Monday, June 28, 2010

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Alter Gene Expression and Disease


We can no longer blame DNA as the primary cause of disease. That is the extraordinary implication of emerging research. It is not DNA itself that determines how or what genes will be expressed. The real story is what we expose to our DNA, through diet and lifestyle. In a nutshell, what we eat and what we are exposed to in our environment directly affects our DNA and its expression.

The growing field of epigenetics studies how diet, lifestyle, environment,and even thoughts determine our health, rather than DNA alone. Nutrigenomics studies how food and nutrients in particular modulate(turn on and off) gene function. Together, they are among the most interesting areas of research into how EPA and DHA—the omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil—work in the body.

The discovery that epigenetic factors (literally: “beyond the control of the gene”) are the primary factors in determining how or what genes will be expressed. This discovery may open a new dietary approach to a wide variety of common diseases, as it indicates that nutrition is even more important than once thought. We cannot change our genes, but we may be able to change their actions through nutrition in general and through fish oil in particular.

Indeed, a number of recent studies suggest that supplementing with omega-3-rich fish oil beneficially affects gene expression and health outcomes. A 2009 study showed that an increased genetic risk of prostate cancer was essentially reversed by increasing omega-3 intake by 500 mg per day.1 A 2010 study suggests that genetic predisposition to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome is more evident with individuals with low omega-3(EPA and DHA).2 Similarly, other recent studies have shown that EPA and DHA are genetically associated with cardiovascular health outcomes and that supplementing with fish oil altered the gene expression profiles in cells to a more anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic (clogged arteries)status.3-4

Knowing that omega-3s are capable of turning DNA on and off not only adds new evidence to the crucial importance of EPA and DHA, but also opens new perspectives on therapeutic approaches to a wide variety of modern diseases, by demonstrating how nutrients can affect genes. Many scientists believe that nutrigenomics has tremendous potential for improving public health. By tying together the fields of nutrition and genetics and exploring how they interact, nutrigenomics offers the exciting promise of preventing or even treating diseases through diet or supplementation.


1. Fradet V, Cheng I, Casey G, et al. Clin Cancer Res 2009 Apr1;15(7):2559-66
2. C Phillips, L Goumidi, S Bertrais, et al. J Nutr 2010;140(2):238-244
3. H Allayee, N Roth, H Hodis. J Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics 2009;2:140-148
4. M Bouwens, O. van de Rest, N Dellschaft, et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90:415–424

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Acid-Alkaline Diet...for Optimum Health! Book Review

Book by Christopher Vasey, ND
Reviewed by Dr. Jen Morganti, ND

Balance is the key to great health. One of the many impressive balancing acts that occur in the body on a continuous basis is the creation of acid by metabolic processes, countered by the neutralization of acid by alkaline substances. This determines the pH of the body, which can be measured in the blood, urine, sweat, and saliva. When acid dominates the environment on a consistent basis, health problems ensue. In his new book The Acid-Alkaline Diet for Optimal Health, Christopher Vasey, ND discusses ways in which you can achieve an ideal acid-alkaline balance in your body.

How do I know if I have an acid problem?

Are you excessively fatigued, have you lost enthusiasm and drive, or are you worried, depressed, or anxious? Are you sensitive to cold, have low blood pressure, and maybe low blood sugar? Do you have a suppressed immune system and suffer from multiple infections? These are all vague and general symptoms that could be pointing to an acidic pH, usually caused by a diet high in acid-generating foods and a stressful lifestyle.

pH can be measured in bodily fluids, but not all of them accurately reflect the body and tissues’ overall pH. Blood pH does not reflect tissue acidity because the blood quickly transfers out acids in order to maintain a very narrow acceptable pH range. If the blood pH were to stray outside the narrow requirements, illness or even death could ensue. Because it is so tightly regulated, blood pH is not a good way to determine overall body tissue pH. Urine and sweat are good indicators of overall acidity, and pH can easily be measured with pH test strips. The kidneys and skin are both mechanisms in which the body eliminates acids, so a low pH (or high acidity) in their fluids indicates high levels of acid in the body. Dr. Vasey provides detailed instructions on how to measure pH of the urine, which he believes to be the most accurate method.

How does acidity cause health problems?

Urine, blood, and sweat will transfer acids out as they are produced, but these mechanisms can become overloaded fairly easily. When acid levels exceed the elimination capacity, the overage gets stored in tissues, and then they interfere with enzymatic reactions, inflammation, and demineralization. For example, enzymes, which elicit a multitude of critical biochemical reactions in the body, are very sensitive to their environment. They function only in a very narrow pH range, so an acidic environment will disrupt their activity and cause health problems, from minor to very serious. Extra acid in the tissues can also be corrosive and irritating, causing inflammation, manifesting as a skin rash, painful urination, arthritis, or intestinal inflammation. Demineralization is another consequence of a chronically acidic state. Bones and teeth, which store large amounts of calcium, will sacrifice this alkalizing mineral to improve the pH of blood and tissues, resulting in osteoporosis and loss of teeth.

Consuming an alkaline-focused diet is important for dealing with current acid production, but it is not efficient enough to neutralize built-up acids stored in the tissues. Suggestions for meal choices can be found in the book. To truly alkalize deep in the tissues, supplements must be added to the regimen. Supplementation will help alkalize and resolve symptoms, but to thoroughly neutralize the acid in deep tissues, be prepared to stay on the program for the long term.

Minerals are the foundation of the alkalizing therapy. Calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and manganese are the main minerals to look for in a supplement. Sodium is in some products, but it is not appropriate for those who are salt-sensitive and hypertensive. Silica may be present, although it is acidic, it is usually found in small quantities, and is beneficial for those with weak nails, bones, teeth, and joint pains. Dr. Vasey resides in Switzerland, so the products he recommends in his book are not readily available in the US. However, the ingredients he recommends can be found in several great domestic products.

Alkaline minerals may come in the form of citrate, carbonate, tartrate, sulfate, gluconate, and lactate. TriSalts, by Bio-Tech Pharmacal, Inc., contains a combination of calcium, magnesium, and potassium in the carbonate and bicarbonate forms, and is popular for alkalizing and quelching allergic reactions. Whey products are also alkalizing because they are rich in minerals and can be cleansing. (Whey is not appropriate for those who are lactose intolerant). Capra Mineral Whey, derived from goat’s milk, is highly concentrated, alkaline, and contains minerals and electrolytes such as potassium, phosphorus, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. Leafy green vegetables are very alkalizing—and an easy way to supplement the diet is with powdered green drinks. New Zealand Green Organic Barley Grass from Living Foods USA is an extremely fresh and tasty source of sprouted barley grass with alkalizing properties.

There are no specific dosage recommendations for alkalizing supplements. Dr. Vasey simply recommends taking alkalizing supplements several times a day, in moderate doses, to increase the urinary pH to about 7-7.5. It is common to make the mistake of taking enough of the supplements for a long enough period to achieve full cleansing of the stored acid waste. It can take several months or up to a few years of supplementation to achieve a balanced pH. To determine if therapy is successful, one should have a pH of over 7, without taking supplements. Even when the supplementation period is over, one must continue to follow an alkaline diet for optimal health.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Undiagnosed Hypothyroidism: Could This Be You?

By Holly Lucille, ND, RN for NEEDS Natural News

Hypothyroidism, the most common type of thyroid disorder, occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, as many as 27 million Americans may have some type of thyroid disorder. Of that number, approximately half remain undiagnosed. Managing hypothyroidism requires a comprehensive understanding of its effects, its fluctuations, and the targeted nutritional strategies that can restore optimal thyroid function.

Thyroid 101:

The thyroid is located in the middle of the neck, just below the “Adams apple” or larynx. This gland utilizes iodine to make thyroid hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid is under the control of the pituitary gland, a small gland found at the base of the brain. If the levels of thyroid hormones drop too low, the pituitary gland produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH stimulates the thyroid to make more T3 and T4—raising their levels in the blood. When the pituitary gland detects increased levels of T3 and T4 in the blood stream, it then decreases its TSH production. The pituitary gland gets its information in several ways. It is able to detect and respond directly to the amounts of T4 circulating in the blood, but it also responds to the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that releases its own hormone, thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). This network of communication between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the thyroid gland is often referred to as the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis (HPT axis).

Once released into the blood stream, T3 and T4 are transported throughout the body to regulate numerous physiologic functions, including metabolism. In the case of hypothyroidism, the thyroid does not produce enough T3 and T4. Often, hypothyroidism is not diagnosed because the signs and symptoms are easily confused with other conditions, such as the natural aging process, menopause, or stress. Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include: fatigue, weakness, weight gain, coarse/dry hair, hair loss, dry/rough skin, memory loss, abnormal menstrual cycles, pallor, cold intolerance, muscle aches/cramps, constipation, depression, irritability, and decreased libido. Often, individuals will have “normal” lab results, but may still be symptomatic. This is referred to as subclinical or sublaboratory hypothyroidism. Regardless of the severity of hypothyroidism, if left untreated, it can affect the cardiovascular system, reproductive system and other major organs.

Modern Day Influences:

Ultimately, hypothyroidism is due to an imbalance in the HPT axis. In most cases, the imbalance has multiple causes, including stress, excess hormones, and many other factors. The body is hardwired to respond a certain way to dangerous situations. This “fight or flight” response prepares the body to either run away from the danger (e.g., bear) or confront the danger (e.g., fight the bear). During these fight or flight” responses, a hormone called cortisol is secreted in higher levels and is responsible for several stressrelated changes (increase in blood pressure, lower sensitivity to pain, etc.). After the perceived threat is gone, the body’s relaxation response is activated and cortisol levels return to normal. However, in modern times, the “fight or flight” response may be constantly activated and cortisol levels remain high.

Our modern day lifestyle and the chronic stress it produces can profoundly effect thyroid function. Studies have demonstrated that stress, no matter how induced, is capable of altering thyroid hormone levels. In addition, combining several different stressful factors (sleep deprivation, calorie restriction, and intense physical activity) has been shown to have a synergistic effect on thyroid hormone levels. Exogenous hormones, such as HRT and xenoestrogens, have also been shown to interfere with thyroid function. A 2007 study suggests that the thiocyanate in tobacco smoke interacts with other substances to affect thyroid function—yet another reason to kick the smoking habit. Other factors that have been shown to affect thyroid function include insulin resistance, nutritional deficiencies, poor digestion, dysbiosis, goitrogens, genetics, and aging.

Supporting Thyroid Function: Safe, Natural Alternatives

When looking at optimizing thyroid function, we need to first look closely at such basic factors as diet, sleep, and stress reduction. Achieving the recommended 7-9 hours of deep sleep each night is crucial for overall health in general. Because stress plays such an integral role in thyroid health, individuals should look at incorporating stress-reducing practices into their daily routine, whether it’s taking a yoga class or just spending five minutes doing some deep breathing exercises. Another key to managing thyroid hormone production is to ensure the thyroid glands are well-nourished. However, the reality is that most individuals don’t get the recommended daily allowances of nutrients from their diets. Supplements can play in integral role, in conjunction with a healthy diet, in achieving optimal nutritional intake.

Quality Supplements for Supporting Thyroid Function Should Contain the Following Nutrients:

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins, including B6, C, and pantothenic acid are important to supporting thyroid function. vitamin B6 is considered the key vitamin in processing amino acids, such as L-tyrosine, which are the building blocks of all proteins and some hormones. Pantothenic acid is also necessary in the synthesis of hormones. A water-soluble nutrient, pantothenic acid must be replenished each day. Since it is not stored in the body, it is essential to have vitamin C each day. Vitamin C has been shown to help boost the immune system, which may need extra support during periods of chronic stress. Minerals, including iodine, zinc, and copper, are essential to thyroid health. The thyroid just absorb at least 60 mcg of iodine daily to ensure proper hormone production. Iodine combines with tyrosine, an amino acid to produce thyroid hormones. Adequate levels of zinc and copper are required for many endocrinological processes, including support of thyroid function and thyroid hormone metabolism.

Other Beneficial Nutrients

Betaine works with B vitamins to synthesize amino acids and is a precursor to SAM-e (S-adenosyl-L-Methionine). Licorice reduces the stress response and helps to inhibit the breakdown of cortisol. The amino acid L-Tyrosine combines with iodine for the production of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).


Glandular extracts provide nutritional support for metabolism and immune system responses. Thyroid extract provides nutritional support of thyroid function, while adrenal polypeptide fractions and adrenal cortex extract help support adrenal gland function.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Licensure at Stake in New York! Please contact legislators to let them know you don't want the bill to be held up!

Two Things You Can Do To Help:

1. We need you, and everyone you know in NY, to CALL Committee Members TODAY and tell them to "Vote Against The Hold, Vote For The Bill, A1370." See list of phone numbers below. Call as many as you can.

2. Click the link below RIGHT NOW and enter your New York address at the bottom of the letter to automatically send an email to your assembly members. Repeat for second address in NY.

New York Assembly Higher Education Committee Members
Non-Sponsors: They really need to hear from you!

· Inez D. Barron 518-455-5912
· Michael J. Fitzpatrick 518-455-5021
· Ellen Jaffee 518-455-5118
· Charles D. Lavine 518-455-5456
· William Magee 518-455-4807
· Joel M. Miller 518-455-5725
· Joseph D. Morelle 518-455-5373
· Audrey I. Pheffer 518-455-4292
· Mike Spano 518-455-3662
· Lou Tobacco 518-455-4495

Sponsors: Let them know how much you appreciate their vote against the "hold" and for the bill.

· Tom Alfano 518-455-4627 Sponsor
· Marc W. Butler 518-455-5393 Multisponsor
· Kevin A. Cahill 518-455-4436 Sponsor
· Michael Cusick 518-455-5526 Multisponsor
· Steve Englebright 518-455-4804 Sponsor
· Barbara Lifton 518-455-5444 Multisponsor
· Donna A. Lupardo 518-455-5431 Multisponsor
· Amy Paulin 518-455-5585 Multisponsor
· Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes 518-455-5005 Multisponsor
· Jack Quinn 518-455-4462 Multisponsor
· Al Stirpe 518-455-4505 Multisponsor
· James D. Conte 518-455-5732 Sponsor
· Nelson L. Castro 518-455-5511 Sponsor
· Richard N. Gottfried 518-455-4941

Thank you for your support! This will ultimately make Naturopathic medicine more affordable for everyone!