Sunday, March 29, 2020

Cut your Risk for Catching a Viral Illness by 9 times!

That is NOT a typo – research has revealed a nutrition supplement that can cut your risk of acquiring a viral illness such as a cold or the flu by 9 times!  That supplement is Quercetin.   Quercetin is a phytochemical (plant chemical) found in many plants including apples, plums, red grapes, green tea, and onions to name a few.    

This supplement has proven beneficial for prevention and treatment of many viruses including Herpes simplex type 1; Polio-virus type 1; parainfluenza virus type 3, respiratory syncytial virus; influenza A and B viruses; H1N1 virus, H3N2 virus and H5N1; hepatitis A and B viruses; Dengue Virus; and Streptococcus Pneumonia infection.     

Quercetin also reduces inflammation and works as an antihistamine and is frequently used to reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.   Quercetin has also been proven to boost mental and physical performance when under extreme physical stress.   As one set of researchers commented " Quercetin has been shown to reduce viral internalization and replication in vitro, and viral load, lung inflammation and airways hyper-responsiveness in vivo."

The three key ways that Quercetin inhibits viruses are:

Inhibiting a virus’s ability to infect other cells (viruses literally infect your cells then take control of them and make them produce more virus!)

Inhibiting replication of already infected cells

Reducing infected cell’s resistance to treatment with anti-viral medication

Department of Defense Research on Quercetin

In a 2007 study from Appalachian State University researchers did a study funded by the Department of  Defense.   The study used had 40 cyclists divided into two groups with one group receiving 1,000 mg per day along with vitamin C and niacin while the other group got a placebo.

They had the athletes ride a bicycle for three hours per day, three days in a row.    45 percent of the placebo group contracted a viral illness after the physical stress compared to just 5 percent of the quercetin supplement group.

In a 1985 Study, researchers found that quercetin reduces the infectivity and replication of Herpes Simplex Type 1, Polio-Virus Type 1, and parainfluenza type 3 along with respiratory syncytial virus.

A 2016 Study found that quercetin inhibited a wide range of influenza strains including H1N1, H3N2, and H5N1.   

Quercetin Supplements

In collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) a supplement called “Q-Force” was developed that is proven to:

Increase Mental Alertness
Strengthen the Immune System
Provide Sustained Energy
Reduce Oxidative Stress and Muscle Soreness Post Exercise

However there are many high quality quercetin supplements available with the best ones containing quercetin, bromelain (a digestive enzyme from pineapple that boosts absorption), and vitamin C,

Quercetin is also an excellent allergy fighter - see previous blogpost on this application here:

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Meditation is Key to Stress Reduction During Coronavirus

Most people know that meditation can help with stress but get stressed by the thought of it because they think meditation is complicated.    The great news is that you cannot do meditation wrong!   There is no judge or jury and anyone can do it!  
Read on to learn the benefits of meditation along with a simple how to guide that is easy to follow!
How Does Meditation Work?
A big part of meditation is just simply sitting quietly (typically with eyes closed), and just taking this simple step has been shown to result in significant and immediate changes in the brain! In fact, MRI images show a complete change in the brain’s different departments, which results in a relaxation response in the rest of the body.
During meditation, beta waves, which are associated with information processing, are replaced by alpha waves, which are associated with brain coherence. The frontal and parietal lobes, which deal with reasoning, planning, and processing sensory information, slow down. And through the significant reduction in incoming sensory stimuli, the nervous system shifts to relation mode with improved functioning throughout the body.
The autonomic nervous system (which is essentially the automatic control system for the body) consists of two branches: the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).
The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is associated with preparing the body for physical or mental activity. In response to a stressor, the SNS initiates the "fight-or-flight response" to prepare for action. It increases muscle blood flow and tension, dilates pupils, accelerates heart rate and respiration, and increases perspiration and arterial blood pressure. To conserve and concentrate energy, it slows down digestive activity.
The counterpart to the SNS is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) which is essential for rest and recovery.   It is responsible for the "rest-and-digest" or "feed and breed" activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating, including sexual arousal, salivation, lacrimation, urination, digestion and defecation.    The PNS puts the brakes on the flight or fight response.   
Particularly in these times it is easy to have your Sympathetic Nervous System turned on all the time.    This is what being “Stressed Out” is all about.  This is where meditation and exercise can become critical for reducing this response.  
On a physical level, meditation:
·       Lowers high blood pressure
·       Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
·       Decreases tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
·       Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
·       Improves the immune system
·       Increases the energy level, as you gain an inner source of energy

Mental Benefits of Meditation
Meditation relaxes the body as well as the mind. Without constant stimuli entering the sensory pathways, the mind is able to relax and enter a state of deep rest. Meditation also allows for a deeper connection with the inner self. In doing so, self-esteem increases and people find that they get in touch their authentic feelings and desires which allows for better self-regulation. With regular practice of meditation:
·       Anxiety decreases
·       Emotional stability improves
·       Creativity increases
·       Happiness increases
·       Intuition develops
·       Gain clarity and Peace of Mind
·       Problems become smaller
·       Meditation sharpens the mind by increasing focus and expands through relaxation
·       A sharp mind without expansion causes tension, anger and frustration
·       An expanded consciousness without sharpness can lead to lack of action/progress
·       The balance of a sharp mind and an expanded consciousness brings perfection
·       Increases emotional steadiness and balance

How To Meditate
There are many different ways to meditate, and many people never get started because some of these methods can seem very complicated and challenging.  People try to meditate and think they are “doing it wrong” because they do not know what to expect.
The fact is that meditation is simply sitting quietly and comfortably (usually with your eyes closed) while letting thoughts and feelings come and go!  Sitting in a chair is fine – you do not need to sit in cross-legged position on the floor unless this is comfortable.  The key is being able to relax, and for some people, kneeling with pillows or pads under the hips or using a kneeling chair allows them to relax while keeping the spine in alignment.  
It is natural and normal for the mind to wander and generate all sorts of thoughts and feelings – the key is to learn to watch them come and go because thoughts and feelings never last!  We are not our thoughts or our feelings.  It is helpful to try to pay attention to your breathing – do not try to control it – just pay attention to it.  Thoughts and feelings will intrude and this is NOT a problem – it is normal.  
When your mind inevitably drifts and you become aware of it return your attention to your breathing.   This process of drifting in thoughts and feelings and coming back to your breathing IS meditation.  There is no “doing it wrong.”  Think of it like house cleaning for your brain.  This is why dreaming is so essential – your brain is cleaning house when you dream and to some extent meditation is just wakeful dreaming.
Try to set a timer and sit for 10 minutes a day and gradually increase the time to 20 or 30 minutes per day.  It is crucial NOT to judge yourself – remember thoughts and feelings are normal – just watch the show!    If you stick with this overtime the “noise” in your mind will slow down.
There are many apps available to help you meditate and many people find them helpful – the key is to use them daily and NOT judge yourself – just sit and be with yourself.
At first this can be challenging, but over time it gets easier and easier – good luck!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Strengthening Your Immune System for Coronavirus

Although there is no vaccine or known way to guarantee that someone does not contract coronavirus there are practices which do improve immunity and help your body to deal with the virus if you do contract it.

First – follow all recommendations of the CDC relative to social distancing and hygiene:

Wash your hands

If sick stay at home

Cough and sneeze into your elbow

Keep your distance from other people whenever possible


Proper nutrition is essential to keep your immune system in tip top shape.    This means adequate intake of high-quality protein (minimum of 50 grams per day for a female and 60 grams for a male.

At least five servings of fruits and vegetables

Minimize sugar intake which diminishes immune response

Stay hydrated with water – still the best!

Ensure adequate intake of omega 3 fatty acids from cold water fish or supplements – see below.

Minimize intake of omega 6 fatty acids like soybean oil (mayonnaise and many other vegetable oils with the exception of Olive Oil and Avocado oil)

Stick with naturally occurring healthy fats like Olive Oil, Avocado, nuts, seeds, whole eggs, cold water fatty fish like Salmon, etc.

Nutrition Supplements

Although it is ideal to get all your micronutrients from food – it is almost impossible to get optimal levels of these important nutrition factors from food alone.

Key supplements to consider:

High-quality multiple vitamin and mineral – will cover MANY bases and help ensure that your cells have key micronutrients like all B-Vitamins, Selenium, etc.

Zinc – is VERY important for immunity and supplementation is particularly important for vegetarians and vegans because there are few good sources of zinc in these diets other than things like Pumpkin Seeds.   If you eat animal foods regularly this is less important.      The RDA for zinc is 11mg for adults and most high-quality multiples have 15mg.      30mg per day is even more effective but higher doses can actually cause problems if prolonged.     Look for Zinc Acetate, Zinc Glycinate, Zinc Picolinate or Zinc Gluconate.     If you want to focus on optimizing zinc intake through food (ideal!) great food choices include:


Other Shellfish

Pumpkin Seeds


Dark Meat Chicken


Vitamin D – is HUGELY important from overall health in general and proper immune function in particular.    If you do nothing else with supplement get your D levels tested and optimize them through supplementation!     High normal Vitamin D levels are directly linked to lower viral infection rates and less severe symptoms and shorter duration of illness if you do contract a virus.    See this previous blog post to learn how to optimize your Vitamin D levels:

Vitamin C – adequate vitamin C intake is crucial for immune cell function.       If you eat high levels of fruits and vegetables it is easy to get plenty of C.    But if you contract any type of respiratory illness it is wise to dramatically increase your Vitamin C intake to what is known as bowel tolerance (see this link for more information on what this means and how to do it: The best form or oral C is Liposomal Vitamin C.

Exercise to Optimize Immune Function

Exercise is crucial for your health for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons is its ability to help with mental stress which can become debilitating.     We all know that excessive worry and stress are bad for us, prevent adequate high-quality sleep, and ruin our quality of life overall.   Exercise is amazingly effective for reducing mental stress and worry and it produces these benefits almost immediately!    Most people immediately feel better after any type of exercise.
Science shows a clear inverse relationship between moderate exercise and illness risk.

Exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect through multiple pathways.

Exercise is a proven anti-depressant.

Like all good things too much exercise can be counter-productive, and there is an inverse relationship between exercise intensity and duration.    So if doing Higher Intensity Exercise keep the exercise sessions short (under a half hour and twenty minutes is plenty!).     Extremely long duration exercise can also blunt immune response so keep low intensity exercise under an hour to insure you do not reduce immune function.

Also ideal to eat a meal of carbs and protein immediately after exercise which has proven to dramatically boost recovery and accelerate the benefits of exercise.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Dumbbell Snatch – a Safer Power Exercise!

The Barbell Snatch is unquestionably one of the most amazing exercises you can do to develop power – the ability to produce lots of force quickly!   Power is king in athletic performance and it helps us mere mortals in many situations as well.      There are several popular power exercises but the barbell snatch is thought by many professional conditioning coaches to the best way to develop total body power.   Unfortunately it is not an easy exercise to learn, and it can take months of work with an experienced Olympic Lifting Coach to master the movement.    More importantly if you do not do it correctly or if you have issues with shoulder, hip or ankle mobility you can hurt yourself trying to do this lift!

Enter the dumbbell snatch!  Start with feet apart and feet rotated out slightly from your hips.  Feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width.   Hold a dumbbell with one hand in front of your thighs with your knuckles facing forward.   Squat down keeping torso upright and maintaining a slight arch in your lower back.   Arm holding dumbbell is kept straight with dumbbell between the legs knuckles still facing forward.   Do not let the shoulder slouch forward or down!   

The movement is initiated by driving up quickly by extending the knees and hips.    Picture yourself jumping up in the air holding a dumbbell.  As you come up shrug your shoulders and pull the dumbbell upward allowing your elbow to pull up and to the side of your head.   Keep the elbow over the dumbbell as long as possible.     Then pull your body under the dumbbell catching it at arm’s length while moving into the squat position.    Once you catch the dumbbell over your head stand up with dumbbell overhead.   Lower dumbbell to your shoulder then down to the original position in front of your thigh and repeat!

Simply put think: jump, shrug, drive elbow, and catch the dumbbell overhead!

Here is a great video of the dumbbell snatch from Michael Boyle: and another view here:

Start with a relatively light weight – 20 – 25lbs men – 15 – 20lbs woman.    However once you get a little feel for the movement you need to go up in weight – you want to use enough load that you have to use the power of your legs and hips to generate the power to throw the weight up – your upper body just guides the dumbbell – it does not do the heavy lifting!

After a dynamic warm-up do sets of 3 – 5 reps on each side starting with 2 – 3 sets each side to 5 sets each side with sufficient recovery between sets so that you can focus on doing each repetition with good form!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Tips for Preventing Viral Infections

It is that time year again when viral illnesses typically proliferate.      This happens for several reasons, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to help protect you and your family from viruses.   Dry air and cold temperatures are known to promote the spread of the flu and other viral illnesses.     At the same time people spend more time cooped up inside and this creates a fertile environment for the spread of viral illness.   In addition, lack of sunlight results in drops in vitamin D levels in the body and this is directly linked to decreased immunity.

Here are some steps you can take to help protect you and your family:

Use a humidifier in your bedroom will help reduce the survival of many viruses including most strains of the flu.   Not only does increased humidity lower the survival of viruses in the air – it also influences your response to viral infection.   However, it is also important to keep the humidifier clean to prevent mold.  You can also add a few drops of essential oil like eucalyptus to help prevent any mold growth.

Wash your hands – yes, this simple step can prevent many infections!      We contract viruses through our mouth, eyes, and nose, and the most common transmissions occur when we touch our unwashed hands to one or more of these areas.      Frequent hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds is the single best protection to avoid viral infection.     Always have alcohol sanitizer in your car and on your person and use whenever you are not able to wash your hands with soap and water. 

Maintain a Healthy Diet – with adequate protein and high in fruits and vegetables – at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight (about 56 grams for a man and 46 for a woman).    
Stay Hydrated – particularly during plane travel.     Dehydration lowers immunity and during dry winter months dehydration is common.

Vitamin C and Zinc – while there are many nutrients that support optimal immune function two that are critical are vitamin C and Zinc.      Vitamin C can be obtained by a good diet high in fruits and vegetables.   Zinc is highest red meat.     If you are not a meat eater other good sources of zinc include oysters and pumpkin seeds.    Supplementation is also an option and can quickly boost levels of both nutrients.     Either liposomal or buffered C with bioflavonoids are the most effective types of supplement for C.      For zinc choose a high-quality chelated zinc supplement like zinc glycinate, picolinate, or acetate.   For Zinc 30 mg per day is plenty and should be taken with food while for C 500 – 1,000 mg or more than enough on a daily basis.
During onset of sickness the body can tolerate much higher doses of C and this is beneficial in shortening the duration of viral illness.

Optimize Vitamin D Levels - Absolutely crucial for prevention of illness and optimizing immune function.     Each person is unique in terms of how much supplemental D is required to optimize blood levels so blood testing is essential to optimize results.     See this previous blogpost to learn how to optimize your levels of this crucial nutrient:

Elderberry Extract – elderberry has long been recognized as a potent anti-viral compound in folk medicine, but the good news is that science has proven this designation is on target and how elderberry extract can be used to prevent and treat viral illnesses.  One example is a recent 2019 study where the researchers concluded:   “What our study has shown is that common elderberry has a potent direct antiviral effect against the flu virus.   It inhibits the early stages of an infection by blocking key viral proteins responsible for both the viral attachment and entry into the host cells.”

In another study using the leading brand of elderberry called “Sambucol” was shown to reduce the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days which is amazing!   Sambucol was also shown to directly boost key immune chemicals and activate the immune system so it works directly to help prevent viral infection and replication while at the same time boosting your immune system.

The great news is that Sambucol is completely safe for all ages and has no known contraindication and is available in vitamin stores and pharmacies everywhere for a very low price!     It comes as a sweet tasting syrup liquid or as gummy chews (delicious).  For more information on Sambucol go to

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Arnica Montana - The Best Kept Secret for Injuries!

Sooner or later we all experience a traumatic physical injury from a fall, contact during sports,  from a dental procedure or surgery; or twisting or straining joints or muscles.     While over the counter pain relievers like Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen reduce pain they come with a list of potentially serious side effects.  

Fortunately, there is an excellent homeopathic remedy that can safely be used by anyone and brings with it zero drug interactions!    That remedy is made from the herb Arnica Montana or Arnica for short.    It is also known as Leopard’s Bane, Mountain Tobacco or Wolf’s Bane.    In addition to its pain-relieving properties,Arnica also reduces inflammation from traumatic injury.  

In fact, it is so successful in reducing inflammation, bruising and swelling from traumatic injury that it is routinely prescribed by plastic surgeons because excess post-surgery inflammation and swelling can negatively affect the results of these surgeries.

Arnica is a flowing perennial plant related to the Daisy and Sunflower – so those with allergies to either of these flowers should avoid using the actual herb.

Homeopathic Arnica is derived from the herb but like all homeopathic remedies is NOT the same as an herbal remedy.  To produce homeopathic Arnica the herb is harvested, chopped up and place in a container with alcohol and left for approximately one month.   Then the particulate matter is strained out so that the alcohol is left which acts as a solvent and is full of all the plant chemicals from Arnica.

This liquid is known as “Mother Tincture”.  Next, they take one drop of this liquid and mix it with either 9 drops or 99 drops of alcohol and the mixture is shaken through a particular process known as succession.     The dilution is now either 1 part per 10 or 1 part per 100.     This process is repeated again using the diluted mixture – one drop mixed with either 10 drops or 100 drops.     The liquid is then poured onto small pellets of lactose.  Depending on how many times this process is repeated determines a homeopathic remedy’s “potency” and there are several potency scales used in homeopathy:

Decimal potencies which come marked as 3X, 6X, 100X, etc.  Centesimal potencies which come marked as 3C, 9C, 12C, 30C, or 1M(1,000 dilutions) and 10M (10,000 dilutions)  

So How Do Homeopathic Remedies Produce Effects Since They are so Diluted?

The key to understanding how homeopathic remedies work is understanding the process of hormesis.  Hormesis refers to a biphasic dose response to a chemical whereby an extremely low dose can cause stimulation and beneficial effect on a biological system and a higher dose can cause an inhibitory or toxic effect.   Put another way hormesis refers to the fact that a beneficial effect (improved health, stress tolerance, growth or longevity) can result from exposure to low doses of an agent that is other toxic at higher doses.    

There are many examples of hormesis including physical stress from lifting weights – provide enough load and stress and not too much and the body gets stronger – try to lift too much weight or do too much weight lifting too soon and injury results.

In the case of many beneficial plant chemicals – these phytochemicals are actually known toxins which at high doses produce negative or toxic effects but at low doses stimulate a positive adaptive response by the body.

So -  dose is VERY important!

How do you use Arnica for injuries?

Homeopathic Remedies are produced in strict compliance with pharmaceutical Good Manufacturing Processes in FDA inspected facilities.    They usually come in small tubes full of pellets of lactose with a twist top that allows you to select 3 – 5 pellets.   You simply place them under your tongue and allow them to dissolve.        Dosage instructions are included on the tubes and a tube of homeopathic Arnica is very inexpensive - $6 - $9 for many doses worth!

To treat any traumatic injury, take 3 – 5 pellets and repeat as often as every 15 minutes until you feel improvement.     There is no possibility of overdose or poisoning the best potency for most injuries is 30C but any potency you find will work.    For really serious injuries look for 200C potency.      

Once you experience how effective this remedy can be you will want to have it with you all the time!

Topical Arnica

Arnica can also be used topically and comes in the form of gels, creams, liquids.  This form of Arnica is herbal meaning that it DOES contain significant quantities of plant chemicals from Arnica, and it is proven to be highly effective for traumatic injury.       It should NOT be used on any broken skin, and no form of herbal Arnica should every be taken internally!

You can use both topical Arnica and homeopathic Arnica in cases like sprains, strains and impact injuries without broken skin.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Using Heart Rate Variability to Measure Stress Response and Optimize Health

When embarking on an exercise program it is natural to focus most of your attention on workouts because without the stimulus of appropriate exercise done at the correct frequency, intensity and for the right amount of time you will not make progress.   However it is easy to lose sight of the fact that exercise is a stimulus and stressor and that progress actually occurs during recovery from exercise!

So while providing the correct amount of exercise stimulus is important -- optimizing recovery is as or more important.  This is particularly the case as we get older because our ability to recover from exercise stress tends to decrease as we age.    There are many factors which affect our ability to recover from and improve from exercise including adequate sleep, breathing patterns, hydration, nutrition, and mental ability to relax to name a few.

The art of exercise often comes down to knowing when you are training to much or too hard and NOT recovering adequately. This is particularly true as you get older and for serious athletes who must walk a knife edge between exercising enough and at a high enough intensity and allowing for adequate recovery.

The great news is that there is a highly accurate way to easily check your recovery status/stress response by monitoring heart rate variability or HRV for short.     HRV refers to the fact that the time between each heartbeat continuously varies!      The picture at the beginning of this article shows the variation in time between each beat of the heart measured with an electrocardiogram.     Even though the time between each heart beat is always varying your heart rate as expressed as the number of heart beats per minute can be steady at times.

So for example, an average heart rate of 60 beats per minute (bpm) does not mean that the interval between successive heartbeats is exactly 1.0 sec, instead they may fluctuate/vary from 0.5 sec up to 2.0 sec.   During exercise, HRV decreases as heart rate and exercise intensity increases. HRV also decreases during periods of mental stress.

As a general rule of thumb we want to see HIGHER Heart Rate Variability.    Higher HRV indicates that your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is in a highly responsive state and able to quickly adjust to changes and challenges to optimize homeostasis (homeostasis refers the fact that any living thing must maintain a consistent internal environment to maintain life so your body must constantly adjust to changes such as increased temperature, muscle activity, lightness, darkness, etc. to keep all the cells and organs functioning)

HRV is regulated by the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which controls the function of our internal organs such as heart, lungs, intestines, level of arterial tension, etc.    The ANS has two parts:  Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. 

The sympathetic nervous system is often considered the "fight or flight" system, while the parasympathetic nervous system is often considered the "rest and digest" system. In many cases, these systems have "opposite" actions where one system activates a physiological response and the other inhibits it. 

Parasympathetic activity decreases heart rate and increases HRV, whereas sympathetic activity increases heart rate and decreases HRV.    Recovery and stress relief is all about increased parasympathetic activity.  

When there are inappropriately high levels of Sympathetic Activity and low levels of Parasympathetic Activity – particularly for prolonged periods of time – you cannot recover from stress and sooner or later you will begin to experience physiological symptoms and physical performance decrements.

HRV and Heart Disease

When your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is inhibited your HRV is low and directly influences stress on your heart.   An under-active (PNS) and overactive Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is a direct cause of high blood pressure, inflammation, and heart disease.   In fact research shows that the PNS activity of patients with heart disease is one-third lower, on average, than that of a healthy individual.

Measurement of HRV

Measurement of HRV allows you to know how your body is responding and adapting to all the stressors in your life including exercise BEFORE you experience symptoms or a decrease in physical performance.    By measuring HRV each morning upon waking before you rise from bed or eat or drink anything you can very accurately track your recovery status/stress response.   To measure your HRV you need a chest strap type heart rate monitor that puts out a Bluetooth Signal so it can connect to your mobile phone.      Most chest strap monitors do put out a Bluetooth Signal.    Then download one of several HRV apps for your phone such as this excellent app: 

Follow the directions to set-up the app and connect your monitor to the app.   Then in morning put on your monitor and let the app run for 2 minutes or so.    Record the HRV numbers and look at them over a couple of days.   It will take a few days before the numbers will become meaningful. Take notes on your workouts to see the correlations between your numbers and how you feel. The numbers are related to you and are not useful unless you can compare it to your previous data (furthermore, different apps use different algorithms, so the numbers between apps will be different, as well). You can use recommendations from the app as rough rules of thumb, but rely mostly on your numbers relative to previous numbers to track recovering and stress response.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Salmon Roe – The Super-food You Never Heard Of!

Just about everyone has heard that s  farm-raised salmon contains very little Omega 3 fatty acids so choose Wild Alaskan Salmon whenever possible).

Salmon can be a very healthy addition to your diet due to high levels of beneficial Omega 3 Fatty Acids and a unique Anti-Oxidant called Astaxanthin which gives Salmon its color (NOTE:

Salmon roe may be one of the best kept secrets out there.    Salmon roe – often known as salmon caviar – is Salmon eggs from female salmon.     Like most eggs salmon roe is incredibly nutritious and delicious! 

Salmon Roe is high in protein, vitamins, and a particularly potent form of Omega 3 Fatty Acids.   The two most bio-active types of Omega 3 Fatty Acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).       EPA and DHA are present in fatty fish such as salmon, but Salmon Roe contains these essential fatty acids in phospholipid form.    Our cell membranes are composed of a phospholipid layer.   The phospholipid form of EPA and DHA is much easier to absorb into your cells which is where the benefits are derived.

Salmon Roe and prevention of Dementia and Alzheimer’s

The highly bioavailable form of DHA in salmon roe allows it to be transported efficiently across the blood/brain barrier.    People prone to dementia have an impaired ability to transport DHA across the blood/brain barrier so DHA is not able to get to the brain cells.   DHA is vital for the brain and its development.   Regular DHA from fish oil is often not able to get past the blood brain barrier in people prone to dementia, but salmon roe can deliver this critical nutrient to brain cells.

If able to get across the blood/brain barrier, DHA promotes brain glucose uptake (blood sugar uptake) by regulating the structure and function of special proteins called glucose transporters located in the blood-brain barrier.      Getting enough glucose into brain cells is critical for preventing the build up of Amyloid-Beta Plaque and Tau tangle formation which is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Other Nutrients in Salmon Roe

As mentioned above salmon roe contains highly bioavailable EPA/DHA – in fact salmon roe has 3.5 times the amount of these essential fatty acids than salmon itself!  One ounce of salmon roe contains 6 grams of protein and high amounts of vitamins B12, C, E, Folate, Thiamine and the critical mineral selenium.  Like salmon – salmon roe contains high amounts of the highly effective antioxidant Astaxanthin.  If you are not familiar with Astaxanthin check out this previous blog-post on its many benefits:

Saturday, February 1, 2020

How to Prepare Rice and Potatoes to Reduce Calories

Yes you heard that right – how you prepare complex carbohydrates like rice and potatoes can make a big difference in the amount of sugar, starch and calories you absorb when you eat them!    To understand how this occurs let’s look at the three types of carbohydrates:  sugars, starches and fibers.

All sugars are converted into glucose (your body’s preferred carbohydrate source) to be used for cellular energy.      Starches are simply multiple sugars hooked together and when eaten are broken down into sugar again.

Fiber also consists of multiple sugars hooked together but human beings lack the enzymes necessary to break fiber down into sugars again.   So long story short even though there are calories and sugar present within fiber we do not absorb any of them!    

Fiber has many benefits to our digestive system including helping with satiety (feeling satisfied); reducing cholesterol; and providing “food” for the good bacteria which inhabit our intestines.

How to Prepare Rice and Potatoes to Lower sugar/starch and reduce calories absorbed

Scientists have discovered that you can convert a significant amount of starch to a form of starch known as “Resistant Starch” simply by cooking it, refrigerating it and then re-heating it.   To put some numbers to it a cup of rice has about 240 calories.   Prepared properly calories can drop by 50 – 60% WITHOUT affecting the taste AND providing many collateral benefits!

Here is here is the preparation process:

Bring water to a boil

Then add one teaspoon of coconut oil – this was used in an experiment testing the process, but the main effects are caused by cooking, cooling for 12 or more hours then reheating!

Add rice and boil for 20 – 25 minutes.

Refrigerate the rice for 12 hours

Then reheat the rice and eat or eat cold if you prefer – adding a small amount of a healthy oil like Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil prevents clumping and improve texture and taste for many.

This process boosts resistant starch by 10 times.

Metabolic Benefits of Resistant Starch

Resistant Starch is not fully digested and absorbed and instead ferments in the large intestine and is turned in short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) by bacteria.    These SCFA’s feed the beneficial bacteria in the colon.

We only absorb 2 calories per gram of resistant starch compared to 4 calories per gram for regular sugar and starch, yet resistant starch is very effective at satisfying hunger and produces high levels of satiety.

Resistant starch can help lower blood cholesterol and fat and has been shown to reduce the production of new fat cells.   The SCFA’s produced from resistant starch also reduce the release of sugar by the liver thereby increasing the amount of fat burning!

There is also a significantly reduced insulin response to resistant starch which is VERY important.    Constant high levels of insulin in response to high levels of sugar and other non-fiber carbohydrate intake reduces the cells insulin sensitivity and overtime this can result in Type 2 Diabetes!    This has big ramifications for the treatment of this form of diabetes which is sky-rocketing.

The effect on glucose and insulin metabolism is very impressive. Some studies have found a 33-50% improvement in insulin sensitivity after 4 weeks of consuming 15-30 grams per day.

Resistant starch may help prevent and reduce existing irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, constipation, and ulcerative colitis.

Resistant starch can help balance immune response in the gut by balancing the production of immune cells and inflammatory chemicals.

Other Ways to Boost Resistant Starch Intake

Another great source of resistant starch is potato of all types.   Like rice simply cook then cool for 12 hours and eat cold or reheat.    Fine to add some healthy oil or reheat in water to change consistency and reheating in a microwave is fine.

Other food sources of resistant starch include green bananas, cashews, and raw oats.    You can also boost intake by using raw potato starch powder (Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch) which is easy to add to food and shakes and has very little taste.    Benefits will max out at 32 grams of resistant starch per day and start slowly to allow your digestive system to adjust.

It takes 2 – 4 weeks for the production of short chain fatty acids to increase and notice all the benefits!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Vitamin D Optimization to Prevent Illness in Winter

Vitamin D is constantly in the news and for good reason.    Optimal levels of Vitamin D have been linked to a host of benefits including prevention and treatment of many key diseases ranging from Osteoporosis to improved heart health with reduction in heart attack risk to prevention of many different types of cancer.  Optimal Vitamin D levels also help prevent acute illness's like colds and flu!

The ideal way to get optimal levels of Vitamin D is to let your body create it through Safe Sun Exposure (see previous blog on this subject here:  However this is easier said then done, and too much sun is clearly a strong risk factor for skin cancer!      Enter Vitamin D supplementation.

The amount and form of Vitamin D supplementation has changed substantially based on lots of emerging research.    The form that should be taken is Vitamin D-3 NOT D-2 form and all experts agree on this!     However when it comes to dosage things get much trickier.      The confusion comes because Vitamin D is really a powerful compound and functions as a hormone in the body.    As such it has profound impact on virtually every system in the body.    In addition it is possible, although very rare, to overdose on Vitamin D supplements so more is NOT always better!

To insure you are taking the right dosage you need to test your levels of Vitamin D.    The test you want is called a 25(OH)D blood test and is offered by all major labs.   You can either ask your doctor to order this test for you OR you can order an in-home test.   You just prick your finger and put a drop of blood on the enclosed paper and send back in to the labs.    You can also order your own blood test online and go to a lab to have blood drawn in the same way your doctor orders the test.   For more information on testing go here:

Ideal versus Acceptable Blood Levels of Vitamin D
There is a big difference between what is considered “acceptable” or okay and ideal blood levels.    Almost all negative vitamin D studies contain a big flaw - they use a fixed dose for people in the study instead of testing and retesting to determine the optimal dosage to achieve ideal blood levels.  In virtually every case when dosage is optimized for the individual there are significant positive results in preventing acute illness, and improving function throughout the body. 

Here are the classifications of different blood levels of Vitamin D. according to the Vitamin D Council:

0 – 30 ng/ML is very low and considered a deficiency

30 – 39 is better but still insufficient for optimal health and disease prevention.

40 – 100 ng/ML is optimal

Above 150 ng/ML is toxic!

The key is to test and if low take a supplement then retest 2 – 3 months after regular vitamin d use because each person is different in how much supplementation they need based on many factors including sun exposure and skin type.     The RDA for Vitamin D for infants is 400Iiu/10mcg.    For Children 1 – 13 and adults through age 70 the RDA is 600iu and for those over 70 the RDA is 800iu.

Unfortunately, this is way too low to get many people into the sufficient much less optimal range so  testing is really worthwhile.   In many cases people need 4,000 – 10,000 or more iu's per day for at least a month to get where they need to be for optimal health!

Preventing Vitamin D Toxicity through the Co-Administration of Vitamin K-2
Like many vitamins Vitamin D has a co-factor or other vitamin that helps it perform its function better and in a more balanced fashion, and that other vitamin is Vitamin K-2 (not to be confused with K-1 found in many plants).    In an ideal world, you can get all the Vitamin K-1 you need from eating plenty of green, leafy vegetables, and your body can turn it into K-2.   Unfortunately, this conversion is lacking in many people.

More importantly K-2 is not easily toxic and can be taken with Vitamin D.    K-2 is best taken as a supplement as MK7 version which has been heavily researched and shown to improve bone health and prevent arterial calcification which can potentially occur with too much Vitamin D.     For a more complete understanding behind how K-2 works with Vitamin D and why it is a great idea to take the MK-7 form of K-2 with Vitamin D check out this article from Dr. Mercola:

Taking 100 – 200 mcg per day of Vitamin K-2 will help optimize the effects of Vitamin D and minimize risks associated with Vitamin D Supplementation.