Tuesday, 26 February 2019

How Eating Superfoods Can Take Your Diet to the Next Level

The hype around these ingredients is relentless. Here's what you should look for at the grocery store—and, more importantly, what to avoid.
At this point, our relationships with the food we eat have become no less complicated than our relationships with the people we talk to on a daily basis. And the abundance of choices has made us more obsessed than ever with seeking out not merely foods that are good for us, but foods that are best for us. This is where superfoods—the guiltless, sinless, natural, nourishing ingredients that feature heavily in Gwyneth Paltrow blog posts—come in to play. Since the term now gets applied to everything from orange peels to alligator meat, we took a closer look at some of the most common superfoods to see which ones are worth your time—and which ones you can leave on the shelf.

The superfood: Açai, a small, tart berry with a rich purple-red hue. Prices fall between $2 (for an individually-packaged drink or a healthier iteration of the Pop-Tart) to around $30 (for a bagful of blender-ready powder), but you’ll see them for sale most often in smoothie/breakfast bowls.
The claims: Manufacturers and health-food blogs say it will heal wounds faster, lower cholesterol, combat premature aging, improve sleep, and reduce pain.
What experts say: “Açai? Beautiful, a beautiful fruit,” said New York-based nutritionist and CUNY professor Lorraine Kearney. “But when you go to, say, a smoothie place, and they’re breaking it down and turning it into the smoothie form, what they’re actually doing is breaking down fiber as well.”
This is a common refrain from experts: A superfood in its purest, least-processed form might indeed be “super,” but additives and packaging can corrupt an otherwise-healthful product. In the case of açai, that means sugar. “A lot of times, if you read that ingredient list, they’re going to have added three or four types of sugar,” Kearney said.
The upshot: Incorporating açai into your diet won’t be as effortful as, say, kale; it’s fruity and delicious, and the unprocessed version provides a lot of the same benefits as other produce. If you decide to dive in, look for products that are low in sugar, or opt for supplemental tablets.

The superfood: Chia seeds, which are most frequently sold in bags, can be found floating in bottled drinks and dotting granola bars and cereals.
The claims: They’re full of fiber, so they’ll keep you regular. They fight cancer. They’ll lower your triglycerides and raise your good cholesterol.
What experts say: Chia seeds provide lignan, an important type of polyphenol—the micronutrients that show promising links to disease prevention—as well as Omega-3 fatty acids. They also carry a good amount of fiber—about 11 grams per serving, or half the amount you should get in a day.
As for fighting cancer? “I haven't heard this,” said Vasanti Malik, a research scientist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “Some evidence suggests that there are certain active compounds found in chia—essential fatty acids, flavonols, and phenolic compounds—some of which may have a role in cancer prevention.” Another trend we noticed when asking about superfood claims: As in a game of telephone, the nuanced findings of scientific studies often get mangled by the health-food marketing grapevine.
Look for links or footnotes on any site that lauds a product as a nutritional magic bullet. “I don’t expect people to learn how to read a scientific paper and go straight to the source,” Malik said, “but that’s not feasible for most people. I think the next-best thing is trying to go to the academic websites that take the science and break it down.”
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Monday, 25 February 2019

Calisthenics vs Men’s Physique.

STRENGTH WARS – brings you insane strength battles facing the athletes with a variety of disciplines such as deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull ups, dips, keg lifts, and prowlers in the ultimate strength & fitness competition. Bodybuilding, Powerlifting, Strongmen, Weightlifting, CrossFit, Calisthenics or Street Workout – we all share the same passion. Let the wars begin!

Calisthenics athlete Bertrand Mbi fighting against bodybuilder Men’s Physique athlete and male fitness model Joe Lewis. Both disciplines carry less muscle mass and size on their physiques and instead focus on a much leaner “functional” physique. But Calisthenics is all about actual functional strength whereas a Men’s Physique competitor is only focused on the aesthetics of the body.  Can Men’s Physique training keep up with the functional strength of a Calisthenics athlete? Let’s find out!
This competition contains the following run:
– Bench press 100 kg / 220lbs – 20 reps
– Squat 100 kg / 220lbs – 20 reps


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Saturday, 23 February 2019

Tamarind more effective than standard analgesics, study shows!

Painkillers are some of the most common medications that people take. This is because most health problems are associated with either acute or chronic pain. However, prolonged use of these drugs actually has adverse effects on a person’s health. Because of these repercussions, people are now going back to the safer choice, medicinal plants. An Indian study identified tamarind (Tamarindus indica) as one of the plants with potent analgesic activity.
Conventional analgesics include opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications are commonly used by patients to relieve pain associated with surgery, injury, arthritis, headaches, and many other diseases. Although they are used by almost everyone, that doesn’t mean that they are safe. In fact, taking analgesics can cause side effects like constipation, drowsiness, stomach bleeding, heart attack, and liver damage. Fortunately, there are many medicinal plants that can be used as alternative remedies for pain.
Many are familiar with the sweet and sour fruit of tamarind, which is commonly used to make candies. However, not many people have seen the tree from which this fruit comes from. The different parts of this plant, which is native to African and Asian countries, are actually used in traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha. Practitioners of these medicinal systems use tamarind to treat diseases like malaria, fever, stomach ache, wounds, diabetes, rheumatism, ulcers, sore throat, eye infections, and jaundice. In addition, specific parts of the leaves also have their own sets of biological activities. For the roots and bark, these include relieving pain and eliminating helminths. However, there are limited studies that validate these claims.
In this study, published in the Pharmacognosy Journal, the researchers evaluated the analgesic activity of tamarind root extracts through an in vivo experiment using albino Wistar rats. The animal models were treated with either the extracts or the conventional painkiller pentazocine. They used two tests to determine analgesic activity. One of these is the hot plate method wherein they checked the reaction time of the rat when exposed to a hot plate at 55 degrees Celsius. When rats are in pain, they exhibit this either by hind paw licking or jumping. The other test that was used was the acetic acid-induced writhing test. For both tests, the rats exhibited significant improvements in pain response, indicating that they were protected from pain.
The authors of the study also determined the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activities of tamarind root extracts. For antibacterial activity, they tested the extracts against four pathogenic bacteria, namely Bacillus subtilisStaphylococcus aureus, E. coli, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The growth of these species was effectively inhibited when they were given treatment. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory activity was based on the effects on carrageenan-induced paw edema in male albino Wistar rats. Rats that were given the treatment experienced significant reductions in paw inflammation.
Overall, the results of this study show that tamarind root extracts have potent analgesic as well as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. With further studies, tamarind can be developed into an alternative remedy for pain and inflammatory disorders like rheumatism.

Health benefits of eating tamarinds

Tamarind fruits are more widely available than the other parts of the plant, which is good since it has its fair share of health benefits. Some of its benefits include the following:
  • Improving heart health
  • Regulating blood sugar
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Preventing heat strokes
  • Promoting weight loss
  • Reducing cancer risk
  • Delaying aging
  • Alleviating allergies
  • Enhancing muscle and nerve development
For more articles about natural anti-inflammatory agents, visit NaturalHealth.news.
Sources include:

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Friday, 22 February 2019

Lack of sleep causes artery disease!

Lack of sleep causes artery disease image
A lack of sleep seems to have more to do with hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)—one feature of cardiovascular disease—than eating a fatty diet.
Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries, which causes them to stiffen and close up.

The standard theory of heart disease states that fatty foods cause the arteries to 'fur up' and narrow, but it's more to do with insomnia, say researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Sleep helps to regulate the production of inflammatory cells and healthy blood vessels, and so it would it would follow that the lack of sleep has the reverse effect.

The researchers demonstrated the effect when they tested the theory on a group of laboratory mice. Although the cholesterol levels of the sleep-deprived mice remained the same, they produced larger arterial plaques and double the number of inflammatory cells that are known to contribute to atherosclerosis.

Hypocretin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep, also helps control production of white blood cells, the researchers discovered.


(Source: Nature, 2019; doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0948-2)
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Fighting food waste by innovative food packaging!

Image result for food packaging
By 2050, the world’s population will have reached 9 billion people. To provide enough nutritious food for everybody, while preserving natural resources, we need to switch to more sustainable food systems. This not only involves changing how we produce food globally, but also reducing food losses and waste in the food chain and minimizing the impact of packaging waste.1
Every year, approximately one third of the global food production is lost. Losses happen at all stages of the food chain and across all types of foods, mainly due to spoilage. Food safety is also a rising concern: microbial contamination of food products is still the main cause of foodborne illnesses. Additional challenges are market globalisation which requires longer shelf-lives and the growing demand for minimally-processed foods. There is therefore a need to develop innovative materials to package foods that can guarantee safety and maintain quality for longer periods of time to reduce food waste. To respond to these challenges, food packaging technology is continuously evolving.1,2 Table 1 displays an overview of the possible technological innovations to prevent food waste in the future.
Table 1. Overview of technological innovations in food packaging to prevent food waste (adapted from reference 4).
  • Improved packaging properties: mechanical, thermal, barrier properties
  • Biodegradability: enhanced biodegradation
  • Active packaging: shelf life extension, oxygen scavenger, antimicrobial
  • Intelligent packaging: interaction with the environment, self-cleaning, self-healing, indication of deterioration
  • Delivery and controlled release: nutraceuticals, bioactive compounds (such as essential oils)
  • Monitoring product conditions: time temperature indicator (TTI), freshness indicator, leakage indicator, gas detector
  • Nanosensor: indication of food quality, growth of microorganisms
  • Nanocoatings
  • Information on product: RFID, nano-barcode, product authenticity

From passive to active

The role of food packaging is changing from passive – being a mere container protecting its contents from moisture, air, microbes and mechanical damage (such as vibration and shock), to active – capable of extending shelf life by interacting with the product, for example by releasing antioxidants, antimicrobials or oxygen scavengers to prevent food spoilage.3
Nanotechnology is increasingly being explored as a tool for developing active food packaging.4 NanoPack is an EU-funded project developing an active packaging film with antimicrobial properties. The novel packaging films slowly release tiny amounts of antimicrobial essential oils as a vapour into the so-called “headspace” of the packaging, thereby sanitizing both the food product and the headspace, and extending the shelf life of the product. Preliminary results have shown that NanoPack films are able to increase the shelf-life of additive free bread by 3 weeks, demonstrating the potential of active packaging systems to decrease food waste.

High barrier, yet biodegradable – a tricky balance

High barrier packaging materials are a highly desirable in the food packaging world, as they offer a strong resistant mechanical barrier to water and oxygen and pathogens, and can therefore extend shelf life while using fewer preservatives. However, these materials are often produced from non-renewable fossil-based sources and are not biodegradable. Sustainable disposal or recycling methods are often limited for materials containing several different functional layers. Moreover, the environmental impact of persistent plastic packaging waste in particular is raising general global concern. As such there is a growing trend towards more sustainable options with a lower environmental impact.3,5
However, making this switch while maintaining the properties of traditional high-barrier packaging materials such as plastics and metallised films is easier said than done. Bio-based packaging materials are increasingly being explored as environmentally-friendly substitutes for traditional plastic packaging due to increased biodegradability or compostability. However, their industrial use and application is still limited due to their less effective barrier properties (for example increased permeability to water or air.) These properties need to be improved considerably if they are to replace traditional plastics and help manage the world’s waste problem.1,5
To tackle this issue, EU-funded project RefuCoat aims to develop two novel types of bio-based food packaging. The first is a fully-recyclable active packaging replacement for metallised films that are currently used for packing cereals and crisps and savory snacks. The second will be a fully biodegradable package for chicken meat products. In this way, this project aims to improve shelf-life of fresh food produce while reducing the volume of packaging waste that goes to landfill.

Using waste to reduce waste

Another innovative idea to increase the sustainability of food packaging is to make it out of by-products from the food industry that would otherwise end up as waste. YPACK, an EU-funded project that started in November 2017, is currently developing a fully recyclable flow pack film and a fully biodegradable packaging tray using by-products that would usually go to waste such as unpurified cheese whey and almond shells. The flow pack film will function as a passive barrier and the tray will have active antimicrobial properties, capable of extending the shelf-life of food products.

Sustainable packaging towards sustainable food systems

With around a third of the food globally produced wasted, half of which at the consumption level, the time to act is now. Active packaging systems allow food to be transported for longer, minimising losses and waste associated with food spoilage, while other innovative ideas allow reduction of packaging waste itself, or turn waste from other sources into valuable resources. These technological innovations will be a crucial tool in the global fight against food waste, as we move towards more a sustainable future.


  1. Russell, D. A. M. Sustainable (food) packaging – an overview. Food Addit. Contam. Part A 31, 396–401 (2014).
  2. Realini, C. E. & Marcos, B. Active and intelligent packaging systems for a modern society. Meat Sci. 98, 404–419 (2014).
  3. Dainelli, D., Gontard, N., Spyropoulos, D., Zondervan-van den Beuken, E. & Tobback, P. Active and intelligent food packaging: legal aspects and safety concerns. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 19, S103–S112 (2008).
  4. Sozer, N. & Kokini, J. L. Nanotechnology and its applications in the food sector. Trends Biotechnol. 27, 82–89 (2009).
  5. Rhim, J.-W., Park, H.-M. & Ha, C.-S. Bio-nanocomposites for food packaging applications. Prog. Polym. Sci. 38, 1629–1652 (2013).

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Healing psoriasis naturally!

Healing psoriasis naturally image
I've recently developed psoriasis on my elbows and knees, and it's incredibly itchy. I'd rather not use topical steroids, which were recommended by my doctor. Can you suggest any effective natural solutions? I don't drink or smoke and eat a reasonably healthy diet. (A.M., via email)
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The result is thickened, red or silvery, scaly patches on the body that are often itchy and painful.
Conventional treatments focus on easing symptoms, but many of them make things worse. Topical steroids, for example, can cause wrinkling and thinning of the skin, delayed wound healing, stretch marks, acne, spider veins and ulcerations,1 while methotrexate, the drug often taken for this condition, can damage the liver, lungs and bone marrow.2
You're in luck when it comes to alternatives, though. Check out the following science-backed natural solutions.

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Psoriasis is an inflammatory disorder, so eating an anti-inflammatory diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables (especially leafy greens), oily fish, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy oils may help. Focus on getting plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, chia seeds, flaxseed and walnuts, and try to limit your intake of omega-6 fatty acids, found in high amounts in vegetable oils such as corn, soy, safflower and sunflower. Cook with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices (see box, page 67) and avoid pro-inflammatory foods like refined carbohydrates and processed and fried foods.3

Try fish oil
Several studies suggest that fish oil supplements—rich in the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA)—can be helpful for psoriasis sufferers, reducing itching, redness and scaling.6 It may take three months or more to see results, so don't be discouraged if you don't notice changes right away.
Suggested daily dosage: 2-3 g EPA and DHA combined (see WDDTY August 2018 for our favorite omega-3 brands)

Go gluten-free
Psoriasis patients are more likely to also have celiac disease, the autoimmune condition triggered by eating gluten, as well as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.4 In these sufferers, switching to a gluten-free diet appears to improve psoriasis symptoms.5
Whether or not you've been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, it's a good idea to try cutting gluten from your diet for a few months to see if you notice a difference. You could also try the same approach with other common food allergens, such as dairy.

Top tip
For a vegan alternative to fish oil supplements, try those made from algae and echium seed oils
Top up your vitamin D
Low vitamin D levels are linked to psoriasis,7 so a daily dose of D via supplements is worth a try. In one US trial, almost 90 percent of psoriasis patients experienced improvements in their disease after taking vitamin D supplements, with more than a quarter seeing their symptoms completely disappear.8
Suggested dosage: 5,000 IU daily (ideally, see a nutritionist who can test for a deficiency in vitamin D and other vitamins and recommend individualized dosages)

Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices
Several herbs and spices used as seasonings have been found to block inflammation in the body.1 Here are some you can add to your diet daily.

  • Turmeric
  • Red pepper
  • Ginger
  • Cumin
  • Anise
  • Fennel
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic

Try topicals
A number of herbal creams and ointments can relieve psoriasis when regularly applied to the skin. Look for natural topical remedies that contain the following—all have been proven effective in clinical trials.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers. Although it can cause an initial burning sensation, capsaicin-containing cream can reduce the severity of psoriasis in six weeks.9
Aloe vera, the popular plant with skin-soothing properties. Applying aloe cream to the skin three times a day for a month cured 25 out of 30 psoriasis patients in one trial.10
Mahonia aquifolium, also known as Oregon grape. Several studies have found 10 percent Mahonia aquifolium creams to be safe and effective for mild to moderate psoriasis.

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Busting 3 common fitness myths!

Rebecca Cronk Rebecca Cronk is a fitness specialist and owner/operator of Get Cronk’d Fitness Studio.
Much to many a personal trainer’s chagrin, myths and half-truths associated with diet and exercise abound, much like rumours in a high school locker-room.
The reality is that it’s easy to fall victim to a fitness or diet myth. We’ve all done it. If everybody is talking about it, it must be true, right? Wrong! Let’s dispel a few of these myths right now.
Myth No. 1: If I start exercising, my fat will turn into muscle
If it were only that easy. Fat does not turn into muscle. It doesn’t matter if you are sedentary or active; fat and muscle are two entirely different types of tissue. Having fat turn into muscle is about as likely as having a base metal turn into platinum. If a previously active person stops exercising, muscles will eventually atrophy (waste away) and become less effective and the body’s ability to burn fat will become compromised. When an exercise regime is abandoned, oftentimes so is a diet, resulting in lost muscle and subsequently gained fat.

Myth No. 2: Postmenopausal women should not do strength training
This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is the perfect time to start. Strength training does so much more than make you look and feel great. After menopause the potential for osteoporosis increases substantially. Strength training promotes increased bone density and improves balance and mobility. Many women experience fewer symptoms associated with other diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. The bottom line here is that the older we get, the benefits of exercise multiply.

Myth No. 3: Women will get bulky if they lift heavy
This is one of the biggest untruths disseminated in the fitness industry today. You will not Hulk out by lifting heavy … I promise. I have been weight training with consistency for over five years now and I am far from the Incredible Hulk. Yes, we’ve all seen those pictures of the incredibly muscular and rather masculine looking female bodybuilders that many of us might find disturbing. What you must understand is that these women look that way by choice after training and dieting excessively for many years, and often pumping themselves full of anabolic steroids to enhance muscle growth. That coupled with the fact that they likely had insane genetics to begin with. The reality is that women have between 1/15 to 1/20 the amount of testosterone (the main hormone associated with muscle growth) as men. Ladies, if you want to look good, feel great and be strong, don’t be afraid to lift heavy things. Plus, carting your toddler around in your arms, carrying in the family’s groceries, stacking the bags of wood pellets, or rearranging furniture will be a breeze.
In conclusion, remember that because the health and fitness industry is comprised of many ferociously competitive entrepreneurs, sometimes the volume of sales and company profits comes before customer health and well-being. Do your research. Find a personal trainer and/or a gym that conducts their business with integrity and puts the well-being of their clients first.
”Beware of the half-truth. You may have gotten a hold of the wrong half.” ~Unknown
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Thursday, 21 February 2019

Break Out of Your Winter Fitness Funk! A Personal Trainer Shares His Best Tips

Trainer Parker Cote
James Patrick
Personal trainer and fitness model Parker Cote shares how he stays motivated in the wintertime
You know you should work out. But it’s mid-winter. It’s cold. You’ve already fallen off your new year’s resolution. Your couch is calling you — and it has pizza.
“We’ve all been there,” says Boston-based personal trainer and fitness model Parker Cote. “I struggle with it, too, especially living in the northeast where it’s cold and dark and easier to hide under a sweater and watch Netflix.” Here are his best tips for pushing through.

1. Freshen up your routine.
Think of ways to break up the monotony, says Cote. Download a new playlist, buy cool workout gear or add a social element by bringing a friend to the gym. Beat boredom by changing your routine or taking a new class. “If you usually train with weights, try yoga or a spin class. If you’re a runner, go to a boxing class,” he says. “Breaking up your pattern will help you feel motivated.”

2. Work out in the morning.
Get yourself to the gym first thing so your workout doesn’t hang over you all day, says Cote. An early sweat session will also boost your endorphins and put you in a better mood, which is especially important when there are fewer hours of daylight. “When I first opened my studio, I was working crazy hours and my workouts took a back seat,” he says. “I’d always trained at 5 p.m., but after a long day, the last thing I wanted to do was work out.” So he switched to morning workouts and felt much better. And, he admits, he can relax guilt-free at night.
Chris Fanning
3. Find simple motivational tricks.
Get creative about what works for you. “On days I don’t want to work out, I order a coffee from my bed using an app on my phone,” he says, laughing. “It forces me to get out of bed and go the coffee shop next to the gym. Once I’m there, I’m one step closer to my workout.”

4. Stay consistent.
Unless you’re feeling seriously under the weather, try to maintain your routine. “When you take one day off, it’s a lot easier to take two days off, and then three or four.” The best thing you can do on tired days, says Cote, is a light workout. “It doesn’t have to be a perfect workout. Just get your body moving and get the blood flowing. You’ll likely end up feeling more energized in the end.”

5. Try to eat clean.
In the winter you tend to crave unhealthy carbs, but if you give into them too often it can make you more tired and lethargic, says Cote. “It’s a vicious cycle that can contribute to weight gain.” When you want a warm, cozy dish at night, try smart swaps like salmon with lentils, zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice with a flavorful sauce. It’s a way to get the comfort-food feel without the empty calories.
6. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
“Lack of motivation happens to everyone in the winter,” says Cote. The key is to incorporate some type of movement into your everyday routine. Hit the gym for just a short time, or bundle up and take a walk. “You don’t need the perfect plan,” says Cote. “As long as you move and keep that momentum going for yourself, you will still be able to enjoy the mental, emotional and physical benefits of fitness.”
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Johnson & Johnson Exposed: Is This the Raw “UnPowdered” Truth?

Magnesium silicate is comprised of finely ground particles of stone. It originates in the ground and is a mined product, so it can be contaminated with other substances. In its raw state, talc contains asbestos. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen that causes cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, there is no safe level of asbestos. While it is true that most people do not develop cancer, it is also true that even exposure to very small amounts can trigger cancer years later.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), a leading manufacturer of baby products including baby powder, have been slammed with thousands of lawsuits over the past several years. These lawsuits allege that the talc used in their Baby Powder have caused cancer. The company has been ordered to pay massive damages to plaintiffs. The largest settlement is a record-setting $4.69 billion to 22 women who claimed that talc found in J&J Baby Powder led to ovarian cancer.
Thousands of other similar suits are in litigation, but this might not be the worst of it for the company.

Did this investigative report uncover a dirty truth?
Despite the fact that J&J adamantly declare that their product has never contained asbestos and is safe, a report published by Reuters set out to prove differently. According to the recently released report, Baby Powder tested positive for asbestos on a number of occasions over decades and company officials turned a blind eye to the truth.
Immediately following the release of the report, J&J went into defense mode, taking out a full-page advertisement proclaiming its product safety practices, to mitigate damage from the allegations.
“If we had any reasons to believe our talc was unsafe, it would be off our shelves,”
On the heels of the report, company stock dropped like hotcakes, and J&J scrambled to buy back $5 billion of its common stock.
Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, called for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the findings highlighted in the Reuters report to determine whether or not J&J misled regulators regarding the safety of its Baby Powder.
J&J Chief Executive Alex Gorsky responds to questions on safety
“Since tests for asbestos in talc were first developed, J&J’s Baby Powder has never contained asbestos,” Gorsky said in the video here. He added that regulators “have always found our talc to be asbestos-free.”
‘We unequivocally believe’ our baby powder does not contain asbestos: Johnson & Johnson CEO from CNBC.

Asbestos revealed in “hidden” reports
Reuters revealed that reports from a consulting lab in 1967 and 1958 describe contaminants in talc coming from J&J’s Italian supplier as being “fibrous and “acicular” or needle-like tremolite”. This mineral in its fibrous form is classified as asbestos.
Throughout the years leading up to the early 2000’s various reports from company scientists, outside laboratories and suppliers revealed similar findings. These reports either name contaminants outright as asbestos or describe them in terms that are known to be asbestos.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was discussing the presence of asbestos in cosmetics containing talc, J&J stated that there had been no asbestos found in samples of talc that was produced between December 1971 and October 1973. What they failed to reveal was that three tests – all from different labs – between 1972 and 1975 found asbestos in their talc – in one case it was reported to be found in “rather high” levels.

Reuters reports that internal testing from J&J show that no asbestos was found. However, traditional testing methods at the company have used only small portions of talc which would not necessarily reveal contaminants. The report also notes other inadequacies in testing that may have resulted in warped results.

What are the proven dangers of talc and asbestos

The Organic Consumers Association refers to a study which found that women who used talc just once a week had a 36 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than those who did not use talc. Everyday use boosted the risk to 46 percent. Researchers warned that particles travel to the ovaries causing an inflammatory process to take place that encourages cancer cell growth.

The American Cancer Society reports the following information:
  • In 1997 a published study found that women who applied talcum powder to their external genital area or used feminine deodorant sprays had a 50 to 90 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer.
  • A study done in 2000 found that there was a 40% increase in one type of ovarian cancer (invasive serous) in talc users.
  • A 33 percent increase in ovarian cancer risk was found in a meta-analysis among people using talc in 2003.
  • Lung damage and cancer have also been reported by workers who have inhaled talcum powder for extended durations of time.
The issue with latency
Like many toxins, asbestos has a latency period. This means that diagnosis of conditions like mesothelioma, a type of rare lung cancer, can develop as much as 20-50 years after exposure to asbestos.
This means that while J&J may claim their products are safe to use today – the real issue is, have they been safe for the last 50 years??  A 2013 markup statement of the “Safety and Care Commitment” on the company website clearly shows some concern.
“Our talc-based consumer products are and have always been (we cannot say “always”) asbestos free, as confirmed by regular testing since the 1970s.”
We have just skimmed the surface on what was revealed in the Reuters investigation, and it is likely that there will be further investigation prompted by the report. Stay tuned!

All Natural Alternative
If all of this information has you a bit unsettled about using Baby Powder, the good news is that there is a safer alternative and the best part is that you can easily make it at home. This product is safe to use on anyone over 3 months that does not have broken skin.
  • 4 tablespoons white kaolin clay or bentonite clay
  • 4 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 6 drops chamomile (Roman or German) essential oil (use100% pure Roman chamomile)
  • 6 drops lavender essential oil (use 100% pure lavender)
  1. Combine dry ingredients and stir.
  2. Drip the essential oils into the dry mixture and stir.
  3. Transfer to a shaker bottle.
-The Alternative Daily

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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Gut microbiota’s effect on physical and mental health!

Did you know we are almost more bacteria than human? There are over 100 trillion bacteria residing inside our large intestine, making up our gut microbiota.1 These bacteria encode over 100 times more genes than the human genome.
Our physical and mental health can be strongly affected by ‘our microbes’, or so to say, the small organisms (such as bacteria) which form the microbial ecosystem in our gut. This ecosystem is known as our gut microbiota. Disrupting that ecosystem (so-called 'dysbiosis’*) may be dangerous for our health. In fact, dysbiosis is associated with disorders like obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and mental diseases. But how exactly do these tiny ‘gut bugs’ control different body and brain functions and how can we use this knowledge to prevent diseases?
The EU-funded project MyNewGut has delved into the gut microbiota universe and tried to find an answer to these questions by:
  • Investigating the role of the gut microbiota and its specific components in metabolism and energy balance.
  • Identifying specific gut microbiota components and the metabolic functions that contribute to and predict obesity, eating and emotional disorders and associated conditions.
  • Understanding the influence of environmental factors on the gut microbiota, in pregnancy and during a baby’s development, and its impact on brain, immune and metabolic long-term health.
  • Developing new food ingredients and food prototypes, by collaborating with the EU food industry, that target the gut ecosystem and contribute to reducing the risks of metabolic- and mental-related disorders.
Over the last 5 years, the MyNewGut partners have published 45 papers with many more to come. The published papers include human, animal and in vitro studies, as well as extensive literature reviews. These studies have not only confirmed many existing hypotheses surrounding the role of the gut microbiota, but also produced various promising new discoveries. Let’s have a look at them in detail!

New gut bacteria may help fight obesity and mental disorders

Bacteria account for >90% of the microorganisms found in our gut.2 The MyNewGut project has discovered bacterial species and strains in healthy people that seem to be effective against obesity, metabolic and mood disorders. They do so by influencing the endocrine and immune pathways that have an impact on both our physical and mental health. For instance, the bacterial strain ‘Bacteroides uniformis CECT 7771’ has shown pre-clinical efficacy on metabolic and immune dysfunctions in obesity, reducing for example serum triglyceride levels, glucose intolerance and body weight gain.3,4 . Furthermore, the MyNewGut partners have also identified a Bifidobacterium longum bacteria strain, which had a positive impact on perceived stress, sleep quality and cortisol release. These strains could potentially be next generation probiotics that could in the future be used to help tackle obesity and stress-related disorders (e.g. impairments in cognitive task performance like reduced attention, learning ability; or mood disorders like depression).

How diet has an influence on our gut microbiota

Diet appears to be a major factor that influences the composition and function of the human gut microbiota.5,6 MyNewGut experts have conducted several human intervention trials to investigate dietary health effects potentially mediated by the microbiota and they are publishing a range of position papers that will show evidence on how we could inform future dietary recommendations. These position papers are based on both project results and other recent insights regarding the role of the gut microbiota and its interaction with the diet on health related outcomes. MyNewGut partners have specifically looked into the role played by proteins, fats and fibres on the gut microbiota.

How high intake of proteins or a high fat diet harm the gut microbiota

Protein intake benefits weight management and some aspects of metabolic health, but, unlike carbohydrates, high intake levels also seem to have negative effects. MyNewGut partners found out that high protein consumption, which increases protein fermentation in the large intestine, generates some of the toxic metabolites (products of amino acid metabolism) linked to diseases such as colorectal cancer. In the 3-week human high-protein dietary intervention by Beaumont and colleagues also the source of the protein (animal or plant) appeared to lead to significant differences in the metabolites that were generated.7 This makes protein source an important factor for future research particularly in relation to the possible different long-term effects of high protein diets on microbiota and derived metabolites. Wolters and colleagues concluded that a high fat diet, especially when rich in saturated fatty acids, may have negative effects on the gut microbiota, characterised by a lower number of microbes and a lower variety of microbial species. Diets rich in omega 3 or omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids do not seem to negatively affect the microbiota, whereas the effects of monounsaturated fatty acids are less consistent (submitted for publication).

Dietary fibres are the main fuel for our gut microbiota

Fibres are carbohydrates that are not digested by our digestive enzymes, and thus reach our large intestine intact. They get fermented by gut bacteria, which form short-chain fatty acids (SCFA: acetate, propionate and butyrate). These substances play an important role in gut health; for example, they help protect the cells lining our gut, they also trigger hormones involved in appetite and glucose metabolism and reduce inflammation.2 Carbohydrate fermentation is thus considered beneficial for overall gut health and beyond. Recent studies suggest that intake of fibre at levels above current dietary recommendations (25-30 g fibre/day) could be necessary to achieve some of the microbiome-related beneficial effects, such as reducing makers of gut inflammation.8

High fat or high fibre diets are oppositely associated with depression

The interaction between diet and gut microbiota has also been found to modulate the gut-brain axis in mice fed a high-fat diet, and ultimately negatively influence brain function.9 More precisely, studies conducted by MyNewGut partners showed that Western diets rich in saturated fat resulted not only in obesity, but also in depressive behaviour. We know that these effects are mediated by the gut microbiome, since they were reduced by antibiotic-treatment. These results are only a starting point, and new research would have to confirm the findings in humans.10 A review of other research shows that high fibre diets are also associated with fewer symptoms of depression, whereby prebiotic fibres shape microbiota composition which could influence behaviour.11

The role of the gut in metabolic health: mechanistic clues

Studies in animal models conducted by project partners have revealed new mechanisms whereby the microbiota could impact metabolic health. The consortium showed that peptidase activity (DPPIV) responsible for the degradation of enteroendocrine hormones produced in the gut, which regulate appetite and glucose homeostasis (like glucagon-like peptide I [GLP-I]), are of bacterial origin.12 This means that the presence of specific bacteria producing these new enzymes can influence appetite, food intake and body weight gain.

Gut microbiota: we are all different

The MyNewGut project has also explored innovative interventions, including Faecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) for restoring dysbiosis-associated disorders. In FMT, the microbiota of a healthy donor is transferred to an individual suffering from some form of dysbiosis. In MyNewGut studies, the donor’s microbiota was transferred to human subjects with metabolic syndrome.5 In this study, the responsiveness to treatment depended on the individual’s gut microbiota profile, suggesting a need for personalised intervention strategies. This study also demonstrates that the individual’s microbiota directly impacts neural systems that could mediate the impact of food intake on metabolic health (paper in preparation).

The impact of early life microbial imbalance on health

MyNewGut has demonstrated how important it is to better understand the role of environmental factors and the diet on the gut microbiota at critical development periods, such as infancy and childhood. During these periods, different organs and systems are under development and maturation making it a crucial time for developing a diverse gut microbiota. Dietary changes that favourably influence the microbiota are thought to have a higher and longer-lasting effect during stages of development, emphasising the importance of diet during early life for long-term health in adulthood.2 MyNewGut partners specifically investigated whether effects of environmental factors in early life and childhood also impact health outcomes in later stages of life in humans. For example, they conducted a unique longitudinal study in children to determine the role of the microbiota, the lifestyle (diet, exercise, etc.) and other individual factors (immune and metabolic profile) in the development of overweight. The study revealed that specific microbiota configurations were indeed correlated to inflammatory markers and dietary patterns, and subsequently to the development of obesity. MyNewGut’s partners have also showed that the type of birth, a factor that influences the maturation of the microbiota early in life and may contribute to health programming, also influences vulnerability to stress in young adulthood in humans. Birth by caesarean section adversely impacts inflammatory markers and stress response.

What’s next for gut health research?

To conclude, the MyNewGut project findings have demonstrated that our gut ‘has a mind of its own’ and that further research is needed to understand how it functions and influences our health. The project has provided precious insights into the role of our gut microbiota both in metabolic and mental health. The MyNewGut findings will play a fundamental role in the future development of more effective interventions targeting the gut - to fight obesity, metabolic syndrome, and behavioural disorders, like eating and mood/emotional disorders. In three words: mind your gut!
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Why Skincare Brands Are Adding Melatonin To Their Products!

Melatonin, often taken as a supplemental sleep aid, is a naturally-occurring hormone that signals the transition from daytime to bedtime. It has been recommended to relieve jet-lag as well as insomnia, but now brands are adding the hormone to skin care products.
Recently antioxidant ingredients with anti-aging properties such as vitamin A, vitamin E, niacinamide, flavonoids and polyphenols have been used to rejuvenate skin, reduce inflammation, protect skin from sun damage and soften fine lines. Now, melatonin is being added to the list of topical antioxidants in skin care.
According to New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Melissa Levin, “Melatonin is actually highly lipophilic which means it can easily penetrate into skin cells and impart important cellular functions such as repairing mitochondrial and DNA damage. It also has been shown to upregulate important antioxidative enzymes which activates further protection against oxidative damage. It has been shown to repair mitochondrial and DNA damage.”

Melatonin has also proven effective in combating free radicals and repairing skin damaged by UV light, allergens, pollutants and irritants. Yet to benefit from melatonin’s anti-aging effects, it must be applied topically. “There is no evidence that oral ingestion of melatonin will impart skin anti-aging benefits. Topical melatonin currently has the most robust data for providing skin benefits as an antioxidant and skin brightener,” Levin says.
One of the brands endorsing melatonin-infused skincare is ISDINCEUTICS, who have launched a line of advanced skincare products that combine vitamin C and melatonin. Melatonik, the brand’s best-selling serum, accelerates the skin’s natural repair process, stimulating cell turnover during sleep.

According to Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Deanne Mraz Robinson, MD, FAAD, the serum’s combination of antioxidants and botanicals protects and repairs skin from the damage caused by free radicals, environmental pollutants, and UV radiation while you sleep. The serum also includes bakuchiol, an organic botanical that has the same effect as retinol, replenishing collagen and aiding skin turnover.

Other skin care products integrating melatonin into their formulas include:
Dr. Dennis Gross Dark Spot Sun Defense SPF 50 Sunscreen, which protects the skin from sun damage and environmental pollutants with a combination of vitamin C, E and melatonin.

Youth Corridor Ultimate Antioxidant C Boost Serum, a serum created by a top plastic surgeon that contains a blend of antioxidants, including melatonin and vitamin E to prevent drying and lock in moisture.
Peter Thomas Roth Green Releaf Therapeutic Sleep Cream Skin Protechtant, a night cream that incorporates hemp seed oil with other actives such as colloidal oatmeal to soothe irritation and 2% topical melatonin to accelerate the skin’s rejuvenation process.

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Bacteria keep us healthy – but could they keep us young?

New studies using mice microbiota could open the door to understanding age-related changes in humans. 
A study in mice has indicated that the make-up of bacteria in the gut is linked with learning abilities and memory, providing a potential avenue of research into how to maintain cognitive functioning as we age.
It's part of a field of research looking at the link between and ageing to help people live healthier lives in old age. The proportion of the EU population aged 80 or over is predicted to more than double between 2017 and 2080, with those aged 65-plus rising from 20 to almost 30%.
However, the connection between the make-up of microbiota in the gut, brain functions and ageing has been unclear – with cause and effect difficult to establish.
Dr Damien Rei, a postdoctoral researcher into neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases at the Pasteur Institute in France, decided to examine the different types of microbiome that appear in younger and older to understand better what might happen in people too.
He found that when he transferred gut bacteria in older mice to young adult mice, there was a strong effect on reducing learning and memory. And when the opposite was done, with older mice receiving microbiota from younger mice, their cognitive abilities returned to normal. The older mice were aged about a year and a half – equivalent to about 60-plus human years.
'Despite being aged animals, their learning abilities were almost indistinguishable from those of young adult mice after the microbiota transfer,' said Dr Rei – adding that this indicated strong communication between the gut and brain. 'When I saw the data, I couldn't believe it. I had to redo the experiment at least a couple of times.'
Furthermore, by seeing what was happening to the neuronal pathways of communication between the gut and brain when the aged microbiota was transferred to the younger mice, they were then able to manipulate these pathways. By doing this, he says they could block or mimic the effects of the aged microbiota.
Dr Rei's study, which was carried out as part of a project called Microbiota and Aging, has not yet been published, but he hopes this could happen by the end of the summer. He is also looking into human gut microbiota in older people and those with Alzheimer's disease, but said it is too early to reveal further details about this research.
Translating However, Dr Rei pointed out that there is a big challenge in translating results in mice to people, not only because of the significant ethical barriers, but also the differences in physiology. 'The immune system of a mouse is very different to one of a human. The gut microbiota is also very different because mice eat very different things to what we do,' he said.
Research is still a long way off from making real inroads into using this type of research to combat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, says Dr Rei. Indeed, he says, there is no convincing evidence yet that looking at the gut microbiota is the way to go. But he believes the mouse study opens doors to further investigation into mechanisms behind age-related changes.
'The data on the mice was really the first stepping stone, and it was a way for us to understand the potential of manipulating the gut microbiota,' said Dr Rei.
Pinning down the link between gut bacteria and ageing is not straightforward, according to Dr Thorsten Brach, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.
'It's known that ageing is a multifactorial process and it's hard, especially when it comes to the microbiome, to separate the effects of ageing specifically from all other aspects,' he said.
He worked on a project called Gut-InflammAge, which looked at the link between gut microbes, inflammation and ageing, led by associate professor Manimozhiyan Arumugam.
As part of their work, the team investigated the effects of mild periodic calorie restriction in mice to explore the potential impact of healthy-ageing diets involving fasting. Unexpectedly, calorie-restricted mice accumulated more body fat – which the researchers speculate may have been down to overeating between these periods – but also saw a mild 'rejuvenation' of their blood profile so it more closely resembled that of younger mice.
The researchers did observe a difference between the microbiota composition in the different groups, but overall in the study the differences found were not big enough to suggest more than healthy variability between individuals. The study therefore supported the view that diet and lifestyle are more critical than age and gender in shaping the microbiota, said the researchers – though Prof. Arumugam said it would be more revealing to follow changes in individual people's microbiomes over time.
The studies carried out so far indicate there is still a long way to go in painting an accurate picture of the link between and the ageing process. Prof. Arumugam also pointed out that microbiome analysis is lagging behind technologically compared with genetics research, with disease cause and effect harder to establish than with genes.
But research is gradually improving our understanding. Prof. Arumugam said that though his team's study did not achieve a 'breakthrough', it helped give more insight into this area and raised questions over previous assumptions.
And research in this area could ultimately change how we view ageing, says Dr Rei, seeing it as more fluid than just 'a totally one-way road with no turning back, except in the movies like Benjamin Button.'
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