Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fiber and Brain Health


Yep – you read that right – fiber intake can help improve brain health!   New research shows that consuming optimal amounts of fiber on a regular basis reduces inflammation.   As mammals age, brain immune cells known as microglia become chronically inflamed.   These cells then respond by producing chemicals that impair cognitive and motor functions.     

Fiber intake inhibits the production of these harmful chemicals.    This is thought to occur because when fiber gets into your intestines bacteria metabolize it and produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) and in particular one called Butyrate which reduces inflammation of the microglia cells in the brain.

The key to reaping the benefits of optimal fiber intake is eating the right sources of fiber because not all fiber is created equal.   Great sources of fiber include organic whole husk psyllium, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds as well as broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and sweet potatoes, and onions.   Other good sources including pears, prunes, dried figs and dates, almonds, and apples with the skin intake. 

Certain high fiber foods can cause some issues in certain people including beans and lentils that have high levels of lectins which are part of certain plants self-defense mechanisms.   It is also important to eat organic versions of fiber because many vegetables are sprayed with Round-up which is a known cancer-causing agent.   Round-up aka Glyphosate is heavily sprayed on all non-organic grains which means that unless you choose organic forms you are likely doing your brain as much harm as good because of the chemical load you are exposing it to when consuming non-organic grain products!

How much fiber should you be eating?

The RDA for fiber is 25 grams for woman and 38 grams per day for men with the vast majority of Americans eating less than half this amount!     When upping fiber intake do it gradually and remember to take in plenty of water with the fiber to prevent issues.   For most of us this level of intake will take a conscious effort to eat more high fiber foods and an organic psyllium supplement in your shake can be a great way to up your fiber intake.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Is Creatine Safe for your Kidneys?


If you are a regular gym-goer, chances are you have heard of creatine.    Creatine is one of a few supplements that have proven to improve your ability to lift weights and build and maintain muscle.  However, it does boost levels of creatinine which must be excreted by your kidneys.

To answer the question of whether or not creatine supplementation can damage kidneys let’s take a look at what creatine does in the body.    Your muscles, brain, heart, and many other tissues use creatine to regenerate Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is THE energy currency for ALL cells.   

Cells are constantly generating ATP because it cannot be stored, and there are several different cellular pathways used to insure there is a constant supply of ATP to keep the cell alive.   When you are doing any kind of resistance training and training to momentary muscular failure the muscle cells have to generate a lot of energy very quickly and they use creatine heavily to continue to generate ATP to do the work.

Having adequate creatine is crucial for resistance training and creatine supplementation has conclusively been shown to be HIGHLY effective for resistance training, increasing strength, and building muscle.

A by-product of creatine in the cell’s energy cycle is creatinine which must be excreted by the kidneys.  Creatinine levels are the most commonly used indicator of kidney function:  in general, if your levels are high – there is an issue with your kidney function.

Muscles contain more than 90% of your creatine stores, so the more muscle you have, and the more you use that muscle, the more creatinine you produce.   And so it should not be too surprising that supplemental creatine increases your blood levels of creatinine beyond the normal range.

But does that fact that supplemental creatine increases creatinine mean it is causing damage to your kidneys?   The short answer is that in anyone with healthy kidneys the answer is a definitive NO!   Creatine supplementation has been studied both short and long and term and there is no evidence it will cause any harm in anyone with healthy kidneys, and evidence shows there is no adverse effects on kidneys.

Healthy people can get all the performance enhancing benefits of creatine with just 3 – 5 grams per day and there may be some benefit to taking up to 10 grams for short intervals.   However, this higher dose may cause false positive in creatinine blood tests.

For people with kidney issues it is best to avoid creatine supplements altogether to be on the safe side. 
   
Creatine and Vegetarians

Supplementing with creatine can be highly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans because the only way you obtain it through your diet is eating meat.   When a group of vegetarians supplemented with creatine for 8 weeks, they had a big increase in bench press strength and whole-body muscle mass!

Creatine and Improved Brain Function

Yes – you read that right!   Creatine supplementation can improve brain function.   

A 6-week placebo-controlled, cross-over trial concluded thatCreatine supplementation had a significant positive effect (p < 0.0001) on both working memory (backward digit span) and intelligence (Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices), both tasks that require speed of processing. These findings underline a dynamic and significant role of brain energy capacity in influencing brain performance.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Bigger Muscles Build A Bigger Brain!


Most people know that aerobic exercise is good for you and good for your brain, but what about strength training for improved brain function?   A recent study looked at preventing cognitive decline and dementia in people aged 50 – 86.     

The study followed 100 people who did resistance training using 80% of the one repetition maximum resistance level.  They study measured the effects on their brains through tests and MRI’s.    After 6 months, participants showed improved cognitive function along with growth of key areas of their brain.

The key conclusion of the researchers was that everyone should do at least two strength training sessions per week to keep their mental function strong as they age, and that the strength training needs to be intense – using 80% of their maximum one repetition maximum or more.

As always maintain perfect form and move smoothly throughout each repetition of each exercise to keep the target muscles loaded throughout the entire exercise until you can not perform another repetition in good form. 

Instead of having to measure your one repetition maximum strength in each exercise (which can be dangerous unless you are working with a trainer) remember the 8 – 12 repetition rule.      If you cannot perform 8 repetitions in good form with smooth controlled movement and no momentum – lower your resistance.      Once you can complete 12 repetitions in good form increase your resistance slightly.    Do 1 – 3 sets of each exercise and each workout should consist of 8 – 12 exercises done at least 2 times per week.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

How Much Alcohol is Beneficial for Health?


One of the most controversial topics in wellness is the topic of alcoholic beverages and whether or not they can be helpful or harmful.     As with many things – the devil is in the details.    One thing is for sure – alcoholic beverages can be very harmful to your health if consumed in excess.      In fact, some researchers contend there is no safe level of alcohol intake.  So the big question is how much is too much? 

To answer that question let’s review what the research shows for alcohol intake and cardiovascular health.   

There is a considerable body of evidence showing that light to moderate drinking may help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease.     Now light to moderate means 1 – 2 drinks per day (1 – 2 beers, 1 – 2 glasses of wine, and best to stay completely clear of hard liquor!).       By the way a glass of wine means 5 ounces of wine and for stronger wines maybe more like 3 – 5 ounces.     Same deal with beer – it is all about alcohol content so for really high alcohol beers one is better than two!

According to a recent review light drinking as described above is associated with reduced risk of:

Coronary Artery Disease
Stroke caused by a reduction in blood supply
Heart Failure

Heavier drinking is associated with increased risk of:

High Blood Pressure
Coronary Artery Disease
Heart Rhythm Abnormalities
Brain bleeding type stroke

In this review authors speculated on several mechanisms that may be responsible for the benefits of light drinking:

Alcohol is known to raise HDL – good cholesterol

Low levels of alcohol reduce platelet aggravation meaning thinning the blood slightly.    This can help with coronary artery disease and stroke from loss of blood supply, but this can be very problematic if you are taking any medication to thin your blood like warfarin or coumarin.   Also, be aware that many dietary supplements also thin your blood slightly including, but not limited to, omega-3 fatty acids, many herbs and even vegetables like celery with higher intake.

The Authors also point out that low levels of alcohol intake are associated with decreased psychosocial stress.   This is all well and good, but we all need to keep in mind that it is very easy to develop a substance abuse problem with alcohol, so it is very important that certain people NOT drink at all.

Alcohol and the Brain

There have been several recent and very extensive reviews on this important subject.    One of these studies did a comprehensive review of alcohol and brain health and disease risk.     The review shows that there is clearly a very distinct dose response to alcohol separating health benefits from increased health risks as pointed out above.   This is specifically true for alcohol and Alzheimer’s disease.    To quote the authors “Moderate drinking of 3 – 4 glases per day of red wine was associated with a fourfold lower risk of Alzheimer’s".    Despite this they made it clear that this is NOT a suggestion for people to start drinking wine!

Red wine is a unique beverage in that it contains many plant chemicals that are clearly beneficial to health including polyphenols which work to reduce free radicals and inflammation and also chelate excess iron from the body.

Negative impacts of Alcohol and Mental Health

Unfortunately, excess alcohol intake is very bad for the brain.   For anyone who is depressed or has a mental health disorder like being Bipolar – alcohol can literally kill them by exacerbating symptoms and mood swings.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions and clouds judgement which can dramatically increase risk taking behavior with all the associated consequences.

Heavier drinking shrinks the brain.

Excess alcohol intake depletes key vitamins and minerals including:

Folic Acid – this dramatiacally increase breast cancer risk in females and any woman who drinks regularly (even lightly) should consider supplementing with an active form of folic acid such as L-methylfolate (5-MTHF).   In fact alcohol depletes all b-vitamins which are crucial for mental and physical health!

Vitamin C

Magnesium

Zinc

Iron - this depletion can be very problematic for woman who are mentruating and drink regularly and are also vegetarians since there iron intake from foods is almost non-existent in many cases.

Potassium - as with magensium depletion of this vital mineral helps drive the blood pressure increasing effects of excess alcohol intake.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

How Much Exercise Do you need to Improve Mental Health?


Everyone knows that exercise improves your physical health, but what is less well known is how powerful exercise can be to prevent and treat mental health issues.   Exercise can prevent depression and has been proven to be more effective than many leading anti-depressant medications in head to head studies comparing the two.    

But just how much exercise do you need to do?  A recent large study looked at 1.2 million people in the US and had participants report their activity levels for one month along with rating their mental health.    On average participants said they had 3.5 days of poor mental health during the month, but for exercisers it was only 2 days.

All types of exercise improved mental health including housework and formal exercise.  However three forms of exercise stood above the others:

Team Sports

Cycling

Aerobic and Gym Activities

The social aspects of team sports may well be why they showed up at the top of the list.   For people in the study with known mental health issues exercise also helped.      Those who did not exercise had 11 days of poor mental health each month compared with just 7 for exercisers.

Too much exercise actually seems to worsen mental health problems.   In this study people who exercised more than 23 times a month or exercised for longer than 90 minutes per session tended to have worse mental health.     The sweet spot in this study was exercising for 45 minutes three to five days per week.

High Intensity vs Lower Intensity Exercise

ALL types of exercise have the ability to improve mental health and it is quite likely that whether high or lower intensity will benefit you most has to do with different types of mental health challenges.    It is clear that high intensity exercise can be a major mental health booster for many people because it radically and quickly changes your brain chemistry.

In a study, a group of researchers from the University of Texas investigated the effects of high-intensity exercise on a protein called BDNF, short for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF is involved in brain-cell survival and repair, mood regulation, and cognitive functions such as learning and memory; low levels of BDNF have been associated with depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. In the study subjects, all healthy young adults, a session of high-intensity exercise was linked to both higher BDNF levels and improvements in cognitive functioning.

In a similar study done in 2014, a group of middle-aged volunteers ran through a battery of mental tests before and after a high-intensity exercise session — and these subjects, too, saw their cognitive function improve. Notably, there was no such improvement after a session of low-intensity active stretching.

High Intensity Exercise and Anxiety

For those with anxiety disorders be careful with high intensity exercise because during a high intensity workout the sympathetic nervous system is highly activated. The sympathetic nervous system is the “fight or flight” mechanism and includes a major increase in norepinephrine and epinephrine (excitatory neurotransmitter and hormone respectively).   

These effects mimic the the physical experience of panic.  So high intensity exercise can provoke a panic attack.   On the other hand.  Easing into higher intensity exercise can help people desensitize to the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic.  In fact, the nervous system will “learn” how to become better at returning to normal and slowing itself down to balance out the excitatory burst of neurotransmitters.


The key as always is balance, and remember ALL exercise can and does help with mental health so get moving!




Sunday, September 9, 2018

Can You Turn Fat into Muscle?


The short answer is no – fat does not get transformed into muscle.     Fat and muscle are two different tissues.    You can increase muscle mass while you decrease fat mass, but fat is not converted into muscle.  In the same way muscle cannot be converted into fat.    Fat is created whenever we take in excess calories from fat, protein, carbohydrate (or alcohol).    In this case the calories ultimately end up being converted to triglyceride and stored in fat cells.

Each molecule of triglyceride (fat) consists of a carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.  To get rid of a single molecule of triglyceride takes many enzymes and biochemical steps to completely oxidize fat.    The complete oxidation of 10 kg (22lbs) of fat requires 29kg of oxygen consumption and the production of 28 kg of carbon dioxide and 11 kg of water (H2O).   The carbon dioxide is excreted by the lungs while the water is excreted as urine, sweat, breath, tears or other bodily fluids.  

Building muscle is a whole different process.     Three key mechanisms are responsible for initiating muscle growth:

Muscle Tension – all forms of resistance training force muscles to create tension to support and move the load.    When enough tension is created causes changes in the chemistry of the muscle allowing for growth factors to be secreted such as mTOR and satellite cell activation.   Tension can come from active tension where muscles actively contract and also from passive tension which is stretching which tends to occur during the lengthening (eccentric) phase of a resistance training exercise.    

Active tension tends to result in muscle fibers becoming wider while passive tension can make them longer.

Muscle Damage – damage to muscle cells causes a release of inflammatory chemicals and immune cells that activate satellite cells to come into action.     This also initiates muscle growth.

Metabolic Stress – When you feel the “burn” or the “pump” when lifting weights, you are feeling the effects of metabolic stress.     Metabolic stress from high levels of anaerobic energy production helps contribute to muscle growth without necessarily increasing the size of the muscle.   This is from the addition of glycogen (multiple glucose units linked together in the muscle), which helps to swell the muscle.     This type of growth is often referred to as “Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy” and can increase the appearance of larger muscles without increasing muscle strength or the size of muscle fibers.    Increased fiber growth is referred to Myofibrillar Hypertrophy referring to the fact that myofibrils (muscle fibers) and growing.

In summary, for muscle building to occur you must force your muscles to adapt by creating stressors including increase tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress and then eating properly and resting to allow the muscles to recover and grow.  

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Kitchen Hand Towels – A Major Source of Bacteria


Many people may not realize it but kitchens are chock full of bacteria – particularly if you do not use proper food handling techniques.      In a recent study testing kitchen towels used by families.    49% had significant bacterial growth with the highest levels of bacteria on towels used by larger numbers of family members.

When families used towels for multiple reasons such as wiping utensils, drying hands and wiping surface there was also a significantly higher level of bacterial growth compared to families who used towels for a single purpose.   The following specific bacteria was found:

Bacteria
Amount Found
Coliforms
36.7 percent
Enterococcus spp
36.7 percent
Pseudomonas spp
30.6 percent
Bacillus spp
28.6 percent
Staphylococcus aureus
14.3 percent
Proteus spp
4.1 percent
Coagulase-negative staphylococci
2 percent

Using Paper Towels

Although using paper towels may result in cleaner hands, the amount being used can contribute to rising amounts of toxic chemicals and reduction in natural resources.   To reduce the number of paper towels you need to use shake your hands 10 – 15 times to throw off as much water as possible then fold the paper towel in half which increased it absorbency dramatically.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The Many Benefits of Honey


Honey is an amazing substance – especially when you consider how it is made by bees. It is a complex mixture of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids.  Honey has many health benefits when used in moderation (assuming you're healthy).

Honey Production Process

It takes about over 50,000 bees traveling up to 50,000 miles and visiting up to 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey!  Bees stores the nectar in their extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then the bees pass the nectar  to another bee's mouth. 

This process is repeated until the nectar becomes digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb where it becomes honey after the bees fan it with their wings to evaporate some of the liquid it contains.   The bees then seal the honey comb with secretions from their abdomen.   In this way honey can be stored almost indefinitely as it is sealed away from air and water.

Honey is infused with many chemicals from the different flowers bees visit which accounts for the extremely wide variation in color and taste of different honeys collected in different regions.

Health Benefits of Honey

Honey is excellent cough medicine, and research has proven that honey works as well as dextromethorphan, a common ingredient in over the counter cough medications.

Honey can treat wounds and was commonly used to prevent and treat wound infections until the advent of antibiotics.   Today it is being used again more and more as research shows it can be an extremely potent and safe way to treat serious skin infections.    One specific type of honey – Manuka Honey – is specifically used for creating wound and burn dressings.

Manuka honey is made from the flowers of the Manuka bush, and research have shown that Manuka honey is effective in combatting more than 200 clinical strains of bacteria, including anti-biotic resistance strains such as:

◦ MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

◦ MSSA (methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus)

◦ VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)

Honey releases hydrogen peroxide through an enzymatic process, which explains its general antiseptic qualities, but Manuka honey contains and unknown unique factor that makes it far superior to other types of honey when it comes to killing off bacteria.

Even so, research shows that any type of unprocessed honey helps wounds and ulcers heal.

Honey Is Great for Your Scalp: Honey diluted with a bit of warm water can significantly improve seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff and itching.

Honey is a Great Energy Booster: Honey is a great energy booster before a workout, and this is particularly true for athletes.

Honey Can Safely Dramatically Reduce Allergy Symptoms: Local honey, which contains a wide variety of pollen from local plants, introduces a small amount of allergen into your system. This can act like an allergy shot and gradually condition your immune system to stop reacting to allergens.
Dosage is a teaspoon-full of locally produced honey per day, starting a few months PRIOR to the pollen season, to allow your system to build up immunity.

One study on local honey and allergy showed that, during birch pollen season, compared to the control group, the patients using birch pollen honey experienced:

◦ 60 percent reduction in symptoms

◦ Twice as many asymptomatic days

◦ 70 percent fewer days with severe symptoms

◦ 50 percent decrease in usage of antihistamines

Honey can Combat Herpes

Honey helps fight herpes sores by:

• Drawing fluid away from the sores

• Suppresses microorganism growth

Honey may help fight cancer by limiting certain cancer cell proliferation, inducing cancer cell death and inhibiting tumor growth. It's been shown to lower the risk for cancer of the skin, cervix, colon, prostate and breast, among others.

Honey has been shown to have anxiety reducing, anti-depressant, anti-convulsant and anti-pain properties.

Using High Quality Honey is Important!

The antibacterial activity in some honey is 100 times more potent than in others, while processed refined honey will lack many of these beneficial properties altogether. Most honey found in your grocery store is probably highly processed.

The best honey is unprocessed, and a great source is locally produced raw honey purchased directly from a beekeeper, farmers markets, co-ops, and natural stores like Trader Joe's. When choosing honey, be sure it is raw, unfiltered, and 100% pure, from a trusted source.

Honey Should Be Consumed in Moderation

Honey is high in fructose. Each teaspoon of honey has nearly four grams of fructose, which means it can be inappropriate for anyone with diabetes and too much can make pre-existing insulin resistance worse.



Sunday, August 19, 2018

Why People Eat Too Much



We all know that eating too much food, and particularly unhealthy food, is bad for us.    At the same time so many people find it very difficult to stop.    At the end of the day hunger is much more complicated than it might seem, and hunger is all about your brain.   Most importantly learning how hunger is controlled by your brain can help you take back control!

Behind all your decision making there are physiological forces at work.     Let’s take a look at how our brains drive food choices and how this leads to weight gain.

There are two types of hunger and associated eating:

Physiological hunger aka homeostatic eating – this is hunger and eating to provide our body the energy it needs and to stay in balance aka homeostasis.

Hedonic craving and eating – this is eating for pleasure or to deal with our emotional state

Most of the time we eat there is a contribution from both areas in that there are physiological mechanisms driving our hunger while at the same time we crave certain foods.  There are many factors that drive hunger including but not limited to:

Our genetic background
Habits 
Hormones
Time of Day
            Social Cues
            Emotional state
            Environmental Factors
            Macronutrient Ratios of our meals
                .
Hunger can be very complex and science is just starting to figure it out.  What we do know a lot more about is why we stop eating.      One reason is satiation – that feeling of being full from eating, and another reason is satiety (not the same thing!).   Satiety is your feeling of satisfaction associated with a reduced interest in food.

When we eat there are two big physiological factors that tell us to stop eating:

Gastric Distension – which is your stomach telling your brain it is being stretched.   This signal is sent to your brain via the vagus nerve which goes from your core to your brain.   This is why eating higher fiber foods and foods with more bulk but less calories can help to control physiological hunger by signaling the brain through the distension of the stomach.

Hormones – when you eat your gut communicates with your brain using hormones including:

Cholecystokinin or CCK for short – when you consume protein and fat your gut releases CCK (again through the vagus nerve) to tell your brain to stop eating.

GLP-1 and Amylin – GLP-1 simulates the production and release of insulin which is very important for hunger.   It also slows down food moving from the stomach into the small intestine.   Amylin is another hormone proven to help reduce food intake.

Insulin – is secreted in response to protein and non-fiber carbohydrates including all sugars and starches but not by fat.    When the body is in proper balance it also tells us to stop eating.   HOWEVER, if we do not exercise at all and overeat (particularly if our diet is very high in sugar and starches and low in fiber) our cells become resistant to insulin.     This can snowball into full-blow Adult Onset Diabetes with serious health consequences.

Leptin – helps manage your long-term energy and nutrient needs through a feedback loop.   Leptin is released by fat tissue and how much excess energy (in the form of fat) we have stored.     The more bodyfat we have the more leptin that gets dumped into our blood.

When things work properly and leptin signals go up, it signals the brain that we have plenty of energy and brings hunger down.    Conversely as fat stores get lower (particularly if they get very low) the lack of leptin tells the brain we need to eat.  

The brain also responds to lower leptin levels by limiting our movement.   We literally move less – we tend to sit instead of stand and stop fidgeting.     The couch calls to us!   So we burn fewer calories through activity and our metabolic rate slows down through a process called metabolic adaptation.      This is what allowed humans to survive long periods with low food intake and periods of famine.

The leptin feedback loop works well for most people, but there are genetic differences in how our body secretes and responds to Leptin.   In addition, the food choices we make can seriously derail this important control mechanism!

Super palatable foods that are heavily processed can overwhelm the leptin feedback loop resulting in a lot of overeating.    This includes foods with high levels of sugar, salt, and certain additives such as MSG which are hyper-stimulating to our entire digestive system.    If these are the foods you eat regularly, your brain can become resistant to Leptin much in the same way that too much sugar and starch and no activity can make your cells resistant to the effects of insulin.

There are also certain foods that a generate a strong reward response in the brain such as coffee and alcoholic beverages.   While we initially may hate the taste of these items, our brains learn to crave them which can completely disrupt the leptin and insulin feedback loops that normally work to control our appetite.

So What Should You Do? 

The take home message is that super tasty and super rewarding foods are a dangerous combination!   These types of foods are not found in nature and are a product of our modern food industry and culture.   By making foods salty, sweet, starch and fatty then adding in special flavors and scents food companies are designing foods to make us overeat.

At the end of the day you have to cut these foods out and go through a short-period of withdrawal to allow your body’s innate regulatory mechanisms to kick back into place. 

By making proper food choice and exercising we can gain a high level of control of these physiological mechanisms and our physiological hunger.   Here at the keys:

Eat more whole, fresh, unprocessed foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy.

Eat more fruits and vegetables!  Strive for at least 5 servings per day!

Eat more slow digesting, high fiber foods such as whole grains, potatoes and yams, beans, asparagus, broccoli, etc.

Eat more nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, and fatty fish for your fats.

Eat slowly and mindfully to give you brain time to get the right messages from your gut.

Eat less processed foods

If you stick to these food choices for a month or more you will start to notice your hunger and craving for certain unhealthy foods starts to go down as your body’s regulatory processes get back on track!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Wonderful Watermelon


Watermelon is a summertime favorite across America, but it does not just taste great – it is great for you!  It is a cousin of cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash.   

One of the reasons watermelon is beneficial is that it contains a high quantity of lycopene which is a powerful plant chemical that gives watermelon its red color like tomatoes (another source of lycopene).     Lycopene is a potent antioxidant, and watermelon contains 1.5 times more lycopene than tomato which is the more commonly known source of lycopene.

Lycopene is a carotenoid, similar in structure to beta-carotene associated with carrots.   However, lycopene is much more potent than beta-carotene and provides many unique benefits.   In one study, men with the highest plasma levels of lycopene were 55 percent less likely to have a stroke than those with the lowest levels.

Lycopene Fights Cancer
Scientists at the University of Portsmouth showed that lycopene slows the growth of breast and prostate cancer by interfering with signaling pathways that facilitate tumor growth.    Lycopene also slows the growth of renal cell cancer and helps prevent the cancer from occurring in the first place.   Lycopene has also been shown to work to combat the negative effects of HPV infection (Human Papilloma Virus) which is the cause of cervical cancers, uterine cancer, and certain throat cancers.    

Lycopene and Eye Health
Lycopene protects eyes from oxidative stress which causes many eye diseases.   Lycopene is one of the strongest eye nutrients you can consume.     It may even have the capacity to delay or even prevent cataracts.  Through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, lycopene can help slow or stop processes that lead to macular degeneration.

Lycopene Reduces Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is pain from nerve damage often accompanied by tissue damage.   It has many causes including diabetes and injuries.   Pain can be severe and difficult to treat.     Lycopene has been shown to safely reduce diabetic neuropathy in a study published in the European Journal of Pain.

Lycopene and Heart Health
Lycopene can help prevent high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

L-Citrulline
In addition to lycopene watermelon contains l-citrulline – particularly if you eat/juice the rind that has the highest amounts.      L-citrulline is an amino acid that is converted into l-arginine in the kidneys.   Through this process it helps boost levels of Nitric Oxide (NO) which is very important for circulation and through this process can help reduce blood pressure and treat erectile dysfunction.   In fact, citrulline supplementation has been shown to improve erectile function in men.