploring its potential health benefits.

You will often find quercetin offered in supplement form where its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are combined to offer a convenient way to boost your health and well-being.    

In this article, we will cover the benefits of supplementing with Quercetin and how to choose an effective product.

Benefits of Quercetin

Some of the potential benefits of quercetin include:

Powerful Antioxidant 

Antioxidants help to protect our cells from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are naturally produced by your body, but they can also be generated by exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants.

Over time, this cellular damage can contribute to the development of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and strokes. By acting as an antioxidant, quercetin can help to reduce the impact of these harmful molecules, potentially reducing the risk of developing these chronic conditions.

A study published in the "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" found that quercetin has potent antioxidant properties and may protect cells against oxidative stress. (1)

Anti-inflammatory

Inflammation is a normal response of the body to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of several chronic conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease.

A study published in the "Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry" found that quercetin supplementation reduced inflammation in obese mice. (2)

Quercetin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, reducing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds and potentially reducing the risk of chronic inflammation.

Boosts Exercise Performance

In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, quercetin has also been explored for its potential to improve exercise performance.

Research has shown that quercetin supplementation can improve endurance and exercise performance in both animals and humans. It's believed that quercetin's ability to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow may play a role in this benefit.

A study published in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" found that quercetin supplementation improved endurance and physical performance in cyclists. (3)

Aids Immune Function

Quercetin is also being studied for its potential to improve immune function.

Our immune system plays a crucial role in fighting off infection and disease, and quercetin has been shown to enhance immune function in several animal studies. While more research is needed to determine the extent of this benefit in humans, the results are promising.

Reduces Allergy Symptoms

Finally, quercetin has been explored for its potential to reduce allergy symptoms.

Allergic reactions occur when our immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance, such as pollen or pet dander. Quercetin has been shown to have anti-allergic effects, reducing the production of histamine and other allergy-related compounds.

Quercetin may be linked with improved heart health

A study posted in the “American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition” investigated the potential health benefits of quercetin and its reduction of cardiovascular disease risk:

Researchers found that quercetin supplementation improved blood pressure and endothelial function in overweight individuals. (4)

Why you should supplement Quercetin

Besides the benefits quercetin provides such as reducing inflammation, enhancing cardiovascular health, and improving exercise performance — supplementing can help ensure adequate intake, especially in cases where dietary sources are inadequate or unavailable.

However,  we always advise you to speak with your doctor or health care provider before starting a supplement regimen or if you are taking any anticoagulant medications or antibiotics, to ensure it is safe and appropriate for  you.

Revitacell Quercetin - Flavonoids Supplement

This powerful Quercetin supplement is combined with Vitamin C and Citrus Bioflavonoids to further enhance its effectiveness. It’s everything you would expect from a high-quality Quercetin and more.

  • 300mg Quercetin per capsule
  • 50mg Vitamin C
  • 50mg Citrus Bioflavonoids
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Zero additives
  • 60 capsules per bottle (1-2 months supply)

Why is Revitacell's Quercetin Different?

This Quercetin supplement is manufactured in the UK and combines Quercetin with Citrus Bioflavonoids and Vitamin C as synergistic ingredients to improve its effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory.

The capsules do not have any additional ingredients that are normally used in capsules such as magnesium stearate.

Pregnant women, breastfeeding women, children and those with kidney disease should not take the product.

The Bottom Line

Quercetin is a plant pigment with many potential health benefits. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, ability to improve exercise performance and immune function, and potential to reduce allergy symptoms make it a powerhouse in the supplement world.  

However, it's important to remember that more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of quercetin and its role in human health.

As with any dietary supplement, it's best to speak with your healthcare provider before starting to take quercetin to ensure it's safe for you and to determine the right dosage for your needs.

Written by Kieran Higgins, Health Writer.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.


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uric acid levels

Elevated uric acid levels and the association with heart disease

Elevated Uric Acid Levels and the Association with Heart Disease

Uric acid, a waste product found in the blood, is created when your body breaks down chemicals called purines. When uric acid levels get too high it often leads to a condition known as hyperuricemia. If left untreated, elevated uric acid levels can eventually lead to many health problems including heart disease, gout and kidney disease. (1)

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5 Natural Ways to Protect Heart Health, Lower Cardiac Risk

5 Natural Ways to Protect Heart Health, Lower Cardiac Risk

5 Natural Ways to Protect Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease is the umbrella name given to conditions which affect the heart and blood vessels.

Primary cardiovascular disorders include atherosclerosis, stroke, congestive heart failure, dyslipidaemia (hypercholesterolemia), hypertension (high blood pressure), hypotension (low blood pressure), intermittent claudication, metabolic syndrome, myocardial infarction (heart attack), Raynaud's syndrome and rheumatic heart disease.

Around 7.4 million people are living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK, and it is the cause of more than a quarter of all deaths, at nearly 170,000 a year.

There are over 100,000 hospital admissions due to heart attacks per year and over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests with a survival rate of less than one in ten.

Around 1.4 million people alive in the UK today have survived a heart attack. Over 900,000 people in the UK are living with heart failure. Strokes cause over 36,000 deaths a year while also being the largest cause of severe disability.

Atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia, hypertension and metabolic syndrome are the most common cardiovascular conditions. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. Today, in the UK, roughly 3.9 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, a leading cause of heart disease.

People with diabetes are up to 50% more likely to have heart attacks. There are, however, many natural ways you can help to protect your heart health.

Here are our top 5 tips for preventing cardiovascular disease.

1) Reduce your stress levels

Long-term stress is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. So how can you reduce your exposure to stress and improve the way your mind and body respond to stressful situations and anxiety?

Here are some tips and techniques you can try.

Eat magnesium foods every day

 Magnesium is nature’s tranquiliser, helping to soothe your nervous system and calm the adverse effects of stress and anxiety.

It’s common to have insufficient levels of magnesium, as we use it for so many processes in the body. Modern life and everyday stresses such as overcommitting, lack of self-care and eating on the fly all contribute to depleted magnesium levels.

Our bodies don’t store magnesium, so you need to continually replenish it, particularly during busy times and periods of stress. 

Every day, ensure you eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods like spinach and other dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds including linseeds and chia seeds.

Any beans (but broad beans are exceptionally high), whole grains like buckwheat and oats, mackerel, and avocados. Alongside a healthy diet, to boost levels during trying times, you might consider taking a supplement.

Another effective and relaxing way to absorb magnesium is to have a luxurious soak in Epsom salts. If you do it before bedtime, it can also help to send you off into a relaxing sleep. Just chuck two cups into a warm bath and soak for about 40 minutes. If you’d rather, have an Epsom salts foot soak instead.

Clear hectic schedules and delegate more

This applies to both your work and home life. It’s so easy to take on too much, becoming overcommitted and overwhelmed.

What can you delegate? Can you drop anything from your schedule altogether? How much do you really have to commit to? And how often are you saying ‘yes’ when you could be saying ‘no’ to new obligations, responsibilities, and commitments?

Create some extra headspace and claw back some time to help create a sense of ease and lower your stress levels. 

Start journaling

Getting worries out of your head and onto paper can be immensely powerful and help to eliminate feelings of stress and anxiety.

Counteract this by also listing things that you’re grateful for each day. Reflecting on positive thoughts and the good things in your life can be an excellent way to destress.

Cut out excessive caffeine and alcohol

When you’re overcommitted, or tired from lack of sleep due to stress, it’s easy to reach for energy drinks or an extra cup of coffee here and there.

Likewise, having a glass of wine to relax and unwind from the stresses of the day can be a go-to for many of us. The reality, though, is that caffeine and alcohol can heighten a sense of tension and induce feelings of anxiety.

For more simple and effective ways to cope with stress, click here.

2) Eat omega-3s, especially fish oils


Research shows that a diet high in fish can decrease the risk of a heart attack. Eating oily fish three times a week is therefore an excellent way to promote a healthy cardiovascular system.

Fatty fish contain omega-3 acids called EPA and DHA which can help reduce high blood lipid levels (fats), improve vascular function, lower high blood pressure and stroke risk and protect against arrhythmia and heart attack. EPA and DHA can also potentially reduce chronic low-level inflammation which can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Omega-3 fats, particularly those found in fish are considered the most essential healthy fats for feeding the brain and boosting mood.

And low levels of these can make us more susceptible to depression. So adding these to your diet will also help to alleviate the adverse effects of stress, a contributing factor for heart disease.

If regularly including oily fish is tricky, consider taking a daily supplement. Some research suggests that fish oil supplements may also help to protect heart attack survivors. In one clinical trial, survivors who took a high-dose fish oil supplement for six months showed considerably improved heart function and substantially reduced inflammation biomarkers, that went way beyond recommended care guidelines.

Another study effectively reduced the rate of cardiovascular events in individuals with a history of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes using a daily fish oil high in EPA.

Statin-treated adults with heightened triglyceride levels saw a 25% reduction in their relative risk of heart attacks, strokes and related cardiac events compared to a placebo control group – all from taking a purified EPA fish oil.

If you’d like to give supplements a try, WFH Quattrocardio fish oils are scientifically formulated to support the health of the cardiovascular, immune, neurological and skeletal systems. 

Oily fish include sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring. Aside from oily fish, other excellent sources of omega-3 fats are shellfish, walnuts, chia seeds, linseeds, hemp seeds, egg yolks and avocados.

RelatedFish Oil Helps Your Heart – Details of the 2019 Harvard Study

3) Increase your antioxidant intake


Whether it’s pesticides, heavy metals, air pollutants, medication, alcohol, cigarettes, stress, fried foods, high blood sugar or poor diet, we are all grappling with an onslaught of environmental toxins.

The upshot? A build-up of toxins leading to increased levels of free radicals causing oxidative stress, damage to your DNA and cells, inflammation, illness and disease.

Antioxidants are found in vitamins, minerals and other composites found in foods. They protect us by keeping free radicals in check, helping to guard against diseases including heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s and premature ageing.

 We naturally produce a certain amount of free radicals as waste byproducts of chemical processes in the body. They also play a vital role in immunity, helping us to fight infection.

Problems start when the delicate balance shifts and we have more free radicals than our bodies can cope with. Oxidative stress takes over, and our health starts to suffer. 

Nature, in her wisdom, has also designed us with the ability to generate antioxidants naturally. It’s when free radicals outnumber antioxidants that you need to worry.  

Eating the right foods and taking care of mind, body and spirit can boost your antioxidant levels and improve your chances of staying healthy.

So, stress management is vital as is eating plenty of foods abundant in antioxidants daily. You want to focus on foods rich in vitamins C and E, flavonoids and carotenoids including beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Also minerals including zinc, selenium and copper.

Eat vegetables full of colour, including dark leafy greens, think of a rainbow. Mix up cooked and raw vegetables, and add a couple of fruit servings a day too. Your body can convert beta-carotene to vitamin A, but you can also find direct vitamin A sources from liver (organic and grass-fed), other organ meats, some fish such as salmon, egg yolks and full-fat milk and yogurt.

Good sources of selenium include brazil nuts, lean red meat and chicken breast, wholewheat pasta, shiitake mushrooms and eggs. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, organic grass-fed chicken legs, beef and pork, hemp seeds, oats and lentils.

4) Walking and other regular exercises

Regular exercise increases heart strength, gets your blood pumping, and takes the pressure off your arteries, decreasing blood pressure. It also helps to relieve stress. 

Walking at a brisk pace is excellent for heart health, and taking a daily stroll can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Thirty minutes of walking a day for five days a week can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease by 19%. It also has the potential to reduce cardiovascular events by 31% and cut the risk of dying by 32% for both men and women.

Walking as little as 5.5 miles per week at a moderate pace can make a difference. But the speedier and further you walk, the better the benefits. 

Other cardiovascular exercises like cycling, running, swimming, or rowing are also great. Ideally, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

5) Take vitamins D3 and K2 together

Vitamins D3 and K2 work synergistically to benefit both bone and heart health. These days, low vitamin D status is not uncommon, and in the UK, one in five people have insufficient levels. With this in mind, ensuring you’re regularly topping up your vitamin D isn’t a bad idea.  

Research shows that patients with vitamin D levels lower than 15 nanograms per millilitre have a higher risk of developing heart problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

A five-year study by the Medical Research Council found that 80 participants with chronic heart failure who took a daily dose of vitamin D, improved their heart pumping function by 8% compared to those taking a placebo. The trial ran for one year, with patients taking 4,000IU of vitamin D3 daily. 

Overall, more research is needed to determine whether or not low vitamin D levels are a significant enough risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. However, vitamin D3 is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can lower oxidative stress, an underlying factor for all chronic illness including cardiovascular disease. 

It’s hard to get adequate vitamin D through diet. You can get minimal amounts from animal foods such as full-fat butter, offal, eggs, fish and fish liver. So it’s essential to take a daily supplement, especially outside of the summertime where we have limited access to sunlight.

Public Health England recommends children from the age of one year, and adults should take 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day (400 IU) during autumn and winter. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the safe upper limit for daily vitamin D supplementation in adults is 4,000 IU. That said, some studies have found that daily doses of 10,000 IU are well tolerated in adults.

It is possible to get vitamin D toxicity which usually happens with extremely high doses. While an adult should be able to handle up to 4,000 IU a day, taking a supplement at a maintenance dose of 1,000 IU is a good start until you get your vitamin D levels tested. 

It’s best to get them checked by your GP, or you can buy a testing kit. You can tailor your vitamin D intake from this point. 

Vitamins D3 and K2 have a symbiotic relationship. For example, one small 2015 study found that patients with chronic kidney disease had reduced progression of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries) by taking a daily supplement of 400IU vitamin D with 90?g of vitamin K2.

Those taking pure vitamin D didn’t experience the same significant effects. 

While research is conflicted, observational studies have recognised a link between vitamin K2 and heart health.

A seven to ten year Rotterdam study, published in 2004, followed 4807 male participants, tracking their intake of vitamin K2. The researchers linked higher levels with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and severe aortic calcification.

Another long-term study, spanning several years, following 16,057 women aged between 49 and 70 years of age, associated an increased vitamin K2 consumption with a reduced risk of heart disease.

You can find vitamin K2 in fermented and animal foods such as natto, fermented soy, hard cheese, butter, egg yolks, organ meats, and dark chicken meat. Gut microbiota is also able to synthesise vitamin K2. You can take it in supplement form too.

RelatedVitamin K Deficiency – A Risk Factor for Heart Disease?

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve provided a small selection of tips to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating a healthy diet full of brightly coloured vegetables and fruit and consuming oily fish three times a week is a good start.

Getting regular aerobic exercise, preferably 30 minutes a day, is essential as is managing your stress levels. Topping up insufficient vitamin D3 and K2 levels may also help. 

There are many additional ways you can optimise your heart health. For more helpful and illuminating information, check out our other articles.

This article is by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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The Benefits of Walking for Heart and Immune Health

The Benefits of Walking for Heart and Immune Health

Want a healthy heart and to avoid colds and flu? Walk.

Walking is a very underrated and brilliant form of exercise. It's cheap, easy and suitable for all ages. All you need is a comfortable pair of shoes and a decent waterproof, and off you trot.

Taking time out for a brisk, daily stroll can benefit your health in a multitude of ways, from a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke to enhancing your mental and emotional wellbeing. Read below for nine ways walking can radically improve your health and wellbeing.

Oh, and aim to do at least 30 minutes every day – breaking it into smaller chunks if you haven't got the time to do it all in one go.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Daily Walk

If you want to get the most out of your daily walk, there are several things you can do to turn it into more of a workout…

1) Pick up your pace to speed up your heart rate.

2) Before you set off, warm up and get your blood flowing to all the muscles you’ll be working. Loosen up with some lunges, gently stretch your inner thighs, quads and hip flexors, and do some leg swings.

3) Set yourself challenges, regularly increasing your walking time and distance.

4) Alternate your speed throughout your walk. Go at a normal pace for a few minutes, then pick a spot in the distance and walk at a faster speed until you reach it – pushing up your heart rate, being only able to talk in short bursts. Repeat as many times as you like.

Keep the periods short at first (one or two minutes) and work your way up as your fitness improves. 

5) When it comes to active walking, work those arms, moving them with intent. Keep the movement as fluid as possible, making sure your shoulders and neck are relaxed. Lightly close your fists and position your arms at a right angle, moving them naturally, front to back like a pendulum.

Use your elbows to guide the movement and move your arms rhythmically to propel your stride – opposite arm to leg, i.e. right foot forward with right arm back, and left arm forward.

6) Pick a walk where you cover different terrains and go uphill – your body has to work harder.

7) Be aware of your posture, lengthen your spine and walk tall, engaging your tummy muscles without holding them too tightly. Breathe deeply, tensing them more as you exhale. Evenly distribute your weight across both feet. 

8) Learn the Nordic walking technique; it burns more calories, tones the upper and lower body at the same time and utilises 90% of the skeletal muscles. It can be helpful for shoulder, neck and back issues and reduces pressure on the joints and knees.

9) Add stairs into your walking routine.

10) Walk to music with a fast beat to keep your pace up.

11) Don’t forget to stretch at the end!

9 Health Benefits of a Daily Stroll

1) Boosts immunity and protects against colds and flu

 Vigorous walking can help protect you from colds and flu, and if you do get ill, it may not last as long.

According to Harvard Medical School, a study with over 1,000 adults found that those who walked for 20 minutes or more every day, five days a week, had 43% less sick days than those who exercised once weekly or less.

If the regular walkers did become ill, their symptoms were milder and were over more quickly.

2) Walking may help to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s

A study published in 2011 found that frequent walking may slow cognitive decline in healthy adults, those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s patients.

In this ongoing 20-year study with 462 adults (a mixture of healthy and cognitively impaired individuals, and people with Alzheimer’s), at the 10-year mark, researchers noted that walking five miles per week protects the brain structure – particularly in the key learning and memory centres of the brain.

The study also found that those with Alzheimer’s and MCI had a slower decline in memory loss over five years.

RelatedSix Ways to Help Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

3) It may reduce the risk of breast cancer

In an extensive 17-year study by the American Cancer Society of over of 73,000 postmenopausal women, data suggests that an hour or more a day of walking lowers breast cancer risk by 14%. The results were gathered from 47% of women in the study who reported that walking was their only form of exercise and compared to women walking only three hours or less a week.

According to the researchers, walking also protects women at higher risk of breast cancer for reasons such as using hormone supplements or being overweight.

4) A daily walk can improve sleep

A 4-week randomised controlled trial published by the National Sleep Foundation enrolled 59 male and female participants and measured their daily steps using Fitbits. The patients self-reported their sleep quality and duration daily, both before, during and after the study. Active walking minutes were positively reflected in the sleep quality (but not the length).

Women who took more steps had a better night’s sleep than those who did less. For both sexes, on the days where they were more active than usual, an improvement in both sleep quality and duration was noted

Another 4-week walking intervention study carried out on 429 people in the Japanese workplace, also had positive results. The walking target was 10,000 steps per day.

During the trial, participants who already had regular exercise habits reported improved sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep), quality and duration. In those who had no exercise regimen to begin with, the improvement in all aspects of their sleep was even more marked. 

5) Supports joints and reduces arthritic pain

Many studies support the role of regular walking for reducing joint pain.

Research shows that arthritic patients who take daily walks have increased confidence, less depression, health distress and pain.

Walking can improve circulation and strengthen muscles. The movement of walking helps joint fluid to circulate, getting oxygen and valuable nutrients to the joints like the knees and hips where they are desperately needed.

According to Harvard Health, walking five to six miles a week may even prevent the onset of arthritis. 

6) Improves heart health

It’s common knowledge that any form of aerobic exercise, including brisk walking, is beneficial for cardiovascular health.

In 2009, researchers looked at studies done between 1954 and 2007 on walking and coronary heart disease (CHD) prevention. Pooled data from the 11 studies that met the inclusion criteria indicated that around 30 minutes of walking per day for five days a week was associated with a 19% reduced risk of CHD.

It was discovered that CHD risk decreases as walking increases, and the researchers suggested that walking should be prescribed as a preventative for the general population. 

According to Harvard Health, another report pooling findings from several well-performed studies showed that walking reduced cardiovascular events by 31% and cut the risk of dying by 32%.

Applicable to both men and women, positive results showed at just 5.5 miles per week at a moderate pace of two miles per hour. The faster the speed and longer the walk, the greater the heart health benefits.

7) Balance blood sugar, reduce sugar cravings and reduce diabetes risk

According to a small study published by the American Diabetes Association, 15-minute bouts of moderate post-meal walking can improve 24-hour glycemic control in older people at risk for impaired glucose tolerance. It was found that while both were effective, there were better blood glucose results from 15-minute post-meal bursts compared to a single 45-minute walk during the day. 

Research shows that walking can reduce chocolate cravings in healthy people, and another small study tested this theory on 47 overweight sugary-snack consumers.

After three days abstaining from chocolate, the participants were then asked not to eat, drink (except water) or exercise for two hours before each assessment. The assessments were performed on separate days, seven days apart. They involved either walking for 15 minutes or sitting passively, with no conversation or stimulation, in the laboratory for 15 minutes.

After completing these tasks, their stress levels were measured when unwrapping and handling sweet sugary snacks of their choice for 30 seconds.

Researchers found that short bouts of walking reduced sugar cravings in the overweight participants compared to the passive sitting. So, when you get the urge to eat sugary snacks, taking a short brisk walk could be enough to curb the desire.

It could also be a valuable tool when it comes to breaking the habit of reaching for sugary snacks when stressed or when in the presence of chocolate and treats. 

8) It’s an excellent energy booster and mood enhancer

Like any form of exercise, walking boosts your energy by improving circulation and oxygenating your body. Being active is very beneficial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. It helps to reduce the risk of depression, eases anxiety, improves your mood and helps to reduce the symptoms of depression.

If you can walk in nature, it enhances the effects, as getting out into green open spaces can increase your strength and vitality. Being in nature raises immunity, reduces inflammation and relieves stress.

Related5 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Nature Therapy

9) Increases longevity

The American Cancer Society has found that even a little walking can lower mortality risk. In the study, researchers examined data from 140,000 people with an average age of 69. They found that even participants who walked for less than two hours a week had a lower death risk than those who didn’t exercise at all.

Those who met the American Cancer Society recommendations (by walking) of 150 minutes moderate exercise or 75 minutes of more vigorous activity had a 20% lower mortality risk.

The most marked results showed in the prevention of respiratory disease-related deaths (more than six hours of walking per week was associated with a 35% lower risk). Cardiovascular mortality was also significantly lower among walkers.

Conclusion

Walking is one of the most versatile forms of exercise. It’s suitable for all ages, and you can do it almost anywhere – no expensive gym membership required!

It can have a profound effect on your overall health and wellbeing and can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and depression. It can also improve symptoms of all of these.

Taking a daily walk can uplift your mood, help slow the progression of cognitive decline and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer. If you’re struggling to sleep, incorporating a daily walk, even on top of your regular exercise regimen, could be the difference between a good or bad night’s rest. 

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the road. 

This article is by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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7 Effective Supplements to Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol

7 Effective Supplements to Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol

Do you want to lower your cholesterol naturally? You've come to the right place. In this article, we intend to answer some of the most fundamental questions about cholesterol – what is it? is it all bad? what does the scientific research say? – while suggesting ways to naturally manage your cholesterol levels.

According to the World Health Organization, elevated cholesterol increases the risks of heart disease and stroke, and a third of ischaemic heart disease is attributable to high cholesterol.

Learning better management processes is a great way to fortify your heart and reduce your risk of common circulatory diseases such as heart attack, stroke and vascular dementia. Let's get right to it.

What is Cholesterol?


Cholesterol is a lipid (a type of fat). It isn’t all bad, and our bodies can’t function without it.

It’s a source of fuel that helps to form a healthy cell structure and aid cell signalling. It helps to make steroid hormones, including vitamin D, and plays a role in our innate immunity.

Cholesterol is a precursor of bile acids which are crucial for digestion, the absorption of lipids in the small intestine and regulation of cholesterol.

Bile acids are also significantly involved in vital metabolic processes. 

We need enough cholesterol in our skin to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight. Although there are conflicting studies in this area, a recent, longitudinal study over five years, involving 13, 039 adults, shows a correlation between higher total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol levels and increased vitamin D status.

Cholesterol can be obtained through diet or synthesised internally by your body. There are two main types of cholesterol LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein). 

LDL transports cholesterol to the cells. It’s the precursor of steroid hormones including testosterone, oestrogen and cortisol, which are produced in the mitochondria of cells.

If there’s too much cholesterol for your cells to use, LDL builds up in your arteries. This is why it’s labelled ‘bad’ cholesterol. 

HDL moves cholesterol from the cells and back to the liver where it’s broken down or exits your body as waste. This is why it’s known as ‘good’ cholesterol.

However, HDL has the potential to become dysfunctional and can contribute to dyslipidemia.

Problems occur when high blood cholesterol becomes oxidised, causing inflammation and contributing to conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. 

Lifestyle risk factors for high cholesterol include a poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol intake and obesity.

You may also be more vulnerable if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or suffer from kidney disease, liver disease or hypothyroidism.

Familial hypercholesterolemia is a genetic disorder present from birth which causes extremely high cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in children as well as adults.

Does low LDL mean lower heart disease risk?


Not necessarily. 

Although standard opinions differ, a recent systemic review published in BMJ Open found no clear link between higher levels of circulating LDL and mortality in most people over 60 years of age.

Researchers found that the elderly with high LDL cholesterol lived as long or longer than those with low LDL.

The scientists, doctors and cardiologists carrying out the review advised a revision of the current guidelines recommending the reduction of LDL-C via pharmaceuticals, including statins.

7 supplements to help lower and manage cholesterol

1) Green Vibrance Powder

This award-winning supplement is a great all-rounder when it comes to preserving your overall health and protecting you from developing high cholesterol.

With over 1,000mg of herbal antioxidants in every serving, Green Vibrance Powder reduces free radical damage and calms inflammation, a contributing factor to heart disease.

The whole-food supplement also contains several nutrients to support liver function, which is essential for preventing high cholesterol, since a healthy liver is vital for maintaining balanced blood cholesterol.

Amongst its rich list of quality ingredients, Green Vibrance Powder contains a nutrient called policosanol, which is proven to lower elevated cholesterol. 

2) Berberine

A natural alkaloid, yellow in colour, and used for thousands of years in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Berberine is found in several healing plants such as Oregan Grape, Tree Turmeric, Goldenseal, Barberry, Cork-Tree, and Chinese Goldthread. 

Berberine works at a molecular level inside the cells. It has a variety of actions, but its main impact seems to be on triggering AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a metabolic regulator which plays an active role in metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

Currently, trials are looking into a new pharmaceutical drug which inhibits the PCSK9 gene from expressing a protein called PCSK. This protein lowers the liver’s ability to sweep away excess LDL from the blood and balance cholesterol levels.

Very early research suggests that berberine can also do this, effectively lowering LDL cholesterol.

A 2013 meta-analysis of 11 randomised controlled trials involving 874 people concluded that berberine could significantly lower total cholesterol and LDL while remarkably increasing HDL. No adverse side effects were reported

A further study gave 32 dyslipidemic patients 500mg per day of berberine over three months. It decreased total cholesterol by 29%, LDL by 25%, and triglycerides by 35%.

trial with 80 statin-intolerant participants with high cholesterol gave half the group a nutraceutical pill containing 500mg berberine alongside policosanol, red yeast rice, folic acid, coenzyme Q10 and astaxanthin.

Results were promising, showing a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and insulin resistance. The natural treatment was well tolerated without the raft of statin side effects

As previously mentioned, diabetes increases your risk of dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis. Several studies show the potential for berberine to treat type 2 diabetes, and it can be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs like metformin. 

Planet Source Berberine is a superior supplement which provides a therapeutic 1200mg dose made from the Berberis aristata root, also known as Indian barberry. It is non-GMO, vegan-friendly and free from corn, sugar, salt, wheat, soy, gluten and artificial ingredients. 

3) Probiotics

Taking a daily probiotic supplement could be beneficial, with multiple studies supporting the use of various Lactobacillus strains to reduce total cholesterol.

One probiotic strain known as Lactobacillus reuteri is also shown to lower harmful LDL cholesterol, while another – Lactobacillus plantarum – has  proved effective at lowering total and LDL cholesterol.

Prebiotic supplements also encourage healthy gut bacteria to thrive.

Progurt probiotics are a cutting-edge range designed to restore and maintain a healthy and balanced gut environment. These Human Probiotic Isolates are identical to those found in a healthy human gut from birth, and as such, are better able to colonise than soil- and bovine-based probiotics.

Progurt is clinically tested and boasts an exceptionally high strength of one-trillion colony-forming units to populate your gut with healthy bacteria.

4) Garlic capsules

Taking garlic capsules could help to reduce both total and LDL cholesterol.

Garlic also has remarkable antioxidant power, which can help to calm overall inflammation and may protect cholesterol from oxidation.

It helps to protect the heart and also has the potential to reduce blood pressure. For the best results, take 600-900 mg per day.

5) Green tea extract

This also has powerful antioxidant properties with the potential to reduce blood pressure and inflammation. Green tea has been found to lower LDL cholesterol while potentially boosting HDL cholesterol. In one small study, green tea significantly reduced harmful LDL cholesterol in male smokers. 

6) Red rice yeast

This has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and contains naturally occurring metabolites including monacolin K, which can contribute to the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels. It would also be extra beneficial to take it with added COQ10.

However, always ensure you purchase supplements from a reputable brand that uses a highly purified and certified source, free from a toxic substance called citrinin, a potential by-product of the fermentation process.

This chemical compound can damage the kidneys and contribute to other forms of chronic illness, so you need to be careful. 

7) Liquorice

A 2002 trial gave 0.1g per day of liquorice root extract to hypercholesterolemic patients for one month, followed by an additional one month of placebo. Significant improvements in plasma oxidation and the lowering of LDL cholesterol were noted after taking the liquorice.

The positive changes regressed once the patients received the placebo. A 10% reduction in blood pressure was observed in the participants while taking the liquorice, and it was sustained while taking the placebo.

Another study published in 2016 gave two groups of patients with high cholesterol 0.2g per day of an extract of liquorice root versus placebo for one year. At the end of the study, those taking the liquorice had reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure and carotid artery thickness, potentially lowering the risk of heart disease.

8 lifestyle and diet suggestions

1) A healthy diet

Eating a healthy whole-food diet rich in nutrient-dense foods and colourful vegetables and fruits will help to keep your cholesterol levels balanced. Beans and legumes are especially useful for reducing cholesterol.

Steer clear of processed and fast foods and pre-packaged meals. Try to cook everything from scratch so that you know exactly what you are eating. 

2) Eat healthy fats including nuts and seeds

Full of fibre and nutrients, nut and seeds may help to reduce total and LDL cholesterol.

3) Olive oil

Drizzle raw, cold-pressed olive oil onto cooked vegetables and salads daily. It includes heart-healthy oleic acid and various plant compounds which can help to reduce LDL oxidation and balance total cholesterol.

It also contains hydroxytyrosol, an immensely powerful antioxidant polyphenol, with the potential to lower total and LDL cholesterol. 

4) Include polyphenol-rich foods daily

Polyphenols are associated with lowered cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and premature ageing risk. Sources include spinach, onions, olives, artichokes, asparagus, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, berries of all kinds, grapes, peaches, apples, grapefruit, and oranges.

Also eat nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains like rye and oats, sesame seed oil, olive oil, cocoa powder and dark chocolate. Cook with plenty of herbs and spices including capers, cloves, star anise, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, basil, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and celery seeds.

5) Eat daily helpings of pre and probiotic foods

This will encourage healthy gut bacteria to help manage your cholesterol. Prebiotic foods include garlic, leeks, onions, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, underripe bananas, oats, apples, flaxseeds, almonds and legumes.

Probiotic sources include raw fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, gherkins and other pickles, kefir, tempeh, natto and live natural yogurt.

6) Regular exercise

Exercising for at least 30 minutes, five days a week, as part of a healthy lifestyle may help to moderate your cholesterol.

7) Keep your stress levels in check

Some evidence points towards a link between stress and increased cholesterol. It could be down to developing unhealthy dietary habits when you’re feeling anxious or low, which can increase your high cholesterol risk.

You will also be releasing stress hormones (cortisol and adrenalin) which could promote higher total and LDL cholesterol. Keep an eye on any stress and be aware of how it affects you.

Take steps to calm yourself through regular deep breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, walking in nature, finding the time to laugh and have fun, and doing things you enjoy.

8) Stop smoking

This causes chemical changes in your body, leading to increased triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels.

Conclusion

A healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a proper diet and stress management is essential for reducing or maintaining balanced cholesterol levels.

Beyond this, several supplements may be a useful, natural alternative to standard pharmaceuticals such as statins, without their slew of horrible side-effects.  

**If you have any chronic health conditions that require medication, please speak to your doctor before changing your diet or taking supplements.

Written by Rebecca Rychlik, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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3 Natural Ways to Improve Your Vascular Age, Lower Cardiac Risk

3 Natural Ways to Improve Your Vascular Age, Lower Cardiac Risk

Everyone knows their age, but what about their vascular age? Also known as heart age or cardiovascular risk (CVR) age, your vascular age (VA) takes into account metrics such as blood pressure, vascular stiffening, blood vessel stiffness and pulse-wave velocity to supply a snapshot of your general cardiac health.

Or as one 2016 research paper defined it, “the vascular age of a patient with CVR factors is defined as the age that an individual of the same sex as our patient would have if he or she were to have the same absolute risk but controlled risk factors.”

In other words, if a 40-year-old male has a VA of 63, he is said to have the same probability of dying from a cardiovascular event as a healthy person aged 63, due to the “age” of his heart and arteries.

Unlike with our real age, there are a number of steps we can fortunately take to bring down our VA and consequently bolster heart health. In this article, we shall summarise them.

1. Take Up Running


According to a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, taking up running can have a major impact on your vascular age.

Researchers from Barts and University College London assessed 138 untrained individuals aged 21 to 69 who were training to compete in the London Marathon.

Over a six-month training period, which consisted of 6-13 miles per week, the subjects’ “age-related aortic stiffening” was reversed and their arteries regained a degree of youthful elasticity.

In essence, this transformation served to reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes by reducing vascular age by up to four years.

If you are not accustomed to much exercise, suddenly logging 6 to 13 miles of running per week might seem a bit unrealistic. But the benefits of building cardiovascular exercise into your routine are obvious.

If necessary, walk before you can run; cycle; swim. The important thing to remember is that cardio-focused training is likely to decrease blood pressure and reduce your aortic age.

Incidentally, the aforementioned study found that “the benefit was greater in older, male participants with slower running times.” So don’t fret if you’re not the quickest!

2. Manage Your Blood Pressure

Effective blood pressure management is key to ensuring a healthy vascular age. As such, it’s vital to have your blood pressure checked annually. Indeed, you may have to have more routine checkups if you suffer from heart disease, diabetes or related conditions.

High blood pressure also appears to accelerate cognitive decline, so it’s worth having a more regular checkup if you are at risk of Alzheimer’s.

Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels (between 90/60 and 120/80) becomes more difficult if you carry extra body weight, smoke or eat a poor diet. Because it is highly heritable, it is also possible to suffer from high blood pressure if you are slim and active.

Amazingly, the number of genes associated with high blood pressure stands at 901.

Thankfully, there is a lot you can do to naturally regulate your blood pressure: healthy habits include exercise, eating nitrate-rich vegetables, restricting sugar and processed table salt (replace the latter with natural, mineral-rich salt such as Himalayan), managing stress and including probiotics in your diet.

Related: Probiotics for Blood Pressure – A Novel Solution

3. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet

The simple directive “eat better” is one of the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 – a series of tips to help individuals lower their risk of heart disease and stroke.

Those who achieve six of the seven are said to be 10 times more likely to achieve healthy vascular aging than those who manage zero.

Needless to say, the AHA recommend plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and proteins, along with a reduction in sugary drinks, sweets, partially hydrogenated oils and processed meats.

In a 2012 research paper entitled Unique vascular protective properties of natural products, the author noted that “Very few studies have analyzed in detail or retrospectively compiled data by systematic analysis, on the effects of dietary supplements on arterial disease. One such study examined 38 published studies (clinical trials) examining the effects of natural health products on arterial stiffness measured by pulse-wave velocity.

The results showed that in a majority of trials, omega-3 supplementation, isoflavones and flavonoids produced significant reductions in arterial stiffness.”

Food sources of the above include fatty fish, algae, legumes, tea, citrus fruit, berries and soybeans.

Related: Nutrition for the Heart – Best Vitamins and Minerals for Heart & Circulation

Conclusion

People who boast a healthy vascular age are said to have a 55% reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. So whether your vascular age is already classed as high, or you simply want to fortify your heart for years to come, there’s plenty of reason to prioritise a heart-healthy diet and cardiovascular workout regime.

Remember, focus on major modifiable risk factors in the first instance: smoking, diet and exercise level are the main ones. Alcohol is also a risk factor, so don’t overdo it!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Fish Oil Helps Your Heart: Details of the 2019 Harvard Study

Fish Oil Helps Your Heart: Details of the 2019 Havard Study

At Water for Health, we have long touted the merits of fish oil. Although frequently discredited by mainstream voices, the evidence indicating a therapeutic benefit of omega-3 supplements – and a significant one – is compelling and dates back decades.

We have written at length on omega-3, investigating its potential to alleviate childhood allergies, reduce autism and ADHD symptoms and improve behaviour and school performance in youngsters. However, it’s fair to say that fish oil pills continue to be synonymous with heart health.

In this article, we will take a closer look at a recent study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the public health graduate school of Harvard University. Hardly a fringe institution – which makes the study all the more interesting.

Fish Oil for the Heart: What the Study Says


The study in question was published on September 30, 2019, in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

A meta-analysis, it encompassed a population of over 120,000 adults in 13 randomised trials worldwide – making it one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind published to date.

What the Harvard researchers found was that people who took omega-3 fish oil supplements in the clinical studies had “lower risks of heart attack and other cardiovascular disease events compared with those who were given a placebo.”

That’s right, it wasn’t just outright heart attack risk which fish oil helped with: it was an assortment of cardiovascular outcomes including death from CVD, death from coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction.

What’s more, there was a correlation between higher doses of fish oil and risk reduction.

To be clear, this is not the first time that an association between omega-3 consumption and heart disease risk has been explored. Both observational and clinical studies have shown that fish oils can reduce triglycerides and blood pressure, block clot-forming platelet activation, protect those at risk of arrhythmia and improve general vascular function.

However, the size of the Harvard study blows the others out of the water. A meta-analysis of this magnitude is as close to a gold standard as you’re likely to get.

As far as numbers are concerned, the new findings showed that individuals who supplemented with omega-3 fish oil enjoyed an 8% reduced risk of heart attack and death from coronary heart disease.

As noted in the paper, “this finding may suggest that marine omega-3 supplementation dosage above the 840 mg/day used in most randomized clinical trials may provide greater reductions in CVD risk.”

Given the results of the study, the the American Heart Association is unlikely to alter its guidance to patients with prevalent coronary heart disease – namely, to supplement with marine omega?3 capsules on a daily basis.

That said, Federal regulations prevent dietary supplements from being prescribed by doctors as a treatment for a disease. In the UK, too, the process is very much geared towards the pharmaceutical industry.

So don’t expect the hatchet jobs that are periodically carried out on fish oil to end any time soon!

The Importance of a Therapeutic Dosage

What is clear from the paper, and from previous research, is that to obtain statistically significant benefits on certain heart outcomes, an effective dose is required. If 840mg is the typical dosage used in studies, you may require 1g, 2g or even 4g per day depending on the extent of your needs.

One of the most widely-quoted studies to date on this topic was REDUCE-IT, which used a high-dose, pure EPA fish oil named Vascepa. Incidentally, REDUCE-IT was incorporated in the Harvard meta-analysis – although results held true even when it was discounted.

What the REDUCE-IT trial showed was that pure EPA fish oil, when supplemented at 4g per day for five years, reduced coronary event risk by 25% among participants with elevated levels of triglycerides at the outset and either cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, plus at least one other cardiovascular risk factor.

What’s interesting is that Vascepa is actually classed as a pharmaceutical, not a dietary supplement. However, it is possible to obtain Vascepa’s “therapeutic” dosage by taking regular, off-the-shelf supplements.

Other Factors to Ponder When Choosing a Fish Oil


Of course, dosage is only one factor that should be considered. In truth, the same process must be followed when selecting any supplement.

When shopping for a protein powder, for instance, your primary consideration might be how much protein is supplied per serving. However, you’ll  also want to know how many calories; how many grams of carbohydrates; how much sugar; whether the protein is whey or plant-based; which amino acids are included, and so on.

Aside from providing an effective omega-3 dosage, you should ensure that the fish oil comes from sustainable sources and small-species fish (which absorb less toxins); you should also opt for a fish oil in the more bioavailable r-Triglyceride form, which is preferable to the commonly available (synthetic) ethyl ester form.

It should go without saying that the fish oil should also be made by a reputable manufacturer who follows sound manufacturing practices (GMPs) and has won approval from the IFOSP (International Fish Oil Standards Program) as well as other independent aggregators such as Labdoor.

Should You Combine Fish Oil and Vitamin D?

global overview of worldwide causes of death proves that cardiovascular disease remains the biggest killer, followed by cancer. These causes are way in front of the others: deaths from cardiovascular death are roughly double those from cancer, and deaths from cancer are more than double those from the third biggest killer: respiratory disease.

It may seem morbid to draw attention to these statistics, but what they expose is a grave public health crisis. The simple fact is that we are not looking after our hearts as we should, and we remain vulnerable to cancer in its many forms.

The evidence indicates that, where heart health is concerned, we should up our omega-3 intake. We should also strive to incorporate regular exercise into our routine, limit our consumption of trans fats, shun tobacco, manage stress levels and achieve a healthy weight.

It is also possible to manage cancer risk. According to Cancer Research UK, “our risk depends on a combination of our genes, our environment and things to do with our lifestyle, which we’re more able to control.”

Controllable factors listed by the charity include not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, eating a balanced diet, staying active, cutting back on alcohol and enjoying the sun safely. As such, they are broadly similar to the guidance for heart health.As far as cancer is concerned, there is some research to suggest that vitamin D supplements could offer a protective effect.

In one study of nearly 26,000 participants aged 50 and older, published in the New England Journal of Medicine at the turn of this year, those who took 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily had a 25% reduced risk of death from cancer during the five-year study period.

Moreover, a Japanese study from 2018 showed that overall cancer risk was 22% lower among people with the highest vitamin D levels, versus those with the lowest levels. People with the highest vitamin D levels were also 55% less likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer than those with the lowest.

And there’s another reason why you might want to take fish oil and vitamin D together: the latter is best absorbed when taken with a meal containing fats or oils.

Conclusion

It is encouraging to note that more people are taking an interest in what may be broadly termed preventive nutrition – the understanding that diet can significantly reduce the risk, and impact, of disease and disease-related complications.

Omega-3 fish oil continues to prove itself as one of the key nutrients for heart health, and when you consider its uses beyond improving cardiac health, it’s easy to view it as one of the indispensable elements of our diet.

If you wish to combine omega-3 and vitamin D, there is no better supplement than UnoCardio 1000 – ranked by Labdoor as the world’s best quality fish oil since 2015. WHC’s formula combines 1.2g of exceptionally pure omega-3 fish oil per serving, plus 1,000 IU of vitamin D, and each pack provides 60 servings.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Can Increasing Your Antioxidant Intake Protect Your Heart?

Can Increasing Your Antioxidant Intake Protect Your Heart?

Antioxidants are natural compounds in the form of vitamins, minerals and other composites found in foods. They are thought to protect us by keeping free radicals in check and helping to prevent all manner of illness and disease, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

We naturally produce free radicals as we need them for vital functions that keep us healthy; for example, they can help to fight infection. However, when left unchecked, they can become extremely toxic and damaging to your health, eventually leading to death.

Fortunately, we naturally generate antioxidants to help fight excess free radicals, protecting us from oxidative stress, inflammation and damage to cells that result in chronic disease. But when free radicals outnumber your natural antioxidant defences, trouble can start.

External sources such as environmental pollution, toxic metals, pesticides, cigarette smoke,drugs, and a poor diet can also contribute to free radical damage. Stress can also be a factor, and sadly these days, we are unavoidably exposed to an increasing amount of all of these things.

So eating the right foods and taking care of mind, body and spirit can boost your antioxidant levels and improve your chances of staying healthy.

To supplement or not to supplement? That is the question.


There is a lot of confusion out there, and after countless studies, researchers still can’t agree whether or not supplementing with antioxidants is beneficial for heart disease.

The quality of trials has also been mixed, making it harder to determine who’s right and who’s wrong. But, essentially, there’s no definitive answer.

The over-arching view seems to be that, on balance, there are no stand-out positive results for supplementing. With some particular antioxidants, the opinion is to err on the side of caution as they have shown the potential to do more harm than good. 

Here’s some information on the potential pros and cons of a select list of antioxidants when it comes to cardiovascular health.

Glutathione


Glutathione is a small antioxidant peptide produced in every cell of your body. It is incredibly valuable for protecting your long-term health and preventing disease.

Although we make it ourselves, from around the age of 45, our natural glutathione levels start to decline. Other factors such as toxicity, chronic disease, infection and stress can also affect it.

Glutathione is an excellent detoxer. So it is beyond beneficial for your overall health as it helps to eliminate toxins and reduce oxidative stress. This protection from toxicity lowers inflammation and the diseases associated with it, including heart disease. 

But the problem is, our ever-increasing exposure to toxins causes our glutathione stores to more rapidly get used up, leaving us more susceptible to ill health. 

It may help to promote heart health as researchers have discovered a link between glutathione deficiency, cardiac abnormalities and heart disease. In a 2007 study, researchers witnessed an increase in oxidative stress alongside a decrease in glutathione in patients with untreated hypertension.  

Ischemia-reperfusion is the return of the blood supply to body tissues that have had insufficient blood flow. In a 2001 animal study, researchers used a combination of glutathione supplementation and exercise. They discovered that it protected against oxidative stress and the compromised heart function caused by ischemia.  

Peripheral artery disease happens when narrowing arteries limit the blood flow to your limbs. It can also be a sign of atherosclerosis and is most commonly experienced in the legs, markedly impairing mobility.

But in one study, participants given an intravenous dose of glutathione twice daily for five days had improved pain-free walking over longer distances compared to the placebo group.  

For maximum benefit, when taking a glutathione supplement, the quality – and how easily you absorb it – are crucial. After much research and consideration, we think that Planet Source Glutathione is superior in terms of quality, absorbability and its potentially positive impact on your health. So, if you are considering taking a supplement, this is the one for you.

Vitamin E


Some researchers do support the use of vitamin E as a preventative for coronary heart disease (CHD). However, the consensus appears to be that vitamin E supplementation doesn’t have any particular benefit for heart disease.

Much research doesn’t show it to be harmful either, but there is some evidence pointing towards a potentially darker side.

In 2004, John Hopkins researchers looked into the effect of vitamin E supplementation on cardiovascular disease and cancer.

After re-analysing the data from 19 major trials involving 136,000 patients in North America, they found that doses above 400IU of vitamin E had an increased risk of death

 However, there were limitations to the research, such as small study sizes, and only performing research on patients who were already chronically ill. So it’s hard to tell what the risk would be for healthy people taking higher doses of vitamin E. It’s also unclear whether lower daily doses of 200IU or less, could be harmful.

Whether you believe in taking vitamin E supplements or not, in food form, this potent fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin has powerful health benefits.

It helps to fight infection, protects cells from damage, and may potentially lower the risk of many health problems, aiding in the prevention of chronic illness, including heart disease.

Vitamin C

This impressive antioxidant can bolster your body’s natural defences, boost your immune system, protect your cells and negate the harmful effects of free radical damage. However, research on the benefits of supplementing for heart disease, is again, mixed.

In the book ‘Nutritional and Integrative Strategies in Cardiovascular Medicine‘, Sinatra. T. and Houston. MC. state that in an analysis of 13 trials, 500mg per day of vitamin C, from 3 to 24 weeks, significantly lowered LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The best results showed in participants with the highest lipid levels, and lowest serum levels of vitamin C.

In short-term trials, researchers also found that supplementing with vitamin C at a median dose of 500mg per day, lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

More research has linked high supplemental intake of vitamin C at 700mg and above with a reduced incidence of coronary heart disease events. 

 You don’t have to take supplements, though. Getting adequate vitamin C by consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables high in this powerful antioxidant can be enough to help reduce your risk of heart disease and early death.

Beta-Carotene


Some research involving Finnish smokers over six years has linked beta-carotene supplementation with an increased risk of death from coronary heart disease as well as an increased mortality rate of 8%.

The dose ranged from 15 to 50mg per day, and an increased risk applied when beta-carotene was taken alone or in conjunction with vitamin E (ranging from 50 to 800IU a day).

Along with vitamin C and other antioxidants, carotenoids found in food may help to protect against cardiovascular disease, in part, by preventing the oxidation of cholesterol in the arteries.

You’ll find beta-carotene in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as carrots, squash, sweet potato, leafy greens, red and yellow peppers, cantaloupes and apricots.

Berberine


Berberine is a natural, yellow alkaloid found in the stems and roots of healing plants such as Oregan Grape, Tree Turmeric, Goldenseal, Barberry, Cork-Tree, and Chinese Goldthread. 

Some small studies have looked into berberine’s ability to lower cholesterol with some success. In the book mentioned above, Sinatra and Houston discuss a small study involving 32 dyslipidemic patients (with an abnormal amount of lipids in the blood).

After taking 500mg of berberine for three months, their total cholesterol reduced by as much as 29%. Their LDL cholesterol also went down by 25% and total triglycerides by 35%

Berberine also increases LDL and lipid-lowering effects when taken with statins at a dose of around 500mg per day. 

It works powerfully without statins, though, as shown in a study involving 80 statin-intolerant participants with high cholesterol. The non-placebo group took a supplement containing 500mg of berberine combined with policosanol, red yeast rice, folic acid, coenzyme Q10, and astaxanthin.

The results were promising, showing a significant reduction in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and insulin resistance. The patients tolerated the treatment well, which came without the raft of statin side effects.

Water for Health recommends Planet Source Berberine which comes in a high 1200mg dose. It derives from the Berberis aristata root, also known as Indian barberry. It is non-GMO, vegan-friendly and free from corn, sugar, salt, wheat, soy, gluten and artificial ingredients

If you are on prescription medication, please check with your GP before taking berberine as it may interact with some drugs, and some interactions may be severe.

The antioxidant merits of a nutritious diet


Antioxidants like glutathione and berberine are hard to get from food, so supplementing with them can be beneficial. But, in general, when it comes to heart health and your overall wellbeing, it’s most advantageous to eat an antioxidant-rich diet

Supplementing in excess may be problematic, and obtaining your antioxidants from food is both healthier and safer. 

Often, supplements provide the vitamin or mineral in isolation, and they don’t come with the advantages that an array of fruits, vegetables and other foods have to offer.

For example, blueberries are exceptionally high in antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. As well as providing around 24% of your daily vitamin C allowance in one cup, they also contain fibre, and several vitamins and minerals, including folate, B vitamins, and beta-carotene.

This makes blueberries especially good for you. They are nutrient-dense and packed full of goodies with a multitude of health benefits, including reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

A diverse diet with a wide array of fruits, vegetables and other plant foods like nuts, seeds and oils can help to keep you and your heart healthy by providing an abundance of antioxidants, flavonoids, polyphenols, plant sterols, vitamins and minerals

One 2007 pilot study spanning two years, involved 51 patients (44 were men) between the ages of 40 and 75 years, who were asymptomatic for coronary heart disease. They were instructed to take three phytonutrient capsules twice daily and were monitored at four-month intervals.

The pills contained a powder consisting of fruits, vegetables and berries including (but not exclusive to) broccoli, cabbage, acerola cherry, apple, beetroot, bilberry, blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, carrot, cranberry, orange, papaya, parsley, spinach and tomato. Six daily capsules provided beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and folate.

By the end of follow-up, the patients systolic and diastolic blood pressure had reduced considerably, vascular health was substantially improved, and homocysteine levels significantly decreased. The researcher’s findings support consuming plant nutrients as a valuable part of a heart-healthy diet.

Conclusion

So, if you want to give your antioxidant profile boost, a phytonutrient powder or capsules could be beneficial. They preserve the entire nutrient value from whole foods, concentrating and condensing them into supplement form. 

Spectrum Vibrance is a superfood blend providing exceptionally high levels of antioxidants. It’s a full-spectrum food supplement which combines 36 specially-selected red, yellow, blue and green fruits and vegetables with antioxidant-rich botanical extracts.

This nutrient-dense powder supplies you with many of the nutrients and phytonutrients required to reach optimum health. Just add to water, juice or a protein drink to reap the benefits of this high-quality formulation

Written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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9 Effective Ways to Naturally Manage Your Blood Pressure

9 Effective Ways to Naturally Manage Your Blood Pressure

Most of us do not express any symptoms of high blood pressure until it's too late, and the only way to find out if it's high is to get tested. That's why, for one week every year, Blood Pressure UK encourages you to attend local blood pressure stations to have your BP taken.

Managing your blood pressure is essential if you want to decrease your risk of chronic conditions including heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease (restriction of blood supply to your limbs), kidney disease, vascular dementia, mild cognitive impairment and eye problems.

Factors that can influence your ability to develop hypertension include stress, being overweight, lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking, insufficient sleep and excessive caffeine and alcohol intake.

You may also be more at risk if you have a family history of high blood pressure, or are of African or Caribbean descent.

However, did you know that there is a lot you can do naturally to regulate your blood pressure and reduce your chances of developing it?

Here are nine things you can do to help.

1) Take a daily probiotic


While more investigation is needed to confirm the benefits, research pooling data from nine studies involving hundreds of people with normal or high blood pressure showed promising results for daily probiotic consumption effecting a moderate decrease in blood pressure.

Key points to note from this research are that high blood pressure, from 130/85 mm Hg or more, benefits the most from probiotic supplementation. It also takes a minimum of eight weeks before you start seeing results. 

The quality of the probiotic supplement is also crucial.

Researchers found that probiotics with less than 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) and only single probiotic strains did not provide significant positive results

Progurt Probiotics are a super- strength gut formulation, with each sachet containing one trillion CFUs, around 40 times as much as other market-leading probiotics.

They are made up of Human Probiotic Isolates (HPI), bacteria identical to that found in a healthy human gut. They help to restore the microbiome you were born with and work in harmony to achieve a healthy, more naturally balanced gut.

Progurt Probiotics contain multiple strains, including missing and fragile ones.

2) Find ways to manage stress effectively


Whether it’s related to everyday concerns, work worries or both, there’s no doubt that unchecked stress can put your body under significant pressure, and potentially ravage your health.  

So it’s essential to be self-aware and find efficient ways to cope with the stresses and strains of life. There are all sorts of ways you can help to manage your stress and calm anxiety. You just need to find methods that specifically work for you. 

Some people find daily meditation and deep breathing exercises very beneficial. It doesn’t have to take long, and you’d be amazed at how a short ten-minute meditation can make a world of difference to how you’re feeling

Other ways to relieve stress include yoga, listening to music, spending time with friends and loved ones, walking in nature, practising gratitude, exercising, making time for fun, and learning to let go. 

Effective time management, not overwhelming yourself by taking on too much, and delegating tasks can all help to create a more general feeling of calm.

3) Take regular exercise


Regular exercise increases heart strength, gets your blood pumping, and takes the pressure off your arteries, decreasing blood pressure. 

Regularly walking at a brisk pace, and taking the opportunity to move as much as possible is an excellent start.

Get out and about as much as you can, organise walks with friends or family at the weekends, spend time moving in nature. Take the stairs whenever you can, and briskly walk an extra bus, tube or train stop.

You’ll be surprised how easy it can be to become more active in your everyday life.

Other cardiovascular exercises like cycling, running, swimming, or rowing are also brilliant. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day.

4) Eat nitrate-rich vegetables


If you suffer from hypertension, research shows that nitrates can help to lower blood pressure and keep the blood vessels healthy. 

Lots of fruits and vegetables contain nitrates, but some have exceptionally high concentrations such as rocket, rhubarb, basil, spring greens, lettuce, coriander, swiss chard, beetroot greens, other leafy greens, celery and beetroot.

Try to include generous portions of these vegetables every day. When eaten, nitrates convert into nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator that improves blood flow. There are few nutrients better for the cardiovascular system.

5) Take Garlic, Olive Leaf or CoQ10


Garlic has been shown to lower systolic blood pressure where it is already high. It is also thought to raise nitric oxide production, which can help to lower blood pressure. 

Some research also supports the use of olive leaf extract (preferably 1000mg daily) for reducing hypertension. This may be due to its ability to block calcium from entering the cells of the heart and blood vessels and ease arterial stiffness. 

CoQ10 has heart-protective benefits, and according to research, can have beneficial effects for patients with hypertension. 

6) Eat a clean, wholesome diet and restrict sugar


Evidence suggests that a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates leaves you more susceptible to all kinds of chronic illness and disease, including hypertension. 

It pays to be mindful of the foods you eat and temper your consumption of those containing sugar.

Make sure you check food labels and get educated on the countless names it has, such as dextrose, fructose, barley malt, agave nectar and corn syrup.

Avoiding sugar also applies to refined, simple carbohydrates like processed junk foods and white bread and pasta. Regularly eating these can lead to blood sugar spikes and weight gain, both of which can contribute to high blood pressure

Try replacing sweet treats with fibre-packed foods like an apple, pear or a handful of heart-healthy berries, nuts and seeds.

You could also replace unhealthy savoury snacks such as crisps, pretzels or popcorn with kale crisps, nut butter and oatcakes, vegetables and houmous, or a small handful of nuts. 

Exchange your white bread, pasta and rice for brown wholegrain versions. Try fortifying foods like buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth too. 

7) Prioritise magnesium


Insufficient magnesium can contribute to high blood pressure as it aids heart function, relaxes blood vessels and helps to regulate blood sugar.

Conversely, cardiovascular disorders, including hypertension, can deplete magnesium levels. 

Stress will quickly drain your magnesium stores too, so it’s vital to ensure you are eating a multitude of magnesium-rich foods every day.

Think green leafy vegetables including kale, spinach and chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, black beans, butter beans, avocados, artichokes, peas, sweet potatoes, figs, at least 85% plain chocolate and bananas.

Taking a regular evening soak in Epsom salts can also help. Make sure the water is not too hot, and that you bathe for forty minutes, which should be enough to absorb the magnesium through your skin.

If you’re not into baths, try a foot soak instead.

You might also consider taking a natural, clean, highly absorbable magnesium supplement. The RNI is 300mg daily for men and 270mg daily for women, with the “safe upper level” set at 400mg daily.

If in doubt, seek advice from a healthcare professional.

8) Consider salt + potassium


Increased sodium can contribute to high blood pressure for those with a sensitivity to it. So if you already suffer from hypertension, it might be a good idea to moderate your salt intake and see if it makes a difference for you.

That said, not eating enough salt can be harmful, and the evidence against salt is far from conclusive. Good-quality salt supplies vital minerals that significantly benefit our health, staving off chronic disease.

For more information, read The Salt Fix by Dr James DiNicolantonio. Or if you don’t fancy reading the whole book, read our summary of it.

It’s essential to eat good-quality salt as the ordinary table salt added to processed, packaged foods and found in most restaurants is refined, with most of the beneficial elements removed. It also contains anti-caking agents to stop it from clustering together.

Natural salts such as Himalayan salt have a far superior mineral profile and no additives, making it a healthier choice

Some research shows that a higher ratio of sodium to potassium increases your chance of having a heart attack or stroke. The typical Western diet tends to be heavy on the salt, and often, we don’t consume enough potassium-rich foods.

Potassium helps to regulate sodium levels, so it might be that increasing your potassium intake is just as important, if not more so, as reducing salt. 

Maintaining healthy potassium levels will encourage the kidneys to regulate fluid levels, lowering your blood pressure risk.

Add potassium-laden foods to your daily diet, including bananas, white beans, black beans, avocados, potatoes, mushrooms (particularly button), sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, oats, spinach, halibut, salmon and dried apricots (unsulphured).

9) Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight is a major risk factor for developing high blood pressure. Eating and sleeping well, moving, exercising and managing stress can all help you to stay at a healthy weight.

There is also a compelling link between low vitamin D and weight gain, so we would recommend a sufficient intake of vitamin D. During autumn and winter months, a supplement may be necessary.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are several natural steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure. If you already have hypertension, you will benefit from these suggestions too, but always check with your GP or healthcare provider before taking supplements or making dietary changes. 

Another supplement to consider for your overall health and wellbeing is Green Vibrance Powder by Vibrant Health. It’s a great all-rounder, providing a diverse range of nutrients to support a multitude of bodily functions. Nutrient-dense, with a varied list of plant-based ingredients, Green Vibrance is packed full of macro and micronutrients. It’s an excellent source of highly absorbable natural-state nutrients.

Green Vibrance also contains some blood pressure regulating ingredients including magnesium, nitrate plant food sources and multiple strains of probiotics at 25 billion CFUs. It contains ingredients to aid circulation and reduce oxidative stress, helping to lower inflammation and susceptibility to chronic illness, including heart disease.

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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Exploring the Heart–Brain Axis and How Stress Kills

Exploring the Heart–Brain Axis and How Stress Kills

Exploring the Heart–Brain Axis and How Stress Kills

The nervous and cardiovascular systems have a bidirectional relationship. This means that if there is an injury or imbalance in one system, it will impact the other.

Over the past two decades, many scientific studies have been carried out to gain a deeper insight into this complex intertwining relationship.

Heart health can be seriously impaired with an imbalance in the central nervous system, meaning that emotions can physically impact cardiovascular health.

In this article we’ll explore the heart-brain axis and look how the brain affects the heart – and vice-versa.

How Stress Can Kill You


Did you know that you can die from an extreme stressor? Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine have found that stress can actually lead to sudden death, as the sympathetic nervous system alters heart rhythm in both animals and humans.

Scientists have found that mental stress is exaggerated in people with abnormal heart rhythms. The lead researcher in the Yale study stressed (pardon the pun):

Patients should be aware that stress really can alter arrhythmias or make heart rhythms dangerous.”

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the endocrine system (responsible for releasing hormones) are managed by the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS can be broken down into two parts – the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

This delicate interplay can be thrown off balance with a hyperactive sympathetic nervous system. In this circumstance, the nervous system can seriously injure the heart.

Heart-Brain Axis: A Clinical Perspective


The heart-brain axis has become better understood from a clinical perspective in recent years and can be broken down to the following two approaches:

  1. The effects of cardiovascular disease on the nervous system (such as strokes).
  2. The effects of neurological disorders on the cardiovascular system (known as heart brain disorders).

Sudden Death and the Heart-Brain Connection

The brain-heart connection has long been known. Back in 1942, Harvard Medical School Professor of Physiology Walter B. Cannon published an interesting paper entitled “Voodoo Death,” in which he discussed death from fright.

Cannon believed that death from extreme emotions was likely because of “hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system.

Cannon’s work linking intense emotions (like fear) with illness has formed the basis for much of our modern understanding of the physiological response systems. Cannon proposed that the impacts of emotions on the body could be explained as follows: “By a lasting and intense action of the sympathico-adrenal system.”

Today we would refer to the “sympathico-adrenal system” as the HPA-axis and the sympathetic nervous system.

What is the Role of the HPA Axis?

The HPA axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is the name we give to a set of interactions between the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands in the brain and adrenals, which are located on top of each kidney.

The HPA axis is our stress response system that is meant for survival purposes. Unfortunately, in modern times chronic stress is normal and people often fall ill due to excessive stress.

Factors That Cause an Autonomic Storm


Overwhelming or life-threatening events that trigger the stress response create an autonomic storm.

During an autonomic storm, the nervous system gets overly stimulated and this can even cause physical cardiac lesions.

George Engel found that sudden death could be tied to the following eight life-altering events:

  1. The impact of the death of a close person
  2. During acute grief
  3. On threat of loss of a close person
  4. During mourning (or on the anniversary of a sad event)
  5. On loss of status or self-esteem
  6. Personal danger or threat of injury
  7. After danger is over – recurring thoughts of the event
  8. Reunion, triumph or happy ending

CNS Control of Cardiovascular System


There is a complex interwoven network of neurons that are involved in the processing and control of cardiovascular function.

An area in the brain known as the “insular cortex” is thought to be responsible for the regulation of the heart-brain axis. Stimulating higher cortical centres in animal studies has shown to affect the heart.

The brain region known as the “amygdala” receives information from the prefrontal cortex and is relayed to the hypothalamus. In ideal conditions, this area should modulate the effects of intense emotions on the heart.

What is the Role of the Vagus Nerve?


The autonomic nervous system (ANS) consists of both the parasympathetic and sympathetic parts. This entire system is modulated by the vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve connects the brain to the body. Interestingly, overstimulation of the vagus nerve is the most common cause of fainting.

Stress can over stimulate the vagus nerve and impact your blood pressure and heart rate.

The Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems

The Sympathetic System

A series of enzymatic reactions are involved in the triggering of the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is commonly known as the fight-or-flight response. Part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the sympathetic nervous system is triggered in response to perceived or real stress in our environment.

This activates a cascade of stress hormones called “catecholamines” which include adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as the “rest-and-digest” phase.

This is when we relax and allow our minds and bodies space to recuperate. Just one of the systems can be activated at any time.

Therefore, finding a healthy balance and taking up healthy habits to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system is important for immune system health.

8 Ways to Calm your Sympathetic Nervous System

A healthy balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity is essential for overall health. However, all too often we find ourselves overwhelmed with stress. Here are 8 natural ways to relax your central nervous system:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Meditation
  • Visualisation
  • Eat in a relaxed state
  • Yoga
  • Time in Nature
  • Massage
  • Quality Sleep

Practising all of the above will serve to soothe your sympathetic nervous system for the betterment of your health. What are you waiting for?

Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.

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Fermented Beet Benefits: For Energy, Diabetes, Gut & Heart Health

Fermented Beet Benefits: For Energy, Diabetes, Gut & Heart Health

Beets are an unsung hero of nutrition. Belonging to the root vegetable family, beets (or beetroots, as they’re often known) are a dense source of vital vitamins, minerals and inorganic nitrates. Strange, then, that you mightn’t have heard too much about them.

With this article, we aim to rectify that. Because beets – and fermented beets in particular – deserve major credit for the health benefits they can confer. Beets have been variously shown to improve athletic performance, protect heart and gut health, ease digestion and protect the skin from signs of premature ageing. Adding them to your diet is one of the best things you can do.

So what are you waiting for? Read on to find out what fermented beets are good for, and why incorporating them into your nutrition plan is likely to pay rich dividends.

What are Fermented Beets?


Beets are a treasured low-calorie vegetable, rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients.

Beets can be consumed in smoothies and juices, peeled and eaten raw, sautéed with olive oil, roasted with goat cheese, deployed in soups and salads, even included in desserts. Intrigued? Have some recipe inspiration.

While beets are great, cultured (fermented) beets are even better. Why? Because fermentation potentiates the impact of nutrients.

Traditionally fermenting beets extends their lifespan, reduces sugar content (especially advantageous since beets have a comparatively high sugar content), drastically aids vitamin and enzyme production and increases friendly gut microbes. They are also far more bioavailable for our body.

What’s more, fermentation adds an extra dimension to the sweet, mellow and earthy flavour of beets.

To find out more, check out our article 10 Benefits of Fermented Foods.

Many people new to this topic often wonder if beets are classed as low FODMAP. The answer is yes – in moderation. While a full serving of fresh beetroot (approx four slices) is regarded as high FODMAP due to the oglio-fructan, two slices would be classed as low FODMAP.

Interestingly, pickled/fermented beet scores much better on the FODMAP index than fresh beet.

There are a number of ways to culture raw beets, with some using specialised equipment and others little more than glass jars or air-locked fermentation dishes. A quick Google search will uncover no end of inspiration, as well as recipes.

What Do Fermented Beets Do for the Body?


Now that you know what fermented beets are, let’s take a closer look at what are fermented beets good for; that way, you can better comprehend what fermented beets do for the human body.

Below, we cover some of the primary, evidence-based health benefits of consuming beets.

Fermented Beets for Digestion and Diabetes


We all know dietary fibre is essential for proper digestion, and beets contain plenty of it. As such, they’re a great food for keeping the bowel moving and preventing constipation.

Beets also contain folate, which among other things helps to repair tissues in the digestive tract.

As for blood-sugar control and diabetes, beets have proven themselves to be incredibly effective in a number of trials.

For example, one 2014 study showed that drinking half a cup of beetroot juice resulted in a notable suppression of post-meal glucose levels.

Another study, published three years later, showed that nitrate-rich beet juice when drunk with carbs could lower insulin resistance in obese participants.

While a separate 2012 review indicated that alpha-lipoic acid, a major antioxidant found in beets, could reduce nerve damage common to diabetics.

At the moment it’s fair to say that more studies are needed to properly assess the merits of beets, at least where diabetes is concerned. But the evidence thus far is promising.

Fermented Beets for Gut Health


What about fermented beets and probiotics? When we hear the words “fermented” or “cultured”, our minds tend to jump to probiotics after all. That’s natural, since many fermented foods are indeed probiotic, helping to introduce friendly microbes to the digestive tract and positively influence the microbiome. Some examples of fermented food include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and natural yogurt.

In a 2015 animal study, fermented beet juice was shown to improve gut microbiota and metabolic activity and also enhance hydrophilic antioxidants.

The study authors also alluded to fermented beet juice’s “high anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic potentials”.

Beets’ gut-friendly profile has led to the emergence of such products as beet gut shots, which promise to keep your gut well-balanced. Beets (as well as beet juice) is also regularly included in lists of gut-friendly foods.

Fermented Beets for Heart Health


“Can fermented beets raise blood pressure?” is an oft-asked question. In actual fact, the opposite is true: beets have the ability to lower blood pressure in a relatively short timespan, thanks to their natural nitrates.

When we eat beets, our body converts nitrates to nitric oxide, which serves to dilate blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure and improving blood flow.

Indeed, a 2017 meta-analysis which assessed data from 40 individual studies found a “significant effect” of beet juice on systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP).

Be aware, though, that boiling beets reduces their nitrate content: steaming, roasting or juicing is the way to go. Mouthwashes and chewing gum also prevent nitric oxide conversion from occurring.

As well as nitrates, which are regularly used to treat angina, beets contain betaine – which helps to reduce inflammation, protect against environmental stress and assists the liver by stimulating the flow of bile to break down fat.

Fermented Beets for Boosting Energy Levels


Do fermented beets give you energy? Yes, they do. Or at any rate, there are studies showing just that.

For example,   found that drinking beet juice improved “cardiorespiratory endurance” in athletes by improving their maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 max) and also their anaerobic threshold.

This wasn’t from a single study either: 23 separate trials were investigated to reach this conclusion.

The take-home? Beet juice could help you work out for longer and increase efficiency. Ditch the stimulant-laden preworkouts and drink a glass of beet juice instead.

More Health Benefits of Beets

These are not the only benefits of consuming beets, of course. Below, you’ll find a snapshot of other benefits.

• Multiple studies on rats indicate that beets “reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the liver”, while also increasing production of natural detoxification enzymes.

• Drinking beet juice pre-workout boosts brain performance.

• Beets increase blood flow to the brain in older people and may hamper the progression of dementia.

• Beetroot extract “exhibited a dose-dependent cytotoxic effect” in prostate and breast cancer cells.

Conclusion

Hopefully you are in no doubt about the impressive nutritious profile of beets. Is it any wonder they remain a staple of traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine? In actual fact, red beets have been cultivated since around 300 BC!

We firmly believe that fermented beets are the way to go. Whether you’re drinking fermented beet juice or eating beets you’ve fermented yourself, you’re sure to benefit.

Remember, there are lots of recipes out there so don’t be scared to experiment!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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leafy green salad in a white bowl

4 Key Nutrients Your Heart is Crying Out For

4 Key Nutrients Your Heart is Crying Out For

Around 7.4 million people are living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK, and it is the cause of more than a quarter of all deaths, at nearly 170,000 a year.

There are over 100,000 hospital admissions due to heart attacks per year and over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests with a survival rate of less than one in ten. Strokes cause over 36,000 deaths a year while also being the biggest cause of severe disability.

Nearly 3.8 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, a leading cause of heart disease, with diabetics being almost 50% more likely to have heart attacks.

With statistics like these, it’s more vital than ever to look after your heart health. With this mind, we have identified four key nutrients you can include in your daily diet to keep it functioning well, long into the future.

For more information and stats on cardiovascular disease, visit the British Heart Foundation website.

1) Fish Oils


Fish oils have the potential to reduce triglycerides and blood pressure, improve vascular function, reduce the risk of stroke, and protect those at high risk of arrhythmia and heart attack.

According to researchers, populations with a high marine food diet appear to have a lower risk of a heart attack.

The EPA and DHA found in fish oil may help to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It can significantly affect lipid (fat) metabolism, lowering excess triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood while also reducing inflammation, two main factors behind atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Increased intake of omega-3 oils, including fish oils, may also reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).

study published by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2012 found that those with higher levels of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in their blood had a 30% lower chance of developing chronic atrial fibrillation.

Researchers highlighted the need for further investigation to determine whether increasing the dietary intake of these fatty acids could become an effective and primary form of prevention.

Fish oils may also help to protect heart attack survivors, and in one trial, heart attack survivors who took a high-dose fish oil supplement for six months showed considerably improved heart function and substantially reduced inflammation biomarkers, that went way beyond recommended care guidelines.

Lastly, a 2018 trial demonstrated that use of a high EPA fish oil sharply reduced the rate of cardiovascular events in individuals with a history of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. Indeed, statin-treated adults with heightened triglyceride levels saw a 25% reduction in their relative risk of heart attacks, strokes and related cardiac events compared to a placebo control group – all from taking a purified EPA fish oil.

It’s always a good idea to get as many nutrients as possible from your daily diet, but not everyone is keen on fish, particularly oily fish.

Some researchers have noticed a connection between those who don’t eat fish and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and if this sounds like you, then it could be highly beneficial to take a fish oil supplement.

Please have a look at our excellent, superior quality and extremely clean WFH Quattrocardio fish oils which are scientifically formulated to support the health of the cardiovascular, immune, neurological and skeletal systems.

2) Vitamin D3


Low vitamin D3 is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s why, during the summer months, it’s important to get yourself out in the sunlight, exposing as much of your skin as possible, for short bursts without burning.

The Vitamin D Council state that coronary heart disease (CHD) rates are higher for those of us living farther from the equator, with less sunlight.

Also, in the winter, CHD is more prevalent than the summer, which is valid for both warmer and colder countries. But wherever you live, solar UVB doses are lowest in winter, and vitamin D levels are lowest in late winter.

They suggest that keeping vitamin D levels above 30–40 ng/mL may reduce the risk of CHD and cite two studies of interest where those with lower vitamin D status were more likely to develop CHD.

Research in 2015 found that patients with vitamin D levels lower than 15 nanograms per millilitre have a higher risk of developing heart problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attacks and strokes.

The study was carried out in the United States, where one in ten people are below this limit (a considerable proportion of the population).

According to national surveys, one in five  people in the UK has low vitamin D status. While there are always several contributing factors to consider when it comes to your susceptibility to any illness, this statistic does make one wonder how many of us are also running the risk of developing heart issues, at least in part for lack of vitamin D.

A five-year study by the Medical Research Council found that 80 participants with chronic heart failure who took a daily dose of vitamin D, improved their heart pumping function by 8% compared to those taking a placebo.

The trial ran for one year, with patients taking 4,000IU of vitamin D3 daily. Although this was a positive result, it did not improve their ability to exercise, and a much larger study over a more extended period is needed.

Overall, studies are conflicting as to whether or not low vitamin D levels are a significant enough risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. However, vitamin D3 is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can lower oxidative stress, which is an underlying factor for all chronic illness.

It’s virtually impossible to get adequate vitamin D through diet, minimal amounts are found in animal foods such as full-fat butter, offal, eggs, fish and fish liver. So it’s essential to take a daily supplement, especially outside of the summertime where we have limited access to sunlight.

If you are concerned that your levels are low, get tested by your GP. Public Health England recommends adults and children over the age of one take 10mcg of vitamin D during autumn and winter, and the Vitamin D Council recommends a supplement of 5,000IU daily.

Take a look at our Revitacell Vitamin D3 drops, bound in natural oils for easy absorption into the body. The oils are organic olive oil, organic MCT oil and organic chia seed oil. 

You could also try Vibrant Health’s nutrient-dense Green Vibrance powder, which has a generous helping of vitamin D. It contains 70 ingredients, providing an abundance of nutrients to support your entire body.  

3) Vitamin K2


There are two primary forms of vitamin K – K1 (phylloquinone)and K2 (menaquinones). K1 is found in plant foods like dark leafy greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus.

Vitamin K2 is found in fermented and animal foods such as natto, fermented soy, hard cheese, butter, egg yolks, organ meats, and dark chicken meat.

Gut microbiota is also able to synthesise vitamin K2.

Vitamins K and D actually work synergistically together, particularly when it comes to bone and heart health. And in one small 2015 study, patients with chronic kidney disease were split into two groups, one given 400IU vitamin D with 90mcg of vitamin K2 and the other just vitamin D.

The group taking K2 and D3 had reduced progression of atherosclerosis (plaque build up in the arteries), considerably more so than the group taking vitamin D alone.

Overall, research is conflicted as to whether or not there are clear links between cardiovascular disease and lack of vitamin K2, but there are several observational studies to support this theory.

For example, the seven to ten year Rotterdam study, published in 2004, followed 4,807 male participants, tracking their intake of vitamin K2 and linked higher levels with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and severe aortic calcification.

Another long term study, spanning several years, following 16,057 women aged between 49 and 70 years of age, associated an increased vitamin K2 consumption with a reduced risk of heart disease.

4) CoQ10


CoQ10 is a compound we naturally produce in our bodies but unfortunately, our ability to produce it substantially decreases as we age.

A potent antioxidant, CoQ10 aids in mitochondrial function and energy production, boosting your immunity and preventing disease.

It helps to reduce oxidative stress, which causes tissue damage and inflammation, resulting in chronic illness. Although research is inconclusive, some distinct associations have been identified between a lack of CoQ10 and heart disease.

According to research, COQ10 can have beneficial effects for patients with coronary artery disease (CAD), chronic heart failure (CHF) and hypertension.

One study published in 2008 determined that low CoQ10 was an “independent predictor of survival” in elderly patients with chronic heart failure and that “CoQ10 deficiency might be detrimental to the long-term prognosis of CHF.”

Some research also suggests that supplementing with CoQ10 could improve blood flow and enhance the physical performance of chronic heart failure patients.

It’s also known that statins can negatively affect CoQ10 levels, so it may be beneficial to supplement if you are taking cholesterol-lowering medication. CoQ10 can also help to improve statin-associated side effects, such as myopathy (muscle weakness).

The National Centre for Complementary and Integrated Health states that when taken alongside other nutrients, CoQ10 supplements may help to speed up recovery time after heart bypass and heart valve surgeries.

Conclusion

Prevention is better than cure, and as heart and circulatory disease is the cause of over a quarter of UK deaths per year, it’s important to look after yourself by doing simple and effective things like eating a balanced whole food diet, performing regular exercise, taking care of your mental and emotional wellbeing, spending time in good company, and getting plenty of water, fresh air and sunshine.

Taking a vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter is essential. It will help to boost your overall immunity and potentially bolster your heart health. Adding some vitamin K2 foods to your diet would also be beneficial, and potentiate the positive impact of vitamin D.

Eating oily fish two to three times per week is also necessary to receive adequate amounts of EPA and DHA. Alternatively, taking a good-quality daily fish oil is advisable, and if you are older and concerned about protecting your heart, adding a daily CoQ10 supplement may help.

If you already have heart or circulatory issues or are taking statins, there may be some natural lifestyle interventions you can make to improve symptoms, and taking some of the supplements mentioned in this article could be a good start. Just be sure to discuss with your GP before taking them, as they could interfere with prescribed medication.

This article was written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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bunch of berries

5 Compelling Reasons to Eat Berries, Such as for Heart Health

5 Compelling Reasons to Eat Berries, Such as for Heart Health

There are many good reasons to eat berries. Rightly considered one of nature’s genuine superfoods, these tasty, fleshy fruits are absolutely packed with nutrition, can be purchased fresh or frozen, and can be deployed in a staggering number of dishes.

There is more research to support including berries in your diet than there is for just about any other food. Believe it or not, they’ve even been demonstrated to offer protection against cancer and heart disease.

With this in mind, when was the last time you ate a handful of berries? Did you scatter berries on your porridge this morning or have you forgotten the last time you indulged in foods such as goji berries, gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries?

Whatever the case may be, in this article you'll learn why berries should be a dietary staple. We’ll talk about what’s in berries that makes them so healthful, as well as conditions they might help with and ways you can use them. Let’s dive in.

What Makes Berries Healthy?


The million dollar question: what makes berries so healthy?

Well, for starters, they have an incredible nutritional profile, generally being high in vitamins A, C, E and K; minerals manganese and copper; prebiotic fibre; and special antioxidants known as polyphenols.

In fact, on a per serving basis, berry fruits are some of the richest sources of polyphenols on Earth, with the most polyphenol-rich berries including black chokeberry, black elderberry, blackberry and blueberry.

The afore-linked article on polyphenols is a good place to bone up on the topic, but in essence they are powerful compounds found mostly in plants, and which offer protection from ultraviolet radiation and harmful pathogens.

And just as they protect plants, they can also protect us.

Polyphenols are subdivided into flavonoids, stilbenes (like resveratrol), lignans and phenolic acids, and they are one of our best defences against harmful free radicals.

Berries also have a lower sugar content than many fruits, which make them advisable for diabetics. (More on that later.)

They are also quite low in calories. Which brings us nicely on to…

1. To lose weight, improve insulin sensitivity


Berries are a dieter’s best friend – a half cup of blueberries contains just 42 calories – and it couldn’t be easier to incorporate them in your diet.

Whether you buy fresh or frozen, they are perfect for blending in a healthy smoothie or sprinkling liberally over a Greek yogurt or salad.

It’s not just the low calorie count that makes berries particularly helpful for weight loss. It also stems from their high fibre content.

You see, the body cannot break this fibre down, so the net effect is that the rate of digestion is slowed, helping to keep you fuller for longer.

Research backs up the hypothesis that berries are advantageous for weight loss. Take the 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal, for example.

It looked at whether the intake of flavonoid subclasses correlated with weight loss over time, and followed its subjects over a period of 24 years.

The result? “Among fruits, an increased intake of blueberries, apples, pears, prunes, strawberries, and grapes was inversely associated with weight gain.”

Sadly, some known flavonoid-rich food sources – like blackberries and raspberries – were not included in the study. But you’ve got to assume they’d have a similar effect.

Can you eat berries on a low-carb diet? Absolutely. But it does depend on how low-carb you want to go.

Berries have attracted interest in the ketogenic community because some, like raspberry, blackberry and strawberry, are permissible in modest quantities.

Blueberries contain a little more carbs, so they’re generally off the menu. But unless you’re going full keto, you can eat most berries liberally due to their comparatively low carbohydrate content.

OK, so how can berries be good for diabetes? Well, there was a study a few years ago which found that polyphenols in strawberries and cranberries improved insulin sensitivity for people with pre-diabetes.

Published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that GlucoPhenol – a blend of cranberry and strawberry extracts – provoked notable improvements in insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic, insulin-resistant individuals.

Specifically, the berry blend increased insulin signalling and the transportation of glucose into skeletal muscle.

Hélène Jacques, PhD, who led the study, remarked that the results indicated that “polyphenols may delay or even halt the progression of type 2 diabetes.”

Sugar is the enemy for diabetics, and while berries contain fructose, this natural sugar doesn’t need insulin to be metabolised. As such, berries are ideal for a diabetic diet.

2. To reduce blood pressure, improve heart health


Fibre and antioxidants are considered cornerstone nutrients for the heart. So it’s really no surprise that berries are recommended for those keen to preserve the health of their most important organ.

In studies, berries have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, lower oxidative stress (thereby cutting risk of heart disease) and improve arterial function.

In a study published in 2013 but conducted over an 18-year-period,  women who ate the fewest blueberries and strawberries were shown to be at an elevated risk of heart attack.

By comparison, women who ate the most were 34% less likely to suffer from one as those who ate the least.

This particular study revealed a threshold effect: in other words, you have to eat a minimum amount to receive the cardiovascular benefits. That threshold appears to be three or more 1/2 cup servings every week.

A word of warning, though: people who use blood-thinners like warfarin should consult with their doctor prior to upping their consumption of blueberries: the high vitamin K content can affect the ability of blood to clot.

3. To tackle gout


Gout is a condition caused by an excess of uric acid in the blood, which gives rise to symptoms such as stiff, painful joints. It is known particularly to afflict the hands, wrists, knees, ankles and elbows.

One of the great things about berries is that they reduce uric acid levels in the body, thereby alleviating gout symptoms and improving general health.

This is due to the high vitamin C content as well as the assorted antioxidants and phenolic compounds therein.

Extracts of barberry and raspberry have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory effects while in animal models, cherry and mulberry extracts have proven effective at treating arthritis inflammation.

Should berries be considered a lone treatment for gout or any other form of arthritis? No. But they can be useful if used alongside other natural arthritis remedies.

4. To pass on the benefits (berries during pregnancy)

Not for nothing are berries regarded as a must-eat food during pregnancy. It’s largely down to the vitamin C, fibre, potassium and folate (vitamin B9) content, all of which are important nutrients to pass on to your offspring.

Folate is especially crucial as it can help to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Berries also contain plenty of water, so they are a great hydration aid. During pregnancy, there is a greater hydration need, as water is required to form amniotic fluid, generate additional blood volume, build new tissue, transport nutrients, ease indigestion and eliminate toxins.

Funnily enough, many pregnant women report experiencing berry cravings. We’d like to say this shows the body is asking for what it needs; but ice cream and chocolate cravings are also all too common!

5. To improve skin health and hair growth


Due largely to their antioxidant content, berries are considered one of the best foods to eat to improve complexion.

This makes perfect sense when you consider that free radicals are one of the worst offenders in the ageing process and consequent skin damage.

Collagen is another famously skin-supportive nutrient, and because it depends on vitamin C, berries in turn support the production of collagen.

Thus, their effect on skin health is twofold. Actually threefold when you factor in hydration.

Berries have a long history of traditional use, and Native Americans in particular used berries for wounds due to their anti-microbial properties.

Studies performed by North Carolina State University show that berry compounds can help speed up the process of wound healing.

Because hair follicles are just as vulnerable to damage from free radicals, berries are also considered beneficial for hair: not only to prevent it from becoming brittle and breaking but also promoting hair growth.

What’s more, it’s believed berries promote blood circulation on the scalp.

Conclusion

Hopefully we have demonstrated that berries are incredibly healthful. And here’s another thing: they’re also extremely adaptable.

Think about it: you can have berry compote, berry coulis, berry mousse or just scatter a handful of your favourite berries over yogurts, granolas or salads. You can also blend berries into your favourite fruit or vegetable juice, smoothie or protein shake to up the antioxidant content. Oh, and there’s berry cheesecake, muffin, pancakes and pie, providing you can keep the sugar low – or not if you’re after a treat.

There are even berry supplements. Our favourite is Immun7 Premium, a unique polyphenol concentrate made from 7 superfruits - black cherries, black grapes, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries, plum and elderberries

A true superfood, it’s about time we started giving berries the appreciation they deserve. Tell your friends!

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Fish Oil: Liquid Gold for the Heart, Brain & Inflammation

Fish Oil: Liquid Gold for the Heart, Brain & Inflammation

Fish oil has long been one of the world’s most popular health supplements – and for good reason.

Typically associated with cardiovascular and brain health, omega-3 fish oil capsules are, in fact, linked with an extensive array of benefits due to their healthful provision of Essential Fatty Acids.

Indeed, recent research has uncovered hitherto unknown benefits. You might know that omega-3s slash cardiac risk, but were you aware that they may keep gut bacteria in balance, protect against vision loss in the ageing, and help to reduce osteoarthritis pain?

In this article we evaluate the scientific evidence undergirding fish oil liquid and capsules, and aim to show why omega-3 supplements remain one of the most safe and effective dietary products currently available.

Fish Oil Reduces Inflammation


Acute inflammation is a necessary immune response, protecting us from infection and illness, and encouraging wounds to heal. But sometimes, for various reasons, once triggered our systems go into overdrive and molecules don’t signal effectively to halt the inflammation process.

Things start to get out of control, and the inflammation becomes chronic. 

Over time, long-term inflammation can damage healthy cells, tissues and organs, leading to premature ageing and chronic conditions such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and cancer.

But could taking fish oils help to protect you from this?

These days, it’s relatively common knowledge that omega-3 fats are highly beneficial for our health with potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Fish oils, in particular, have been noted for their ability to reduce inflammatory markers and oxidative stress significantly, and their healing properties have been linked to all manner of conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety and depression, ADHD, arthritis, high blood pressure, age-related macular degeneration and psoriasis.

As well as helping to suppress inflammation, fish oil appears to promote T-cells, white blood cells that play a crucial role in the immune system.

According to one 2017 study, fish oil could both prevent and treat inflammation and oxidative stress caused by air pollution, “delivering a 30-50% reduction in harm.”

Fish Oil and Pro-Resolving Molecules


To try and understand how they work in the body, some researchers have looked at the biological mechanism behind fish oils.

In the past, the halting of inflammation was seen as a passive process caused by the natural withdrawal of pro-inflammatory signals once the job is done. Modern medicine’s approach has reflected this, with anti-inflammatory drugs being designed to suppress those signals causing the inflammation.

However, it now appears that the stalling of inflammation is an active step performed by a particular set of chemical mediators, and it is the dysregulation of these ‘pro-resolving’ molecules that leads to chronic inflammation and disease.

Oily fish and fish oils are the most bioavailable source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and it is these two omega-3 fats that have been found to directly generate resolvins and protectins, pro-resolving chemical mediators that control the duration and magnitude of inflammation.

EPA and DHA are also key in producing lipoxins, another pro-resolution molecule.

In research, resolvins are linked to the reduction of inflammation and protection from arthritis, colitis and asthma. Protectins, meanwhile, can protect the synapses and circuitry of the brain.

A neuroprotectin called NPD1 is promptly produced in response to oxidative stress in the brain after injury, helping to protect against brain damage. It can also preserve neural and retinal cells, promoting brain and eye health.

Lipoxins are powerful anti-inflammatory triggers that are being looked at for their potential role in protecting against all manner of inflammatory diseases including kidney failure, cancer, Alzheimer’s and viral infections.

In studies, people suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases show reduced levels of these pro-resolution molecules. Ageing also affects their production, which could be one of the reasons why increasing age and chronic inflammation are often linked.

Omega-3 Deficiency Increases Mortality Risk


Alarmingly, a lack of omega-3 fats – including fish oil – is one of the dietary risks with the highest mortality rates in Americans.

Nutritionally, we need a healthy balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, but unfortunately, the typical Western diet is high in omega-6, and way too low in omega-3 fats.

This imbalance causes a distorted ratio which encourages chronic low-grade inflammation, so it’s essential to get the balance right by increasing our omega-3 intake.

The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), EPA and DHA. ALA is found in plant foods like nuts and seeds. It can convert to EPA and DHA, but only in minimal amounts, so consuming oily fish or taking a fish oil supplement is the best way to get adequate levels of EPA and DHA.

In research, consumption of fish oils has been directly linked to increased pro-resolving molecule production and the reduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

So it stands to reason that if you are ageing, not getting enough EPA and DHA in your daily diet, suffer from an inflammatory disease or want to look after your brain health, increasing your fish oil consumption could be beneficial.

5 Key Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fish Oil

1) Cardiovascular Health

Fish oils can help to reduce triglycerides and blood pressure, improve vascular function, block clot-forming platelet activation reducing the risk of stroke, and protect those at high risk of arrhythmia and potential heart attack.

In one trialheart attack survivors took a high-dose fish oil supplement for six months and showed significantly improved heart function and considerably reduced inflammation biomarkers, way beyond recommended care guidelines.

In another 14-year study with 2,735 adult participants, long-chain fatty acids like those present in fish oils were associated with a lower risk of congestive heart failure.

In 2011, patients on statins with coronary artery disease were split into two groups. One was given a daily 1800mg EPA supplement while the others stuck with statins only. After 48 weeks, EPA was shown to significantly reduce oxidative stress and inhibit the progression of arterial stiffness.

A 2018 trial also demonstrated that use of a high EPA fish oil sharply reduced the rate of cardiovascular events in individuals with a history of heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. Indeed, statin-treated adults with heightened triglyceride levels saw a 25% reduction in their relative risk of heart attacks, strokes and related cardiac events compared to a placebo control group – all from taking a purified EPA fish oil.

Results of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) published in mid-2019, meanwhile, indicated that greater plasma levels of EPA reduced the risk for heart failure in initially middle-aged respondents, after a median follow-up of 13 years.

A similar observation was made for plasma levels of DHA, as well as EPA and DHA combined, once again showing the cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 supplementation.

2) Brain Health

Several studies have supported the consumption of oily fish to help brain function and prevent or delay cognitive decline, and it has been linked to better cognitive performance in the elderly.

Preliminary studies on 12 patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) showed an improvement in symptoms after supplementing with fish oils with antioxidants for 4 to 17 months. The fish oil increased Resolvin D1 (a DHA generated resolvin) and reduced inflammation in the brain.

Inflammation is linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and due to its power to increase pro-resolution molecules in the brain and thereby reduce inflammation, fish oil consumption is associated with lower rates  of neurological diseases like these.

Much more research is needed, but time and again, fish oils are researched for their benefit to Alzheimer’s (AD). While there is still no conclusive evidence to support their use as a treatment for this horrendous disease, some studies show positive results in specific areas.

In one clinical trial, positive effects were seen in a small group of patients with mild AD after supplementing for six months with 1.7 g DHA and 0.6 g EPA.

In 2015, results from a study involving ageing American adults (229 cognitively normal individuals, 397 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 193 patients with Alzheimer’s disease), showed that those who supplemented with fish oils over several months had less cognitive decline and brain shrinkage.

This did not include those suffering with, or with a genetic predisposition to, AD.

3) Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes

Low-grade inflammation and increased oxidative stress in the white fatty tissue of the chronically obese increase the risk of insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, amongst other things. It’s also linked to metabolic syndrome which predisposes you to type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Supplementing with fish oils can increase levels of lipoxins, resolvins and protectins leading to the lowering of inflammation within fatty tissue and the prevention of developing obesity-related complications.

Some early research supports calorie restriction and the inclusion of dietary long-chain fatty acids like those found in fish oil as a therapeutic treatment for metabolic syndrome.

Interestingly, although more research is needed, some studies have linked fish oil consumption to increased weight loss.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you could be more vulnerable to cognitive impairment and dementia, as well as eye complications like diabetic retinopathy.

One study demonstrated the potential of fish oils to reduce oxidative stress in the brain and lower the risk of cognitive decline in diabetics.

Another six-year observational study tracked the fish oil consumption of over 3,000 type 2 diabetic men and women between the ages of 55 and 80. Those who met the target of 500mg of fish oil per day, or two portions of oily fish a week, were 48% less likely to develop diabetic retinopathy.

4) Cancer

Cancer is another disease associated with chronic inflammation, and a growing number of studies are revealing fish oil’s potential to slow and prevent some cancers because of its ability to mediate and control inflammation by increasing pro-resolving molecules like lipoxins and resolvins.

In some studies, cancers including colon, pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancer have been positively affected by omega-3 fats.

According to some research, women with previously diagnosed and treated early-stage breast cancer who have higher levels of EPA and DHA from fish oils, have a 25% less chance of further complications than those with lower levels.

In one Indian study, omega-3 fats including the EPA and DHA found in fish oil, inhibited breast tumour development. This was, in part, down to their inflammation-reducing capabilities. The review recommended the use of omega-3 supplementation as an adjunct to conventional treatment, to enhance its effectiveness and potentially reduce the required dosage.

Omega-3 fats have the potential to decrease the risk of prostate cancer and slow its progression. In a study with 48 men, those taking 5g of fish oil per day for four to six weeks before surgery showed reduced cancerous tissue and decreased cancer proliferation.

Fish oil can also help with the side effects of cancer treatment. For example, one trial involving lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy showed that supplementing with 2.2g of fish oil per day enabled them to maintain weight and muscle mass, rather than having to endure treatment-related weight loss.

5) Anxiety and Depression

Omega-3 fats, particularly EPA and DHA found in fish, are considered the most critical healthy fats for feeding the brain and boosting mood.

Although studies aiming to determine a correlation between fish oil intake and depression have varied and contrasting results, there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that low levels of PUFAs, particularly EPA and DHA, can make us more susceptible to depression.

Clinical trials researching fish oil supplementation to treat depression are also mixed, but there are many to support their use for relieving depression and improving other related symptoms. For example, low levels of omega-3 affect the brain’s dopamine systems which can alter our mood. Fish oil supplements containing higher EPA to DHA seem to have the most significant effect on depression.

There have been some positive results in the realms of postnatal depression and also bipolar disorder, where omega-3 supplementation is more effective for the depressive stage rather than the manic stage.

Introducing a Superior Range of High-Quality Fish Oils

Water for Health represents WHC Health Consulting in the UK and Ireland. WHC produce fish oil supplements that are of outstanding quality, with exceptional purity, and the highest concentration of EPA/DHA available.

The fish oils manufactured by the company are combined with other valuable nutrients to give you a range of products to support overall health, in particular brain, cardiovascular and joint health.

WHC pride themselves on the purity of their supplements with PCBs, heavy metals and pesticides consistently testing below detectable limits.

Out of respect for the environment, the fish are harvested from sustainable sources using cold environmentally-friendly technology. Only fish that are recognised as not being endangered are used, such as anchovies, sardines, mackerel and herring.

A balanced mix of rosemary and tocopherol extracts maintains the freshness of each WHC supplement.

Since 2015, WHC’s UnoCardio 1000 has been classified as the world’s best-quality fish oil supplement by the US independent laboratory Labdoor. Of 53 products tested, it was the only one to be awarded an overall ‘A’ rating, taking into account quality, purity and value. In short, it is recognised as the best of the best. Sister product UnoCardio X2 is currently ranked #3. 

Conclusion

We trust this article has resonated with you. Next time you see a story in the media claiming that “fish oils are useless,” you can refer to the numerous studies quoted here; and know that there are many more if you only choose to look.

The science is not unanimous, for some studies show little or no benefit of fish oils for certain conditions. However, it is always worth digging deeper: how much fish oil was used? Were the dosages appropriate? Was EPA, DHA or the inferior ALA favoured?

Fish oil is not a panacea to all health problems, however there is enough evidence to show that it can be massively beneficial when used correctly.

Have a look at our Fish Oils Comparison Chart to see the vast difference between our products and others on the market.

This article was written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Skin, Diabetes, Heart Health & Vision

Alpha Lipoic Acid Benefits for Skin, Diabetes, Heart Health & Vision

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant compound that we can get from meat and plant foods like leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, beetroots, yams and potatoes, tomatoes and rice bran.

We also make it in our mitochondria which are housed within all the cells of our body. (Without our mitochondria, we couldn’t produce energy.) ALA plays a vital role in this, helping to convert glucose into essential fuel for our bodies.

Although we produce alpha lipoic acid ourselves, it’s not generated in large amounts. Boosting our levels through diet is highly beneficial, but some people also like to supplement to ensure they are getting adequate amounts.

One of ALA’s exceptional qualities is that unlike other antioxidants like vitamins C and E, it is both water and fat soluble. This makes it more versatile and able to function in all the cells and tissues of our bodies.

Aside from its epic antioxidant capabilities, alpha lipoic acid is championed for its impressive anti-inflammatory powers. It is now becoming more widely accepted that most, if not all, illness and disease stem from chronic inflammation.

It's no surprise, therefore, that ALA is touted for its anti-ageing benefits as well as its role in the treatment or prevention of diseases and conditions including diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and neurological and cognitive decline.

What Does ALA Do?


While acute inflammation is the body’s natural immune response to harmful stimuli, prolonged inflammation can lead to various health problems.

Known as the ‘universal antioxidant’, one of ALA’s most significant benefits is its ability to reduce and even reverse the toxic oxidative damage that can destroy our cells, leading to chronic illness, premature ageing and decline.

The fact that it is both fat and water soluble also means that it can reach into every tissue and cell in our bodies.

Often considered superior to other antioxidants, ALA can increase the expression of antioxidant enzymes. It also regenerates other powerful antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, COQ10 and glutathione, increasing their disease-fighting, immune-boosting and energy producing capabilities. 

If that wasn’t enough, alpha lipoic acid has anti-inflammatory prowess outside of its antioxidant activity and can boost the antioxidant defence system via Nrf-2-mediated antioxidant gene expression, to reduce free radical damage when the body is under stress.

According to Dr Mercola, alpha lipoic acid is one of the best free radical scavengers and also the only one known to access the brain with ease.

ALA even acts as a metal chelator. In small studies, it has shown the potential to bind to iron and copper, preventing oxidative damage and the associated risk of neurodegenerative and other diseases.

How Can Alpha Lipoic Acid Help You?


ALA can increase energy production, decrease oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and boost other natural antioxidant defences.

It affects inflammation, energy production, metabolism, immunity, nerves, blood vessels, all muscles, cells and tissues, and the brain and other organs, protecting you from chronic illness and disease. 

Alpha lipoic acid can be beneficial for managing diabetes symptoms, improving insulin sensitivity, balancing blood sugar and reducing cholesterol.

It may help to prevent cognitive decline, protect vision, aid weight loss, improve skin ageing and lower blood pressure.

May Protect the Skin from Ageing


Antioxidants can help to neutralise free radical damage in the body. Skin damage caused by smoking and sun exposure, plus having an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, can increase oxidative stress and accelerate skin ageing.

Some research has been conducted using skin creams that contain ALA, and positive results were achieved for those with photoaged (sun damaged) skin.

In one small study on 20 women with ageing skin, after three and six months of applying cream to the face with 5% ALA, the skin had increased thickness and improved texture.

As mentioned, ALA also boosts vitamin C and glutathione – both of which reduce skin inflammation and encourage a youthful appearance. As such, supplementing with alpha lipoic acid could potentiate the effects of other nutrients in the form of food or supplements.

May Protect Vision As You Age


Due to its antioxidant status and ability to reduce free radical damage in the eyes, alpha lipoic acid may help to protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.

Some research shows ALA can improve glaucoma in the elderly due to its direct antioxidant influence on eye tissue. It may also benefit eye health via the ability to boost glutathione which can also protect against glaucoma and cataracts.

What’s more, ALA shows promise in improving the vision-related quality of life for those suffering from Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).

Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes & Associated Complications

Metabolic syndrome is a term used for a cluster of conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Increased inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with metabolic syndrome are linked to a higher risk of contracting additional disorders. Supplementing with ALA has been shown to significantly reduce inflammatory markers in those with metabolic syndrome.

Alpha lipoic acid can also play a role in both the prevention and treatment of diabetes.

In various studies, it has demonstrated an ability to prevent the increased oxidative stress that can lead to further complications in diabetic patients. And in the pooling and reviewing of data from several trials involving those suffering from metabolic diseases, ALA supplementation consistently lead to improvements in blood glucose, insulin levels and insulin resistance. It can also lower triglyceride levels, total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Those with diabetes have an increased risk of peripheral neuropathy, which develops when the nerves in extremities like hands and feet become damaged. Symptoms in the affected areas can include tingling, numbness, stinging, burning and shooting pains, loss of balance and coordination, and muscle weakness.

Although studies have used alpha lipoic acid intravenously, and more research is definitely needed, it has proved successful in treating this condition, helping to relieve painful symptoms and improving nerve function.

Researchers aren’t entirely sure how ALA improves these symptoms, but it may in part be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, as oxidative stress is partly responsible for the diabetic neuropathy disease process.

Another way that alpha lipoic acid might improve peripheral neuropathy is because it can increase microcirculation (the circulation of blood in the smallest blood vessels). Its action can be swift, and doses of 600mg or 1200mg a day have been used effectively. 

Long-term use of ALA may help prevent retinopathy in diabetics, which can cause blindness if left untreated. This is partly due to its ability to inhibit oxidative damage in the retina.

Cognitive Function & Memory, Useful for Alzheimer’s


Oxidative stress and inflammation can lead to age-related memory impairment. As ALA seems to access the brain with relative ease and has powerful antioxidant capabilities, there is a small amount of research in the area of cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s.

Increased cholesterol is also linked to Alzheimer’s, and ALA can reduce this. Clearly, more research is needed, but in various studies and sometimes in addition to other supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, ALA has demonstrated an ability to slow the progression of dementia and improve Alzheimer’s symptoms.

In a study on aged mice, ALA improved memory and learning and appeared to do this by significantly increasing glutathione in the brain and reducing oxidative stress.

May Protect You from Heart Disease

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress could be an underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, and in test tube studies, ALA has reduced several inflammatory markers in the body including C-reactive protein (CRP).

Heart disease is also linked to low levels of ALA.

Some studies support supplementing with alpha lipoic acid to improve endothelial dysfunction, a condition which can increase your risk of heart disease.

In adolescents with this condition and type 1 diabetes, combining an antioxidant diet with a daily dose of 800mg ALA reduced insulin requirements after three months and improved endothelial dysfunction after six months.

Increased oxidative stress and diminished antioxidant defence due to ageing can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, heart failure and atherosclerosis and ALA can protect against this.

Elevated asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) concentrations can predict the risk of cardiovascular complications in those with type 2 diabetes. In a 2010 trial, ALA reduced ADMA in these patients, improving endothelial function and oxidative stress. More research is needed.

An Easy-to-Absorb ALA Supplement with a Generous Dosage

Dual Alpha Lipoic Acid by Planet Source provides a generous dose of 1200mg, with one bottle containing a month’s supply.

The quality supplement combines 600mg of natural R-Alpha Lipoic Acid and 600mg synthetic S-Alpha Lipoic Acid, which is necessary to stabilise the R-form.

Made in the U.S.A. to impeccably high standards, the vegan-friendly supplement is free from salt, sugar, corn, wheat, soy, gluten and artificial ingredients.

This article is written by Rebecca Rychlik-Cunning, a Nutritional Therapist and Homeopath. Follow Rebecca on Instagram, Facebook and Medium, @rebeccabitesback.

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Coenzyme Q10 200mg: A Perfect Dose for the Heart, Longevity?

Coenzyme Q10 200mg: A Perfect Dose for the Heart, Longevity?

Coenzyme Q10 is undoubtedly one of the most popular natural compounds recommended for cardiovascular health.

Although suggested daily dosages for CoQ10 vary, the results of a new Swedish study suggest that 200mg might just be the optimal amount.

In this blog, we’ll outline why the study was important, suggest ways and means of upping your coenzyme Q10 intake and debate the perfect coenzyme Q10 dose.

Let’s get to it.

Coenzyme Q10 and Longevity: The Swedish Study


The study in question was conducted by scientists at Linköping University, one of Sweden’s largest state universities.

443 healthy elderly adults participated in the randomised clinical trial which sought to assess the merits of two supplements: coenzyme Q10 and selenium.

The study group was divided, with some receiving daily supplements of Coenzyme Q10 (200mg) and selenium (200mg) and the rest receiving a placebo.

Both known for their antioxidant properties, coenzyme Q10 and selenium are needed for optimal cell function.

What is interesting is that the volunteers adhered to the supplement regime for four years; and then, as part of what researchers termed a ‘sub-study’, their results were reviewed 12 years after the main trial ended.

In other words, this research was 16 years in the making.

The results of the study were as follows:

• After 12 years, a 40% reduction in cardiovascular mortality was noted in the supplementation group

• In those with ischaemic heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and impaired functional capacity, a significantly reduced CV mortality risk was demonstrated

• The supplemental group exhibited improved cardiac function as evaluated by echocardiography

Although there are many positive studies highlighting the health benefits of dietary supplements, this one was unique in showing that the protective effects endured for a lengthy follow-up period.

The researchers speculated that selenium and coenzyme Q10 supplements “inhibited the pathogenesis of irreversible, presumably structural, changes preceding cardiovascular events.”

In essence, the drivers of disease were given a dramatic reset.

The research team did temper their excitement somewhat by noting that this was a small study and that “observations should be regarded as hypothesis-generating.”

Still, who can fail to be enthused by such incredible results? Four years of diligent natural supplementation would not ordinarily be expected to engender positive effects a dozen years later.

You can read the trial in its entirety here.

One last point to make about this study is that it was not given much coverage in the mainstream media. This is disappointing in a year in which misleading reports were published critiquing both fish oils and probiotics. (We responded to the latter claim here.)

What is Coenzyme Q10 and What are the Benefits?


We will come to selenium later, but since coenzyme Q10 is more frequently associated with cardiovascular health – and there are more studies showing its benefits in this regard – we’ll take a closer look.

CoQ10 is a naturally-occurring compound that helps to generate energy in cells.

How does it generate energy, you may wonder. Well, it’s a complex process but in simple terms CoQ10 turns energy we get from food into ATP, the currency cells need to carry out essential functions.

In addition, coenzyme Q10 is one of the most widely appreciated antioxidants, preventing cellular damage caused by free radicals and reducing the burden of oxidative stress.

Since oxidative stress is considered an underlying cause of cancer, as well as other chronic diseases, this should not be underestimated. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals exceed and overwhelm antioxidants.

Speaking of antioxidants, CoQ10 helps to recycle two others, namely vitamin C and vitamin E, meaning the effect of these nutrients is maximised when coenzyme levels are adequate.

Numerous studies indicate CoQ10’s positive influence on:

• Blood pressure

• Energy levels (including exercise-induced fatigue)

• Insulin sensitivity

• Cognitive health

• Fertility

• Fibromyalgia

• Inflammation

• Heart ailments

• Migraines

• DNA damage

Incidentally, if you’re currently taking statin medication, you should consult our article Coenzyme Q10 and Statins. It covers virtually everything you need to know on this topic.

Where Does CoQ10 Come From?


It is estimated that around 1/4 of the CoQ10 in our blood comes from the diet; the remainder is produced internally.

The primary dietary sources include meat (especially organ meat and grass-fed beef), oily fish and chicken. However, it is notoriously difficult to boost one’s levels from diet alone.

Indeed, dietary CoQ10 sources provide a fraction of what you’re body needs.

As for natural production, this is said to fall as we age. There is no firm consensus on when levels begin to deplete, though the aforementioned Swedish study noted that “endogenous production decreases continually after the age of 20, and endomyocardial production is reduced to half at the age of 80.”

What’s the Optimal Coenzyme Q10 Dosage?

This is a tricky one. After all, there is no Recommended Daily Amount of coenzyme Q10. A great shame since, as stated, GSH declines with age, food sources provide an insufficient amount and the compound is clearly beneficial.

In clinical studies, dosages of anywhere between 80 and 300mg per day have been used. Requirements vary from person to person based on age, health status, medication and so forth.

According to leading cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, over 40s should shoot for 50-100mg per day; over 60s and/or statin users 100-200mg; and people who have suffered a heart attack 200-300mg.

Those in the 20-40 age bracket might aim to consume 50mg every day or 100mg every other day.

Note that coenzyme Q10 is fat-soluble, and as such relies somewhat on food for absorption; it is best taken with meals containing fat. If you favour a higher dose (200-300mg), divide your intake throughout the day.

While the Swedish study stressed the long-term benefits of ingesting 200mg CoQ10 per day, positive results have been posted for lesser dosages.

For what it’s worth, Dr. Sinatra’s recommendation seems sound – though it might be wise to increase the dosage if you have a particularly high energy output or suffer from stress.

Parkinson’s and diabetic neuropathy are two conditions which may benefit from a higher dosage.

As of today, research has not linked supplemental CoQ10 to serious adverse effects, even with dosages as high as 1200mg per day.

CoQ10 Tablets: An Investment in Health and Longevity?


Could Coenzyme Q10 tablets represent a meaningful investment in health, particularly for over-40s? If the recent Swedish study is anything to go by, absolutely.

Where supplements are concerned, it is important to look for the ‘active’ form of coenzyme Q10, ubiquinol. This is the form the body produces naturally.

According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, “the enhanced bioaccessibility and bioavailability of ubiquinol compared to ubiquinone results from reduced coenzyme being more efficiently incorporated into mixed micelles during digestion and its greater uptake and basolateral secretion in a glutathione-dependent mechanism.”

Because it is absorbed more readily by the body, ubiquinol supplements tend to be more expensive than their ubiquinone counterparts.

If you are keen to try CoQ10, don’t be tempted by low-grade supplements: not only do they contain the lesser form of CoQ10, but they might not provide an accurate dosage.

In independent analysis by Labdoor, tested supplements ranged from having only 64.7% of their label claim for CoQ10 to exceeding their label claims by 8.3%.

As with any supplement, a trusted supplier is crucial.

WHC is a company renowned for the purity of their products. The Belgian company currently manufacture the independently validated #1 omega-3 fish oil, UnoCardio 1000; they also produce the #3 ranked fish oil, UnoCardio X2. Both are available exclusively from our store.

QuattroCardio is WHC’s synergistic supplement for cardiac health. It combines omega-3 fatty acids of exceptional purity, vitamin K2, vitamin D3 and coenzyme Q10, the latter in the preferred ubiquinol form. 100mg of coenzyme Q10 as ubiquinol is provided per serving.

Please note that CoQ10 supplements can decrease the anticoagulant effects of blood thinning drugs such as warfarin.

If you are using such medication, consult your doctor before use.

What About Selenium?

Lest we forget, the Swedish study provided such great results at least in part due to selenium, which was taken at an identical daily dosage (200mg).

An essential trace mineral, selenium plays a role in many biochemical processes and there is evidence to suggest strong protective effects against thyroid problems, asthma, even cancers of the prostate and lung.

What’s more, selenium helps reduce inflammation, specifically by preventing the oxidative modification of fats in the body; and the mineral has a beneficial effect on skeletal and cardiac muscle metabolism.

Unfortunately, selenium levels have been in steady decline since the EU imposed levies on imports from the United States, where soil selenium levels are famously high.

Average intake is said to have fallen from around 60mcg per day to 34, considerably lower than the EU Recommended Daily Intake of 65mcg.

Nonetheless, dietary sources include Brazil nuts, brown rice, tuna, eggs and bread. Supplements are probably most beneficial in individuals with low blood levels, as in the Swedish clinical trial.

One food supplement you may want to look at is Cardio Renu. Formulated by doctors and loaded with valuable nutrients from vegetables, fruits and botanicals, it’s one of very few food supplements to contain coenzyme Q10.

Though it doesn’t boast any specific selenium figures, there will be some due to the multitude of plant ingredients. 

Conclusion

As demonstrated, there is merit in supplementing with coenzyme Q10 and selenium – particularly if you have low levels of these important nutrients.

Several chain laboratories offer tests which measure both CoQ10 and selenium levels in the blood.

The same labs can also test for deficiencies of vitamins, amino acids and omega-3s (though you can find out your fatty acid status using a simple at-home omega-3 test kit).

Incidentally, if you’re interested in heart-healthy nutrition, our blog about the best vitamins and minerals for heart and circulation is well worth your attention.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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Coenzyme Q10 and Statins: Answers to Common Questions

Coenzyme Q10 and Statins: Answers to Common Questions

Heart disease remains one of the world’s biggest killers, and with cholesterol management often deemed a major weapon against the condition, the number of statin prescriptions has continued to soar.

However, because statins can cause agonising side effects, many believe that the benefits have been oversold and the risks understated. What's more, 2019 research suggests that for 50% of people, statins have a negligible effect on bad cholesterol.

With statins now the most prescribed drug in the United Kingdom, we decided to focus our attention on the relationship between coenzyme Q10 and statins, answering the most common questions which tend to be asked.

Let’s get right to it.

Coenzyme Q10 and Statins: How Do They Relate?


To explain how coenzyme Q10 and statins affect one another, we should probably first define the terms.

Coenzyme Q10 is an essential antioxidant and, in fact, one of the most vital nutrients in the entire body.

Naturally manufactured, coenzyme Q10 – or CoQ10 – is used by cells to fire up energy production and facilitate electron transfer within the mitochondria.

Often dubbed “the energy centres of cells”, the mitochondria exists in the highest concentration in organs like the heart, liver and kidneys.

These organs rely on generous quantities of CoQ10 in order to perform their daily functions, none more so than the energy-intensive heart.

Although known primarily for sustaining our energy levels at a cellular level, coenzyme Q10 is widely appreciated for its antioxidant properties.

Research shows that CoQ10 has the ability to quench free radicals and thus minimise oxidative damage to mitochondria DNA.

What’s more, coenzyme Q10 potentiates the antioxidant effect of vitamin E by regenerating the nutrient from the tocopheroxyl radical.

There is perhaps no better nutrient for cellular defence against oxidative damage than coenzyme Q10.

So where do statins come in? Well, these cholesterol-lowering drugs have a notable and worrisome side effect: they also reduce our natural production of coenzyme Q10.

“Can’t our bodies just manufacture more CoQ10?” you might wonder. If only it were that simple.

Unfortunately, biosynthesis decreases progressively in humans from the age of 21, with attendant effects on bone and muscle density, metabolic function and skin elasticity.

Heart conditions and problems such as diabetes deplete CoQ10 yet further: troubling, since statins are prescribed precisely to address cardiac problems.

Coenzyme Q10 deficiency has been widely implicated in the development of various cardiac conditions, from heart disease and high blood pressure to heart failure and strokes.

How Does CoQ10 Offset Statin Side Effects?


One of the primary reasons people use coenzyme Q10 supplements is to mitigate the side effects of statins.

Although it isn’t the standard procedure, a great many naturopathic doctors advise that statin therapy be supplemented with CoQ10 to reduce the risk of congenital heart failure and decrease muscle pain associated with the use of traditional cholesterol-lowering medication.

According to a 2007 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, “Results suggest that coenzyme Q10 supplementation may decrease muscle pain associated with statin treatment.

“Thus, coenzyme Q10 supplementation may offer an alternative to stopping treatment with these vital drugs.”

Pain severity among statin users in the trial actually decreased by 40% after the 30-day intervention, with the daily dose of CoQ10 being 100mg per day.

As well as lessening muscle pain, the research showed that CoQ10 had the effect of slowing muscle breakdown. Some doctors move to decrease statin dosage after CoQ10 is introduced.

How to Increase Your CoQ10 Intake

There are two key ways to up your coenzyme Q10 intake: from food and supplements.

Fat-soluble, coenzyme Q10 is present in a wide variety of foods including grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, organ meat, oily fish, peanuts and leafy green vegetables.

Unfortunately, the food content is not especially significant and older people in particular are best served by using a concentrated supplement to boost their levels.

A combination of both coenzyme Q10-rich foods and a good-quality daily supplement is probably the best course of action. It is best to consume alongside foods that contain some fat.

Should I Use a Coenzyme Q10 Supplement?

WHC’s QuattroCardio provides biologically-active coenzyme Q10 in the ubiquinol form. Ubiquinol is the form into which coenzyme Q10 is converted by our bodies, and is far superior to the commonly-available ubiquinone you’ll find in many supplements.

The supplement’s ubiquinol is uniquely fermented from yeast and bio-identical to the CoQ10 produced within the body. As a consequence, it is free of the impurities typical of synthetically-processed CoQ10.

QuattroCardio is also provided in softgel form, making it more bioavailable than dry gelatin capsules containing a powdered nutrient. 100g of ubiquinol is provided per serving. QuattroCardio combines CoQ10 with other heart-healthy nutrients such as vitamin D3, vitamin K2 and omega-3 fish oil.

Although few side effects have been recorded, CoQ10 supplements can decrease the anticoagulant effects of blood thinning drugs such as warfarin. As such, it is best to speak to your doctor in the first instance.

Conclusion 

Hopefully we’ve answered most of the common questions relating to coenzyme Q10 and statins. But if you have any more queries, you can of course get in touch with us.

Ultimately, whether you take a CoQ10 supplement is up to you, but you should know that such supplements are safe and well-tolerated by the vast majority of people.

Given that our natural levels decline steeply with age, it’s little wonder many people choose to boost their levels however they can.

Berberine is another good natural product for those on statins: according to a 2017 research paper, “berberine has a beneficial effect on LDL (reductions ranging from approximately 20 to 50 mg/dL) and triglycerides (reductions ranging from approximately 25 to 55 mg/dL).”  

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EPA Fish Oil: The Standalone Benefits of High EPA Omega-3

Most of us understand or at least appreciate that omega-3s can confer benefits on our health.

But did you know that there are three types of omega-3 fatty acid, each associated with its own roles and actions in the body?

In this article we aim to focus our attention on EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), a marine omega-3 well studied in the field of clinical nutrition.

Indeed there may be circumstances under which prioritising EPA becomes important, particularly in relation to mental health but also for pregnancy, cardiovascular health, joint problems and weight loss.

EPA Fish Oil: What Is It?


Eicosapentaenoic acid is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) commonly found in the oils of cold-water fish such as sardines, herring, mackerel, trout and salmon.

However, it should be noted that most fish contain higher levels of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) than EPA. The EPA molecule is made up of 20 carbon atoms and five double bonds.

Like us, fish are unable to effectively biosynthesise EPA and DHA, both of which are produced by plankton which the fish then eat.

However, the presence of these fatty acids in the systems of fish equips them for living in icy-cold waters, working as a kind of biological antifreeze. The oils also facilitate oxygen uptake.

When EPA and DHA Work Together


To a large extent EPA and DHA work together, and therefore their roles – at least in some instances – are indivisible.

For example, both contribute to the maintenance of healthy blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels, and by extension healthy heart function.

It is this partnership between the Essential Fatty Acids – this artery-protecting, triglyceride-lowering teamwork – which makes omega-3 one of the most beneficial nutrients for cardiovascular health.

What is EPA Good For?


EPA, however, has many benefits on its own, and so it is worthwhile parsing out their effects a little. The precursor of series 3 prostaglandins, EPA has beneficial knock-on effects for our kidneys, platelets, immune system, arteries and triglyceride levels.

As well as blocking the production of pro-inflammatory series 2 prostaglandins made from omega-6 fatty acids, s3 PGs help prevent problems involving clot formation, such as pulmonary embolism.

Let’s look at some other specific examples where EPA can have a positive effect.

EPA Fish Oil for Depression


The anti-depressive effects of EPA were noted in a 2009 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Researchers learned that although the effect of pure DHA on depression scores was negligible, “symptoms of depression were reduced in 13 studies using supplements containing greater than 50% EPA and in 8 studies using pure ethyl-EPA.”

A separate study published two years later assessed 15 different trials with close to 1,000 participants and came to the same conclusion: that omega supplements comprised of 60% or more EPA were the most effective in reducing depression.

Finally, a 2012 study featuring 81 participants showed benefits for those who received 1,000 mg per day of EPA over a period of 12 weeks; in fact, six patients demonstrated a 50% or greater improvement on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, compared to zero for the DHA group!

One reason for this is that EPA is an essential hormonal component of brain cells, and as such has a clear influence on the way cells interact with one another via the bloodstream.

Depression is quite clearly tied to the way in which cells communicate with neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which regulate the perception of emotions.

There’s even evidence that post-natal depression is linked to low levels of omega-3 in the brain and tissues of the mother.

If you are suffering from depression, you should strive to maintain a high intake of EPA and monitor the results; you might also consider using an EPA-rich fish oil supplement in conjunction with an antidepressant. Diet, as ever, can be helpful.

EPA Fish Oil and Anxiety, ADHD

Anxiety has a relevant co-morbidity with depression, and indeed many doctors speculate that increased cellular inflammation in the brain is the root cause of both disorders. A therapeutic dose of EPA, therefore, may provide the same benefits for both conditions.

This topic was well explored by the biochemist Barry Sears, PhD, in an article for Psychology Today.

Dr. Sears references a 2008 study which showed decreases in anxiety among substance abusers who maintained a high EPA intake of 2,000mg per day. (Interestingly, a higher DHA intake correlated with lower end-of-trial anger scores.)

Though the study concluded that the topic should be further explored for various psychiatric conditions, there have been precious few conducted in the decade since.

EPA During Pregnancy


The benefits of DHA fish oil for pregnancy are well understood, with omega-3s contributing to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months.

Maternal intake also contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infant, as well as the normal development of the eye. DHA is an absolutely crucial nutrient for early life.

But what about EPA?

As it transpires, many of the studies showing omega-3 benefits for pregnant women used fish oil supplements containing both EPA and DHA.

While DHA provides more specific benefits, such as those mentioned above, the intake of general omega-3 supplements has been shown to correlate with larger birth weights, prolonged pregnancy without detrimental effects and healthy nervous system development in the foetus.

There is even some evidence to suggest that fish oil can reduce the risk of premature birth.

Clearly there are benefits to both EPA and DHA during pregnancy, and so the focus should be on obtaining a healthy ratio of EFAs in any supplement consumed during the period.

EPA Fish Oil for Weight Loss


Because both EPA and DHA activate receptors in the body that speed up metabolic rate, fish oils have shown promise for weight loss.

That isn’t the only reason, though. Some studies show that fish oil increases satiety after a meal, thereby indirectly reducing your calorie intake.

However, other research outcomes have actually shown the opposite, with effects varying depending on health status, body weight, nutrition and who knows how many other factors.

While more investigation is needed, it is interesting to note that EPA has been identified as the PUFA which counters reductions in levels of leptin (the satiety hormone) which occur during weight loss. In other words, weight loss provokes a fall in satiety, leading to overeating (and weight gain) – and EPA can prevent this.

Omega-3 is especially useful for fat-burning when combined with aerobic exercise, because it improves the flow of blood to muscles during training. Indeed, researchers at the University of South Australia tested whether tuna oil – a rich source of omega-3s – could provide weight-loss benefits when used as an adjunct.

The group who followed the protocol lost an average of 4.5 lbs over the 3-month period, while those who took fish oil and did not exercise lost no weight.

Perhaps the take-home should be this: do not consume fish oil and expect the pounds to fall off. But if you are exercising, an omega supplement could yield better rewards for your efforts. An EPA-enriched diet could also help to preserve lean body mass.

EPA for Cholesterol and Heart Health


As mentioned, EPA works with DHA to help maintain healthy blood pressure and triglyceride levels. However, it appears that EPA by itself has major benefits for cardiovascular health.

In a 2018 study, the prescription fish oil drug Vascepa was linked with a 25% reduced risk of heart attack and stroke. Vascepa is a pure EPA supplement, delivering 1g of EPA per capsule.

The high EPA fish oil was tested on 8,179 patients for a period of five years. Every volunteer had elevated levels of triglycerides at the outset, and they also had either established cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes, plus a minimum of one other cardiovascular risk factor.

After the study ended, the patients who received Vascepa were shown to be 25% less likely to have a coronary event than those in the control group.

It seemed the drug’s effectiveness stemmed from its ability to decrease triglycerides without increasing LDL (‘bad cholesterol’) levels.

Does Food Provide Enough EPA?


As mentioned, most fish contain a higher DHA content than EPA; hence why it is often necessary to use a highly concentrated EPA supplement to achieve a significant therapeutic dosage.

Certainly you do not want to have to eat the quantity of fish necessary to consistently hit such a daily target, both due to the risk of trace mercury and other heavy metals present in fish and also because chomping your way through that much seafood would be incredibly onerous!

That said, regularly eating 2-4 portions of oily fish per week will ensure a balanced intake of DHA and EPA – and so this should remain a priority.

If you do not eat fish, an EFA-rich oil such as flaxseed oil will do: it is the most omega-3 rich of all edible oils, though its main component is Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA), the precursor to EPA and DHA.

Many people may wonder how much EPA constitutes a ‘therapeutic dose’. Certainly there will be some therapeutic benefits to eating oily fish a few times per week, but in many of the aforementioned studies a higher daily dose was used: anywhere between 500mg and 2,000mg EPA. To put that in context, a can of white tuna provides just 200mg of EPA.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has been of value. Clearly there are very many health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids, but perhaps a closer look at eicosapentaenoic acid was long overdue.

Of course, we would recommend getting the synergistic benefits of fish oil by eating a few portions of sustainably-sourced fatty fish each week. However, a fish oil supplement is a great choice if you want a continuous therapeutic dosage.

As indicated, striving for a high intake of EPA in particular comes with a number of positives.

Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.

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