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Health Benefits of Peppermint
Thursday, December 12, 2013

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Monday, September 30, 2013
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Lessons from Jon Barron
Jon's Overall Thoughts On Dairy 

In this week's excerpt from Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, Jon Barron concludes his thoughts on dairy.

  "The Bottom Line on Dairy:
Milk is great food—if your goal is to grow up and become a 1,200-pound cow. Clearly, commercial milk is not a health food. Is drinking milk a better option than getting your calories from donuts and soda? Of course, but that doesn't make it a healthy food. If you must drink milk, drink raw, unpasteurized, organic milk, if possible. Absolutely avoid milk that has added growth hormones and antibiotics, and, if possible, avoid homogenized milk. An even better choice, though, is goat's milk, if you can tolerate the taste. It is much closer to human milk in composition. You also have the option of a number of grain-, nut-, and rice-based milk alternatives—in moderation because they tend to be high glycemic. I do not recommend soy milk.

Protein Alternatives
Fermented soy is a 'reasonable' part of the diet when used in 'reasonable' amounts. Soy becomes a problem food when used as the main protein or as a large-scale dairy replacement in the diet. Too much of a good thing is bad. And too much of any single dietary component is bad: no matter how healthy a food is, if you overindulge in it, disease will result, not health. In large amounts, the high levels of phytoestrogens in soy become problematic. Also, soybeans have the highest levels of phytic acid of any grain or legume. Phytic acid is a substance that can block the uptake of essential minerals (calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and especially zinc) in the intestinal tract. Phytic acid is neutralized in fermented soy, such as tempeh and miso, but not in soy milk or tofu. Soy also contains goitrogens, which are substances that depress thyroid function. These are not a problem in small amounts, but a significant problem when consumed in larger amounts.

Soy is especially not appropriate for children, particularly as a major component of their diets. I'm not a big fan of soy milk for children of any age, but especially for infants. The phytoestrogens are really more than their bodies were designed to handle. Fermented soy products, however, can provide lifelong breast cancer protection when served in moderation to girls between the ages of five and nine.

While I don't endorse soy or whey as protein mainstays, eggs (organic from free-range chickens) are a great source of useable protein, but they top the charts when it comes to food allergies. Eggs are one of the most common food allergens in infants, young children, and adults. The most allergenic proteins in egg whites are ovalbumin, ovomucoid, ovotransferrin, and lysozyme. As for egg yolks, they contain three highly allergenic proteins: apovitellenins I and VI and phosvitin. What's left as a protein alternative? Actually, quite a lot in addition to any small amounts of beef, chicken, or fish you might consume. Sprouts and sprouted (or soaked) seeds and nuts are certainly options, but the big five I recommend when it comes to protein supplements are:

- Rice protein
- Yellow pea protein
- Hemp protein
- Spirulina
- Chlorella

They are all highly bioavailable proteins, easily beating meat and coming in just behind eggs and whey. But they offer one huge advantage: they are hypoallergenic."
 
 

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Lessons from Jon Barron
Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  

In this week's excerpt from Lessons from the Miracle Doctors, Jon Barron explains the story behind omega-3 fatty acids.

  "Right now, omega-3 fatty acids are 'hot.' Over the next couple of years they are set to become the number one additive in functional foods. [And didn't that turn out to be true? Ed.] And obviously, based on what we've already talked about, that's a good thing, right? Sort of...well, almost...but not necessarily!

Omega-3 fatty acid comes in six forms, but three are of primary interest to us:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the complex form of omega-3 that's found in most plants, such as flax. It's not actually useful to the body until it's broken down into its two constituents, EPA and DHA.
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) provides profound anti-inflammatory activity, enhances the immune system, and provides numerous cardiovascular benefits, including thinning the blood and lowering blood pressure.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a major fatty acid in sperm and brain phospholipids, and especially in the retina. Dietary DHA can reduce the level of blood triglycerides in humans, which may reduce the risk of heart disease. It also appears to play a major role in preventing and relieving Alzheimer's disease and depression.

The primary sources of ALA supplementation are vegetarian, most notably flaxseed. The primary sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fish such as salmon and krill (cold water, shrimp-like invertebrates). Most of the alphalinolenic acid we consume must be converted into DHA and EPA. Unfortunately, this process, which is governed by a particular enzyme (delta-6 desaturase), is significantly inhibited (up to 50 percent or more) by an overabundance of linoleic acid, which comes from excessive omega-6 fatty acid consumption. The enzyme is 'used up' in the desaturation process involved in getting rid of excess omega-6 fats and no longer available for converting ALA. The delta-6 enzyme is also inhibited by the trans-fatty acids and by high levels of insulin, a problem today when obesity and diabetes are soaring. And the process of delta-6 desaturation slows with aging.

Each of these factors can lead to an accumulation of ALA, which is counterproductive, but alleviating that build-up is relatively easy:

  • Stop using all plastic fats—all hydrogenated vegetable oils and all super refined vegetable oils. The high temperatures that these oils are exposed to dramatically changes their structure. Highly refined and cold-pressed oils are not the same, and they behave very differently in the body.
  • Stop cooking with oils high in omega-6 fats, such as safflower, sunflower, and corn oils, and instead shift to walnut, olive, coconut, and avocado oils, as well as organic butter (in moderation). And if you need to use oil for high-temperature frying or sautéing, use small amounts of avocado oil or rice bran oil.
  • Shift your diet away from high-glycemic, refined carbohydrates and move to a more Mediterranean style diet to help lower insulin levels.
  • Finally, an effective method of counteracting slowed desaturation of linoleic acid is to provide the delta-6 desaturated metabolite, gammalinolenic acid (GLA), directly through supplements. Desaturation of linoleic and especially alpha-linolenic acid increases dramatically in the elderly with GLA supplementation. One other advantage to GLA supplementation is that much of the GLA is converted to DGLA, which competes with and prevents the negative inflammatory effects that arachidonic acid otherwise causes in the body. Key sources of GLA are evening primrose oil, black current oil, and borage oil.

An obvious question comes up when talking about ALA: Why bother if you can just take fish oil or krill oil supplements and not have to worry about conversion? The answer is that each source has its own benefits. Fish oil is good because it is already broken down into the useable EPA and DHA. Krill oil contains phospholipids specially integrated with omega-3 essential fatty acids. This unique structure provides important cell membrane building blocks in the right ratios for use by the body. And as for flaxseed oil, although it needs to be broken down, it also happens to be outrageously high in lignans, phytochemicals shown to have significant anti-cancer properties. Flax picked up a bad rap several years ago based on a bogus study that said it may promote prostate cancer. But no one in the study was supplementing with flax oil—the subjects' high ALA readings came as a result of other oils and fats they were eating, particularly from meat. In other words, the increased incidence of cancer associated with ALA was far more likely the result of a wildly skewed omega-6/omega-3 ratio. So, the "warnings" concerning flax damn a valuable component of a healthy lifestyle based on faulty information and let the true killers--highly refined, high omega-6 oils--go free."

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We hope you enjoyed this week's excerpt from Lessons from the Miracle Doctors. If you enjoyed this excerpt and would like to download an ebook or audiobook copy of the book, click here.

Lessons from the Miracle Doctors Book

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