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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Best Vitamins and Supplements

1. Vitamin K

What is vitamin K?

Doctors have long used vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting, to help heal incisions in patients after surgery and to prevent bleeding problems in newborns. This vitamin also aids in building strong bones and may be useful for combating the threat of osteoporosis in older women.

Vitamin K1 is present in many foods, especially leafy green vegetables such as cabbage and spinach, and is also present in liver, cows’ milk, egg yolk and some cereals. Broccoli, spring onions and brussels sprouts are also good sources. Other foods with some vitamin K are pistachios, vegetable oils, lean meats, tomatoes and dairy products. The rest comes from bacteria that live naturally in the gut and make menaquinones (also called vitamin K2).

A synthetic form of vitamin K1 called phytomenadione (also known as phytonadione) is available for use in supplements. Menatetrenone is a type of vitamin K2, while menadione (vitamin K3) is another synthetic form used in some countries.

What does vitamin K do?

This single nutrient sets in motion the entire blood-clotting process as soon as a wound occurs. Vitamin K1 may also be important for cell-to-cell communication. Researchers have discovered that vitamin K2 also plays a protective role in bone health.

Benefits of vitamin K

Doctors may recommend preventive doses of vitamin K if post-surgery bleeding or haemorrhaging is a concern. Even when no deficiency exists, surgeons sometimes order vitamin K before an operation to reduce the risk of post-operative bleeding.

Consult your doctor before taking vitamin K prior to an operation, because certain types of surgery and prolonged bed rest may increase risk of unwanted blood clots.

How to take vitamin K

Supplemental vitamin K (more than is found in a multivitamin) should be taken only after consulting your doctor. When prescribed, vitamin K should be taken with meals because food enhances its absorption.

Vitamin E helps the body use vitamin K, but too much vitamin E-more than 1000 IU a day-taken long term may impair vitamin K function and increase your risk of bleeding.

High doses of vitamin E may counteract the blood coagulation properties of vitamin K, increasing the risk of bleeding.

2. Grape seed extract

What is grape seed extract?

With antioxidant properties many times more powerful than those found in better-known nutrients (including vitamin C and vitamin E), grape seed extract is a heart-smart and cancer-smart botanical. It also has the power to improve vascular health, protect brain cells and increase your overall well-being in many ways. This extract made from the tiny seeds of red grapes is a flavonoid with potent antioxidant potential.

What does grape seed extract do?

In addition to being a powerhouse of antioxidants, grape seed extract exerts a powerful, positive influence on blood vessels. It is one of the few substances that can cross the blood-brain barrier, which means it has the potential to protect brain cells from free radical damage. It also reduces swelling after injury or surgery.

Benefits of grape seed extract

A topical preparation can improve wound healing after surgery. It may also protect the heart against damage during heart surgery.

How to take grape seed extract

Fluid extract (1:1): 20 to 40 millilitres a week.

Tablets/capsules: 12,000 milligrams of grape seed extract 2 to 3 times a day (use preparations standardized to provide 150 to 300 milligrams of PCOs daily).

After 24 hours, only about 28 per cent of grape seed extract’s active components remain in the body. It’s important to take grape seed extract supplements at the same time every day.

Grape seed extract is best used with other antioxidants such as vitamins C and E (and it may help the body use vitamin E more efficiently); money-saving combination products are available.

Grape seed extract may decrease iron absorption in the intestines, so leave a gap of 2 hours between taking the supplements.

3. Coenzyme Q10

What is coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10, produced by the body, belongs to a family of compounds called quinones. Coenzyme Q10 is found in all living creatures and is also concentrated in many foods, including nuts and oils. Coenzyme Q10 is found in a wide range of foods, including olive oil.

What does coenzyme Q10 do?

The primary function of coenzyme Q10 is as a catalyst for metabolism-the complex chain of chemical reactions during which food is broken down into packets of energy that the body can use. Acting in conjunction with enzymes (hence the name “coenzyme”), the compound speeds up the vital metabolic process, providing the energy that the cells need to digest food, heal wounds, maintain healthy muscles and perform countless other bodily functions.

Benefits of coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 may play a role in preventing cancer, heart attacks and other diseases linked to free radical damage. It’s also used as a general energy enhancer and anti-aging supplement. Because levels of the compound diminish with age (and with certain diseases), some doctors recommend daily supplementation beginning at about 40 years of age.

It also appears to aid healing and reduce pain and bleeding in those with gum disease and to speed recovery after oral surgery.

How to take coenzyme Q10

A typical dose is 100 to 150 milligrams a day. Before surgery, higher doses may be used; consult your health-care practitioner. Take this supplement in the morning and evening, preferably with fatty food to enhance absorption.

Coenzyme Q10 should be continued long term; it may require 8 weeks or longer to notice results. Concurrent vitamin B6 supplements may also help.

4. Arnica

What is arnica?

Arnica has been used in homoeopathic medicine for hundreds of years. It can be used to relieve pain resulting from surgery or trauma.

What does arnica do?

Arnica is thought to stimulate blood circulation and, theoretically, to raise blood pressure, especially in the coronary arteries, which supply the heart with blood. The plant is also thought to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain and swelling and heal wounds.

Benefits of arnica

Research using topical forms suggests they have anti-inflammatory properties. Topical arnica is popularly used to treat bruises and other minor traumatic injuries and there is some research evidence to support this.

How to take arnica

Oral forms: Consult your healthcare practitioner or package for specific directions.

Topical forms: use ointment/creams/gels that consist of 20 to 25 per cent arnica tincture or 15 per cent arnica oil (higher strengths may irritate skin). Alternatively use a tincture (1:10 with 70 percent alcohol). A poultice or compress can be made using the tincture diluted 3 to 10 times with water. Apply to sore areas 2 to 3 times a day, or following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Some doctors recommend taking arnica more frequently before and after some surgeries.

Homoeopathic preparations such as arnica are diluted at first to 1:10 or 1:100. Dilutions are then continued until desired concentrations are achieved. When a 1:10 dilution is diluted 30 times, it is said to be a 30X or 30D potency. When a 1:100 dilution is diluted 30 times, it is referred to as 30C potency. You may swallow homoeopathic doses or dissolve them under your tongue.

Dangerous Bacteria Spread Outside The Hospital

The dangerous bacteria Clostridium difficile spreads not only in hospitals but also in other health-care settings, causing infections and death rates to hit “historic highs,” U.S. health officials reported Tuesday.

C. difficile is a deadly diarrheal infection that poses a significant threat to U.S. health care patients,” Ileana Arias, principal deputy director at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a morning news conference. “C. difficile is causing many Americans to suffer and die.”

The germ is linked to about 14,000 deaths in the United States every year. People most at risk from C. difficile are those who take antibiotics and also receive care in any medical facility.

“This failure is more difficult to accept because these are treatable, often preventable deaths,” Arias said. “We know what can be done to do a better job of protecting our patients.”

Much of the growth of this bacterial epidemic has been due to the overuse of antibiotics, the CDC noted in its March 6 report. Unlike healthy people, people in poor health are at high risk for C. difficile infection.

Almost 50 percent of infections are among people under 65, but more than 90 percent of deaths are among those aged 65 and older, according to the report.

Previous estimates found that about 337,000 people are hospitalized each year because of C. difficile infections. Those are historically high levels and add at least $1 billion in extra costs to the health care system, the CDC said.

However, these estimates might not completely reflect C. difficile’s overall impact.

According to the new report, 94 percent of C. difficile infections are related to medical care, with 25 percent among hospital patients and 75 percent among nursing home patients or people recently seen in doctors’ offices and clinics.

Although the proportion of infection is lowest in hospitals, they are at the core of prevention because many infected patients are transferred to hospitals for care, raising the risk of spreading the infection there, the CDC said.

Half of those with C. difficile infections were already infected when they were admitted to the hospital, often after getting care at another facility, the agency noted.

The other 50 percent of infections were related to care at the hospital where the infection was diagnosed.

The CDC said that these infections could be reduced if health care workers follow simple infection control precautions, such as prescribing fewer antibiotics, washing their hands more often and isolating infected patients.

These and other measures have reduced C. difficile infections by 20 percent in hospitals in Illinois, Massachusetts and New York, the CDC said.

In England, infections have been cut 50 percent in three years, the agency said.

Patients get C. difficile infections mostly after taking antibiotics, which can diminish the body’s “good” bacteria for several months.

That’s when patients can get sick from C. difficile, which can be picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread by health care providers.

The predominant sign of C. difficile infection is diarrhea, which can cause dehydration. If serious, the infection can become deadly. Other symptoms include fever, nausea and loss of appetite.

The CDC advises that if diarrhea occurs after a patient starts antibiotics, C. difficile should be suspected and treatment continued with another antibiotic.

Commenting on the report, infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, said, “All these recommendations are fine; the problem is they are not going to work, you can’t stop these practices. This bug exists in a climate of overuse of antibiotics.”

It is hard to eradicate C. difficile because it buries itself in the colon, then recurs and testing isn’t always accurate, Siegel said. “It’s a pervasive problem in hospitals, and even in communities,” he said.

How to Make the Water Taste Fresh

Not everybody has a taste for water, but we all need it to ensure that our bodies continue functioning properly. If you want to drink more water, but aren’t crazy about the taste (or lack thereof), here are some tips that can make it more enjoyable:

1. Add fresh fruit. Citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes, and oranges, are classic water enhancers, but other fruit flavors might also tempt your taste buds. Try crushing fresh raspberries or watermelon into your water, or adding strawberry slices. Cucumber and fresh mint are refreshing flavors as well — especially in summer.

2. Use juice. Any fruit juice can be a good base flavor for water, but tart juices, like cranberry, pomegranate, grape, and apple, are especially delicious. Go for juices that are all natural, with no added sugars. And remember: Fruits and their juices don’t just taste good — they contain vitamins and antioxidants that can benefit your health too.

3. Make it bubbly. Many people prefer sparkling to still water. If plain old water isn’t inspiring to you, try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. Or try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to your seltzer, as suggested above, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market. If you become a seltzer devotee, you might want to consider getting a seltzer maker for your home.

4. Get creative with ice. Some say that ice water tastes better than water served at room temperature. If that’s so, flavored ice cubes may make an even better drink. Use some of the flavoring suggestions above and start experimenting with fresh fruit, mint, or cucumber ice cubes. Simply chop your additive of choice, add it to your ice cube tray along with water, then freeze. You may also consider juice, tea, or coffee cubes. If you want to be more creative, use ice cube trays that come in fun shapes, like stars, circles, or even fish.

5. Drink tea. Herbal, fruit, green, white, and red teas are generally considered to be better for you than black teas (or coffee, for that matter) because they contain little to no caffeine. And there are countless flavors of these teas to choose from. Start with the selection at your local market or health food store. If you’re interested in pursuing more exotic flavors and sophisticated teas, start researching the vast array of specialty teas that come from all parts of the globe.

6. Try bouillons, broths, and consommés. If your palate leans toward the savory, you may pass on tea and start sipping one of these hot and savory liquids instead. Choose low-fat and low-sodium versions for maximum health benefits. Because soup is water-based, a cup of hot soup will count toward your daily fluid consumption.

7. Add fast flavor. If you’re looking for a quick-and-easy flavor booster, you might also consider sugar-free drink mixes, and flavor cartridges that can be used with your faucet filter system.

Healthy Eating Tips for Diet

Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks

The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should eat:

  • 6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, making them a great addition to your healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables also provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need for your body’s systems to function at peak performance. Fruits and vegetables also will add flavor to a healthy diet. It’s best to serve them fresh, steamed, or cut up in salads. Be sure to skip the calorie-laden toppings, butter, and mayonnaise, except on occasion. A serving of raw or cooked vegetables is equal to 1/2 cup (1 cup for leafy greens); a serving of a fruit is 1/2 cup or a fresh fruit the size of a tennis ball.
  • 2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose dairy products wisely. Go for fat-free or reduced-fat milk or cheeses. Substitute yogurt for sour cream in many recipes and no one will notice the difference. A serving of dairy is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1.5 to 2 ounces of cheese.
  • 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. For a healthy diet, the best ways to prepare beef, pork, veal, lamb, poultry, and fish is to bake or broil them. Look for the words “loin” or “round” in cuts of meats because they’re the leanest. Remove all visible fat or skin before cooking, and season with herbs, spices, and fat-free marinades. A serving of meat, fish, or poultry is 2 to 3 ounces. Some crossover foods such as dried beans, lentils, and peanut butter can provide protein without the animal fat and cholesterol you get from meats. A ¼ cup cooked beans or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is equal to 1 ounce of lean meat.
  • Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly. No diet should totally eliminate any one food group, even fats, oils, and sweets. It’s fine to include them in your diet as long as it’s on occasion and in moderation, Bickston says.

Healthy Diet: Eat Right and the Right Amount

How many calories you need in a day depends on your sex, age, body type, and how active you are. Generally, active children ages 2 to 8 need between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day. Active teenage girls and women can consume about 2,200 calories a day without gaining weight. Teenage boys and men who are very active should consume about 3,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. If you’re not active, you calorie needs drop by 400 to 600 calories a day.

The best way to know how much to eat is to listen to your body, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “Pull away from the table when you’re comfortable but not yet full. Wait about 20 minutes,” he says. “Usually your body says, ‘That’s good.’ If you’re still hungry after that, you might want to eat a little more.”

Healthy Diet: Exercise Is Part of the Plan

At the bottom of the new USDA food pyramid is a space for exercise. Exercise is an important component of a well-balanced diet and good nutrition. You can reap “fabulous rewards,” says Dr Novey, just by exercising and eating “a healthy diet of foods that nature provides.”