Monday, April 30, 2012

Zinc: An Essential Mineral

While reading an issue of Organic Consumer Report, an interesting article entitled “Zinc – Not How Much, But How Assimilable?” caught our attention.  Not a few of us realize the important role which this element plays in our daily life; so we are liberally quoting pertinent portions of the article for the benefit of our readers.

That zinc is essential for the life of small organisms has been known for 100 years, and for half that time, it has been recognized as essential for higher life forms, too.  Today, it is recognized as being one, among many catalysts, that enter into enzyme actions and reactions, and is critically important to a wide range of as yet undefined processes of living cells.  Without sufficient zinc, vitamin A cannot function properly.

According to the report, zinc is a non-ferrous metal with a vital role to play in every one of our trillions of cells.  Cells contain infinite numbers of atoms which are mostly emptiness; almost the whole is concentrated in a nucleus occupying approximately one-billionth of the total volume.

As a biocatalytic element – a substance that activates or speed up a biochemical reaction – zinc attaches itself to organic compounds and becomes a part of the catalytic machinery which “runs” the organism.  As a metal with high electrical and thermal conductivity, zinc enters into transmitting large electrical currents under the influence of small differences of potential and heat under small differences of temperature.

Zinc according to studies, is composed of more than 200 enzymes that are vital to bodily processes, like growth, reproduction, healing, and the condition or integrity of the immune system. Other health benefits attributed to zinc are the following: (1) extends one’s life span; (2) fights free radicals; and (3) stimulates production of gamma interferon for proper immune functioning.

Zinc needs replenishment daily since it is rapidly lost from the body under stress and is required in all healing functions.  The so-called average good diet provides about 12 milligrams of zinc daily, provided the diet is adequate in proteins.  To the vegetarians and the elderly, nutritionists suggest a daily dosage of from 30-50 milligrams and 50 milligrams, respectively.  Because zinc supplements can interfere with copper absorption, taking extra copper may be helpful. Consult your doctor.

Zinc deficiency in the mature male may be related to prostate problems and atrophy of the testicles.  Also, inadequate zinc can contribute to high blood pressure when cadmium (a highly toxic metal) is elevated.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Garlic, Anyone?

Believe it or not, garlic has been getting top billing with its amazing powers to cure and prevent a wide range of diseases. Its tremendous healing ability comes from built-in antibacterial and antibiotic agents, said Dr. Gerhard Schrauzer, University of California at San Diego. Garlic is a simple non-prescription drug that helps detoxify the body and prevent disease, he said.

Garlic is effective in treating and preventing heart disease, blood clots, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, lung cancer, arthritis, diabetes, hypoglycemia, anemia, strokes, etc. It contains a chemical called adenosine that gets into the bloodstream and inhibits the formation of clots and brings about dramatic reductions of cholesterol levels.

And here is something else: Schrauzer said garlic may help prevent lung cancer. Selenium, a powerful bacteria fighter found in garlic, combats pollutants in the air and may be a real preventative for cancer.

Organic Consumer also reports that researchers in Russia have been successful in using garlic to retard tumor growth.

A study at the Army Hospital in Fukuyama, Japan, found Kyolic, an extract of garlic, relieved pain in an astounding 86 percent of lumbago (backache, especially in the lower part of the back) and arthritis without side effects.

Garlic has two powerful natural antibiotic agents that fight infection and other disorders: selenium and sulfur compounds. The two compounds have proven effective in treating lead and mercury poisoning.

Research proves what folk medicine has known for centuries: that garlic, aside from being a powerful protector against heart disease, specifically has also the ability to “clear the arteries” – to keep them clear of fatty deposit that mean atherosclerosis and the serious risk of heart attack.

The studies, however, have suggested that the type of cholesterol in the blood is the crucial factor. Apparently, it is low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that raises heart disease risk. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, on the other hand, seems to protect against heart disease.

Its power to keep cholesterol levels in check is enough to recommend garlic – highly – to anyone who wants to minimize his risk of heart attack.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Calcium Connection

Calcium isn’t just the ‘bone and teeth’ mineral. It also helps nerves, muscles and shield against lead pollution.

Actually, calcium is a highly versatile nutrient playing a wide variety of roles that are crucial to the proper functioning of the body. Calcium is indispensably involved in every beat of our hearts and every thought that passes through our heads. It’s true that 99 percent of the calcium in the body is found in the teeth and bones. Without the work of the other one percent, however, life would be impossible.

Calcium is necessary for the proper transmission of messages along the body’s nervous system, and at the critical control points where nerves and muscles meet. It plays an important role in muscle contraction, both in relaying the command impulse from nerve to muscle, and in the actual contraction of the muscle itself.

If the body does not get enough calcium, the entire neuromuscular system goes haywire. This condition, called tetany, is characterized by a sharp bending at the wrist and ankle joints, uncontrollable muscle twitchings, cramps and convulsions.

Some scientists believe that the damage done when nerve cells form without sufficient calcium is the best explanation for the development of the nerve disease multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis. This disease is characterized by the destruction of myelin, the fat-like substance that surrounds and protects nerve fibers. Calcium is known to speed the production of one on the key constituents of myelin. This fact, plus the general importance of calcium in holding cells together, led Dr. Paul Goldberg to conclude that a lack of calcium in a child’s critical growth years would irreparably weaken the myelin structure and increase the risk of multiple sclerosis later in life.

Crucial To the Heart. The heart is a muscle, the most important one in the body. Insofar as calcium is crucial to the normal contraction and relaxation of all muscles in the body, it is crucial to the healthy functioning of the heart.

Calcium also plays a role in preventing heart disease by holding down the level of cholesterol in the blood. A study by the Nutrition Reports International of the effects of supplementing the diet with calcium and vitamin D found that calcium significantly lowered cholesterol levels of a group of elderly women, at the same time it was preventing bone loss.

The adult Recommended Dietary Allowance for calcium, by the way, is from 1000-1300 milligrams. Supplementation is suggested by nutritionists for anyone who is not meeting his or her needs through diet alone. To date, no cases of calcium toxicity have ever been reported from food sources.

Monday, April 9, 2012

DNA Limitation to Cellular Life

An article entitled “Is There A DNA Limitation To Cellular Life,” appearing in an issue of Organic Consumer Report, caught our attention. It had something to do with the aging process, a topic which has long fired the imagination of man since Ponce de Leon, and before.

The report emphasized that modern scientists – gerontologists – have theorized that humans are subject to a built-in genetic code, programmed by their DNA, which automatically slows down cell function after predetermined rhythms of cell reproductions. This is sometimes referred to as the biological clock, which is programmed for death.

Modern scientists, continues the article, have developed a theory that has the seeds of logic, based in biochemistry, and supported by clinical experience.

The theory involves a nine-step oxidative cycle which creates hydrogen electrons by breaking down compounds from our foods. These electrons leave the cycle at several points and are carried along by electron transport chains which become part of the structure of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which is the primary energy carrier of the cell to promote tissue regeneration. If a single link of these transport chains is damaged, the energy cycle is reduced in efficiency and the cell is weakened. When such damage is cumulative, gradual reduction in cellular efficiency results, and the cell – and the individual – ages.

Tryptophan (a crystalline, essential amino acid and source of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin) and to a lesser degree tyrosine (an accessory nutrient or co-factor) are intimately involved in aging, and research involves their dietary deficiencies as causative factors leading to death.

When tryptophan goes through the degradative processes of metabolism, coenzyme Q is produced, which serves as an interfering metabolite to block oxidative processes that produce hydrogen from food elements, in turn, reducing cell energy by inhibiting the production of ATP. Such dysfunction, or non-function, of coenzyme Q could become so dominant that the animal body would ultimately cease to function. Dietary abuses and stresses of all kinds under such conditions, become massive and critical.

Animal species of a normal short life span have a factor rate of metabolism and a greater potential for production of coenzyme Q interfering metabolites. Such species have also a greater need for oxygen, and coenzyme Q, a related and secondary explanation for short life.

In aging, there is gradual buildup of antimetabolites which inactivate coenzyme Q or interfere with its synthesis, leading to gradual reduction of cell energy and eventually degenerative processes in all living things.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Exercise Eliminates Neck Pain

If you have stiff neck, chances are you can eliminate the pain through an exercise program. At least, that is the conclusion of Dr. Alfred B. Swanson of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His exercise procedure emphasizes flexing and rotating the neck and shoulder. According to Dr. Swanson, the program results in relief by mobilizing the spine and strengthens the supporting muscles.

Dr. Swanson has observed that most persons with that ailment have limited motion of the cervical spine, particularly in rotation.

An Exercise Don’t. Not all exercises are beneficial, and one doctor at the University of British Columbia explained that the old standby of toe-touching may actually bring on serious side effects.

Dr. Harry Fahrni, an orthopedic expert, said that bending forward while keeping the legs straight has a tendency to place extra force and strain on the discs of the spine in the small of the back. As a consequence, much damage can be done over a period of time.

Other harmful exercises, suggested Dr. Fahrni, were shoulder twisting to touch the left hand of the right toe, lying in a prone position and arching the back, full deep-knee bends and raising both legs from a supine position.

On Dr. Fahrni’s list of “gold star” exercises were push-ups, rowing machine work and thirty-minute runs.

What’s the best thing to drink before, during and after strenuous exercise? Water, says the American College of Sports Medicine, in an issue of Executive Fitness Newsletter.

Despite all the talk in recent years about electrolytes (minerals, mainly sodium and potassium) lost during sweating, what the body needs when it’s thirsty is water.

“A water loss of just 3% (that’s six pounds, or six pints of sweat if you are a 2oo-pounder) may significantly diminish exercise performance and provoke heat illness,” warns Dr. Edward L. Fox. He therefore recommends “frequent water breaks (for example, every 10-15 minutes)" to keep the body’s water table from approaching that 3% deficit.

Another eye-opener for us is that “if people simply learned how to use water correctly, this alone might do more to prevent and cure illness than all the medicines they now use…misuse,” according to researchers. Definitely, no one can live without water; in fact, over one-half of our body is water.