Vitamin of the Week Part Two – Vitamin B3 – Niacin – Link to cholesterol


smorgasbord health

Earlier in the week I posted on Vitamin B3 – Niacin – and included reference to this nutrient’s effect on the balance of unhealthy and healthy cholesterol in our bodies.

Enzymes in the body are unique substances that speed up chemical reactions in the body. They are responsible for producing the energy we need, the breakdown of dietary fats, the production of certain hormones and cholesterol. In addition they are needed for the processing of genetic material (DNA) and the growth and healthy maturing of cells. B3 is essential for the efficiency of many of these enzymes.

One of the areas that B3 is used therapeutically is in the lowering of cholesterol. B3 actually lowers LDL (lousy cholesterol) and raises HDL (healthy cholesterol). In tests, supplemented B3 proved more effective than many of the normal cholesterol lowering drugs

First a little more about Cholesterol.

I respect and manage my cholesterol levels because without it there are certain vital functions in my body that would not happen. I am rather attached to my steroidal hormones including the sterol Vitamin D (thinks it’s a hormone) that keeps me happy in the winter and free of colds and flu and my bones strong by regulating calcium in my blood. Also in the production of cortisol (there when I need it) and DHEA, very important for my bone density now I am in my 60s; as well as helping keeping me young looking and remembering what happened yesterday!

I am also hoping that my cholesterol, which is very important for my eyesight, will prevent me from developing cataracts in my 70s and 80s. Cholesterol will help prevent me from developing dementia and keeping me active until a ripe old age

Cholesterol is not some demon substance that has invaded our bodies and is rampaging out of control through our blood stream, but essential to our fundamental health and wellbeing. There are a number of people who are genetically prone to cholesterol health issues and of course then medication may be the right decision, but it should never be something that is given to all over a certain age. Something that is often suggested for Statins which have known side-effects.

Those who follow a healthy and balanced diet without many industrially produced foods rarely have a cholesterol imbalance.

How can cholesterol cause a problem in the body?

I admit that I do use the term lousy cholesterol for low density lipoprotein– because this is the one form of cholesterol in our body that can get contaminated and cause health problems. Although when talking about cholesterol we refer to high density lipoprotein (healthy cholesterol) and very low density lipoproteins (not usually in substantial amounts) as well, they are all the same molecularly but have different packaging to be transported in the blood stream.

HDL and LDL sub-divide into different types of lipoproteins and at the moment more is still to be discovered about this. It is the LDL that is associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries leading to blockages.

LDL cholesterol does have a role in the body but has much smaller particles than HDL cholesterol and becomes unstable when it is oxidised – this is where the particles react with free radicals, produced through a number of activities including smoking and eating a diet high in white fat as found in industrially manufactured foods, crisps, pastries and cookies that contain high levels of refined sugars.

If the walls of the arteries are damaged in any way, the smaller and denser particles of the oxidised LDL can push their way through that break in the tissue and start clumping together to form the plaque; whilst the larger HDL particles would not gain purchase. This leads to coronary artery disease.

gnet-org

I think it is important to remember that our bodies have been evolving for a very long time – in a hundred thousand years our DNA will only have altered about ten times which means that we are physically very similar to our first ancestors. I have said before that the body does not react to sudden changes very well!

However, in the last 300 years and particularly the last 150 years since the industrial revolution we have thrown some curved balls at our bodies. Industrially produced foods with manufactured artificial ingredients is just one area where our nutritional needs are not being met – one of the others, which is the real demon in our diet, is refined sugars – addictive -available from birth to grave, within hand’s reach in shops, in our own fridges and store cupboards.

Add these to the laboratory constructed (ugly) fats to extend the sell by date on ready meals and other processed foods in our daily diet and it is no wonder our bodies are in melt down with increased health issues that lead to Heart disease, cancers and dementia.

Coming up tomorrow.

We must not cut fats out of our diet – they have an essential role to play in our health and without fats and cholesterol our bodies will be open to infections, poor function in areas such as the brain, heart, reproductive system and our eyesight.

Tomorrow I will post about the various forms of fats that are currently in our diet and which to enjoy and those to avoid.

It is however, important to make sure to include specific nutrients in your diet, including foods rich in Vitamin B3 which has a vital role in balancing the cholesterol in our diet. You can find out more here.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/vitamin-of-the-week-vitamin-b3-niacin-cholesterol-heart-and-nervous-system/

I hope you have found this of interest and of course as always welcome your feedback and if you can please share.. thanks Sally

©JustFoodFor Health 2009.

 

 

 

 

The Medicine Woman’s Treasure Chest – Cranberries more than just sauce for the Turkey


Did you really think you would get away without any health posts this week….sorry!!!

Of course we are not allowed to say that any food or plant can cure anything but we can say that they may have therapeutic properties.  Since this is Christmas week it is likely that many of you will be reaching for either fresh cranberries to make a sauce to go with the turkey or will be buying a jar.  If possible do go the natural route and make your own.

cranberries_background_200742

Cranberries have a documented medicinal history and were used by the Native American Indians as a nutritious addition to their diet normally sweetened with honey as of course the berries are very tart. The Indians also used the berries in poultices for wounds as they recognised the antibacterial and antibiotic effect of the fruit even if they could not scientifically prove these properties. Colonists, who had been introduced to the berry, exported it home to England at the beginning of the 18th century.

Modern research into the therapeutic properties of the cranberry is not one sided and sometimes I think that there is a commercial element to some of the findings and disputed findings.  However, I have used cranberries for over 20 years and certainly have found that there is certainly some truth to its health properties.

Most of us, before the 80’s, restricted cranberries in our diet to Christmas and the odd time we had turkey at other times in the year. Then came the very welcome news that for those of us, who suffered from attacks of bacterial cystitis, drinking the juice of these tart little red berries could bring relief. In fact drinking cranberry (although disputed in some scientific areas) can help prevent attacks of this painful condition. Cranberries contain a unique component in which is technically termed High molecular weight non-dialysable material or NDM for short. NDM prevents bacteria from clumping and damaging soft tissue in various parts of the body including the urinary tract.  It is interesting that most over the counter cystitis treatments contain cranberry combined with alkaline elements to reduce the build-up of acid.

Emerging evidence shows that this fruit is a lot more versatile than we thought and there are now several very good reasons to include cranberries on a daily basis in your diet.
Cranberry the antioxidant

A free radical is a molecule. A normal molecule has an even number of electrons and is considered stable. Free radicals on the other hand have an uneven number of electrons and are unstable. They are desperate to be like the normal molecules so they have to steal from them to get another electron. This of course means that they have created another free radical. More and more cells become damaged and leave the body open to many diseases – from cardiovascular to cancer.

The free-radicals cause cells to oxidise and die. The major damage is done to our DNA, which results in mutations and death of the cells. Our body does produce anti-oxidants and enzymes that can repair this damage if we eat healthily. However, as we get older so do our cells and it becomes harder to repair them and they die. This is ageing! In our brains when cells are damaged beyond repair you are susceptible to loss of co-ordination and memory and in extreme cases dementia.

To prevent this we need a diet that is very high in anti-oxidants, which work through the body immobilising free radicals and preventing damage. Cranberries contain one of the highest levels of anti-oxidants of most fruit and vegetables and that is why drinking at least one glass per day can provide you with enough of these defensive players to protect your brain.

Artery health

In the same way, flavonoids in Cranberries function as very potent antioxidants and may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is when the arteries become clogged and narrowed restricting blood flow to the heart. The most common cause is a build-up of LDL (Low-Density lipoproteins or lousy cholesterol) oxidising and causing plaque to cling to the walls of the arteries narrowing and hardening them. This can lead to angina, blood clots and heart attacks.
Cranberries contain the flavonoids and also polyphenol compounds that have been shown to help prevent the LDL from oxidising and therefore forming the dangerous plaque that leads to arterial disease.

Dental health – another good reason to drink cranberry juice.

When I left secretarial college, intent on a career on the stage, I took a job as a dental receptionist, which evolved, into my training as a dental nurse.

Canned drinks were becoming all the rage in the 60’s and I saw first-hand the corrosive damage that these sugary concoctions could inflict on tooth enamel. There was not the kind of education, products or electric toothbrushes in those days, but if there had been more of one type of drink around in those days we would have seen a lot less decay.
One would think that drinking cranberry juice with its natural sugars would have a harmful effect on the teeth but in fact the reverse is true. Cranberries actually help prevent dental problems.

A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association reported that there is a unique component in cranberry juice, which is technically termed High molecular weight non-dialysable material or NDM for short. Hundreds of different types of bacteria in the mouth clump together and attach themselves to the teeth and gums and over time hardens causing cavities and gum disease. This film on the teeth becomes resistant to saliva, which would normally remove bacteria from the mouth and also our normal oral hygiene routines such as brushing. One of the most resistant bacteria in the mouth is Streptococcus and in tests indications showed that Cranberry mouthwash reduced the presence of this in the mouth significantly.

NDM in cranberries has the power to prevent this bacteria build-up in the first place having a long-term effect on your dental health.

Other fruits were tested including Blueberries which are part of the same family as cranberries but the NDM was in much weaker concentrations in these and all other fruits tested.

My advice however is to steer clear of commercially produced juices which are low on cranberries and high on sugars.. I actually use concentrated cranberry which is quite expensive but I only use a teaspoon in a glass of water – it does not taste great but you soon get used to the taste.

Cranberry juice and peptic ulcers

Helicobacter Pylori (H.Pylori) bacteria can have a painful and devastating impact on the health of your stomach and also its ability to process the food that you eat.

A peptic ulcer is a sore on the lining of the stomach or duodenum, which is the beginning of the small intestine. They are quite common and one of the main causes is bacterial infection and the chief culprit is H.Pylori. It is not certain how people contract H.Pylori but it is believed that 20% of people under 40 and half of the population over 60 are infected with it.

H.Pylori weakens the protective mucous coating of the stomach and duodenum, which allows acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Both the acid and the bacteria irritate the lining causing a sore or ulcer. H.Pylori is able to survive in stomach acid because it secretes enzymes that neutralise the acid. Once in the safety of the mucous lining the bacteria’s spiral shape allows it to burrow into the lining.

H.Pylori has also been associated with stomach cancer, acid reflux and gastritis. Finding a natural way to prevent H.Pylori from completing its mission is therefore a very prime research topic.

As in dental health and in the urinary tract, the NDM prevents the H.Pylori from attaching itself to the lining of the stomach therefore preventing an ulcer developing.

Other benefits of cranberries

Emerging research is indicating that the benefits of cranberries are even more far reaching with research into its anti-viral properties in the treatment of infections such as herpes and the prevention of kidney infections and kidney stones. What is extremely interesting is the cranberries ability to inhibit the growth of common food related pathogens including Listeria and E.Coli 0157:H7. This antibiotic effect of cranberries was recognised centuries ago by the American Indians and it is a pity that we are only just catching up with these enlightened people.

How to eat cranberries
By far the best way to get your daily fix of cranberries is fresh, made into a salsa or mixed with other fruit and juiced.

The recommended ration of cranberry unsweetened juice is two 10 oz. glasses per day. One in the morning and one in the evening it takes two hours for the antibacterial properties to be effective and they then last approximately twelve hours.  You can make your own from unsweetened concentrate and 8 oz of water or per the instructions.

Here is a recipe for homemade cranberry sauce to make your turkey zing..

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/13459/cranberry-sauce-i/

©sallycronin Just Food For Health 2007

Image Cranberries – all-free-download.com

Thanks for dropping by.. Sally

The Cholesterol Myth – Part One – Why your body needs cholesterol.


I often get emails from readers of my books about the basic key indicators that are essential to keep us alive and healthy – These are LDL Cholesterol levels – Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Levels… So over the next few weeks I will be covering these three in more detail.

I respect and manage my cholesterol levels because without it there are certain vital functions in my body that would not happen. I am rather attached to my steroidal hormones including the sterol Vitamin D (thinks it’s a hormone) that keeps me happy in the winter and free of colds and flu and my bones strong by regulating calcium in my blood and others such as cortisol, there when I need it and DHEA, very important for my bone density now I am in my 60’s as well as helping keeping me young and remembering what happened yesterday.

I was grateful for my progesterone in my younger days that kept my periods more or less regular and for the oestrogens that developed me into the woman I was and remain today. I am also hoping that my cholesterol, which is very important for my eyesight will prevent me from developing cataracts in my 70’s and 80’s. Developing Dementia and keeping me active until a ripe old age.

elderly client

Sound flippant? A little yes, but not so flippant as the suggestion that everyone over the age of 50, whatever their current cholesterol readings should be given Statins or other cholesterol lowering drugs. My feeling is that the NHS has given up trying to educate its clients into adopting a healthier diet and exercising more and is going with the mass medication option because they say it will prevent cardiovascular disease and dementia down the line. Quite frankly, they are terrified – they have an aging population- who are going to be more likely to develop heart disease, cancer, and dementia simply because the natural process is deterioration. However, without the protection of healthy forms of cholesterol many functions in the body are compromised including brain health and our sex drive.

What is ‘flippantly’ ignored is that cholesterol is not some demon substance that has invaded our bodies and is rampaging out of control through our blood stream, but essential to our fundamental health and wellbeing. There are a number of people who are genetically prone to cholesterol health issues and of course then medication may be the right decision but it should never be something that is given to all.

There are some lifestyle and dietary changes that we can all make to make sure that the cholesterol in our bodies is getting on with its job and not causing us health problems but before I move onto the solutions, I would like to spend a little exploring the reasons for the interactions that are taking place and resulting in clogged arteries.

gnet.org

I admit that I do use the term lousy cholesterol for low density lipoprotein – because this is the one that can get contaminated and cause health problems. Although when talking about cholesterol we refer to high density lipoprotein and very low density lipoproteins (not usually in substantial amounts) as well, they are all the same molecularly but have different packaging to be transported in the blood stream.

HDL and LDL sub divide into different types of lipoproteins and at the moment more is still to be discovered about this. The LDL is associated with the plaque that forms in the arteries leading to blockages – the smaller the size of the LDL particles the more you are likely to develop coronary disease than if the particles are larger and less dense. There is a theory that if the walls of the arteries are damaged in any way, the smaller and denser particles of the LDL can push their way through that break in the tissue and start clumping together to form the plaque whilst the larger HDL particles would not gain purchase.

In essence then, whilst the LDL cholesterol does have a role in the body there are strong indications that if there is already weakness in the artery it will attract the smaller particles that will then clump forming the harmful plaque leading to coronary disease. There is another problem with LDL cholesterol which is oxidation – this is where the particles react with free radicals, produced through a number of activities including smoking and eating a diet high in white fat as found in processed foods, crisps, pastries and cookies.

In my next post I am going to focus on what happens when that oxidation of LDL takes place and why the HDL is accepted as the healthier cholesterol. For the rest of the series I will look at some strategies to get the LDL levels down, raise the HDL and make sure that all of us do not end up on Statins without a libido!

Photo by Gnet.org

©SallyCronin – Forget the Viagra Pass me a Carrot 2013