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The old calorie-counting method may work the first time, but bounces back into even more weight gain. Correct nutrition means minimal carbohydrate, moderate protein, healthy fats, Vitamin D3, combined with exercise for a great, healthy body.

 

What You Need to Know About Blood Flow Restriction Training


Reproduced from original article:
https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2020/01/03/kaatsu-blood-flow-restriction-training.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked image
January 03, 2020

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Blood flow restriction (BFR) training involves very slightly restricting arterial inflow and enabling moderation (or “slowing”) of venous outflow at the top of the arms or legs while exercising either the arm, leg or core muscles with very low weights but high repetition to failure
  • BFR allows you to significantly enhance strength and increase muscle mass using as little as 20 to 30% of your single-rep max (1 RM) weight compared to conventional strength training that uses 70 to 85% of your 1 RM. Alternatively, for those who cannot or do not want to use weights, you can contract your muscles and move them very slowly with the BFR bands on
  • Use of lighter weights makes BFR far safer than conventional strength training and makes it available to a much broader range of individuals, including the elderly and patients with disabilities or injuries
  • Venous blood flow restriction is achieved by wrapping the extremity being exercised with an inflatable cuff or band. The band needs to be tight enough to reduce the normal level of venous return to the heart, while being loose enough to allow arterial flow-through
  • BFR is actually a form of high intensity training, as the Type I slow twitch muscle fibers become highly fatigued during the first set, thus necessitating the recruitment of Type II fast twitch muscle fibers as the exercise progresses, which is likely for many of the metabolic benefits of BFR
Dr. Sato

Sato, the 73-year-old inventor of KAATSU

The origins of blood flow restriction (BFR) training, also known as vascular occlusion training, were developed by the pioneering professor Yoshiaki Sato of Japan over 50 years ago.

In Japan, where it is widely practiced, the technique is called KAATSU, meaning “additional pressure,” and was generically defined as BFM (blood flow moderation) by Sato.

As explained in a recent exercise position paper,1 BFR involves “partially slowing” arterial inflow and partially modifying venous outflow” of the exercising muscle on the extremities.

With this exercise innovation, you’re able to significantly enhance your strength and muscle mass using a fraction of the weight used in conventional strength training,2 in about half the time it would normally take. Because the weight is so low, the risk for injuries is radically reduced.

Research3 also shows it stimulates the production of endogenous hormones, such as human growth hormone and IGF-1, commonly referred to as “the fitness hormones.”

Increased IGF in the Muscle Is Actually Good

IGF-1 is typically secreted from the liver, which is the largest contributor to circulating IGF-1, and when the liver secretes IGF-1 it will not act on those tissues that have capabilities of producing the hormone themselves, such as skeletal muscle.4

Interestingly, it is not the circulating levels of IGF-1 in your blood that causes your muscles to grow, but the intrinsic secretion of IGF-1 produced by your muscle when you engage in exercises like BFR that is the key determinant for switching on anabolic muscle building pathways.5

This is an important distinction as it is well documented that high circulating levels of IGF-1 in your blood will inhibit autophagy and decrease your longevity.6 This does not appear to be the case when you increase IGF-1 in your muscle as a result of exercise. This IGF-1 does not leak out into your blood to suppress autophagy, and additionally will serve to activate AMPK7 another powerful pro-longevity signal.

Importantly, the use of lighter weights also makes resistance training available to a much broader range of individuals,8 including the elderly and patients with various medical conditions or injuries. Since these results can also be achieved without weights, the possibilities for use by nearly everyone is exciting.

This is clearly one of the best strategies available to address the epidemic of muscle loss with aging,9 called sarcopenia, that has an estimated prevalence of 25% in adults older than 60 years,10 rising to 50% in adults older than 80 years.11

How BFR Works

how bfr works

BFR’s ability to achieve such remarkable physiological benefits is directly related to slowing venous blood flow from the muscle group being engaged and creating a relatively hypoxic environment or low oxygen pressures in the exercising muscle.

Venous flow moderation is optimally achieved by wrapping the extremity being exercised with an inflatable cuff or band. The band needs to be tight enough to slow venous return to the heart, allowing venous blood to “pool” in the region of the limb that is being exercised, while loose enough to allow arterial blood to flow through.

With very light exercise, and in about 15 to 20 minutes, you get an exhaustive workout that sends a signal to your brain that says, “Hey, I’ve done something really hard here — you better help me recover and adapt to it.”

Your brain then sends out a wide variety of powerful hormonal responses that cause your muscles and blood vessels to grow. Most would think that such light weights would be insufficient to provide any muscle strength improvements, but studies show nearly a 40% increase in muscle strength after only 12 weeks, depending on your load and health.12

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BFR Mimics Heavy Weight Training Without Any of the Risks

BFR training is frequently misunderstood as simply a conventional resistance training program with the addition of resistance bands. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Because the exercise is done with such low weights, there’s far less muscle fiber trauma and damage; especially relative to conventional strength training. This means you are able to recover much quicker, so you don’t have to dig yourself out of a hole the next few days. In most cases, you can exercise different body parts nearly every day and rapidly attain the metabolic and physical benefits.

type I and II muscle fibers

High-intensity training such as sprinting or heavy weight training have typically been recommended for increasing muscle size because they activate the fast twitch Type II muscle fibers.

In order to increase muscle mass and strength, it is important to activate fast twitch Type II muscle fibers during training, since these fibers have been shown to be more responsive to increasing muscle size than Type I fibers13 and these fibers are generally much larger.

Weight training using low weights without resistance bands will not activate Type II fibers. The reason for this is because the slow twitch Type I fibers become exhausted in the hypoxic conditions created by BFR, which then allow the Type II fibers to kick in and generate high levels of lactate, which are responsible for much of the metabolic magic.

During BFR training, the Type I fibers become highly fatigued during the first set due to the lack of oxygen, thus necessitating the recruitment of Type II fibers that create energy without oxygen as the exercise progresses.14 Simply moving light weights with high repetition without BFR will not engage Type II fibers because there is plenty of oxygen for the Type I fibers to work. Hence the fast-twitch Type II fibers just aren’t called into action.

BFR is the type of training that will not only add solid muscle mass, but also significantly increase your strength and endurance, while reducing your body fat.15,16 For most people who are not competitive athletes, it’s really the only form of resistance training they need.

Competitive athletes also seem to benefit from BFR but they would need to combine it with conventional strength training.17 In short, BFR works on a very simple principle: It tricks your body into believing that it is moving far heavier weights than you’re actually using, and as a result generates many powerful compensatory metabolic responses detailed below.

Local and Systemic Effects of BFR

If you are elderly, what is really amazing is that your muscle growth with BFR is beyond what strength training with heavy weights can do. This is because you need good blood flow to your Type II muscle fiber stem cells, and virtually everyone’s microcirculation decreases with age. So even if you send the signal to grow by doing conventional strength training, it won’t work as well if there isn’t enough capillary supply to your Type II fiber stem cells.

BFR increases your microcirculation, your capillaries and venules and arterioles that are associated with them (see image below), largely because your muscles are working in a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment.

local systematic effects bfrMicrocirculation

This low oxygen tension causes the release of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha),18 that then increases the hormone vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is one of the most powerful angiogenic or blood vessel producing signals in your body. BFR has been shown to raise VEGF levels by 410% in young adults.19

An interesting aside is that the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine was awarded for pioneering work in HIF-1 alpha and VEGF in early October 2019. Essentially VEGF acts as “fertilizer” for growing new blood vessels and capillaries to your muscle stem cells. BFR training has been shown to increase muscle stem cells by 300% after eight days of training.20

But it gets even better as VEGF not only increases microcirculation in your muscle stem cells but also in your brain and heart. In Japan, BFR is frequently used for stroke and cardiac rehab precisely for this purpose.

BFR not only stimulates VEGF but also increases the production of the important regulatory free radical, nitric oxide, which further contributes to an increase in VEGF.21 Nitric oxide is an important signaling molecule produced at high levels in muscle by neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS). BFR, by way of increasing nitric oxide, has been found to stimulate muscle satellite stem cells and proliferation.22

BFR Is a Powerful Myostatin Inhibitor

But here’s the real winner: BFR also downregulates a hormone called myostatin, which is a negative regulator of muscle growth and mass.23,24,25 In other words when your myostatin levels are high you simply are unable to grow muscle.

This is important because the elderly typically have myostatin levels twice as high as the young,26 which makes it really difficult to increase muscle size and strength.

In the past, lactate was traditionally viewed as a metabolic waste product, but today it is understood that lactate is an important molecule that is responsible for many metabolic processes and results in many structural adaptations. It is even referred to as a pseudo-hormone.27

When you apply the bands and engorge the working muscle, the Type I muscle fibers which require oxygen, glucose and fat to create energy in the mitochondria rapidly give out and your muscle switches to Type II fibers that run on burning glucose without oxygen by the glycolysis pathway illustrated below.

bfr myostatin inhibitor

The lactate that your Type II muscle fibers generate during BFR actually down-regulates the production of myostatin and helps improve skeletal muscle loss. Amazingly, one study shows that with BFR “the decreases in myostatin were 41% and 45%, respectively,” which has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis.28,29,30,31

But the benefits from the lactate don’t stop there. Once you release the bands, the lactate travels from your muscles and is released into your blood stream, then travels to your brain, where a monocarboxylate transporter shuttles it into your brain to use for fuel,32,33

Once the lactate reaches your brain it increases a powerful hormone called brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).34 BDNF is a member of brain growth factors that contribute to neuroplasticity, which greatly enhances cognitive performance.35,36

Correct Band Pressure Is Crucial

woman carrying rock

As mentioned previously, the restriction bands need to be tight enough to lower the oxygen level in the exercising muscles. Arterial occlusion pressure (AOP) is defined as the pressure needed to restrict 100% of the blood flow from the limb,37 which is essentially a tourniquet. This is a dangerous scenario and needs to be avoided.

Recent research38 has shown the pressure only needs to be 60% of the AOP. Pressures higher than this don’t seem to provide any additional benefits and can be associated with increased risk for injury. The level needs to be at least 40% of AOP; otherwise, the level of muscle oxygenation and deoxygenation is not substantially different from that seen during non-BFR exercise.

Recent studies suggest that the ideal range is about 60% of AOP,39 although this is highly dependent on numerous factors such as fundamental vascular elasticity and the type of exercise being performed (e.g., anaerobic versus aerobic). There are no additional benefits of combining higher exercise intensities with higher occlusion pressures to muscle hypertrophy.

Again, the bands should not be too tight as you definitely must avoid cutting off the arterial supply to your muscles. They need to be loose enough to supply your muscle with sufficient blood flow and oxygen.

When manually applying the bands, tighten them so your skin color becomes more pink or red compared to your normal skin tone. You may also see your veins become slightly distended (popping out a bit). They should not feel uncomfortable and your skin color must not become whiter or have a bluish or grayish tone; this means that arterial flow is being restricted.

It is important to realize that your arms will swell during the exercise, which will actually tighten the bands more. Remember, another simple way to determine good “base pressure” is to have the bands tight enough that you cannot fit two fingers under the band, but loose enough that you CAN squeeze one finger under the band.

However, if the pressure is below 40% of AOP you will not occlude your veins. This will prevent the lactic acid produced during your exercise from accumulating, and you will not get the benefits.

One of the ways you can confirm that your bands are tight enough is to measure the circumference of your limb before and after the exercise. You should notice an increase of at least a one-half inch to 1 inch after your exercise, up to as much as three or four times that.

How to Confirm Proper Pressures

confirm proper occlusion

If the bands are too tight you can actually cause damage to your muscle. It’s important to carefully monitor your capillary refill times to confirm you are getting enough blood flow to your exercising limb. You can confirm that you have enough arterial flow by checking your capillary refill time.

When checking proper band pressure on your arm, it is most easily determined by pressing your index finger firmly into the palm of the opposite hand (on the arm that is under restriction) into the area just under your thumb, then quickly releasing and seeing how long the white blanched area takes to turn pink.

If it takes longer than three seconds, the bands are too tight. If the white spot turns pink immediately while the pneumatic bands are inflated (i.e., under one second), the band tightness is close to optimal. You can also check the capillary refill time on the tissue right above your knee while the pneumatic bands on your legs are inflated. Ideally it should be about two to three seconds.

If you have peripheral artery disease, this could affect these readings. If it is less than two seconds the bands are likely too loose, if the time is greater than three seconds the bands are likely too tight.

!Warning

To avoid any muscle damage from your limbs being deprived of oxygen, the bands are only put on the arms for 15 minutes at a time and 20 minutes on your legs.

Only put the bands on the extremities you’re actually exercising, and remove them before moving on to the next area. In other words, you must not conduct simultaneous BFR on both your arms and legs, as this could decrease your blood pressure enough that you might pass out.

Remember, whatever bands you use, KAATSU or less expensive BFR bands, the pressure that the cuff is inflated or tightened to should not be painful or cause any numbness. You will know if it is too tight as they will likely hurt. They are not supposed to shut down your arterial supply. If it is too tight you need to lower the pressure or loosen the bands.

How to Determine Your Ideal Level of Resistance

determine ideal level resistance

Instead of using heavy weights that can increase your risk of injury during conventional strength training, BFR is much safer, since it requires just 20% to 33% of the resistance used in conventional resistance training.

This light weight is then combined with a high volume of repetitions while externally applied compression mildly restricts blood flow to the active skeletal muscles in the legs or arms.40

As for weight, your goal is to find the “sweet” spot. If you are elderly or have not been exercising regularly, this may mean no weights at all.

Ideally, you would have access to a variety of progressively increasing resistance movements to choose from, including body weight exercises. You typically won’t need to go higher than 25 pounds, though.

Once you have access to the weights you can find the heaviest weight you can do just one repetition of your planned exercise with. This is your one rep max (1RM). Then you divide that weight by five (20%), four (25%) or three (33%). For example, if your max weight for a bicep curl is 25 pounds, you would select a 5-pound dumbbell to start.

If you don’t know your one rep maximum, then it is always better to start too low, especially if this is your first time, as your tissues will need time to adapt to these pressures and movements. Eventually you will want to increase your weight so you notice the following signs during your BFR session:

Signs That You Are Using the Correct Weight

  1. You are sweating profusely. In fact you should be sweating so much that you need a towel.
  2. Your heart rate and breathing can significantly increase, especially if you do intense BFR or any kind of vigorous aerobic exercise.
  3. The first two signs are an indication that you have activated your sympathetic nervous system by firing your Type II muscle fibers. This is because properly performed BFR is a high intensity exercise.

You can measure the circumference of your limb before and after the exercise. You should notice an increase of at least one-half inch and possibly 1 inch or more — or alternatively, the muscle will most certainly feel tighter and appear more toned.

Another great indication is that you will be able to do 30 reps the first set and then 15 to 20 reps the next and, most likely, are unable to do five to 10 reps in the last set because you are in muscle failure. It is important, though, to not fool yourself and stop just because it is hard. Muscle failure means that you are unable to do another rep if your life depended on it.

Unless you are just starting (see warning box below), it is best to start by limiting your weight to only 20% of your one rep max and build up from there if your goal is muscle hypertrophy. By starting at a lighter weight it will give your body a chance to adjust to BFR and avoid potential injuries.

An additional benefit is that if you stick with lighter weights you can train more frequently because you won’t cause as much muscle damage. For those interested in greater strength or muscle gains, you can increase to one-quarter and then to one-third the weight of your 1RM. If you are doing the exercises correctly it will likely take you about three months to progress up to 33% of your 1RM. There is no need to go any higher than this.

If you don’t know your 1 RM, then all you have to do is pick a weight you believe you can easily do 30 reps with and start there.

If you can easily do all three sets at that weight, then it’s clearly too low a weight and you would benefit from increasing the resistance, especially if you don’t notice an increase of at least one-half inch in the circumference of your biceps after the exercise. Conversely, if you are unable to complete 20 repetitions on your first set, the resistance is likely too high and needs to be decreased.

!WARNING FOR FIRST TIME USERS

THE only exception to these weight recommendations and initial pressure of the bands is when you are first starting out. It is important to realize that your tissues need time to adjust to BFR training. For the first session you want to start with a light pressure, likely under 40%, and use only 10% of your 1 RM. Then over the next two sessions increase to the minimum recommendations.

Important: You Need to Push Hard to Get the Benefits

push hard to get benefits

It is important to recognize, though, that the level of intensity you use is key. Muscle growth is highly dependent on metabolic factors, and training sets are ideally done to failure to achieve this.41,42

The number of repetitions completed during a training session is less important to cause long term changes in hypertrophy and strength than doing repetitions to failure which likely causes greater metabolic stress.43,44,45

Perceived exertion is a major element here. You really need to push hard to muscle failure. This is a very subjective determination, but I hope the featured video will give you an idea of the amount of intensity and effort one needs to put into this short exercise.

You can also notice if you are sweating and you are out of breath. Since BFR is a high intensity exercise and stimulates your sympathetic nervous system if done properly, this is precisely what you should be experiencing when you do BFR training.

A recent study in the elderly showed that physical weakness in aging may be due, at least in part, to impairments in brain and nerve function, rather than changes in the muscles themselves.46

The researchers did the study by asking participants to push to failure and once they said they had, they stimulated the muscle electrically and where still get the muscle to contract which indicated that the muscle was not at full failure. In fact in most cases the muscle was still able to contract about 25% more.

If you are unable to push to failure, you will not receive the maximum benefits possible from BFR. Also, shorter recovery periods between exercises and sets will heighten the metabolic stimulus to enhance your body’s ability to build muscle and strength.47

Remember, you can start slowly and work your way up over time. Building muscle is a marathon, not a sprint. This is especially important if you are elderly or if you have been mostly sedentary; you likely will not need to use any weights.

You can start with just the weight of your body and gradually progress to 1- and 2-pound weights. But if you really are interested in triggering the benefits of reversing sarcopenia, then it is key to push hard — otherwise you will not achieve all the wonderful metabolic benefits that BFR has to offer you.

General BFR Workout Guidance

Although you can adapt BFR training to many types of resistance training including machines, it seems the ideal way to implement it is by using simple dumbbells. Because you are using such low weights, it is unlikely you will need weights more than 25 pounds. If you are elderly and weak you may only need a set of weights under 5 to 10 pounds.

Please be certain that you can increase weights in very small increments. You will not want to increase an exercise from 5 pounds to 10. That is a 100% increase in weight. It is far better to go up by 1 or 2 pounds.

Number of Repetitions in Each Set

1st set = 30 reps with 20 seconds rest for arms and legs

2nd set = 20-30 reps with 20 seconds rest for arms and legs

3rd set = 10-20 reps with 20 seconds rest for arms and legs

4th set = 1-10 reps with 20 seconds rest for arms and legs and 60 seconds maximum before moving to next exercise

A common beginner mistake is to remove or loosen the band during the workout to allow the blood to flow back to your muscle and then tightening it again. This does not improve results, and in fact decreases your results, so it is best to leave the band on during the entire workout.

Just remember to remove the bands after 15 minutes on your arms and 20 minutes on your legs. You can reapply the bands after a minute and exercise if you want to do more exercises.

If there is pain or numbness or a whiter appearance in your skin color, of course you’ll want to remove or loosen the band at once, but that should be unusual if you have done your preparation properly and paid careful attention to these instructions.

Typically, upon starting BFR, you will notice a high perceived degree of difficulty. However, over a few weeks this perception of difficulty dampens as adaptation to training occurs.48 At that point, it becomes important to continue to push with the same level of intensity.

Training Frequency

One of the major advantages of BFR versus high load resistance training is that you cause far less muscle damage and this allows you to train more frequently. The frequency of training needs to be individualized as it varies widely. It can range from as little as twice a week up to three times a day, depending on your fitness and training goals.

Typically, the lower the percentage of 1RM used, the more frequently BFR can be done.49 Heart rate variability and the Oura ring can also be used to determine your ideal recovery periods. The Oura ring measures your heart rate all night and will tell you not only your lowest heart rate but also at what time it occurs. The higher your heart rate and the closer your lowest heart rate time is to awakening, the more recovery you need.

This is also an indication you likely need to lower your training frequency. Oura also provides a comprehensive recovery score called the Readiness score, and the higher that number on a scale of zero to 100, the better. I highly recommend the Oura ring if you don’t have one already. I have used one for many years and find it to be a very valuable tool.

Less Expensive Alternatives

Although KAATSU was the pioneer in BFR, their units are relatively expensive. The advanced KAATSU Master unit used by professional teams, the U.S. military, hospitals and medical professionals costs up to $6,000, while their newest consumer version is available beginning at $800.

This is because they use thin, algorithm-controlled, pneumatic bands that automatically pressurize around your upper arms and legs to slow the amount of blood flowing back from the muscles in your extremities. These bands may look like very thin blood pressure cuffs but they serve an opposite function.

The major advantage of the KAATSU automated system is that it can do cycle compressions — compressing the limb for 30 seconds and then relaxing for five seconds. Over the course of eight rounds of compressions, the device will progressively increase the pressure for each cycle. The pressures can also be easily adjusted from very low to high.

If you can afford the KAATSU set, that would be ideal as it is far easier to dial in to the correct pressures. With the KAATSU system you can control the tightness in two ways. The initial tightness is after you manually tighten the bands.

This is the base pressure and typically around 10 to 25 mm/Hg for the arms and 15 to 35 mm/Hg for the legs depending on your age, vascular elasticity and physical condition. The inflation pressure is what you set the compressor to pump the cuff up to. This ranges from 80 to 400 mm/Hg for both the arms and legs.

kaatsu cycle 2.0

If the KAATSU system is outside your budget, there are a wide range of inexpensive BFR bands available. Just be aware there are many inferior versions out there. You need to be careful and make sure the material is elastic and can stretch. Additionally, make sure that the bands are only 1 1/2 inches wide for the arm bands and 2 inches for the leg bands.

Remember, while there are many 2-inch BFR bands for the arms for sale. These bands are too wide and may cause ischemic injury and must be avoided. Also, wider cuffs require significantly less pressure to achieve arterial occlusion pressure,50 so it’s easy to end up with excessive arterial occlusion with wider cuffs which, again, is not recommended.51

The other danger of using bands that don’t stretch or are too wide is that they will increase your blood pressure far higher. Under these circumstances BFR can be dangerous and increase your blood pressure too high and may actually cause a stroke.

No worry, though, because if you use the elastic stretchy bands that are the correct width (1 1/2 inches for the arms, 2 inches for the legs), there is essentially no risk of stroke. This is because correctly performed BFR will actually lower your blood pressure. It is the finest exercise I know of to release nitric oxide and is far more effective than the nitric oxide dump I used to do.

How to Perform BFR

how to perform bfr

Begin by applying the bands to your upper arm, very close to your armpit, just where your bicep muscle begins and deltoid muscle ends. On your legs, you can apply them right below your hips at the top of your quads, close to your groin.

There are misconceptions that you need to put the bands close to the muscle you are seeking to focus on, but this is unnecessary and a mistake.

There is a crossover training effect and your muscles that aren’t blood flow restricted will also receive benefit once you release the bands after training. In other words, you will gain benefits in your chest muscles even though you are only restricting your arm muscles.

Also, do not put the bands over your knees or elbows, as this could cause nerve damage. Only put the bands on your body as described above because the goal of BFR is to increase your vascular elasticity and elicit a metabolic and hormonal response that ultimately leads to aesthetic and muscular improvement.

When you engage in the exercise properly, lactic acid will accumulate in the muscle, which will be associated with a burning-like pain due to the excess hydrogen ions being produced. It will clearly be uncomfortable, especially as you push to muscle fatigue. It is important to understand that this subjective sensation of discomfort will improve with time.

It will likely take four to six weeks to develop the strength and hypertrophy gains, although most people notice a dramatic difference even in the first two weeks. Once achieved, a study52 in elderly subjects showed that doing BFR training twice a week was sufficient to maintain the gains. When training decreased to once a week, the gains failed to be maintained.

If you are able to there is benefit to doing BFR every day. You can just vary the number of exercises you do per day. It could be as simple as applying the bands to your legs and walking for thirty minutes, or putting them on your arms and swimming. It doesn’t have to involve weights as you can also use them in your favorite sport; you just need to use the same time restrictions discussed above.

Sample Workout

You will exercise your arms for 15 minutes, which gives you enough time for three different exercises as each set of exercises — if done properly — will take about five minutes. Again, it’s not recommended to simultaneously use the bands on both arms and legs. In this case, too much blood becomes engorged in your limbs and there is an unsafe amount of blood in the rest of your body.

For example, a good and simple exercise to start with are bicep curls and tricep and shoulder presses, but any exercise that you can do 30 reps while you have the bands on would work.

sample workout 01

Ideally, it is best to combine agonist and antagonist muscles in the same workout. So, do biceps and triceps together, and chest presses and bent-over rows for your back. You could do walking lunges, squats, calf raises and deadlifts for your legs. I demonstrate and provide a number of suggestions in my video but there are many other combinations you can use.

sample workout 02

As your lactic acid concentration builds toward the end of your first set of reps, you will notice some burning and a slight amount of discomfort. This is normal and is actually what you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t notice this, you are likely not doing the exercise correctly. It is important to push as hard as you can. If you are unable to do 30 reps on the first set, the weight you selected is likely too high and you need to decrease it.

I provide some other recommendations in the video above, but recognize that there are hundreds if not thousands of options, and these are only a few examples. As long as you are following the guidelines above you will be safe and will obtain the benefits of BFR.

You do not even need to lift weights with your legs, as simply walking with the bands on can improve cardiac autonomic control by improving your heart rate variability.53 It also has been shown to increase thigh muscle size and strength in both the young and elderly adults.54

Conclusion

Without a doubt, in my opinion BFR is the most incredible innovation to improve your health that I have learned about in quite some time. It has the most significant potential to increase your healthful life span and help you maintain full range of your mental and physical capacities than anything that I know of.

I have spent six months compiling these recommendations, but it is likely I will revise them in the future so please be sure to check back periodically for any updates. I am very excited for you to reap the benefits of this magnificent tool.

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47 Medical Hypotheses February 2015;84:145–149
48 J Sports Sci. 2019 Aug;37(16):1857-1864
49 Frontiers in Physiology 2019; 10: 533, BFR-RE
50 Frontiers in Physiology 2019; 10: 533, Cuff Width
51 Int J Exerc Sci. 2019; 12(3): 136–143
52 Proceedings of the International Conference on Sports and Exercise Science 2009. Bangkok, Thailand Pages 336-341 (PDF)
53 Int J Sports Med. 2019 Sep;40(9):585-591
54 J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2010 Jan-Mar;33(1):34-40 (PDF)

Protect yourself from liver damage with phosphatidylcholine

Reproduced from original article:
www.naturalhealth365.com/phosphatidylcholine-liver-damage-3239.html
by: | December 31, 2019
liver-damage
(NaturalHealth365)  Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – defined as excess fat in the liver in the absence of chronic alcohol abuse – is fast becoming a pandemic in the United States. According to recent research, the national prevalence of NAFLD has soared from 18 percent of the population (in 1991) to an astounding 31 percent in 2012 – and death rates from chronic liver disease are on the rise as well.Fortunately, a natural nutrient known as phosphatidylcholine is showing the potential to slow and even reverse fatty liver damage, while protecting against damage from a variety of toxins.

In spite of decades of clinical trials demonstrating phosphatidylcholine’s protective effects, this lecithin-like nutrient still seems to be relatively little-known – and underappreciated – by most people.

Essential NEWS: Phosphatidylcholine makes up 65 percent of all cell membranes

In addition to functioning as the body’s major detoxifying organ, the liver also stores vitamins, assists in the absorption of nutrients, secretes hormones and metabolizes body waste and toxins into water-soluble compounds to be eliminated.

Researchers have learned that most of the life-sustaining activities performed by the liver actually occur on the membranes of the parenchymal cells (known as the “workhorses of the liver”).

Phosphatidylcholine – which is produced by the liver – is absolutely essential for the structure and function of these cells.  Although the parenchymal cells are normally protected by antioxidants such as glutathione and cysteine, exposure to environmental toxins, viruses and bacteria can deplete these protective enzymes and jeopardize levels of phosphatidylcholine (PC).

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And that’s where the trouble really begins.  Protective cell membranes lose their integrity and develop holes, leading to leakage of vital enzymes and, eventually, cell death – which in turn causes inflammatory and necrotic damage to liver tissue.

In order to avoid this scenario, and to continue to carry out its life-sustaining duties, the liver must create new cell membranes – for which PC is a key ingredient.

In a groundbreaking German study conducted in 1973, researchers began to evaluate PC’s therapeutic effects on liver disease in humans – and evidence of PC’s benefits has continued to accumulate ever since.

Phosphatidylcholine can reverse alcoholic liver damage, study says

To conduct the five-year study, the team gave PC daily to 650 subjects with varying degrees of liver damage, then regularly assessed them through biopsies, blood analysis and clinical tests.

Participants’ liver disease ranged from mild to severe – and included fatty degeneration, aggressive inflammation and advanced fibrotic damage.

The subjects were first given PC both orally and intravenously – then were switched to oral supplementation at 450 to 700 mg a day.  The results were striking!

Over 50 percent of participants with mild liver damage showed “excellent” improvement – and even experienced reversal of fatty deposits.

In participants with persistent inflammation, PC returned enzyme parameters to normal after 30 days.  And, of those with the most severe and aggressive chronic inflammation, more than one-third experienced a benefit.

PC supplementation even benefited 17 percent of those with advanced liver scarring – an impressive finding in light of the fact that some of the participants had failed to benefit in the past from other treatments, including steroid drugs and milk thistle extract.

The impressed researchers concluded that PC was the “best single means” for managing liver damage – quite an endorsement!

Warning: Alcohol strips much-needed PC from cell membranes and triggers the development of a fatty liver

PC seems custom-designed to help protect the body from the harmful effects of ethyl alcohol (the type found in beer, wine and liquor).  These damaging effects include damage to mitochondria – the “power centers” of the cells – oxidative stress, antioxidant depletion and inhibition of the liver’s detoxification system.

In addition, alcohol molecules are metabolized to become acetaldehyde (the harmful toxin that is responsible for hangover misery).

Perhaps most alarmingly, alcohol dissolves phosphatidylcholine from the parenchymal cell membranes – jeopardizing their ability to metabolize triglycerides (fat) and setting the stage for inflammation and deposits of fat in the liver.

In fact, so effective is PC at metabolizing lipids that it is used in cosmetic injections to dissolve fat.  Clearly, supplementation with PC is a valuable tool in addressing liver dysfunction.

In an article published in Alternative Medicine Review, the author notes that extensive animal studies have shown that PC slows the progression of fatty liver disease and helps reduce liver fibrosis, or scarring.  And, the German study is one of many showing that PC’s fat-burning and liver-restoring effects translate into therapeutic benefits for human patients with fatty livers.

Additional studies have shown that 1,000 to 3,000 mg a day of phosphatidylcholine can protect the liver by reducing the leakage of enzymes, decreasing the harmful oxidation of fats, slowing membrane damage and preserving membrane integrity.

A liver “MVP,” phosphatidylcholine also protects against damage from medications, pollutants and viruses

Of course, alcohol is far from the only threat to liver health.

Over-the-counter and prescribed medications – including acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, antibiotics and benzodiazepines – also take a toll on the liver, as does exposure to herbicides, pesticides and electromagnetic radiation from smart phones and laptops.

Animal and clinical studies have shown that PC defends the liver against these, as well.  In one study, PC was even found to be effective against Amanita phalloides, the notorious “deathcap” mushroom.

In other research, PC helped to resolve liver damage from hepatitis A and B, while improving general well-being.  Note: In 20 percent of the PC-treated patients, the virus was found to be “inactive” – a truly encouraging result!

Support liver health with phosphatidylcholine supplementation

Phosphatidylcholine is produced in the liver, and is also found in some foods – including cage-free eggs, organic soybeans, mustard and sunflower seeds.

Clearly, supplementation could be a wise move for those dealing with fatty liver disease.

Natural healers may recommend dosages in the area of 500 mg to 3,000 mg of phosphatidylcholine a day. Of course, check first with your integrative doctor before supplementing with PC.

As a “bonus tip:” PC is not only highly bioavailable – with about 90 percent absorption over 24 hours – but it also enhances the bioavailability of other nutrients, such as flavonoids, that are taken along with it.

No doubt, researchers are hailing PC as an “effective and safe nutrient for liver damage of all levels of severity.”  And, with fatty liver disease becoming rampant in the United States, PC’s ability to reduce and prevent fatty deposits and fibrosis is certainly good news.

Editor’s note: LuvByNature Liposomal LiverLuv is my number ONE pick for supporting liver health, detoxification and glutathione levels.  Click here to order today!

Sources for this article include:

Semanticscholar.org
Naturalhealth365.com

Choose Avocados to Help Reduce Risk for Obesity and Diabetes


Reproduced from original article:
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2019/12/06/avocados-help-reduce-obesity-diabetes-risk.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola  — Fact Checked
avocado diabetes

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Avocados may help with weight management and blood sugar control, reducing your risk of obesity and diabetes. Avocados help you feel full longer, are packed with fiber and are high in amounts of several essential vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, potassium and vitamin K
  • Researchers have discovered a unique fat molecule in avocados, avocatin B (AvoB), which demonstrates a positive effect on reducing insulin resistance by assisting the body in the complete oxidation of fatty acids in mitochondria. Results were positive in an animal study and human subjects
  • Factors affecting your risk of diabetes include obesity, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, depression and a history of heart disease or stroke. Additionally, low levels of vitamin D and magnesium are associated with a higher risk of diabetes
  • The practice of intermittent fasting, during which you restrict calories for several hours or days, has a positive effect on metabolic flexibility, reducing your risk of diabetes. Consider one of several ways to incorporate this practice in your routine

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat your body burns easily for energy. They may be one of the healthiest foods you can eat every day as they help protect your heart and optimize your cholesterol. They also are rich in fiber.

Together with high amounts of several essential vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, potassium and vitamin K, the avocado is a fruit you may want to consider for more than guacamole. Adding avocados to salad also helps your body to absorb three to five times more carotenoids, helping your body fight against free radical damage.

An average sized avocado also contains about 10% of the recommended daily value of magnesium, a mineral used by every organ in your body. Insufficient levels may lead to unexplained muscle fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or muscle spasms.

Avocados are also surprisingly high in fiber, which plays an important role in digestive, heart and skin health. Fiber is also important in helping to regulate blood sugar and weight management. One study found eating one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch may help you feel full longer and prevent snacking later.

Avocados don’t ripen on the tree, but only after they’re picked. Choose firm avocados, as they will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, ripening slowly. On your counter, they will ripen within a few days. After you cut it, an avocado will turn brown from oxidation.

If you don’t eat it all, you can keep it fresh longer by leaving the pit with the avocado and storing in an airtight container. Brush lemon juice and olive oil over the cut flesh to help inhibit oxidation. Be aware, though, that the oil can add oiliness to the texture, while the juice will give it a slight lemon flavor.

Avocados at Breakfast May Reduce Hunger Through the Day

Being overweight increases the risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, and it’s possible that eating avocados may help address these conditions. When it comes to weight management, some ethnic groups may be more prone to developing both prediabetes and Type 1 diabetes, for example, Hispanic/Latino Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1

Although this is “a diverse group that includes people of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican and South and Central American,” they all have a higher potential risk of developing diabetes than nonHispanic whites, the CDC says. The increased risk may come from general risk factors including genetics, foods you eat, your weight and your activity levels.

To gain insight into how to affect change, one survey of Hispanic millennials showed that they would be interested in learning about lifestyle changes they could make that could reduce their risk for diabetes without medication.2 The investigation was spearheaded by the Hass Avocado Board, which runs Saborea Uno Hoy, a self-described research program3 that promotes avocados for their health benefits.

A clinical study published in Nutrients4 sought to evaluate how well avocados could satisfy hunger and replace carbohydrates in a meal. Using 31 overweight or obese adults, the researchers used a visual analog scale that matched against serum levels of ghrelin, a hormone associated with appetite, to measure how full the participants felt after consuming one of three different meals.

There was greater suppression of hunger after the participants consumed a whole avocado as compared to the control meal high in carbohydrates and low in fat. They also felt more satisfied after a meal with a half or whole avocado as compared to the control meal.

The researchers wrote, “Replacing carbohydrates in a high-carbohydrate meal with avocado-derived fat-fiber combination increased feelings of satiety …” Although the study size was small, the findings support a growing body of research that eating healthy fats, including those found in avocados, has a positive impact on weight management and glucose control.

A Fat Found Only in Avocado Associated With Glycemic Control

Another intriguing study found that avocados have yet another impact on glucose control and the management of diabetes.5 Researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, discovered a fat molecule found only in avocados, avocatin B (AvoB), has a positive effect on reducing insulin resistance.6

The researchers wrote a diabetic’s inability to properly utilize blood glucose is associated with mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. When the body completely oxidizes fatty acid, the body can use fat for fuel. However, obesity and diabetes inhibit the body’s ability to completely oxidize fatty acids.

AvoB counters this incomplete oxidation in the pancreas and skeletal muscles, improving insulin sensitivity. As detailed by Science Daily, scientists fed mice fed high-calorie meals for eight weeks to induce obesity and insulin resistance. Then, in the following five weeks, they added AvoB to the diet of half the group.

At the end of the study the treated animals weighed less than those in the control group, demonstrating slower weight gain during the intervention, and exhibiting improved insulin sensitivity. The researchers also engaged human subjects and found AvoB supplement was absorbed safely without affecting kidney or liver function.

The human subjects also enjoyed weight reduction while eating a typical Western diet. The beneficial effects of consuming monounsaturated fats from avocados shown in recent studies support past research7 comparing a diet rich in complex carbohydrates against one rich in oleic acid from avocado and olive oil.

Data revealed replacing complex digestible carbohydrates with monounsaturated fatty acids in those with noninsulin-dependent diabetes improved the participants lipid profile while maintaining glycemic control.

Certain Lifestyle Choices May Increase Risk of Diabetes

In 2015, 9.4% of the U.S. population had been diagnosed with diabetes.8 This is slightly higher than the 8.5% of global prevalence among adults over 18 years of age recorded by the World Health Organization9 in 2014.

Your potential risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is dependent on your lifestyle choices and genetics. While you can’t change your genes, there are certain risk factors over which you have control that can affect your chances of getting diabetes, including:10

Being overweight or obese Having high blood pressure Dealing with depression
Having an imbalance in your cholesterol levels Having a history of heart disease or stroke Being physically inactive

In addition to these risk factors, low levels of vitamin D also affect your risk for developing metabolic syndrome, characterized by high triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, large waist circumference, high blood pressure and high blood sugar and/or insulin resistance.

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone responsible for influencing virtually every cell in your body. Studies have found those who have lower levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Low levels of magnesium also contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

One review found magnesium deficiency may be the greatest predictor of heart disease, and that even subclinical deficiency may compromise your cardiovascular health. Studies have found those who have Type 2 diabetes are more prone to magnesium deficiency; depletion has been found in 75% with poorly controlled disease.

In addition, magnesium plays an important role in the regulation of high blood pressure, another risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Studies have also demonstrated supplementation may lower your risk and improve your condition if you currently have diabetes.

You can boost your magnesium by eating foods rich in magnesium, using Epsom salt baths or taking an oral supplement. My personal preference is magnesium threonate, since it appears to be efficient at penetrating cell membranes, including the mitochondria and blood-brain barrier.

Intermittent Fasting Helps You Achieve Metabolic Flexibility

When your body is resistant to insulin it lowers the cells’ ability to use glucose for energy. In response, the pancreas secretes more insulin to overcome the cells’ weak response and maintain blood glucose in a healthy range. Additionally, animal studies have demonstrated that repeated fasting may induce pancreatic beta cell growth accompanied by a marked improvement in blood sugar control.

In one animal study, researchers found pancreatic fat plays a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes, but intermittent fasting helps prevent these fatty deposits. The team found mice undergoing intermittent fasting every other day exhibited better glucose control and less fat in the liver and pancreas than the control group that was allowed unlimited food.

Intermittent fasting encourages your body to burn fat for fuel. By not relying exclusively on carbohydrates, it reduces insulin resistance that can develop in tissues and organs. Your skeletal muscle burns 60% to 80% of glucose thought to be related to the interaction of skeletal muscle and insulin resistance in those with Type 2 diabetes.

An overall metabolic inflexibility may be overridden by fasting and improving mitochondrial capacity. In other words, the ability to use both fat and carbohydrates for fuel is necessary to reduce insulin resistance, maintain weight and achieve optimal health.

What Is Intermittent Fasting and How Do You Practice It?

There are several ways to integrate intermittent fasting. The idea is to forgo food for a specific amount of time. The method you choose will vary by the number of days, hours and calories you allow.

There is no one plan that works for everyone, so it’s likely you’ll find a way to fit it into your lifestyle preferences to improve your metabolic flexibility. I recommend starting with a 12-hour fast from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. Once you have achieved this for a week, try adding one hour every week for a month. This will help you easily move from a 12-hour daily fast to a 16-hour daily fast.

Before starting, remember intermittent fasting is not necessarily a form of calorie restriction but, rather, eliminating food sources to improve metabolic flexibility. Sugar and hunger cravings will disappear as your body begins burning fat, so the quality of your diet does play an important role in your health.

Reduce or eliminate as much processed food as possible and practice fasting under your physician’s care if you have an underlying medical condition. Here are several different ways of incorporating intermittent fasting into your daily routine:

  • 12-hours-a-day fast — This is often used as a jumping-off point as described above.
  • 16-hours-a-day fast — This is sometimes referred to as the 16/8 method and is a graduation from the 12-hour fast. Many people choose to finish eating by 7 p.m. and do not eat again until noon.
  • Two days a week — For some it may be easier to restrict food for 24 hours twice weekly as opposed to each day. Men may eat up to 600 calories on the fasting days and women up to 500 calories. To use this type of intermittent fasting successfully, there should be at least one nonfasting day between your fasting days.
  • Every other day — There are several variations of an every-other-day plan. Some completely avoid solid food and others allow up to 500 calories on fasting days. The authors of one study found this type of intermittent fasting was effective for weight loss and heart health for both normal and overweight adults.
  • Meal skipping — This is a more flexible approach that works well for those who respond to hunger signals and normally eat when they’re hungry and skip meals when they’re not.
– Sources and References

Blood Flow Restriction Trainer Educator Interview


Reproduced from original article:
https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2019/12/01/smart-cuff-blood-flow-restriction.aspx

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola – Fact Checked

December 01, 2019

Video not available on this site. To view, got to original article above.

Download Interview Transcript

Download my FREE Podcast

Visit the Fitness Video Library

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Blood flow restriction (BFR) training involves partially restricting arterial inflow and fully restricting venous outflow in the limb during rest or exercise. Doing this allows you to significantly enhance strength and muscle mass using as little as 20% of your single-rep max weight
  • BFR training may be an ideal muscle-strengthening strategy for most people, but especially as an alternative for the elderly or injured, as it requires just a fraction of the weight you’d typically use in conventional resistance training
  • BFR has the ability to prevent and treat sarcopenia like no other type of training. BFR training also improves your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular endurance. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to walk with the cuffs high on your thigh for 15 to 20 minutes
  • BFR also improves osteoblast formation, or the formation of bone, and helps prevent further degradation of bone density, thus lowering your risk of osteoporosis

In this interview, Dr. Ed Le Cara, a chiropractor with a Ph.D. in sports medicine, shares his knowledge about blood flow restriction (BFR) training — a form of training that I believe is one of the greatest innovations in the last century. He’s also a certified athletic trainer and a strength and conditioning coach and one of the leading educators on BFR in the US.

“I combine all those backgrounds into the treatment plan and approach that I use with my patients,” Le Cara says. “One of the frustrations I’ve had — I’ve been in practice for about 20 years — was that very often patients would see me while they’re in pain, and once the pain is gone, give up on their previous exercise regimen.

But with my understanding of exercise and exercise physiology, I knew that once they were out of pain, they still had not gotten their body to the capacity they needed in order to meet the demands their sport or their life was imposing on them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have gotten injured in the first place.

A lot of times it’s because they run out of insurance visits and that only got us through the point of where they’re decreasing in pain. Or they think that once they’re out of pain their injury is healed.

It was very frustrating for me to see people consistently injure themselves over and over again, and I wasn’t given enough time to really, truly increase their body’s capacity for the demand of sport, life or whatever they’re applying on it that was causing injury.

Then in about 2012, a good friend of mine, who at the time was the director of sports medicine at FC Dallas, said, ‘Hey. You’ve got to really check out this thing called BFR training.’ I had never heard of it … I looked at these different databases that I had access to.

I was overwhelmed with how much research was already out there. My previous experience with different types of modalities that I use in the clinic or different exercise appliances, there was not a lot of literature. Or we had to try to apply literature that was already existing towards what we were trying to do …

This was totally the opposite. Over 650 studies at the time had been done. It had been utilized for years, [it was] validated and reliable … It was almost too good to be true. To get strength or hypertrophy in four to six weeks was like, ‘There’s no way.’ Physiologically that was impossible. And to not be causing muscle damage associated with that? I was a very big skeptic to say the least when I started.”

What Is BFR?

BFR involves exercising your muscles while partially restricting arterial inflow and fully restricting venous outflow in either both proximal arms or legs.1 Venous flow restriction is achieved by using bands on the extremity being exercised.

By restricting the venous blood flow, you create a relatively hypoxic (low oxygen) environment in the exercising muscle, which in turn triggers a number of physiological benefits, including the production of hormones such as growth hormone and IGF-1, commonly referred to as “the fitness hormones.”2

It also increases vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which acts as “fertilizer” for growing more blood vessels and improving their lining (endothelium). BFR, originally known as KAATSU training, was developed over 50 years ago by Dr. Yoshiaki Sato. Now 73 years old, Sato is still in excellent shape and a true testament to the value of this approach.

Between 1996 and 2015, Sato, along with exercise physiologist Naokata Ishii and Dr. Toshiaki Nakajima, a renowned cardiologist at the University of Tokyo Hospital, performed a variety of groundbreaking research, proving the benefits of KAATSU.

Much research on BFR has also been done in the U.S. in recent years, but it didn’t really catch on until 2010, when Steven Munatones from the KAATSU Global Company was granted permission by Sato to bring the technology to the U.S.

BFR — Low-Intensity Exercise With High-Intensity Rewards

BFR provides many benefits through a variety of mechanisms. As noted by Le Cara, you’re essentially tricking your brain and body into thinking that it’s doing high-intensity exercise, yet you’re doing low-intensity exercise. He explains:

“High-intensity resistance training is defined as somewhere between 65% and 90% of someone’s one rep max (1RM), depending on what resource you’re looking at. Low-intensity exercise is around 20% to 35% of your 1RM.

If you look, you can even see behind me some of the modalities that I use in my clinic. I’m using resistance tubing and resistance bands. I’m using dumbbells no heavier than about 20 pounds. I’m able to take these light weights, apply something to occlude the blood flow and allow patients’ bodies to think that they’re doing very high-intensity exercise when they’re not.

The advantage to this is that I don’t cause any damage to the tissue if I do it appropriately, whereas normal exercise and training at high intensity does. These patients cannot tolerate more damage to their tissue because they’re already injured.

We use the same exercises that we do in rehab, very light load, but we’re able to mimic high-intensity exercise, which, outside of the physiology that occurs, is really the game-changer. That’s what allows us to see quick adaptations.”

In the video, Le Cara demonstrates the basics of how the BFR cuff works.

“I have this cuff and I place it on my limb. Now, I inflate this cuff … to a certain percentage of what’s called my limb occlusion pressure (LOP). I’m reducing the amount of arterial flow into this arm, but I’m totally restricting any venous return.

What happens is that fluid that should be returning to my heart under normal circumstances is not. That means there is extra fluid hanging out down here that never gets back to my heart that can’t be involved in cardiac output. Cardiac output is the amount of blood that’s being pumped to the body.

The other part of that equation is the heartrate. Heartrate times stroke volume is equal to cardiac output. And so, if I reduce the stroke volume, my heartrate has to jump up in order to keep the same amount of blood flow going out to the working muscles.

That’s where, really, physiologically, we see the stress induced on the aerobic capacity system, and why these exercises raise your heartrate so rapidly and give you this sense of having to work very, very hard to do very light loads.”

Aerobic Improvements With BFR

Aside from helping you grow bigger muscles, BFR training also improves your aerobic capacity and cardiovascular endurance. One of the simplest ways of using BFR is to simply walk with the cuffs high on your thigh for 15 to 20 minutes. According to Le Cara, you can improve your aerobic capacity in as little as four or five weeks doing this.

“I had a patient who had experienced stroke. He could walk about four or five minutes at a time without feeling like he was going to fall, and had fallen a few times. Of course, we know that when we have this increased risk of falling, we have increased risk of fracture and further problems down the line.

He was asking for a way to be able to do two things: He wanted to be able to go quail hunting with his buddies … [and] he wanted to be able to take the dog out for a walk with his wife. That’s what he did every night of his life until this happened. It was really having a negative effect on him psychologically.”

Le Cara had the man walk on a treadmill with the cuffs on his legs for one minute holding on to the handles, and one minute unsupported. Over the course of four or five weeks, he was able to build up to where he could walk for 20 to 25 minutes without feeling like he was going to fall.

“That’s just one of many examples. But that was very profound because he was so limited in what he could do. He really needed something to help him translate from the rehab setting to life,” Le Cara says.

“When I put the cuffs around both legs and go for this walk, not only do I improve aerobic capacity, but [researchers] have also seen increased … hypertrophy of the thigh.

They’ve also seen increase in strength at the knee … If you can increase your strength with just walking for 15 minutes a couple times a week, then that’s also going to translate into a decrease in fall risk.

Things that have been measured, like the ‘sit to stand’ test, ‘timed up and go’ test … also improve. We’re seeing increases in strength and aerobic capacity at the same time with a very simple exercise like walking, which normally does not cause positive adaptation.”

BFR Improves Bone Density

Interestingly, BFR also improves bone density, thereby lowering your risk for osteoporosis. As explained by Le Cara, who is familiar with the medical literature on this, BFR improves osteoblast formation, or the formation of bone. It also helps prevent further degradation of bone density.

“There are many pathways associated with it, including capillarization and VEGF. But the primary thing I think helps the most is that when we inflate the cuff and we’ve got the swelling in to the limb, because the swelling is all around in all the tissue, you’ve got the bones surrounded, 360 degrees all around, [and] that creates a stress on the bone.

When we stress the bone, now the body has to respond by stimulating bone growth. So, I think Wolff’s Law comes into effect through that mechanism, in addition to the physiological adaptations that are occurring … It appears that hypoxia, or the decrease in oxygenation, also stimulates [bone growth].

There’s a stimulation of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) that occurs; numerous cascades that are happening. There’s something magical about creating an environment where there’s not enough oxygen and the body has to adapt due to that.”

Indeed, that “magic” was recently elucidated further with the award of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine3 for the discovery of how cells sense and adapt to the availability of oxygen, which involves responses in VEGF, hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF1A) and erythropoietin. In essence, by creating a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment, your body thinks you’re doing high-intensity exercise, and responds accordingly.

Wide Rigid Cuffs Versus KAATSU

While KAATSU specifies the use of narrow elastic occlusion bands, Le Cara has developed his own take on the technique using rigid, nonflexible wider bands, which is actually listed as a Class 1 medical device (blood occlusion device) in the U.S. He explains why he decided to veer from Sato’s already established parameters:

“When I’m experimenting with different modalities and I’m unsure of them, my first tendency is to go to the literature. What is the literature suggesting? What has been studied? What hasn’t been studied? When I went there, there was really a hodgepodge of different types of modalities being used to occlude blood flow.

Nothing was sticking out to me … There really wasn’t a resource … except for very expensive modalities [and], frankly, until I’m confident that something works, I am hesitant to spend the money.”

This is understandable, considering the original KAATSU equipment was rather large and had a price tag around $16,000. (However, as of October 2019 they have a unit that sells for only $8004 and is the one I personally use every day and endorse. Unfortunately, Le Cara has never worked with the KAATSU system, but has used numerous elastic and thinner bands.

“What I first did was based on the recommendation of my buddy who … had mentioned a certain type of band, and so I ordered those and started using them. What I first noticed was that exercise didn’t seem to be that hard. I was actually using the cuffs on all four limbs. It still wasn’t that hard …

When we have these cuffs [on] … it creates these little spaces in the cuff, and then the accumulation of metabolites distal to the cuff or closer to my hand can still escape. It wasn’t truly occluding arterial flow, so it wasn’t creating a hypoxic environment.

Now, my veins were sticking out like crazy. What we know is that because the veins are closer to the surface or more superficial, they’re much easier to occlude. The deeper pressure is what’s needed in order to get to the arterial flow to really create that hypoxic environment that we have already said is very beneficial.

Some of the other literature that came out [showed] that if we use a very narrow band, less than 5 centimeters, then it requires much higher pressures in order to occlude the arterial flow.

I wanted to use something that was wider so I didn’t need so much pressure, especially if I was going to use this with my compromised patients or people who maybe had … contraindications.

I wanted something that was as safe as possible. So, we developed something that was wider, that had that full diaphragm — the bladder that gets inflated with air …

When you have the little segmented bladder, when you inflate it, you really can’t find true LOP. I was never able to quantify with my patients what a safe and effective pressure was. We were using something called ‘arbitrary pressures or guessing what pressures we needed to use. With my patients’ safety, I don’t guess.

Realistically, I was what I like to call ‘undercooking’ people, not using enough pressure to occlude. I wasn’t getting the benefit I really wanted to see. We needed something wider.

We needed something that had that full diaphragm or bladder that could be inflated and that I could measure LOP using a Doppler to know exactly what each individual’s LOP was … [even] in different positions, like standing, sitting or lying down, depending on what position of exercise I was putting somebody in.”

The Case for Wide, Rigid Cuffs

So, to summarize, the reason Le Cara recommends using a wider rigid inflatable cuff instead of a narrower, flexible inflatable cuff, is because it traps and accumulates metabolites more effectively at lower pressures, thus reducing risk to damage beneath the cuff.

When using a flexible cuff, the muscle contraction will force the blood to return back to your heart. Even though the return flow is initially restricted, it doesn’t remain restricted once you do the contraction.

However, there are three concerns when using wide rigid cuff systems. The first is that wider cuffs will tend to limit movement during exercise. The second is that there appears to be an attenuated response to BFR benefits to the muscle and tissues under the cuff.5

Finally, although BFR improves hypertension in the long-term, there is a greater risk of eliciting an acute hypertensive response, especially in those who already have hypertension or the elderly that already have compromised vascular resilience.6 For these reasons it is likely wiser to choose narrow elastic bands like the KAATSU in these populations.

As with the KAATSU system, you would place the wide cuff proximal to the bicep, distal to the deltoid. With the wider band, the correct placement is essentially as close as you can to the armpit, right below the deltoid tubercle (the insertion point of the deltoid). On your leg, the cuff would go right below the greater trochanter; in other words, as high up on the leg, near your groin, as you can.

BFR Provides Full Body Benefits

Interestingly, BFR doesn’t just benefit the limb being occluded. The chemical cascade that occurs as a result of the restricted blood flow provides body-wide benefits. Benefits occur both distal and proximal to the cuff, i.e., on both sides. You also get crossover effects, so while you might be working your right shoulder, your left will also benefit.

“We use this in rehab a lot when [one] shoulder has been immobilized,” Le Cara says. “I have a patient who I’ll go see as a home visit tonight. She just had surgery last week … She’s not moving this arm.

But I can do things over here that’ll get the crossover effect. I can do things with her legs. She can walk with the cuffs on … She can do things for other extremities to try to maintain her muscle mass and maintain that capacity as an entity …

Within 10 days of disuse, we can lose about 30% of our muscle mass … We start losing aerobic capacity at about Day 7 and we start losing strength and size right around that Day 10. So, if I tell somebody to take four or six weeks off, they’re way in a hole.”

Risk Factors and Contraindications

BFR is a fitness modality that really everyone can benefit from. The elderly, especially, need to consider it, as it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent sarcopenia or age-related muscle loss. Once you lose muscle mass, your risk of developing complications from everyday activities skyrockets.

Again, one of the reasons why BFR is so well-suited for the elderly is because you use such light weights. You don’t even need to use any. According to Le Cara, research has shown it takes three sessions of BFR for your body to start adapting.

In Le Cara’s clinic, the first visit typically involves establishing the patient’s LOP bilaterally while sitting, lying and standing, and taking down a thorough medical history to make sure there are no contraindications.

While very safe when done properly, there are risks when using a rigid cuff system like the Smart Cuff System, the two primary ones being a hypertensive crisis that could contribute to a stroke or heart attack, and blood clots, which could be lethal. Factors that place you at increased risk include:

1.Recent blood stasis — Situations in which you’ve had blood occluded, such as during surgery. Most people who have just had surgery in the orthopedic setting are at a slight increased risk for clotting.

Another situation that can raise your risk is after long travel. If you’ve sat on a plane for a day, it’s best to wait a few days to normalize, as blood stasis and pooling can put you at increased risk for a blood clot. Being bedridden for a period of time is another scenario that would apply here.

2.Blood vessel damage — A crush injury on a limb would be a risk factor, for example, or a venous graft. Poor circulation can also increase risk, necessitating lighter pressure to start.

3.Cardiovascular risk factors — If you have heart problems, has your physician cleared you for high-intensity exercise? “If they’re cleared for high-intensity exercise, cardiovascularly, they are cleared for BFR,” Le Cara says.

For patients with high blood pressure, he recommends keeping exercises to nonweight-bearing, single-joint exercises. “If I do a squat with somebody, like an air squat, compared to somebody doing a long-arch quad exercise or a quad extension off the edge of a table, there’s going to be a big difference in what cardiovascular stress is occurring. I will keep that in mind when I’m dosing or choosing which exercises to do,” he says.

Next, Le Cara will evaluate the tourniquet risk itself, to determine whether there’s any risk involved with the occlusion apparatus that might damage a blood vessel. Examples might include bunching of clothing underneath the cuff, or the cuff width being too narrow, requiring higher pressure.

“I’m really concerned mostly about people who are showing signs of poor circulation,” he says. “In those cases, I would keep the number of exercises lower, like maybe one or two to start and see how they tolerate them. I’ll also make sure that I’m only using the amount of pressure necessary for the occlusion required that is both safe and effective.”

The Benefits of Cellular Swelling

Oftentimes, Le Cara will perform a cellular swelling protocol on the first visit, which is where the cuffs are inflated to a point where arterial flow is slowed to a trickle with no venous return. In this case, there’s no exercise involved. This creates extracellular swelling, which pushes fluid into the muscle cell.

Your body basically translates the cellular swelling as a signal that the cells are about to die, so a signal is sent to regenerate the cells through protein synthesis. “It’s a way to get people ready for the exercise or future exercise dosages,” he says, “yet, I’m still seeing benefit with that.”

The second visit typically involves performing one or two single isolated exercises. So, if you’re rehabbing a bicep, you might start by doing four sets of a bicep curl, the first set being 30 repetitions and the second, third and fourth sets being 15 reps each, with 30 seconds of rest in between, using a weight that is about 20% of your one-rep max.

The speed at which you raise and lower the weight should be quite slow. Le Cara recommends two seconds up and two seconds down. This will help create metabolite accumulation in the muscle and an acidic environment that triggers the recruitment of more motor units. The slow pace is also what creates muscle fatigue.

“We know when we take exercise to failure, there is more damage to the tissue. I want to get the tissue tired. I want to create metabolite accumulation. I want to recruit Type 2 muscle fibers. But I don’t want to cause more damage, especially in the rehab setting, because that tissue is already damaged. I don’t want to cause more damage.

After that, I might go to a second exercise. In this case, typically if it was a bicep, I would pretty much bet that most of the muscle fibers are exhausted. They’re fatigued. So, there’s no reason to hit that exercise group again. I would then go to probably a tricep exercise and I would do tricep in that same manner: 30-15-15-15-15, and then deflate.”

Sample Workout Protocol

If you’re injured, you’d certainly be wise to find a BFR trainer like Le Cara to guide you. But for the general public, this is really something you’ll want to learn to do on your own, for life. Le Cara describes what a typical home regimen might look like:

“I never do cuffs on all four limbs simultaneously. The reason is that I think you reduce stroke volume so drastically that you’re going to faint and feel sick. Primarily, I do cuffs on both upper or both lower extremities …

I don’t think you need more than about four, maybe five exercises a day, because by the time you’re done with five exercises, you’re done. You’ve totally fatigued all your motor units; you’re psychologically tired. You don’t need to do more than that.

My personal opinion is that if you can lift 65% (or more) of your 1RM … do it. And use BFR as a supplemental [exercise]. For example, I might feel like my upper body is not as strong as I would like, or my calf is not as big as I would like …

I [would then] do my normal exercise, and two or three times a week, I would do what I call a complementary BFR session — one or two exercises to the area that you want to focus on, but I would do it after you’re already done with your [regular strength training] exercise.

You only need to do it two or three times a week because [that] … has been shown to be as effective for strength and hypertrophy as five time a week … If you can’t lift that type of a load [65% of your 1RM], you should be doing BFR five days a week …

If I’m not doing high-intensity [conventional strength training] exercise, then what I do is alternate. I’ll do upper body one day and lower body another day.

I’ll do aerobic on my lower body days … I walk for 15 [minutes] and then do three or four exercises for my lower extremities, with the thinking that the more dynamic exercises you do, you’re going to get this fatigue factor going …

I’m looking at 45 to 60 minutes of exercise. I’m going to be really tired. I’m going to get an aerobic training effect. I’m going to get an isolated and integrated body approach. I’m going to get a pain reduction. I’m going to get my brain stimulated.”

Building Bulk

Toward the end of the interview, Le Cara also discusses how to optimize your muscle growth once you’re used to the system and are ready to take it to the next level. One key take-home from that section is that the higher the pressure used, the better the results.

This is likely due to the highly hypoxic environment created. That said, as a general rule, you don’t want to exceed 50% LOP in the upper extremity and 80% LOP in the lower. The primary variable that will influence your ability to “bulk up” is the weight used.

Starting at 20% of your 1RM, Le Cara suggests increasing the weight you use by 5% every two weeks, until you get to 35% of your 1RM. As a general rule, your rate of perceived exertion should be around 8 out of 10 after you’ve completed the 75 reps (30+15+15+15). If the exertion feels too light, add more weight. If too hard, lower it.

More Information

Again, one of the biggest benefits of BFR outside of rehab is the prevention of sarcopenia. I’m particularly motivated because both my parents developed sarcopenia and likely passed away sooner than they would have, were it not for their frailty.

I will be sharing some exciting and important details not discussed in this interview next month, just in time for the New Year. It has taken me over six months to research and compile the additional information and training videos. I hope you will make it a part of your New Year resolution.

Every assisted care facility needs to provide BFR training. Most have exercise therapists, and they really need to understand and embrace this modality. It’s such a simple way to improve people’s quality of life. Once you lose the ability to stand up from sitting in a chair, it’s a rapid decline to death.

There’s an enormous body of science backing its use. All that’s really needed is for people to learn it. You can find information about Smart Cuffs certification courses on SmartToolsPlus.com.

In 2020, Smart Cuffs will be offering more than 250 live trainings across the world. “I have a really great cadre of instructors who are really passionate about the subject. We are going to be spanning the globe, spreading the word,” Le Cara says.

There’s also an online course for rehab professionals. His personal website, EdLeCara.com is another resource where you can find information on BFR and a listing of live presentations.

Do Synthetic Thyroid Hormones Work?

© 19th November 2019 GreenMedInfo LLC.
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Reproduced from original article:
https://www.greenmedinfo.health/blog/do-synthetic-thyroid-hormones-work

Posted on: Tuesday, November 19th 2019 at 11:45 am
Written By: Kelly Brogan, M.D.

Originally published on www.kellybroganmd.com
If you walk into a doctor’s office and tell a conventional doctor that you’re depressedgaining weightfatigued, having trouble concentrating, cold, and constipated, chances are that the doctor would tell you that it’s depression, aging, or just stress, and that’s why you’re feeling the way you do. They might prescribe you some medication and off you go.

But one thing that the doctor might fail to realize is that those very symptoms of depression also double as symptoms of a commonly underdiagnosed condition–namely hypothyroidism. An underperforming thyroid (hypothyroidism) is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions in America, yet it’s incredibly common–especially in women. Over 20% of all women have a “lazy” thyroid but only half of those women gets diagnosed. Science has known about the relationship between a dysfunctional thyroid and symptoms of depression for a long time.1 2 Depression often occurs concurrently with changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis, which is a hormonal feedback control loop that regulates metabolism.3

So exactly how many patients are told they have depression when it’s really a thyroid problem?   A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Psychiatry is shedding a bit of new light onto that very question.

New Insight into Subclinical Hypothyroidism

In a 2019 study, researchers from several Malaysian universities used a meta-analysis technique to evaluate the association between subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) and depression amongst 12,315 individuals, hoping to further clarify the prevalence of depression in SCH and the effect of levothyroxine therapy, the most common synthetic thyroid hormone drug that is sold under the brand names of Synthroid, Tirosint, Levoxyl, Unithroid, and Levo-T.4

Though the relationship between depression and hypothyroidism has been evident to scientific research since around 200 years ago, the association between depression and hypothyroidism‘s sneakier and more subtle cousin, subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) has historically been more controversial. Subclinical hypothyroidism is an early, mild form of hypothyroidism where free hormones are low, but TSH is normal, a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones.5 It’s estimated that a whole 3-8% of the general population (usually more women than men) is affected by SCH.6

In the study results, which the researchers found by compiling the data of many other studies, researchers found that:

Patients with SCH had higher risk of depression than patients with normal thyroid function controls, which means that patients with SCH were more likely to have depressive symptoms.

In individuals with SCH and depression, levothyroxine therapy didn’t help improve their depression or symptoms.

What does that mean? The researchers found that thyroid imbalance seems to be a driver of depression–and that trying to replacing those missing hormones with the most commonly prescribed synthetic T4 hormone, levothyroxine, doesn’t actually help alleviate depressive symptoms.7

This is an interesting finding because around 20 million Americans, mostly women, have some type of thyroid problem and are prescribed synthetic thyroid hormones such as Synthroid, a brand of the levothyroxine.8 Instead of using synthetic chemicals to “fix” our bodies, which apparently isn’t really working, we should be finding the root cause of the thyroid dysfunction and take a more holistic approach in healing our bodies.

The Thyroid

To better understand why this study was interesting, we first need to understand more about the thyroid in general. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at your throat just a little under the Adam’s apple. The gland produces a range of hormones, but its two most active substances are T3, the active form of thyroid hormone, and T4, the storage form of thyroid hormone. A healthy thyroid regularly secretes T3 and T4 into the bloodstream so that most of the T4 can be converted into its active form, T3, around the body, including the brain.9 To do that, the process depends on a wide variety of factors: the amount of available specialized enzymes, optimal cortisol (your stress hormone) levels, and certain nutrients such as ironiodinezincmagnesiumselenium, B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D.

But thyroids do much more than pump out hormones; they also take information in from the body to adjust its own pace. The thyroid sits in the middle of a complex and dynamic web of hormones and chemicals that controls metabolism, which is how fast and efficiently cells can convert nutrients into energy. In conversation with the brain, adrenal glands, and more, the thyroid indirectly affects every cell, tissue, and organ in the body–from muscles, bones, and skin to the digestive tract, heart, and brain.

One major way that thyroids affect us is through our mitochondria, the organelles in most cells that are widely considered to be the powerhouses of the cell. Mitochondria not only help generate energy for our body to do things, but they also determine the time of cell death and more. Our mitochondria are maintained by our thyroid hormone–which is why patients whose thyroids are underperforming experience an array of symptoms, including fatigue, constipation, hair loss, depression, foggy thinking, cold body temperature, low metabolism, and muscle aches.10 That’s partially why thyroid problems have such resounding and far-reaching effects on the body. When your mitochondria aren’t being properly cared for by your thyroid hormone, everything in your body has less energy to do the work it needs to do, and everything slows down.

What Makes the Thyroid Misbehave?

It’s no surprise that so many factors go into keeping the thyroid happy. The thyroid can be thrown off balance by all sorts of reasons: chemicals and food additives, like emulsifiers (found in commercial soda), synthetic plastic chemicals, fluoride (found in much of our tap water), and mercury (from large fish), or immune responses. Importantly, this circuitry is also influenced by another hormone, cortisol,11 which is produced by your adrenal glands at the command of your brain.

When we look at adrenal function, we have to take our analyses one step farther and understand what is causing adrenals to be stressed out.12 From there, we know that the adrenal glands are affected by gutdiet, and environmental immune provocation and that many lifestyle and environmental factors can influence this relationship, which in turn, can disturb the thyroid.

Thyroid Disease is a Psychiatric Pretender

The point of all of this is to say that because of how interconnected the relationship between the thyroid and other parts of the body are, thyroid imbalance often leads to the symptoms of depression when the culprit is an unhappy thyroid. The study that we talked about earlier is helping us better understand just how prevalent mistaking thyroid imbalance, particularly subclinical hypothyroidism, for depression is.

Of course, it doesn’t help that symptoms listed above are a vague bunch and could have many causes, so conventional doctors frequently write them off as a symptom of aging, depression, or stress in the few minutes they usually spend talking with patients. The way that lab tests for hypothyroidism (both subclinical and hypothyroidism) are run and the way reference ranges are established aren’t very accurate.

Keeping a thyroid healthy is an exercise in holistic medicine that requires you to pay attention to all aspects of your lifestyle. Check out our free symptom checker to see if your thyroid might be affected, or if you have any of the other Top 5 “Psychiatric Pretenders” (common physical imbalances that show up as mental or emotional symptoms).

Interested in step-by-step support to help you optimize your health?

Vital Life Project is a community for like-minded wellness seekers in search of a better way to live with vitality in a world that can make it challenging to move toward this goal.

This monthly membership provides guidance and accountability to help you make small changes in mindset and daily routine that can lead to radical shifts in health reclamation.

Click below to be the first to know when our doors open this Spring!


References

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15745924?dopt=Abstract

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16723325?dopt=Abstract

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246784/

4. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-018-2006-2

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664572/

6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664572/

7. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-018-2006-2

8. https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/

9. https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00009.2005

10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11174855

11. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/19/mental-illness-hypothyroidism.aspx#_edn4

12. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-abstract/75/6/1526/2655345

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

What high blood pressure, insulin resistance and obesity are telling you about your liver health

Reproduced from original article:
www.naturalhealth365.com/obesity-fatty-liver-3202.html
by:  

(NaturalHealth365) According to the Fatty Liver Foundation, more than 100 million people in the U.S. have a fatty liver, and most of those people don’t even know it.  And with 2/3 of the population suffering with obesity … these numbers are expected to soar in the coming years.  Keep in mind, this health condition leads to millions of people developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, liver fibrosis plus liver cirrhosis and failure.

Here’s the point: Since most people don’t realize they have fatty liver disease, it’s critical to understand liver health, other conditions linked to liver disease, and how you can prevent it.

For example, recent studies have discovered a link between fatty liver and metabolic syndrome – which includes components like high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, and insulin resistance along with high blood sugar levels. This means that your blood pressure, blood sugar, and even your weight could be telling you a whole lot about your liver health.

The link between fatty liver, high blood pressure, obesity, and insulin resistance

Fatty liver has a strong association with obesity, a condition that is well-known for increasing your risk of dying from other diseases. Obesity, especially visceral fat around the abdomen, is a significant component of metabolic syndrome, a grouping of disorders that may include hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia.

Recently, researchers have brought attention to the relationship between fatty liver and high blood pressure, as well. Experts took a look at the livers in individuals with high blood pressure that had normal liver blood tests and no risk factors for poor liver health.

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Even without apparent risk factors for liver disease, an incredible 30% of these hypertension people studied also had a fatty liver. The results show a clear link between fatty liver and high blood pressure.

Interestingly, researchers discovered that while none of the subjects were overtly diabetic or obese, individuals with high blood pressure and fatty livers had higher body mass indices, insulin resistance, and glucose levels than the people who had high blood pressure without fatty liver.

The importance of early screening for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Generally, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a silent disease that presents no symptoms. Even when cirrhosis develops, there are rarely symptoms until the liver sustains so much damage that a liver transplant is needed.

For this reason, it’s essential to pay attention to other conditions linked to fatty liver disease, such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, and obesity. If you have any of these components of metabolic syndrome, talk to your doctor about early screening.

The Fatty Liver Foundation advocates for early screening, and new technology offers a quick, economical, and easy method for early screening known as a FibroScreen. While many insurance companies may not pay for the scan unless you’re displaying symptoms, talk to your doctor about the option of early testing if you have metabolic syndrome.

The key to preventing liver failure is early detection (and immediate changes in lifestyle), so addressing this issue early can certainly save your life.

Sources for this article include:

BMJ.com
TheClinics.com
FattyLiverFoundation.org

Vitamin D3

Written by Brenton Wight – LeanMachine, Health Researcher.

Health Facts on Vitamin D3 – the Natural Cure for all disease!

Why we need Vitamin D3
First, to help absorb calcium and other minerals to build strong bones with the help of Vitamin K2 that keeps calcium in bones instead of in blood where calcium plaques form.
Second, to build the immune system, in conjunction with gut bacteria – the other half of the immune system story.
Depending on which study we believe, optimal vitamin D3 can prevent between 50% and 90% of all cancers, as well as Multiple Sclerosis, and reduce the intensity or even cure almost every other disease.
If a drug company developed something that would do this, it would make headlines around the world and win a Nobel prize, and many billions of dollars would be saved in the health care budgets of countries everywhere.
If the entire population had optimal Vitamin D3 combined with a healthy diet, countless lives would be saved from cancer, many illnesses would disappear, most artificial replacements of hips and knees would not be required, thousands of people clogging up the nursing homes in their wheelchairs would be out playing tennis and leading active, productive lives.
Have I convinced you yet that just a few dollars for a year’s supply of super-strength 5000 IU Vitamin D3 would be a good investment in your future?
If not, then perhaps you should go and reserve that spot in the nursing home, and pick out the burial plot while you’re at it!

Benefits of Vitamin D3

Studies show that Vitamin D3 has cancer inhibiting properties, especially breast, prostate, pancreas, colon, skin cancer and leukaemia.
While millions are spent trying to find a cure for cancer, Vitamin D3 could be used to prevent cancer in the first place, at a cost equivalent to a drop in the ocean.
Vitamin D3 deficiencies can cause the following:
Colds and flu:
Vitamin D3 helps prevent or reduce severity of colds, flu, and almost every other infection. LeanMachine is living proof. After 10 years of taking Vitamin D3, no colds, no flu, no infections of any kind, not even a headache!
When we look at studies funded by drug companies who manufacture vaccinations, which are always biased in favour of the flu shot, the NNT (Number Needed to Treat) for the flu vaccine is 40, meaning that to protect one person from getting the flu, 40 people must receive the vaccination. Compare this with Vitamin D3, where the NNT is 33 in the average population, and in those people with D3 deficiency, the NNT drops to 4. In other words, for the average person, D3 is significantly better than the flu shot, and for those with low Vitamin D3, D3 supplements work 10 time better than the flu shot!
Most infections are naturally destroyed by our own immune system, mainly the T-cells, but T-cells need Vitamin D3 to operate correctly.
Studies funded privately, without the influence of the drug companies, have foud the flu shot to be even less effective, with those over the age of 65, or under the age of 2, or those on statin medications, all receiving NO statistically discernible benefit from the flu shot, and everyone else receiving a very marginal benefit such as a reduction in duration of illness of about 1 day.
On the downside, those taking the flu shot every year received less benefit (less protection), and actually INCREASED risk of coming down with a different strain of the flu!
More on vaccinations under the heading below.
OA (Osteoarthritis)
Osteoarthritis (OA)is the most common disease in people over age 50, more common than the common cold, and especially in women.
OA is directly linked to Vitamin D3 deficiency, and higher Vitamin D3 levels lower the risk.
Studies show that hip fractures in high risk population groups can be reduced by up to 40% by supplementing with Vitamin D3.
Partly because bones are stronger, and partly because people with good Vitamin D3 levels have much better balance and stronger muscles, so don’t fall over as much.

RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and MS (Multiple Sclerosis) appear to have the same link.

Obesity
Most Australians (two thirds) and others in Western society are overweight or obese.
Two thirds of people in Western society are also deficient in Vitamin D3, and this is no coincidence. There is a direct link between Vitamin D3 deficiency and obesity.
On average, the more Vitamin D3 deficient a person is, the more obese they are.
Healthy levels of Vitamin D3 are seen mainly in lean, healthy people.

Chronic pain
Chronic pain from any source can be reduced with Vitamin D3, even a simple headache, migraine, back pain, fibromyalgia, etc.
Many people with osteoporosis have chronic pain, typically lower back pain, often a sign of D3 deficiency.
Those people usually exercise less because of the pain, and insufficient exercise causes depression, worsens their osteoporosis, increases obesity, and their condition only gets worse.

Before 2010, LeanMachine suffered from headaches back pain and other pain, but no more. If I hit my thumb with a hammer, of course it hurts, and if I strain my back or another muscle, I feel stiffness that goes away in a day or two. But no other pain, no painkillers required, and in fact no painkillers of any kind kept in the house.

Cancer
Cancer is a devastating condition, but high levels of Vitamin D3 offer up to 80% or more protection, especially childhood cancers, breast, prostate, pancreas, skin and colon cancer.
A recent study confirmed that women with high levels of Vitamin D3 had about 85% reduced risk of breast cancer compared to those with the lowest levels of Vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 is critical to the body’s production of GcMAF, a cancer-fighting protein that inhibits cancer metastasis, and is capable of reversing the devastating effects of cancer on the body. Vitamin D3 supports GcMAF synthesis, helping to shut down pro-cancer receptors and enzymes that encourage metastasis.
DBP-maf(Vitamin D3 binding protein-macrophage activating factor) is another protein reducing cancerous activity, which directly stimulates the immune response by suppressing angiogenesis (blood vessel growth) required for cancer cell migration and tumor growth. DBP-maf requires Vitamin D3 for transport in the bloodstream.

Depression
There are links between low levels of Vitamin D3 and depression.
For depression sufferers, LeanMachine recommends extra Vitamin D3 from sunlight because getting outside in the sun always lifts our mood. If we cannot get out in the sun, supplementation is a must.

Hearing Loss
Vitamin D3 deficiency weakens our bones, but when the three tiny bones (hammer, anvil and stirrup) in the ear become weak and spongy, attenuation of sound transmission results in hearing loss.

Allergies
Recent studies show that children with allergies have a high chance of being deficient in Vitamin D3, and those with the worst allergies, are over 80% likely to be deficient in vitamin D3.

Heart disease
The number one killer of Western society people is still cardiac disease.
Vitamin D3 deficiencies bring on high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.
Number two is cancer, so we can alleviate both killers easily by eating a healthy diet and getting enough Vitamin D3 from sunlight and/or supplements.

Type 1 diabetes

Pregnant women who are deficient in Vitamin D3 are far more likely to produce offspring with Type 1 diabetes.
Any child deprived of sunlight in the first few years of life also has a far higher risk of type 1 Diabetes.

How do we get Vitamin D3 ?

We get Vitamin D3 from the sun, but we need the basic building-blocks in the body first.
The normal process of Vitamin D3 metabolism can be stopped by the deficiency of one single nutrient, so a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is essential.
In particular, we need cholesterol, which has been demonised for decades. More on this later.

Vitamin K2 – No Bones without it

Some people say we need Calcium for strong bones, but we get plenty of calcium from the diet, and we can absorb calcium with no problems as long as we have enough Vitamin D3.
No vitamin D3 means no calcium absorption, so adding more calcium to the diet without vitamin D3 means potential for calcium to form as plaque in our arteries, kidneys or other places where it will only damage the body.
Vitamin K2, which comes from animal products such as chicken, cheese, butter, eggs, etc, can help build bones by directing calcium to bones and teeth where it belongs, and helps keep our arteries, kidneys and other organs free from calcium.
The only vegetable source of Vitamin K2 is Natto (fermented soy), which explains why Japanese post-menopausal women have much stronger bones than Western women, as Natto is part of the traditional Japanese diet.
Vitamin K2 is not to be confused with Vitamin K (or K1), which is required for effective blood clotting, but not as effective as Vitamin K2 for bones, but still desirable in the diet.
K1 comes from intestinal bacteria as well as from green leafy vegetables like kale, spring onions, brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, basil, asparagus, also prunes.
For vegetarians or vegans, supplementation of Vitamin K2 is essential as well as D3 for healthy bones. Vitamin D3 metabolism is complex, where each essential and critical nutrient provides the path to the next step, and one missing link in the chain will stop the entire process.
So it is no surprise that a third of our population is deficient in Vitamin D3, and around 90% are less than optimal. Unfortunately, these are the people who are at the highest risk of cancer.

Importance of Diet

Vitamin D3 cannot form without basic nutrients for the multi-stage process and this explains why so many people are deficient.

D3 – A Vitamin or a Hormone?

The answer is both.
It is a hormone (a chemical messenger) because it controls cells, organs, muscle and bone in everyday function, and because the body can manufacture it with sunlight exposure on skin.
It is a vitamin because it binds calcium so we can absorb it, as we humans cannot digest calcium without Vitamin D3, which maintains calcium and phosphate concentrations in the blood, providing minerals for bones, nerves, muscles, immune function, and lowers inflammation.
Many cell functions are controlled in part by vitamin D3, aiding in weight loss, blood glucose regulation, metabolism, and essential fatty acids (Omega-3) processing.
There is no point taking calcium or omega-3 foods or supplements without a good supply of Vitamin D3.
Almost every cell in the body has Vitamin D3 receptors, so Vitamin D3 is a crucial nutrient.
Vitamin D, D2 or D3?
The terms Vitamin D and vitamin D3 are used interchangeably here. D3 is the correct and natural Vitamin D.
D3 exists in the body as the storage form 25(OH) and the active form 1,25 2(OH). Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is an artificial version of Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), or vitamin D coming from some foods.
D2 has very low affinity for DBP (vitamin D binding protein) so it cannot be easily stored and should never be used.
Firstly, D2 has nowhere near the healthy properties of D3 (cholecalciferol), and secondly, D2 tends to block absorption of the real D3.
Many foods come “fortified with vitamin D” but this is invariably an artificial D2 with poor benefits.
Some early medical studies on vitamin D used inferior synthetic D2 which is toxic at much lower doses, and unfairly discredited the real D3 which was not even being used in the studies.

How is Vitamin D3 made?

We get vitamin D3 from sunlight, food or supplements.
D3 from sunlight
Most people know we get Vitamin D3 from sunlight, but there is a multi-stage process involved.
Production starts in the liver, which makes 7-dehydrocholesterol, which then migrates to the skin to be altered by UVB (ultra-violet light in the B range) to become pre-vitamin D3.
This is carried back to the liver to be mediated by an enzyme (25-hydroxylase) to become 25-hydroxyvitamin D, where a hydroxy (OH) molecule is added to build the storage form 25(OH).
This is then transported to the kidneys to be mediated by yet another enzyme (1-alpha-hydroxylase) to finally become calcitriol, where a second hydroxy (OH) is added. This is the active form of vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol or 1,25 dihydroxyvitaminD3 or the active form 1,25 2(OH). Dihydroxy means that the D3 molecule has two OH molecules added, one from the liver and a second from the kidneys.
Vitamin D3 is carried in the blood by DBP (vitamin D-binding protein).
This entire process takes around 15 days, so if we shower every day, we “wash off” most of the pre-vitamin D, so morning showers are best, allowing the pre-vitamin D to start the migration back to the liver before the next shower.
And a day at the beach won’t help our vitamin D3 if we go for a swim, and worse if we get sunburnt!

Statins rob our Vitamin D3

As we age, we lose the ability to synthesise vitamin D from sunlight, and those on statin medication (half the aged population) cannot make 7-dehydrocholesterol, co-enzyme Q10, Cholesterol Sulfate and other important requirements for the body, because when statins slow the liver production of cholesterol, all of the above are affected.
No one should ever take a statin drug (Lipitor, Crestor, Simvastatin and others) other than exceptional circumstances, as they generally do much more harm than good.
Independent studies show that while some deaths from heart disease are reduced, deaths from ALL OTHER CAUSES is INCREASED by statin medication! Taking statins, we will generally not live one day longer, and will have a poorer quality of life.
Also as we age, we generate less stomach acid, losing the ability to take in B12, Methyl Folate (never Folic Acid!), Vitamin K2 and other nutrients that vitamin D requires to do it’s job. If we get reflux or heartburn, doctors normally prescribe Nexium or antacids, which may relieve symptoms short-term, but only make the problem worse. The best way to cure heartburn is to eat less, and eat an alkaline-forming diet, but that is another story in my Alkaline Diet article.
Those who dress fully covered for cultural reasons or those with dark skin always need more vitamin D.
Annual blood tests for vitamin D3 are advisable if taken at very high doses as excess levels can become toxic.
For adults, toxic levels for vitamin D3 are generally not seen unless we take in some 40,000 IU daily for many weeks.
Vitamin A can also be toxic in high levels, but if A and D are taken together, the toxic levels are some 5 times higher for both A and D, giving a huge margin of safety, so old “toxic levels” should really be called “imbalance levels”.
Another factor is Vitamin K2, discussed later.

Other things that Steal our Vitamin D3

Being overweight – the more overweight we are, the less bioavailable Vitamin D3 becomes. But if we take Vitamin D3 supplements and/or get more sunshine, this will assist our weight-loss efforts!
Being old – as we age, our ability to absorb D3 from sunlight and from food reduces, so supplementation becomes more essential.
BPA (Bisphenol A) – BPA (Bisphenol-A) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals reduce our Vitamin D3 levels. Avoid foods in plastic or cans and use glass containers.
Liver problems – a poor liver produces less bile, which reduces absorption of Vitamin D3. Look after the liver – avoid excess alcohol and eat a healthy diet of quality fats, few carbohydrates, and low to moderate protein.
Kidney problems – as kidney disease gets worse, so do Vitamin D3 levels. Look after kidneys by drinking plenty of clean water and eating a healthy diet
Gut bacteria – these 100 trillion organisms are a major component of our immune system, and also aid in absorption and processing of minerals and vitamins, including Vitamin D3. People with celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Crohn’s disease, or those taking antibiotics, will all have reduced D3, so essential supplements are Vitamin D3 and probiotics.
Slip, Slop, Slap in the face campaign – this disastrous campaign has been running for over 30 years in Australia, costing the taxpayer many millions of dollars, and has caused many more millions in extra health care, more disease, and many more lives lost.
True, reduced sunlight has reduced the number of mostly harmless skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma which are easily treated, and rarely turn into something more serious (less than 1% of cases).
But the number of MELANOMA cancers – the real, deadly kind, has DOUBLED, but this fact has been hidden by the Australian Cancer Council who are behind the Slip, Slop, Slap campaign! The primary reason, of course, is lack of Vitamin D3 due to reduced sunlight, reducing immunity.
Melanomas also appear on the soles of feet, in armpits and other places where sunlight is very limited, but so-called “specialists” still blame the sun!
The science cannot be denied. The closer one lives to the Equator, the less chance of any type of cancer, a proven fact.

Too much sunlight?

If we get D3 from sunlight, then surely if we spend all day in the sun, like construction workers and other outdoor activities, we should get plenty?
Wrong. After we spend around 10 to 20 minutes in the sun in the middle of the day (90 minutes for dark-skinned people), we reach a point where the body will no longer synthesise any more vitamin D3.
This is the way the body is designed to prevent toxic levels from building up, and also the reason why we get a tan – to prevent too much vitamin D3 from the sun.
If our skin starts to get the slightest shade of pink, it is time to cover up or seek some shade, as more sun will only then cause damage, with no extra vitamin D3 past that point.
And if we get a healthy dose of sunlight one day, we can happily work inside the next day, as it may take 2 days to build new skin resources for more absorption.

The Morning Myth

The cancer society and other “health” organisations all say the we should avoid the sun in the middle of the day, and only go out in the morning or the evening when the sun is low in the sky. Wrong again!
This is actually the complete reverse of the truth!
The sun produces ultra-violet rays in three bandwidths, named UV-A, UV-B and UV-C, each with different properties.
UV-A
We get UV-A from all sunlight, no matter what time of day, and it passes through cloud and glass, and this kind travels deeper into the skin, causes skin damage and ZERO vitamin D production.
We can sit by a window or in a car with windows up, on a hot sunny day and never get any vitamin D.
We can be outside all day when there is cloud cover, but we will never get any vitamin D.
All we get from UV-A is skin damage.
UV-B
We get UV-B ONLY from a clear blue sky, and ONLY when the sun is HIGH in the sky. This is the “good” sunlight, as this is the ONLY kind that gives us vitamin D.
When the sun is lower in the sky, most UV-B is absorbed in the atmosphere leaving little or none for our benefit.
We need 10 minutes a day (fair-skinned) to 20 minutes a day (tanned) with the sun high in the sky, no clouds, and no glass. This can give us all of the vitamin D we need, but for many, this is impossible.
For those living a long way from the equator, or out of the tropic areas in winter, those working shifts or indoors, those who cover their entire bodies for religious reasons, or slap on sunscreen, those who have very dark skin, those on statin medication, those on a poor diet, those confined to hospitals or nursing homes and others who mistakenly believe the sun is evil, will never get enough vitamin D.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble, meaning that if we get plenty one day and miss the sun for a few days, we will still be able to call on our vitamin D reserves stored in fat cells.
Of course, UV-B will still damage our skin if we stay out in the sun too long.
UV-C
UV-C rarely gets to Earth as it is almost completely absorbed in the atmosphere, so is of little concern unless you are an astronaut.

Why we NEED sunlight, more than just for Vitamin D3

The human body is designed to thrive in sunlight, and it is not only the Vitamin D3 benefit.
A 20-year study of over 29,000 people found that those avoiding sun exposure had double the death rate from all causes!
This study did not measure D3 levels, but results from other D3 studies show that the high death rate from insufficient sun exposure can not be accounted for only by low Vitamin D3.

We also get Cholesterol Sulfate from sunlight on the skin.
Cholesterol sulfate protects red blood cells from breaking up. Without enough cholesterol sulfate, we get a condition called hemolysis, where the red blood cells die prematurely, spilling their contents into the blood.
Without sulfur, and without the sun, we cannot make cholesterol sulfate, a molecule which is both fat-soluble and water soluble, which is essential for the body to distribute cholesterol and sulfur throughout the body.
All artery walls have an endothelial lining, and these endothelial cells cannot work correctly when depleted in sulfate. They cannot control what gets into and out of cells, which promotes cardiovascular plaque.
Cholesterol Sulfate, in conjunction with it’s nitric sister, eNOS, determines how thick or thin or blood becomes. Sulfate makes it thicker, nitric makes it thinner, and this automatic regulatory system works very well as long as we have supplies of both, for which we need sunlight.
Interestingly, one thing that messes up these molecules is glyphosate (“Roundup” and other weedkiller trade names) so this is a good reason to avoid all GM (Genetically Modified) foods, which are all heavily sprayed with glyphosate.
Sulfur is incredibly important for health. Cholesterol sulfate protects against bacterial and virus infections and strengthens the immune system.
Cholesterol sulfate is essential for babies. Women normally have about 1.5 units of cholesterol sulfate in the blood, but in pregnancy, levels rise in the villi of the placenta to around 24 units!
Foods high in sulfur include eggs, beef, garlic, onions, sprouts, asparagus, kale, coconut oil, olive oil, but only where they are grown or raised in sulfur-rich soil (think organic).

Vitamin D sulfate is also made from sunlight, and is both water and fat soluble, so it can go anywhere in the body, distinct from the regular fat-soluble Vitamin D3 I have been talking about. Same with cholesterol sulfate. Not only is it both water and fat soluble, it can travel through the body on it’s own, where many other substances need to be “carried” by cholesterol wherever they need to go.
If we want healthy blood, we MUST have sunlight!
Humans make several other important peptide and hormone “photoproducts” when skin is exposed to UVB sunlight:

  • β-Endorphins are natural opiates that induce relaxation and increase pain tolerance
  • Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptides are vasodilators (expand blood vessels) that protect us from hypertension (blood pressure), vascular inflammation, and oxidative stress
  • Substance P is a neuropeptide that increases blood flow and also regulates immune system response to acute stressors
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone is a polypeptide hormone, controlling cortisol (stress hormone) release by the adrenal glands, regulating immune system and inflammation
  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone is a polypeptide hormone, reducing appetite, increasing libido, and increasing skin pigmentation

Sunlight contains a beneficial EMF (electromagnetic frequency) that is essential for health.
40% of sunlight is infrared, and the red and near-infrared frequencies interact with CCO (Cytochrome C Oxidase). CCO is a protein in the inner mitochondrial membrane, also part of the electron transport chain. CCO is a chromophore (a molecule that attracts and absorbs light), so sunlight improves ATP (the generation of energy). The optimal wavelengths for CCO are red at 630 nm to 660 nm (nanometers) and near-infrared at 810 nm to 850 nm.
LeanMachine gets sun exposure as often as possible. Others afraid of the sun may consider photobiomodulation therapy (use of near-infrared light treatment).
UVA exposure is generally considered harmful, as this is the most damaging kind of exposure for skin with no ability to generate Vitamin D, however there are benefits such as releasing NO (Nitric Oxide), discussed above. An important cellular signaling molecule that dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.
This is closely tied to another molecule, eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase) which regulates the “thickness” of blood. When blood becomes too thick, eNOS makes more nitric oxide which expands blood vessels and thins the blood. When blood is too thin, eNOS makes more sulfate. Sulfate is essential for the endothelial lining of all blood vessel walls. If we are low in sulfate, the wall can start breaking down and clots start to form to repair the damage. We can get more sulfur in the diet from onions, garlic, broccoli, egg yolks and other foods, or by supplements such as MSM (MethylSulfonoyl Methane) but we still need sunlight to make cholesterol sulfate which can be distributed through the body to keep us alive!

Apart from photoproducts, nitric oxide and cholesterol sulfate production, sunlight is essential for our circadian rhythm (body clock). Sunshine activates neurons in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, sending signals to the pineal gland which regulates production of the hormone melatonin. When the circadian rhythm is upset, melatonin and other hormone production is disrupted, leading to mood problems, poor cognition (thinking), metabolic syndrome (leads to diabetes) and increased risk of cancer.

Tanning Beds

Tanning beds are famous for increasing risk of melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Tanning beds have been outlawed in all States of Australia, except in the Northern Territory, where they are still legal, but there are no commercial solariums there because the tropical climate makes sunlight tanning easy. However, this is seen by some as a knee-jerk reaction by politicians to win votes.
Most tanning beds produce UV-A and UV-B radiation, but some better units are available which produce only UV-B, which are much safer if used correctly.
Staying too long in even a quality tanning bed will cause skin damage, a precursor to many forms of skin cancer. Tanning beds that emit high levels of UV-A should be avoided completely.

Vitamin D3 from food

We get some vitamin D from the diet. Eggs, fish, cod liver oil are all good sources, and also come naturally with Vitamin A, but it is almost impossible to get enough D3 from the diet, so we must top up our D3 from sunlight or supplements or both. Milk contains some vitamin D, but calcium and vitamin D in milk are very poorly absorbed. Asian women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with osteoporosis, so doctors claim this is caused by low milk consumption, but Asian women are much less likely to have a hip fracture (the worst kind), indicating that traditional DEXA scans (bone density tests) do not mean much, as dense bones are often not as strong as less dense but more flexible bones.
Africans generally have stronger bones than caucasians, even though they get less vitamin D3 from sunlight. They appear to be much more sensitive to the sunlight they do receive.

VitaminD3 from supplements

Most Vitamin D3 sold in Australia from chemist shops or supermarkets contain 1000 IU which may be enough to prevent rickets in young people, but is nowhere near optimum for immunity and bone strength, especially in older people, and not enough for anyone except small children to have an optimal immune system.
LeanMachine recommends Vitamin D3 5000 IU daily for almost a year’s supply, and this is the cheapest health insurance anyone can buy!
Vitamin K2 is also recommended, as this combination helps put calcium where it belongs, in bones and teeth, and reduces calcium buildup in blood vessels (arterial plaque).
Vitamin A is also recommended for health benefits as well as to eliminate any chance of toxicity.

No Cholesterol means no Vitamin D3

As explained above, cholesterol is the building-block for vitamin D3, also for every hormone in the body and many other functions.
About half the adult population over 60 in Australia and the USA is taking statin medication.
Sold under many names including Simvastatin, Lipitor, Advicor, Lovastatin, Mevacor, Vytorin, Zocor, Lipex, Simcor, Crestor, Pitavastatin, Pravastatin, Rosuvastatin, Fluvastatin, and Cerivastatin (withdrawn 2001).

The Lies about Cholesterol

Statins do lower cholesterol, but we NEED cholesterol, it is NOT the enemy it is made out to be. Yes, cholesterol is found in a badly inflamed body, but this is because the liver makes more cholesterol to repair damage caused by the inflammation, which is the REAL cause of poor health.
Statins reduce cholesterol by preventing the liver from producing as much cholesterol, but the job of the liver is to make cholesterol as required.
If we eat cholesterol foods (such as meat or eggs) the liver makes less, if we eat no cholesterol (such as a vegan diet), the liver makes more, which is the way it should be.
When statins are used, they attempt to shut down this natural process, and in so doing, also shuts down co-enzyme Q10 which is vital for healthy muscles.
And the heart is the most important muscle in the body – why clobber it with statins?
Statins also stop production of 7-dehydrocholesterol, so then we get almost zero vitamin D3 from sunlight.
Statins have shown no benefit to women whatsoever in many studies.
For men who have had a heart attack, statins have shown a slight reduction in deaths from future heart attacks, but in all patients, statins cause an INCREASE in deaths from all other causes!
Because statins knock out our Co-enzyme Q10 (often called the spark-plug for the heart), the patient can suffer extensive muscle damage, causing pain, reduced mobility and even death.
Drug companies say they have no idea what causes this increase in death from statins, but the answer is obvious to me – low vitamin D3!
Studies show that treatment with one fish oil capsule daily prevented 9% of deaths in cardiac patients over 4 years, while those given the Crestor statin drug had an INCREASED death rate of 1% over the same period.
The Framingham study, the biggest and longest study ever, showed that those with the lowest cholesterol died first, and those with the highest cholesteol lived longest!
But the drug companies continue to perpetuate these cholesterol lies to maximise profits from their biggest-selling drug.

How much D3 do we need?

The older we get, the more vitamin Vitamin D3 we need.
The only way to know how much we have is by a blood test, because ethnic background, skin colour, amount of tan, food, medication, supplements, geographic location, sun exposure, clothing, sunscreen, exercise, BMI and many other factors determine how much Vitamin D3 we absorb and retain.
Vitamin D3 is a fat-soluble vitamin, so daily levels do not vary much, as every fat cell in the body can store D3.
Always ask the doctor for a printed copy of your results so you can compare with any previous test and also get a true reading.
Unfortunately, most Australian labs say we need 60 to 160 nmol/L of D3, which is inadequate. Better labs say 75 nmol/L is the minimum, but we need more.
Values above 60 will prevent us from getting rickets, but will not give us good immunity.
For optimal immune system function, we should aim for the high end of the range of 125 to 175 nmol/L.
If we are battling cancer or some other serious disease, we should aim for 175 to 250 nmol/L but this requires careful monitoring and extra Vitamin K2 and Vitamin A to prevent toxicity.
Supplement values vary, and the RDA (recommended Daily Allowance) of 60 IU was alarmingly too low, and changed to 400 IU, originally determined as the minimum amount to prevent rickets.
Even the 400 IU allowance typically gives a blood test of 40 to 60 nmol/L which may barely stop rickets but will not provide a strong immune system.
Conservative studies determine that infants less than one year old need 400 IU daily, 1 year to adolescents need 400-600 IU daily, adults need 400-600 IU daily, and adults aged over 70 years need 400-800 IU daily.
More modern studies recommend babies take 400 IU, children 1000 IU, adults 4000 IU, and those over 70 may need 8000 IU daily.
Small doses are fine for strong bones, but for a strong immune system to ward off all disease, high doses are a must.
LeanMachine has taken 5000 IU daily for over 10 years, and has zero colds, flu or any other illness, not even a headache!

But don’t I get my Vitamin D3 from Milk?

Sorry, but you do not!
I was told to drink milk as a youngster, some 6 decades ago, and milk does indeed contain vitamin D and calcium, but these and other nutrients in milk are poorly absorbed in the gut.
Worse, pasteurised milk has most of the nutrients heated out of it, and homogenisation is very BAD for our health.
Homogenisation is a process making each fat globule 10 times smaller than normal, to save us the trouble of shaking the milk container to disperse the cream. The problem then is that these tiny fat globules then enter the bloodstream through imperfections in the gut lining, often referred to as “leaky gut syndrome”. When raw milk fat enters the blood directly like this, the immune system detects this as a foreign substance, and begins attacking these fat globules, and marks them as invaders. Now when we consume milk the regular way, and absorb it naturally through a healthy intestine, the immune system starts attacking this as well, as it has already been recognised as a foreign invader. The result: Allergies to Lactose, one of the main ingredients in milk, has reached epidemic proportions in the last few decades where homogenisation has become standard practice. Vitamin D3 can help stabilise an over-reactive immune system, but the only safe way to drink milk is to only use NON-HOMOGENISED milk. Most supermarkets have it, but you have to look past the big-name brands to find it.
In many countries it is against the law to buy non-pasteurised milk, but we can at least buy non-homogenised milk if we feel we must have milk (and we do not need milk).
Some Asian countries have diets where milk is non-existent, and their bones are stronger, and broken bones are rare.
We get more useful Vitamin D3 from broccoli and other fresh vegetables than from milk!
Milk is also BAD for our bones, as it is acid-forming in the body, and all acids in the blood cause an immediate reaction in the body to neutralise the blood acid (otherwise we die!).
This reaction, controlled by the parathyroid glands, leaches potassium, calcium and magnesium from bones, teeth and organs, the fastest way the body can neutralise the acid.
If we must drink milk (and we do not have to for a healthy diet) then the ONLY milk to buy is FULL CREAM, UNHOMOGENISED milk, which you can find at good supermarkets if you look hard enough.
The only better product is the milk straight from the cow, or better still straight from mother’s breast (most mothers will not be impressed if you ask for milk this way!)

Getting enough of the right Vitamin D3

Sunlight is still the best way to get enough Vitamin D3 and Cholesterol Sulfate, but for many, this can be difficult or impossible.
Supplements are the next best choice, but the supplements we buy at Chemist shops or supermarkets in Australia have only around 1000 IU of Vitamin D3.
They are also often combined with Calcium, which LeanMachine does NOT recommend, but that is another story.
While this is better than nothing, most people require 5 to 10 times this much to bring their levels to “optimum”.
For most health specialists, “optimum” means over 60 or 75 nmol/l (30 ng/ml), and if your results come in at over this threshold, the doctor will say you are fine.
However, true experts in this field say that truly optimum for a normal healthy person for immunity to disease, is between 125 and 175 nmol/L (50 – 70 ng/ml).
For those recovering from a serious disease, optimum should be 175 to 250 nmol/L (70 – 100 ng/ml).
Vitamin D3 can be toxic at high doses for extended periods, so continuous levels over 250 nmol/L (100 ng/ml) should be avoided.
Blood tests are advised for all very high-dosage patients.
People most at risk of deficiency are the elderly, those with with dark skin, those who cover their body with clothing or sun screen, or work night shifts or underground and never see the light of day, and those who live furthest from the equator or in cloudy climates.
Those at risk may need 10,000IU daily supplements, the rest of us can usually get plenty with 5000IU, and the very young who get plenty of sunlight on a regular basis may not require any.
Remember that we only get Vitamin D3 from sun in a blue sky when the sun is high, from the UVB (Ultra-Violet light in the “B” range”).
When the sun is low in the sky, or when there is cloud, or when the light comes through a glass window, UVB is blocked and we only receive UV-A which is the damaging, cancer-causing radiation with Zero Vitamin D3 benefits.
Other tests: Depending on the condition, the doctor may order other tests to check for liver and kidney disease as well as a full blood count.
A full blood test for Vitamin D3 is:
25-hydroxyvitamin-D (25-D or D2/D3) or 25(OH)D or simply 25-D
1,25-dihydroxyvitamin-D3, or 1,25(OH)2 D3, or 1,25 2(OH), or simply 1,25-D
Most doctors will only test for 25(OH)D which is the storage form, which is fine for most people.
For those suspected of having Sarcoidosis (a rare condition) then both must be tested, and vitamin D supplementation and sunlight should be avoided altogether unless the active form 1,25(OH)2 is tested low.

Vaccinations

There are many reports of children suffering from Autism and other serious conditions after vaccinations.
Vitamin D3 supplements should be taken for at least 1 week before any vaccination to reduce risk of unfortunate reactions.
Panadol, Panadeine, Paracetamol, Tylenol, Acetaminophen, Atasol, etc must NEVER be taken before or after any vaccination, even though doctors incorrectly recommend it to reduce pain and fever.
Autism rates in the USA are 1 in 45, while Autism rates in Cuba are 1 in 12,000.
A few decades ago, Austism rates were only around 1 in 200, before Panadol (Tylenol, Acetaminophen in the USA)
Cuba has a high vaccination rate of 97%, but the difference:
These over-the counter pain medications are prescription-only items in Cuba.
Of course, no drug company is interested in conducting a study where the result may be that their “safe and effective” product causes Autism, but as far as LeanMachine is concerned, Vitamin D3 reduces the risk of sickness from almost any disease.
Besides Autism, Panadol can destroy liver function (most patients on the liver transplant waiting list are there because of Panadol), and Panadol is also acted upon by enzymes which then destroy the body’s reserves of L-Glutathione, the natural “Master Antioxidant” in the body.
If you want your child vaccinated anyway, DO give them vitamin D3 and DO NOT give them any pain or fever medication.
A little fever is the body’s way to fight the toxins in the vaccination and the best way to deal with it is to let it run it’s course.
However, a very high fever can lead to convulsions, especially in small children. The best way to bring down a very high fever is to place the child in a cool to lukewarm bath and keep water over the skin using a sponge or cloth.
No drugs required, and much safer and more effective than any drug.
Better still, vaccinations can be avoided altogether for those with a strong immune system.
For more information on vaccinations, see this article: Vaccinations.

Autoimmune conditions

Allergies, hives, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, etc, are all autoimmune conditions.
Little help is available from medications which merely help to ease symptoms.
Vitamin D3 builds the immune system and protects us from colds, flu and other diseases, but Vitamin D3 is also an Immune Moderator, helping to dampen the effect of the immune system over-reacting, the cause of auto-immune disease.
Vitamin D3 can also help treat the cause of the symptoms, often Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), found in over 70% of autoimmune patients.
H. pylori can invade the gut via contaminated water or food, or from contact with infected people or animals, causing gut inflammation, disrupting the immune system.
Vitamin D3 effectively destroys H. pylori and restores the immune system, often reducing allergy symptoms by 30% in seven days, and another 40% in 12 weeks.
H. pylori infects around 30% of adults in the western world, more if we are over 60 with low Vitamin D3 levels.
A blood test can give your D3 levels, but the lab will say 60 to 75 nmol/L is OK, but we need 125 nmol/L minimum to destroy H. pylori.
Mushrooms, eggs, wild-caught salmon, etc have natural Vitamin D3 but the modern Western diet is lacking in these. Mushrooms grown in the dark will have no vitamin D3, but 30 minutes of exposure to direct sunlight can generate significant D3 levels.

Vitamin D3
The latest science Says: “It’s not just about bones, it’s about your total well-being!
Professor Michael Holick:
We now think that maintaining adequate Vitamin D3 levels are important for decreasing the risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.
There is some evidence that in young children if they are fortified with vitamin D3 from 12 months old it can reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes by 80%“.
Professor Philip Sambrook:
We have always thought it could not happen in Australia – it is too sunny a country. However, people do not get sunlight for various reasons and if you do not get some sunlight you do not make vitamin D3. We do not get it much in food any more so for that reason, deficiency is quite common. And the vitamin protects healthy cells while also killing cancer cells.”

LeanMachine online supplements

Note: This online supplement shop is now closed, but each product page contains a link to the best supplier of that product.

Disclaimer

LeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been researching nutrition and health since 2010 and has completed many relevant studies including:

  • Open2Study, Australia – Food, Nutrition and Your Health
  • RMIT University, Australia – Foundations of Psychology
  • Swinburne University of Technology, Australia – Chemistry – Building Blocks of the
  • World
  • University of Washington, USA – Energy, Diet and Weight
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Health Issues for Aging
  • Populations
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – International Nutrition
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics I
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics II
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Principles of Human Nutrition
  • TUFTS University, USA – Nutrition and Medicine
  • TUFTS University, USA – Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
  • Technical Learning College, USA – Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
  • Bath University, England – Inside Cancer
  • WebMD Education – The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
  • WebMD Education – High Potassium: Causes and Reasons to Treat
  • Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands – Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
  • MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – A Clinical Approach to the Human Brain

LeanMachine has now examined thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.

Updated 11th January 2020, Copyright © 1999-2020 Brenton Wight and BJ&HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285

Difference between Carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine

What are Carnitines?

L-Carnitine is a food/supplement/amino acid, made in the body or ingested.
Best known for improving muscle growth, reducing excess body fat and repair of damage to the intestinal tract.
Carnitines aid fat loss by converting body fat into muscle or energy.
There are two main types of the five available, L-Carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine:
The Acetyl form of L-Carnitine is the biologically active version of the amino acid L-Carnitine, protecting all body cells from age-related degeneration.
The addition of the Acetyl group in the L-Carnitine molecule also allows it to pass through the blood-brain barrier where it can promote improved mental health and clarity.

Propionyl L-Carnitine is another version, less widely used.
GPLC (Glycine Propionyl-L-Carnitine) is another ester of carnitine used mainly as a sports supplement.
D-Carnitine supplements interfere with natural L-carnitine by preventing correct absorption of L-Carnitine and may also produce unwanted side-effects. This version should be avoided.

Sources of Carnitine

Carnitines come from the diet, or supplements, or the body can make them, although in smaller quantities.
The body can produce small amounts of L-Carnitine, if all precursors are present:

If the body is deficient in any of the above, carnitine production is compromised.

The Carnitine Diet

Carnitines are found in animal products, particularly red meat, so vegans are usually carnitine-deficient.
Carnitines are made in the liver and kidneys, and stored in cells of the skeletal muscles, heart, brain, and sperm.
Carnitines are classified as “non-essential amino acids”, meaning the body can make them, as distinct from the “essential amino acids” which must come from the diet or supplements,
as they cannot be made by the body.
Carnitines carry fatty acids to the mitochondria (the energy-storage area in every cell in the body) where it is converted into ATP (Adenosine triphosphate, cellular fuel).
In the cells, carnitine is available to be burned as fuel, and also removes waste products from this process.
Kidneys remove carnitine if we have too much, and if we have too little, the kidneys hold on to any remaining.
Acetyl L-Carnitine can improve immune function and reduce lipofuscin, a cell-clogging pigment.
Acetyl L-Carnitine works with CoQ10 (Co-Enzyme Q10) and ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid)
to further improve mitochondria function.
The Mitochondria is the “energy pump” within each of the 60 trillion cells in the human body. Without correct mitochondria function, poor health is the consequence.

Difference between Acetyl L-Carnitine and L-Carnitine

Acetyl L-Carnitine is not to be confused with regular L-Carnitine.
L-Carnitine is typically used for weight loss, athletes and body building, but without the brain benefits, as L-Carnitine cannot pass the blood-brain barrier.
Acetyl L-Carnitine is a highly bio-available form, able to cross the blood-brain barrier, helps to maintain normal neurotransmitter activity, commonly used for mental health, but also has muscle-building, fat-loss, immunity and general health properties.

Acetyl L-Carnitine Benefits

Cardiovascular Conditions
Carnitine can be used in conjunction with regular drugs for angina, and may improve exercise ability without chest pain.
Carnitine may help after a heart attack in conjunction with prescription medicines, although not all studies agree.
Carnitine may reduce chance of a second heart attack, death from heart disease, chest pain, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, heart muscle weakness.

Peripheral Vascular Disease
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries, plaque build-up in the arteries) causes leg pain or cramps (intermittent claudication). Carnitine may allow more exercise before pain or cramps set in.

Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is a result of nerve damage from high blood glucose levels, causing pain and numbness, mainly in arms, legs, and feet. Acetyl-L-carnitine can reduce pain and increase feeling, and may even help regenerate nerves.

Athletic Performance
Carnitine is often used to increase performance, although evidence varies. Long-term results should improve as muscle replaces fat.

Weight Loss
L-carnitine may help reduce fat, increase muscle, reduce fatigue, and improve the mental willingness to exercise.

Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory, Cognitive Ability
Acetyl L-carnitine may slow Alzheimer’s progression, senility, dementia, and improve nerve cell health, memory and cognitive ability.

Parkinsons
Because of action on dopamine (chemical messenger between nerve cells) and dopamine receptors, Acetyl L-Carnitine may help minimise Parkinson’s symptoms, by enhancing dopamine release from dopaminergic neurons, and by improving binding of dopamine to dopamine receptors. Acetyl L-Carnitine also slows the decline in dopamine receptors as we age (which happens faster with Parkinson’s). Many researchers believe that Parkinson’s may be caused by a dopamine deficiency.  Acetyl L-Carnitine may also help to inhibit tremors in Parkinsons patients.

Male Infertility
Carnitine deficiency can lead to low sperm count and mobility. Supplemental Carnitine may help men struggling to conceive.

Erectile Dysfunction
Propionyl L-carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine may improve ED (Erectile Dysfunction) and may improve Viagra effectiveness for male diabetics, vegans or those recovering from prostate surgery.

Peyronie’s Disease
Peyronie’s disease is a penis curvature causing pain during erections. Acetyl L-Carnitine in studies worked better than prescription medication for reducing pain and assisted reducing penis curve, and without side-effects.

Contraindications

Carnitine can interact with some medications. Talk to your doctor if you are on any prescription medication.

Kidney Disease
Kidney disease can cause carnitine deficiency. Seek medical advice before using any supplements, especially those people on Dialysis.

Hyperthyroidism
L-carnitine may reduce symptoms of Hyperthyroidism (over-active thyroid), such as insomnia, nervousness, heart palpitations, high body temperature and tremors.
Carnitine may reduce passage of thyroid hormone into cells, so in theory, thyroid hormone replacement may become less effective.
This could be a problem for those with Hypothyroidism (low thyroid function).
If you take thyroid replacement hormone or have any thyroid issues, talk to your health care provider before taking any form of carnitine.

HIV – AIDS
AZT is medication for HIV and AIDS. L-carnitine supplements appear to protect muscle tissue from damage, a toxic side effect from AZT.

Cancer
Doxorubicin is a chemotherapy medication for cancer. L-carnitine may protect heart cells from Doxorubicin’s toxic side effects (without reducing the chemotherapy effectivness).
Always talk to your oncologist for advice with chemotherapy. If your oncologist does not know, fine one who does know.
See https://www.leanmachine.net.au/healthblog/most-oncologists-admit-they-have-no-training-to-help-patients-live-healthier-lives-new-study/

Acne Medication
Accutane (Isotretinoin) a strong medication used for severe acne which can cause liver problems, as measured by a blood test, as well as high cholesterol and muscle pain and weakness.
These symptoms are like those seen with carnitine deficiency. Researchers in Greece showed that a large group of people who had side effects from Accutane got better when taking L-carnitine compared to those who took a placebo.

Seizures
Depakote (Valproic acid) is an anti-seizure medication which can cause carnitine deficiency. L-carnitine supplements may reduce canitine deficiency and reduce side-effects of valproic acid. L-Carnitine is used medically where a patient has overdosed on Valproic Acid. However, Carnitine may increase seizure risk in those with a history or high risk of seizures, so talk to your doctor or neurologist.

Suggested Adult Use and Dosage

Acetyl L-Carnitine
As a dietary supplement, take 500mg 1 to 3 times per day. Do not exceed 1500mg per day.
LeanMachine suggests 500mg daily as a maintenance dose, and up to 1500mg spread across the day for specific conditions.
Overdosing (5000 grams per day) may cause diarrhoea.

L-Carnitine
One 250mg capsule, taken 1 to 4 times daily. Always consult a qualified medical specialist if taking prescription medication or for any serious illness.

Best buy from iherb.com:
Acetyl L-Carnitine
L-Carnitine

Updated 22nd September 2019, Copyright © 1999 – BJ & HJ Wight trading as Lean Machine abn 55293601285

Benefits of Moringa compared to broccoli

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked July 22, 2019
moringa health benefits

Story at-a-glance

  • Moringa has many similar benefits to broccoli and is likely just as potent as sulforaphane. Virtually all parts of the Moringa tree can be consumed. The leaves are thought to have a desirable nutritional balance of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins
  • Moringa is an excellent source of protein, fatty acids, beta-carotene, phenolics, zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, kaempferol, flavonoids and isothiocyanates
  • Moringa leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit and flowers have antitumor, antiepileptic, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antiviral activities
  • Like broccoli, Moringa has potent antibiotic activity against a wide variety of pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Candida and Helicobacter pylori
  • While broccoli and Moringa share many similarities and offer many of the same health benefits, Moringa comes out on top in terms of economics. It’s far easier to grow, making it an excellent option in areas plagued by drought and other environmental challenges

Science has proven food can be potent medicine. Broccoli, for example, has a solid scientific foundation showing it’s one of the most valuable health-promoting foods around. While it contains several health-promoting compounds, one of the most widely studied is the isothiocyanate sulforaphane.1

The cancer-fighting properties of sulforaphane are perhaps the most well-known,2 but it has also been shown to benefit your heart3 and brain, boosting detoxification4 and helping prevent and/or treat high blood pressure,5 Alzheimer’s6 and even autism7,8,9 and schizophrenia.10,11,12

Moringa — another brassica superfood

Another plant with many similar benefits is Moringa (Moringa oleifera), also known as horseradish tree or drumstick tree. While it looks nothing like broccoli, it is part of the brassica family and is considered a vegetable,13 despite growing like a tree.

I recently planted hundreds of organic Moringa seeds in my garden. I don’t plan on letting them grow to trees but rather have them densely planted and will harvest them as microgreens for my salad. Organic Moringa seeds are easy to obtain on Amazon but they only grow in subtropical climates.

Virtually every part of the plant is edible and has medicinal qualities, and most parts can be consumed either raw or cooked. Globally, the leaves, roots, pods and flowers are most typically consumed.14 You can also harvest the plant as a microgreen, which is what I plan on doing.

As noted in the mini-review “Health Benefits of Moringa Oleifera,” published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention (APJCP) in 2014:15

“Moringa oleifera is a multi-purpose herbal plant used as human food and an alternative for medicinal purposes worldwide. It has been identified by researchers as a plant with numerous health benefits including nutritional and medicinal advantages.

Moringa oleifera contains essential amino acids, carotenoids in leaves, and components with nutraceutical properties … An important factor that accounts for the medicinal uses of Moringa oleifera is its very wide range of vital antioxidants, antibiotics and nutrients including vitamins and minerals. Almost all parts from Moringa can be used as a source for nutrition with other useful values.”

Moringa is an excellent source of protein (dried leaves containing 30.3% crude protein and 19 amino acids16), fatty acids (44.57% being a-linolenic acid17), beta-carotene, phenolics, zeatin, quercetin, beta-sitosterol, kaempferol,18 flavonoids and isothiocyanates.19

As noted in a 2011 paper20 on the nutritional composition of Moringa leaves, “The values of amino acids, fatty acids, minerals and vitamin profiles reflect a desirable nutritional balance.” A 2007 paper in Phytotherapy Research describes Moringa’s benefits, noting that:21

“… [T]he leaves, roots, seed, bark, fruit, flowers and immature pods act as cardiac and circulatory stimulants, possess antitumor, antipyretic, antiepileptic, antiinflammatory, antiulcer, antispasmodic, diuretic, antihypertensive, cholesterol lowering, antioxidant, antidiabetic, hepatoprotective, antibacterial and antifungal activities, and are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine …”

Other studies22 report Moringa can help protect liver, kidney, heart, testes and lung health, has analgesic and antiulcer activity, offers protection against radiation, and helps modulate your immune system. Research has also confirmed Moringa has a very high degree of safety,23 although high doses of seed extracts, specifically, may have toxic effects.24

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Like broccoli, Moringa contains potent anticancer compounds

Studies have shown sulforaphane found in broccoli supports normal cell function and division while causing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in colon,25 liver,26,27 prostate,28 breast29 and tobacco-induced lung cancer.30

Similarly, many of the health benefits of Moringa — which include the prevention and treatment of inflammatory diseases, neurodysfunctional diseases, diabetes and cancer — are also attributed to its glucosinolate31 and isothiocyanate32 content. The isothiocyanate in Moringa is called moringin.33 A 2018 paper34 in Scientific Reports reviewed the chemoprotective glucosinolates found in 12 species of Moringa, pointing out that:

“Glucosinolates (GS) are metabolized to isothiocyanates that may enhance human healthspan by protecting against a variety of chronic diseases …

We assess leaf, seed, stem, and leaf gland exudate GS content of 12 of the 13 known Moringa species … We document potent chemoprotective potential in 11 of 12 species, and measure the cytoprotective activity of 6 purified GS in several cell lines. Some of the unique GS rank with the most powerful known inducers of the phase 2 cytoprotective response.

Although extracts of most species induced a robust phase 2 cytoprotective response in cultured cells, one was very low (M. longituba), and by far the highest was M. arborea, a very rare and poorly known species …

Overall, cytoprotective enzyme inducer potency for 11 of 12 Moringa leaf extracts was comparable to that observed for broccoli seeds, which are the most potent plant source of this activity.”

As explained in the Scientific Reports paper,35 glucosinolates are metabolized into active isothiocyanates by an enzyme called myrosinase. Myrosinate also produces the isothiocyanate moringin,36 a compound in Moringa also known as 4RBITC (after its chemical name, 4-(alpha-L-rhamnopyranosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate). Like sulforaphane in broccoli, moringin has potent anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects.37

The isothiocyanate-related health benefits from cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and Moringa can thus be effectively augmented by pairing it with a myrosinase-containing food38 such as mustard seed39 (the most potent), daikon radishes, wasabi, arugula or coleslaw.

Moringa also has potent antibiotic activity

Like broccoli, Moringa has also been shown to have potent antibiotic activity against a wide variety of pathogens, including Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Candida and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori).40

One significant benefit of Moringa over broccoli, however, is its economic viability. While broccoli is difficult to grow, Moringa is extremely hardy, drought resistant and easy to grow. As such, it offers valuable benefits to underserved populations worldwide where health care and Western medicines, including something as basic as antibiotics, are hard to come by.41 As noted in Scientific Reports:42

“… (4RBITC), the isothiocyanate created by hydrolysis of ‘glucomoringin’ … from M. oleifera is a potent and selective antibiotic against H. pylori.

Other studies have shown that the antibiotic activity of 4RBITC from M. oleifera is selective and potent against other important human pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. It also appears to be effective in controlling certain manifestations of both ALS and multiple sclerosis in mouse models.

A growing number of epidemiologic, animal, and clinical studies link dietary glucosinolates and their cognate isothiocyanates to protection against chronic diseases including a variety of cancers, diabetes, and autism spectrum disorder via the Keap1-Nrf2-ARE-mediated induction of phase 2 cytoprotective enzymes.

The coordinated Nrf2-mediated upregulation of this large group of enzymes is responsible for the very important indirect antioxidant activity of these isothiocyanates.”

A 2005 study43 in Planta Medica, the effectiveness of several different isothiocyanates were compared to see which offered the most potent protection against H. pylori. Of the isothiocyanates tested, sulforaphane and moringin (4RBITC) were the most effective. As noted by the authors:44

“[W]e showed for the first time that ITCs other than sulforaphane also exhibit a potent effect against H. pylori … Among the compounds tested in the present study, 4RBITC and sulforaphane exhibited the highest inhibitory activity against H. pylori.”

Moringa, a potent influenza remedy

Another component Moringa shares with broccoli, quercetin, is a plant flavonol that packs a powerful antiviral punch, combats inflammation and acts as a natural antihistamine. Quercetin (which is also available in supplement form) has been used to ameliorate obesity, Type 2 diabetes, circulatory dysfunction, chronic inflammation and mood disorders.45

As noted in one paper,46 “the most obvious feature of quercetin is its strong antioxidant activity which potentially enables it to quench free radicals from forming resonance-stabilized phenoxyl radicals.”

A number of studies have also highlighted quercetin’s ability to prevent and treat both the common cold47 and influenza,48 making it a safe alternative to antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu (a risky drug49 that does not reduce viral transmission and does not lower your risk of complications from the flu, such as pneumonia.50,51)

For example, a 2010 animal study found that quercetin inhibits both influenza A and B viruses. Importantly, they also discovered the viruses were unable to develop resistance to quercetin. What’s more, when used concomitantly with antiviral drugs (amantadine or oseltamivir), the effect was significantly amplified, while preventing drug-resistance from developing.52 Quercetin has also been shown to be effective against:

  • “Bird flu” (H5N153)
  • “Swine flu” (H1N154,55 and H3N256)57
  • Herpes simplex virus type 1, polio-virus type 1, parainfluenza virus type 3 and respiratory syncytial virus58
  • Hepatitis B59 and C60,61
  • Dengue62

Moringa — even better than broccoli?

While broccoli and Moringa share many similarities, and offer many of the same health benefits, Moringa comes out on top in terms of economics. It’s far easier to grow, even under challenging conditions, making it an excellent option in areas plagued by drought and other environmental challenges.

The fact that you can eat more or less the whole tree in a variety of different ways also makes it an attractive option. The long seed pods, colloquially known as Moringa drumsticks, are a common staple in Indian cuisine. For information and a few sample recipes, see NDTV Food’s website.63

As mentioned earlier, you can also harvest these seeds, sow them, and harvest them like microgreens, i.e., while they’re small like sprouts. For a quick review of how to do this, see the video below. For guidance on how to grow Moringa trees, see my previous article, “How to Grow Moringa Tree.”


Sources and References

14 Evidence-Based Medicinal Properties of Coconut Oil

© 2019 GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here //www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.

While coconut oil has dragged itself out of the muck of vast misrepresentation over the past few years as a ‘deadly saturated fat,’ it still does not get the full appreciation it truly deserves.  Not just a “good” fat, coconut oil is an exceptional healing agent as well, with loads of useful health applications.

Some examples of this “good” saturated fat’s therapeutica properties include:

  • Fat-Burning: Ironic, isn’t it? A saturated fat which can accelerate the loss of midsection fat (the most dangerous kind). Well, there are now two solid, human studies showing just two tablespoons a day (30 ml), in both men and women, is capable of reducing belly fat within 1-3 months.
  • Brain-Boosting: A now famous study, published in 2006 in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, showed that the administration of medium chain triglycerides (most plentifully found in coconut oil) in 20 subjects with Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment, resulted in significant increases in ketone bodies (within only 90 minutes after treatment) associated with measurable cognitive improvement in those with less severe cognitive dysfunction.[i]
  • Clearing Head Lice: When combined with anise spray, coconut oil was found to be superior to the insecticide permethrin (.43%).[ii]
  • Healing Wounds: Coconut has been used for wound healing since time immemorial.  Three of the identified mechanisms behind these healing effects are its ability to accelerate re-epithelialization, improve antioxidant enzyme activity, and stimulate higher collagen cross-linking within the tissue being repaired.[iii]  Coconut oil has even been shown to work synergistically with traditional treatments, such as silver sulphadizine, to speed burn wound recovery.[iv]
  • NSAID Alternative: Coconut oil has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic and fever-reducing properties.[v]
  • Anti-Ulcer Activity: Interestingly, coconut milk (which includes coconut oil components), has been shown to be as effective as the conventional drug sucralfate as an NSAID-associated anti-ulcer agent.[vi]
  • Anti-Fungal: In 2004, 52 isolates of Candida species were exposed to coconut oil. The most notorious form, Candida albicans, was found to have the highest susceptibility. Researchers remarked: “Coconut oil should be used in the treatment of fungal infections in view of emerging drug-resistant Candida species.”[vii]
  • Testosterone-Booster: Coconut oil was found to reduce oxidative stress in the testes of rats, resulting in significantly higher levels of testosterone.[viii]
  • Reducing Swollen Prostate: Coconut oil has been found to reduce testosterone-induced benign prostate growth in rats.[ix]
  • Improving Blood Lipids: Coconut oil consistently improves the LDL:HDL ratio in the blood of those who consume it.  Given this effect, coconut oil can nolonger be dismissed for being ‘that saturated fat which clogs the arteries.’
  • Fat-Soluble Nutrient Absorption: Coconut oil was recently found to be superior to safflower oil in enhancing tomato carotenoid absorption.[x]
  • Bone Health: Coconut oil has been shown to reduce oxidative stress within the bone, which may prevent structural damage in osteoporotic bone.[xi] [Note: Osteoporosis is a Myth, as presently defined by the T-Score]
  • Sunscreen: Coconut oil has been shown to block out UV rays by 30%. Keep in mind that this is good, insofar as UVA rays are damaging to the skin, whereas UVB rays are highly beneficial (when exposure is moderate).[i]  Make sure to check this list of other sun-blocking oils.
  • Insect Repellant: Amazingly, coconut oil was recently found to be more effective than DEET at repelling insects. Read our article on the topic here: Coconut Oil Beats Toxic DEET at Repelling Insects.

Of course, when speaking about coconut oil, we are only looking at one part of the amazing coconut palm.  Each component, including coconut hull fiber, coconut protein and coconut water has experimentally confirmed therapeutic applications.


References

  • [i] Mark A Reger, Samuel T Henderson, Cathy Hale, Brenna Cholerton, Laura D Baker, G S Watson, Karen Hyde, Darla Chapman, Suzanne Craft . Effects of beta-hydroxybutyrate on cognition in memory-impaired adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2004 Mar;25(3):311-4. PMID: 15123336
  • [iii] K G Nevin, T Rajamohan . Effect of topical application of virgin coconut oil on skin components and antioxidant status during dermal wound healing in young rats. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2010 ;23(6):290-7. Epub 2010 Jun 3. PMID: 20523108
  • [xi] Mouna Abdelrahman Abujazia, Norliza Muhammad, Ahmad Nazrun Shuid, Ima Nirwana Soelaiman. The Effects of Virgin Coconut Oil on Bone Oxidative Status in Ovariectomised Rat. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012 ;2012:525079. Epub 2012 Aug 15. PMID: 22927879

Originally published: 2012-09-03  updated: 2019-06-29

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.