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F E B R U A RY 2016

for LIFE

cacao for tasteful health

page

Reduce blood pressure

24

Boost the libido Help for headaches

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February 2016 vol. 12 no. 2

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11

departments

24

cover story

cacao & heart health

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From the Editor’s Desk

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Health Pulse D for stress • Chamomile reduces anxiety • Healthy fats ease metabolic syndrome • More

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Vessel Pressure Natural ways to control hypertension.

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Real-World Homeopathy Natural headache relief.

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Herbal Healing Supplements to enhance libido.

20 22

The Goods Healthy Glow Exfoliation.

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In Focus Cacao and cardiovascular health.

28

Supplement Spotlight The many benefits of omega 3s.

A source for news, information, and ideas for your healthy lifestyle. facebook.com/RemediesMagazine @RemediesMag

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Postscript Mark Mincolla, PhD, shares tips for supplementing a slow metabolism to aid weight loss.

Cover: Cacao beans 4

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from the editor ’s desk

remedies for LIFE

From the heart

Nothing makes the heart go pitty-pat like a little romance in the middle of a cold winter . . . or a chunk of premium dark chocolate—am I right? Well, we all have our own tastes, but what’s true for all of us is that we don’t want the “pitty-pat” to turn into a downright pounding. High blood pressure is awfully common and, if untreated, one of the lead indicators that health will take a turn for the worse—or worst. We take advantage of this month’s attention to the heart by outlining ways to lower blood pressure and keep it low, starting on page 11. If “sorry, I have a headache” isn’t code for something else, turn to page 15 for a list of homeopathic remedies that address everything from the dull throb to the stabbing pain of this common malady. If it IS code, well, we have some help there too: Karen Lovett discusses time-tested supplements and some newer discoveries to help restore a flagging libido on page 18. Want a healthy glow for that special date, or just feel like ridding yourself of the rough skin we tend to get in winter? Turn to page 22 to learn the difference between mechanical and chemical exfoliation (don’t worry, it’s not THAT kind of chemical), and read up on ways to get smooth. Back to the premium dark chocolate . . . it’s one of several products of cacao, a seed that not only makes some of the best-tasting stuff in the world but also offers fantastic health benefits. For the best effects, a supplement with all the good flavonoids and less of the other stuff—like deliciously fattening cocoa butter—is probably the best bet, though the occasional dark-chocolate indulgence is definitely in order! (page 24) Cacao’s benefits aren’t just for the heart, and neither are the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which can sometimes sound too good to be true. Read up on why that is, starting on page 28. Our love and wishes for healthy hearts go out to all our remedies readers. To your health!

donna.moxley@remediesmagazine.com

Chief Content Officer and Strategist Lynn Tryba Managing Editor Donna Moxley Contributing Editors Lisa Fabian, Rich Wallace Editorial Assistant Kelli Ann Wilson Director, Creative & Interactive Justin Rent Art Director Michelle Knapp Custom Graphics Manager Donna Sweeney Business Development Director Amy Pierce Customer Service customerservice@tasteforlife.com Director of Retail & Customer Service Judy Gagne 800-677-8847 x128 Director of Advertiser & Customer Service Ashley Dunk 800-677-8847 x190 Western Brand Promotions Director Shannon Dunn-Delgado 415-382-1665 Group Brand Promotions Director Bob Mucci 978-255-2062 Executive Director of Retail Sales & Marketing Anna Johnston (Anna.Johnston@TasteforLife.com) National Sales Manager Diane Dale Retail Account Manager Kim Willard Founder and Chief Executive Officer T. James Connell EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, FASN, FACN, CNS, professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director, Antioxidants Research Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University; Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director, American Botanical Council, editor/publisher of HerbalGram, senior editor, The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs; C. Leigh Broadhurst, PhD, research geochemist, author, Natural Asthma Relief and Prevent, Treat, and Reverse Diabetes; Steven Foster, photographer, herbalist, and senior author of three Peterson Field Guides, author of 101 Medicinal Herbs, A Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine and more, associate editor of HerbalGram, the journal of the American Botanical Council; John Neustadt, ND, founder of Montana Integrated Medicine, coauthor, A Revolution in Health Through Nutritional Biochemistry; Lisa Petty, RHN, RNCP, holistic nutrition consultant, author of Living Beauty and host of the health talk radio show Lisa Live; Dana Ullman, MPH, author of The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy and other titles on homeopathy; Marc Ullman, partner at Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, chairman, Legal Advisory Counsel, Natural Products Foundation; Amber Lynn Vitale, CN, is certified in Integrative Nutrition, a fusion bodyworker, and an Ayurvedic practitioner, and writes on health issues. remedies is published monthly by Taste for Life, 222 West Street, Suite 49, Keene, NH 03431, 603-283-0034 (fax 603-283-0141); ©2016 Connell Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. This magazine is not intended to provide medical advice on personal health conditions, nor to replace recommendations made by health professionals. The opinions expressed by contributors and sources quoted in articles are not necessarily those of the editor or the publisher. Advertisers and advertising agencies assume liability for all content of advertising and for any claims arising therefrom. Information appearing in remedies may not be reproduced in whole or in part without express permission of the publisher.

Creative and Sales Offices: 222 West Street, Suite 49, Keene, NH 03431 603-283-0034 Printed in the US on partially recycled paper.

The inks used to print the body of this publication contain a minimum of 20%, by weight, renewable resources.

Products advertised or mentioned in this magazine may not be available in all locations. February 2016

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healthpulse quercetin may lower BP

Stress on vitamin D New research indicates that vitamin D may improve exercise performance and lower the risk of heart disease. Healthy adults had lower blood pressure and lower blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a two-week trial, compared to participants who received a placebo. Those in the vitamin D group also significantly increased the distance they could cycle in 20 minutes, and they did it with fewer signs of physical exertion. High levels of cortisol can raise blood pressure by restricting arteries, narrowing blood vessels, and causing the kidneys to retain water. By reducing cortisol, vitamin D may lower these risk factors for heart disease.

Quercetin, a polyphenol found in certain plants, may have a positive effect on blood pressure in people with hypertension. A recent study tested the effects of a quercetin powder made from onion skin extract. Participants were overweight and had been diagnosed with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. They received 162 milligrams of the supplement daily for six weeks. Systolic blood pressure (the top, or higher number) dropped by 3 to 6 points on average in those with hypertension. Those with prehypertension did not see significant changes. “Effects of a Quercetin-rich Onion Skin Extract on 24 h Ambulatory Blood Pressure . . .” by V. Brull et al., British Journal of Nutrition, 9/2/15

“Vitamin D Pill a Day May Improve Exercise Performance and Lower Risk of Heart Disease,” Society for Endocrinology, 11/1/15

consider chamomile for anxiety

Herbal treatments are very popular with people who suffer from anxiety. Chamomile, for example, has been shown to reduce anxiety, and it has fewer side effects than conventional medical treatments. It makes a delicious tea. If you take blood-thinning medication, chamomile may increase the medicine’s anticoagulant properties. Check with your healthcare practitioner to make sure chamomile is a safe choice for you. “Is There a Natural Remedy for Anxiety?” Harvard Women’s Health Watch, 1/16

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fish, olive oils lower cholesterol Fish oil and extra virgin olive oil proved to be beneficial for patients with metabolic syndrome in a recent study. Significant decreases in total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol were seen in participants who received both oils for 90 days. Other health markers improved as well. Patients were split into four groups: The first maintained their usual diet; the second received 3 grams a day of fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids; the third consumed 10 milliliters (about a third of an ounce) per day of extra virgin olive oil with meals; and the fourth group received both oils.

The authors concluded that “increased dietary omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and extra virgin olive oil have beneficial synergistic effects on lipid metabolism and oxidative stress” in people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that includes elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, and abnormal cholesterol levels. The syndrome carries an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. “Effects of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Fish Oil on Lipid Profile and Oxidative Stress in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome” by D. Venturini et al., Nutrition, 6/15

did you know? Fish oil supplements appear to reduce fractures in older adults, according to a recent study. Researchers examined the rate of fractures in more than 1,400 older adults and paired that data with the participants’ intake of fish oil. They found a decreased risk of fractures in those who took the supplement, with a stronger association for men than women. “Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Fish-Oil Consumption in Relation to Osteoporotic Fracture Risk in Older Adults . . .” by T.B. Harris et al., Am J Clin Nutr, 5/15

multi reduces stress A single dose of a multivitamin/mineral containing plant extracts reduced stress in a group of older women. The study found improvements in overall mood as well. Healthy women ages 50 to 75 received either the supplement or a placebo. They were asked to rate their mood and perform several computerized tests of cognition. Significant improvements in “perceived mental stress” were reported after supplementation. “Single Multivitamin-Mineral Dose May Boost Mood in Older People” by Stephen Daniells, www.NutraIngredients-USA.com, 5/12/15

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By Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH

vessel pressure natural ways to control hypertension

The blood pressure cuff numbers of one in three American adults measure above the healthy cutoff, meaning that all too many of us fall into the category of hypertensive. Hypertension generally is a “silent disease,� explains Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, author of The Magnesium Miracle, with no overt symptoms. Nevertheless, high blood pressure is dangerous since it is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The upper number in blood pressure is systolic pressure; it shows the pressure that the heart muscle creates to push blood into the arteries. Diastolic pressure, the second or lower number, represents the pressure that the arteries maintain when the heart is relaxed, between heartbeats, to keep the arteries open. Most doctors reach for the prescription pad when blood pressure inches up, but there are many natural remedies that make sense to try first. Here are four well-researched ways to control blood pressure:

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continued from page 11

1. Mineral helper Too little magnesium can be a culprit in rising blood pressure. Nutritional recommendations call for 350-400 milligrams (mg) of magnesium daily. Most people only get 200-250 mg in their diets. “People do have to supplement if they want to stay healthy,” contends Dr. Dean. Those with high blood pressure (especially if they are taking hypertensive medications) should supplement with 700-800 mg of elemental magnesium, she says. If you want to avoid the laxative effect that high dosages of magnesium can have, it’s a good idea to spread out your magnesium during the day. “You can even try putting magnesium powders or liquids in a glass of water and sipping on it throughout the day,” suggests Dr. Dean.

2. Fishy defender Omega 3s are multitaskers when it comes to good health—since they lower cholesterol, protect joint health, and keep vision sharp—and if you need even more reason to take this supplement, omega 3s also nudge blood pressure back toward the healthy range. When adults with hypertension supplement with omega 3s, their blood pressure goes down. This supplement is safe to use in those already taking blood pressure lowering medications. Experts recommend adults consume 500 mg per day of the omega 3s EPA and DHA. For those who have heart disease, double the dosage is recommended—that is, 1,000 mg daily of EPA/DHA.

3. A cup of good health Green tea can help protect your heart and blood vessels. It offers all sorts of cardiovascular protection, reducing total and LDL cholesterol and lowering blood pressure in people with high blood pressure, as well as those with borderline high blood pressure. Aim for 3+ cups of green tea or take 200-400 mg of green tea extract daily. Black and oolong teas contain the same active ingredients as green tea (although in smaller amounts); those teas provide similar health benefits.

4. “Beet” high blood pressure Many veggies are rich in nitrates, which naturally lower blood pressure. Beets, one of the richest nitrate sources, reduce blood pressure once the nitrates are converted into nitric oxide by the body, which in turn widens blood vessels. When people with high blood pressure supplement with nitrates from beets daily for a month, their blood pressure drops (an average lowering of 8 points systolic and 4 points diastolic). This, when combined with other changes, could be enough to avoid hypertension medications.

consider this Kyolic Formula 109 Blood Pressure Health from Wakunaga of America provides three proven ingredients: aged garlic extract, nattokinase, and suntheanine to support healthy blood pressure levels.

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Heart-Mate from Mushroom Wisdom is formulated to safely and effectively provide broad, holistic support for cardiovascular function and health, as well as cellular energy production.

February 2016

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by the numbers New guidelines for blood pressure change which numbers put you in the healthy, at-risk, or too-high categories. It’s a good idea to get your blood pressure checked at least every other year—or more often if yours is already high or borderline high.

Normal blood pressure

systolic: less than 120 mmHg diastolic: less than 80 mmHg

At risk (prehypertension)

systolic: 120–139 mmHg diastolic: 80–89 mmHg

High blood pressure

systolic: 140 mmHg or higher diastolic: 90 mmHg or higher

Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH, has been a health journalist for more than two decades; her latest book is Life After Baby: Rediscovering and Reclaiming Your Healthy Pizzazz (Basic Health Publications, 2012).

“Dietary Nitrate Provides Sustained Blood Pressure Lowering in Hypertensive Patients: A Randomized, Phase 2, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study” by V. Kapil et al., Hypertension, 2/15 ● “Effect of PUFA on Patients with Hypertension: A Hospital Based Study” by N. Shantakumari et al., Indian Heart J, 6/14 ● “Effect of Tea on Blood Pressure for Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials” by J. Yarmolinsky et al., Nutr Rev, 4/15 ● “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Epidemiology and Effects on Cardiometabolic Risk Factors” by T.A. Mori, Food Funct, 9/14 ● Personal Communication: Carolyn Dean, 12/15

Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

February 2016

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real-world homeopathy

heal that headache homeopathy gets to the root of the problem Had a particularly stressful day? Too much fun over the weekend? If so, you’re likely to experience the unfortunate consequence—an aching head. Pain from occasional stress or overindulgence may be relieved temporarily with over-the-counter medications. But if you’re one of the 45 million Americans who suffer from chronic or repeated headaches, you need more than symptom relief: You need to find the cause of the headache. That’s where homeopathy comes in.

How does it work? The three main types of headaches are tension, migraine, and cluster; homeopathic medicine treats each one differently. Equally important is the concept that every individual has particular emotional and physical characteristics that must be factored into an effective cure. According to remedies editorial advisor Dana Ullman, MPH, “In homeopathy you don’t simply treat the disease; you treat the person, who will have his own manifestation of a disease, as well as many other symptoms that are a part of his unique ailment.” Homeopathy’s ultimate goal is to correct the imbalance in the body that’s causing the headache, thus allowing us to heal ourselves. Homeopathic remedies strike the ideal balance through the synthesis of mind, body, spirit, and nature.

Homeopathic prescriptions Common remedies and the types of headache pain they treat are listed below. They may be used alone or combined. Belladonna treats stabbing, throbbing headaches of

sudden onset that are aggravated by light, noise, touch, and motion. The person’s face may be flushed and the pupils dilated. Bryonia is used for splitting pain worsened by any motion, even moving the eyes. Indigestion and/or constipation may also occur. People needing this remedy often have dry lips and mouth, and a thirst for cold liquids. Gelsemium is a good choice for dull pain beginning in the back of the head and spreading forward, making the entire head feel like it’s enclosed in a constricting band. Other symptoms include blurred vision, dizziness, and lightheadedness. Nux vomica is the homeopathic remedy for headaches brought on by overeating, drinking too much alcohol or coffee, drug use, anger, stress, and sleep loss. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, and irritability are common. Sanguinaria treats right-side migraine headaches, which often occur at regular intervals. Intense, bursting pain is exacerbated by noise, light, and motion. Ullman recommends using the 6th, 12th, or 30th potency every other hour for intense headache pain and every four hours for average pain. —Suzanne Mieso The Complete Homeopathic Resource for Common Illnesses by Dennis Chernin, MD, MPH ($29.95, North Atlantic Books, 2006) ● Essential Homeopathy by Dana Ullman, MPH ($10.95, New World Library, 2002) ● Homeopathy: An A to Z Home Handbook by Alan V. Schmukler ($17.95, Llewellyn, 2011)

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herbal healing

revving up supplements for added va-va-va-voom

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At this time of year, love isn’t just in the air; it’s everywhere. But with work, kids, and the general stresses of everyday life, some would say intimacy can be difficult to squeeze in during the other 364 days a year. To boot, millions of men and women struggle with low libido and other sexual dysfunction, and still more people suffer from age-related conditions that make intimacy tougher. It’s no wonder some of us are seeking a little something to spice things up. If your sex life is feeling a bit off, these natural supplements may help you . . . well, get it on. February 2016

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Panax ginseng

Tribulus terrestris Ginkgo biloba

Ashwagandha

Maca

Ladies first Ashwagandha, an herb cultivated in India, has been shown to improve sexual function in healthy women. When the root extract was taken in high concentration, women in the study reported increased appreciation, due to a number of factors, during their sexual encounters. Tribulus terrestris, a plant native to the Mediterranean, has fruit, roots, and leaves with medicinal uses. Described as spiny and nicknamed a “puncture” plant, Tribulus terrestris sure doesn’t sound sexy, but in women with sexual desire disorder, it has been shown to have aphrodisiac effects resulting in improvement in a number of markers of successful encounters. A boost in iron may also help improve those same factors.

For the gentlemen Ginkgo biloba, widely available in supplement form, is known to improve many aspects of sexual function in men, including enhanced desire and resolution. In one study, half of the male participants with erectile dysfunction regained function after taking Ginkgo biloba for six months. Epimedium, or “horny goat weed,” (really!) has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries to treat low libido and erectile dysfunction. While not widely researched, one study found that a compound in horny goat weed effectively improved penile blood flow.

For men and women Maca (Lepidium meyenii), a Peruvian plant that looks like a radish, may help with low libido in both men and women. With energizing properties, maca extract may

also have positive effects on the sexual dysfunction or sexual desire of healthy, menopausal women and healthy adult men. Panax ginseng, or Asian ginseng, may kick up sexual desire in menopausal women. It has also been shown in numerous studies to enhance performance in men with erectile dysfunction, with as many as 66 percent of men reporting improvement in a recent study.

Promising plants Mucuna pruriens, a traditional Ayurvedic plant, was found to increase sperm concentration and motility in infertile men. It also increased sexual activity when tested on rats. Chlorophytum borivilianum has also shown potential in rats. The roots of this plant were studied, and researchers noted enhancement in arousal, vigor, and libido, along with increased sperm count. The tubers of Butea superba, found in the deciduous forests of Thailand, are believed to promote sexual vigor in men. Studies showed that after six months of treatment, rats recorded increased sperm concentration. Butea superba’s powdered form warrants more study in human clinical trials, according to researchers.

A final word When not taken as directed, some of the supplements listed here may have adverse effects, such as mood changes, anxiety, or other physical symptoms, such as high blood pressure. As always, it is recommended to discuss treatment with your healthcare provider first. And with the widespread availability (and questionable nature) of supplements on the Internet, it is also wise to purchase from reputable sources. —Karen Lovett

“Ashwagandha” by D. Swati et al., Biomed Res Int, 10/15 ● “Can Supplements Help Your Sex Life?” by Sonya Collins, 7/15; “Tribulus”; “Vitamins and Supplements Lifestyle Guide: Horny Goat Weed (Epimedium),” www.WebMD.com ● “Current Status and Clinical Studies of Oriental Herbs in Sexual Medicine in Korea” by Y. Shin et al., World J Mens Health, 8/15 ● “Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a Plant from the Peruvian Highlands” by G. Gonzales, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 10/11 ● “Maca for Menopausal Symptoms?” www.DrWeil.com, 12/11 ● “A Review on Plants Used for Improvement of Sexual Performance and Virility,” by N.S. Chauhan et al., Biomed Res Int, 8/14 ● “Sexual Enhancement Products for Sale Online: Raising Awareness of the Psychoactive Effects of Yohimbine, Maca, Horny Goat Weed, and Ginkgo biloba” by O. Corazza et al., Biomed Res Int, 6/14 ● “Tribulus terrestris for Treatment of Sexual Dysfunction in Women: Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study” by E. Akhtari et al., Daru, 4/14 ● “A Urologist’s Guide to Ingredients Found in TopSelling Nutraceuticals for Men’s Sexual Health” by T. Cui, J Sex Med, 11/15

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healthy glow

exfoliation smooth moves for winter

Winter and dewy fresh skin are two things that typically don’t go together. Due to the lack of moisture in the air this time of year, we need to take a dierent approach to our skin care routine to keep skin properly moisturized.

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You can also try these do-it-yourself winter beauty treatments:

Avocado mask

One way to keep the complexion clear and the skin supple is by exfoliating. Exfoliation of dead skin cells can be done mechanically—by using an abrasive substance—or chemically—by applying topical ingredients.

This mask is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D, and E, all of which pamper skin. This mask softens and nourishes skin in addition to fighting wrinkles. ■ Purée half of a peeled, pitted ripe avocado. Spread mixture over clean face, moving fingers in small circular motions and avoiding eye area. Leave on for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove with a warm, wet face cloth. Splash face with cold water. Blot face dry. Variations on this mask that you can try:

Mechanical exfoliation ■ Try an abrasive facial scrub to remove dead skin cells. Some

of the best scrubs contain tiny granules of crushed walnuts, ground almonds, sugar, or oatmeal. ■ Look for a scrub that contains beneficial essential oils like pas-

sionflower or black currant, which help to keep skin firm. ■ Use a loofah or body brush on your body before or during

your shower or bath, gently stroking in circles. ■ Wet a cotton washcloth with warm water and gently scrub

your face with it before bed.

Chemical exfoliation ■ Don’t be turned off by the name—chemical exfoliants often

make use of vitamins to achieve that squeaky clean feeling. Look for formulas that contain vitamin C, which promotes cell growth, and vitamin B3, which speeds up skin regeneration. ■ Alpha hydroxy acids, also known as AHA, occur naturally in

milk, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, and sugar cane. They help normalize cell growth and renewal, and work to peel away dead skin cells. They can also help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. ■ Similar to AHA, beta hydroxy acids (BHA) can be found

in berries, pineapple, papaya, wintergreen leaves, and willow tree bark. BHA helps to separate dead skin cells from live ones by breaking down the bonds that hold them together. They also smooth skin by washing away pore-clogging dirt and oils that may cause breakouts.

Add moisture back Exfoliating removes skin’s natural oils, so it’s a good idea to moisturize afterward. Look for products containing beneficial natural oils like avocado, almond, and jojoba that nourish and protect skin. Using a moisturizer with sunscreen is a wise choice for newly exfoliated skin.

■ Blend 1 teaspoon of light oil with the puréed avocado.

Jojoba, olive, or almond oils all refresh dehydrated winter skin. ■ Those with dry, sensitive skin may also want to add

soothing oatmeal to the blender. Boil a cup of water and then add in K cup slow-cooking rolled oats. Stir and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about eight minutes. Remove from heat. Do not add to avocado mixture until oatmeal has cooled down. ■ Add 2 teaspoons of honey to the basic avocado blend

if you desire. Honey is good for all skin types and is a natural source of anti-aging components such as alpha hydroxy acid and antioxidants.

Sesame seed mask This is a potent antioxidant, antibacterial treatment for the skin. Put K cup sesame seeds and N cup water in a blender. Process for three minutes. Strain mixture through a colander. Apply to face. Leave on for as long as possible. Remove with warm water. Splash with cool water. Blot dry. —Jane Stoddard “Avocados and Healthy Skin” by Mike Adams, Natural News, 11/17/09 ● Spa by Andrea McCloud ($12.95, Chronicle Books, 2004)

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in focus

cacao Chalk up another victory for the chocolate lovers of the world. Over the past few years, several new studies investigating the health effects of flavonoids—a nutrient group that is abundant in cocoa— have added to the growing body of evidence that the sweet tooths among us are onto something good. 24

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A 2014 study by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center found that dietary cocoa flavanols (the most abundant of the antioxidant-rich flavonoids) reversed age-related memory decline in healthy older adults. The lead author of that investigation, Scott A. Small, MD, noted that individuals who had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the study’s start had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old after just three months on the flavanolfocused diet. Late last year there was similar good news in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Patients with kidney failure who consumed 900 milligrams (mg) of cocoa flavanols every day for a month realized significant improvements in blood vessel function and diastolic blood pressure. “Impressively,” the study’s lead author noted, “the degree of reversion of vessel dysfunction” was similar to what people might expect if they took cholesterol-lowering statins or made significant changes in diet or lifestyle. And then there was this, from researchers in Australia: Older women who consume flavonoid-rich foods at a greater rate than that of their peers lower

their risk of death not only from cardiovascular disease and cancers—benefits that were already known—but from all causes. Clearly flavonoids, and cocoa flavanols in particular, are good for our health. (JoAnn Manson, MD, DrPH, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, calls cocoa flavanols one of “the most promising and exciting nutritional interventions available.”) So how can we maximize our flavanol consumption? Is it as simple as feasting on as much chocolate as possible or drinking hot cocoa as if it were water? The answer, remarkably, is yes. But the even better news—for our waistlines, at least—is that thanks to the bean from which chocolate is made, we have other options.

Cacao and cocoa Cocoa—the main ingredient in chocolate—is made from the beans of the cacao tree, a relatively small evergreen primarily found in hot and rainy regions close to the equator. The cacao beans are plucked out of the football-shaped pods that grow off the limbs and trunks of these trees. Those chocolate-lover

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studies mentioned earlier? Most focused on flavanols extracted directly from this raw bean. Raw (unroasted) or roasted, nutrient-rich cacao is available as whole beans; nibs, which are chopped-up beans; or powder. “Cocoa” powder, on the other hand, is typically processed from roasted beans, although the terms “cacao” and “cocoa” are often used interchangeably. To make chocolate, cocoa powder is combined with a range of other ingredients, including chocolate liquor (melted nibs), cocoa butter (the fatty part of the bean), sugar, vanilla, and milk. The best way to know what’s in that “raw,” “bittersweet,” “semisweet,” “unsweetened,” or “dark” chocolate? Read the label.

Cacao supplements There is no USDA “Dietary Reference Intake,” or DRI, for flavonoids, but most nutritional experts seem to agree that 500-1,000 mg (0.5-1 gram) of cocoa flavanols per day is adequate. Chocolate fans can easily accomplish this by eating 25-40 grams of dark chocolate (containing at least 85 percent cocoa) per day. Or, if you’d rather save those 200-plus calories for something else, you can get your flavanols from cacao or “raw cocoa” supplements. Again, read the label: Typical capsules contain approximately 125 mg of cocoa flavanols, so you’d need four capsules per day to get your flavanol fill. —Chris Hayhurst “Anti-inflammatory Properties of Dietary Flavonoids” by J. González-Gallego et al., Nutr Hosp, 5–6/07 ● “Dietary Cocoa Flavanols Improve Blood Vessel Function in Patients with Kidney Dysfunction,” American Society of Nephrology, 12/15 ● “Dietary Flavanols Reverse Age-Related Memory Decline: Findings Strengthen Link Between Specific Brain Region and Normal Memory Decline,” Columbia University Medical Center, 10/14 ● “Flavanols and Flavonols,” www. ThirdPlanetFood.com ● “Flavonoid Intake and AllCause Mortality,” by K.L. Ivey et al., Am J Clin Nutr, 5/15 ● “Largest Research Trial of Cocoa Flavanols and Heart Health to Be Launched,” BWH Bulletin, 3/14 ● “Vasculoprotective Effects of Dietary Cocoa Flavanols in Patients on Hemodialysis: A Double– Blind, Randomized, Placebo–Controlled Trial” by T. Rassaf et al., Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, 12/15

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supplement spotlight

go fish (oil, that is)

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Few nutritional supplements have received as much positive attention as fish oil in recent years. It’s been touted for brain function and cardiovascular health, among other benefits. A new study strengthens its connection to weight reduction, demonstrating that compounds in fish oil may shift fat-storage cells into fat-burning ones. White fat cells store fat, while brown and beige fat cells break down fat to maintain our body temperature. But those fat-burning cells decline in number as we age. In the study, mice were fed a fatty diet, with some also receiving a fish oil supplement. The fish oil group gained up to 10 percent less weight and accumulated significantly less fat than the others. Some of their fat-storing white cells turned into fat-burning beige cells. “People have long said that food from Japan and the Mediterranean contribute to longevity, but why these cuisines are beneficial was up for debate,” said researcher Teruo Kawada, PhD. “Now we have better insight into why that may be.” In other words, those diets are high in fish—which apparently helps us burn more fat.

Omega-3 basics Fish oil is rich in healthful omega-3 fatty acids— which are also found in krill, algae, and certain plant foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Though the types of omega 3s differ in fish and plant sources, all have been shown to confer benefits. Fatty, coldwater fish such as salmon, sardines, and tuna are particularly high in the omega 3s eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Nuts and seeds provide alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which we use for energy. The body converts some of it into EPA and DHA. —Cameron Hendrix “The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids,” www.WebMD.com, 2015 ● “Fish Oil Helps Transform Fat Cells from Storage to Burning,” Kyoto University, 12/17/15 ● “Fish Oil Intake Induces UCP1 Upregulation in Brown and White Adipose Tissue via the Sympathetic Nervous System” by M. Kim et al., Sci Rep, 12/17/15 ● “Omega 3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution,” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, www.hsph.harvard.edu

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postscript

Metabolic activators

© KERRY BRETT

Mark Mincolla, PhD, is a natural healthcare practitioner who integrates ancient Chinese energy techniques with cutting-edge nutritional science, approaching food as the “primary medicine.” He is the author of The Whole Health Diet: A Transformational Approach to Weight Loss ($16.95, Tarcher/Penguin, 2015). www.MarkMincolla.com

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Before you consider jumping on the next fad diet train, you might consider the fact that, by and large, diets don’t work. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50 million Americans spend $40 billion on weight loss diets every year. Unfortunately, 95 percent of all dieters fail by the end of the first year, and only 3 percent keep their weight off by the end of the five-year mark. There are many complex reasons for this abysmal performance, but to my way of thinking, there’s one very important factor that’s rarely, if ever, mentioned: metabolic nutritional supplementation. Studies have clearly shown that dieting without the benefit of proper nutrient supplement support is eminently more likely to result in failure. Metabolism represents the rate at which our vital glands and organs burn calories. Efficient weight loss requires an active metabolism. Unfortunately, we’ve not all been blessed with one. Some of us seem to gain weight by merely looking at food, while others consume calories without consequence. There are three metabolic types: fast, mixed (medium), and slow. Nearly all those who struggle to lose weight are classified as slow metabolizers. One of the most effective ways to manage weight loss is to nutritionally supplement your diet plan with metabolic activators such as potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B complex, C, D, and E. Virtually all nutrients invoke either a stimulating or a destimulating metabolic effect on human metabolism. Any strictly food-based diet plans are missing out on a golden opportunity to more efficiently activate their dieters’ full metabolic (calorie burning) potential. Here’s a great nutritional supplement plan designed to boost your body’s calorie burning energy: ■ Sodium ascorbate crystals: 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day ■ Liquid potassium citrate: 1 teaspoon (99 mg) twice daily ■ Liquid iron: 10 mg twice per day ■ Gamma E: 600 IU per day ■ B-complex: 50 mg twice daily with food ■ Vitamin A: 10,000 IU per day ■ Vitamin D: 1,000 IU per day When it comes to weight loss dieting, consider making it easier on your body: Supplement your metabolism with the proper nutrient support.

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