Allicin

 

For many centuries alliums have been grown for their characteristic flavors and beautiful flowers. In addition to its esthetic and culinary attributes, the root bulb (“clove”) of garlic (Allium sativum) has been cherished by many cultures as a powerful promoter of good health.

Sanskrit records contain evidence that garlic was being used “medicinally” about 5,000 years ago and about 4500 years ago Charak, the father of Ayurvedic medicine, claimed that garlic maintains the fluidity of blood and strengthens the heart. The 3500-year old Egyptian Codex Ebers touts garlic, Hippocrates and Pliny the Elder were garlicophiles, Pasteur wrote about garlic’s activity in 1858 and garlic preparations were used on the battlefield in the 20th century.

Garlic and Healthy Blood Vessels

Modern research continues to affirm the health benefits that can be obtained by including raw garlic, whole garlic powders or extracts of garlic in the diet or consuming them as dietary supplements. As pointed out by the authors of a review published recently in the Journal of Nutrition, the evidence from studies in humans shows that the consumption of garlic supports many aspects of blood vessel health.1 The blood vessels are the all-important corridors of the cardiovascular system. While the heart is the engine that pumps our blood, without healthy blood vessels, it can’t reach the tissues where it’s needed.

As an example of garlic’s blood vessel-supportive prowess, the results of a human clinical trial published recently in the Journal of Nutrition indicated that the daily consumption of a modest amount of an extract of whole garlic cloves for 6 weeks on average doubled the ability of the brachial artery to expand in response to increased need for blood flow in healthy men and women.2 Not only were the big blood vessels affected – the small capillaries in the skin also increased their ability to circulate fresh blood after 6 weeks of garlic consumption. Increased ability of an artery to respond to increased demand for blood flow to tissues without impacting blood pressure (“arterial compliance”) and increased capacity of the small blood vessels within tissues to distribute that blood reflect a healthy cardiovascular system; this investigation provides persuasive evidence that garlic consumption is a major contributor to healthy cardiovascular function.

The results of other studies in healthy humans, also published recently in the Journal of Nutrition may explain how garlic can help maintain pliable arteries and open vessel channels in tissues.3,4 In these studies investigators found that garlic has potent antioxidant properties and slows the rate of oxidation of circulating low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles and promotes the integrity of blood vessel walls. Researchers agree that these two factors are of primary importance to maintaining excellent cardiovascular health. Keeping arteries healthy and discouraging the oxidation of lipids and fats in the blood go a long way to living a productive and heart-healthy life.

Another way garlic supports healthy blood vessels is by promoting the healthy metabolism of glucose in the blood. High blood glucose levels may adversely impact blood vessel health over time by reacting with proteins in the blood and vessels. This reaction effectively damages the protein, leading it to lose its functionality. Research published recently in the Journal of Nutrition shows how the bioactive compounds in garlic can prevent the formation of these sugar-protein complexes and keep your blood vessels healthy.5 Let the proteins play their role and let blood sugar perform its function and go where it’s meant to.

Where Does Allicin Come In?

A clove of garlic contains an extremely large amount of biologically active sulfur-containing phytonutrients. However, allicin, the most intensively studied phytonutrient associated with garlic and the source of garlic’s distinctive fragrance, is not found in the clove but instead is formed when a clove is chopped, crushed, cut or chewed (breaking up the garlic cells in the clove stimulates an enzyme to produce allicin quickly). Allicin is absorbed into the human bloodstream and either exerts its benefits directly or is converted into an effective alternative compound.

Experiments in mice published recently in Pathobiology “connect the dots” linking allicin to garlic’s vascular protective actions.6 Dietary supplementation with pure allicin resulted in the incorporation of allicin into all lipid-containing particles produced by the intestines and liver. As the lipid particles contained allicin, they contained less cholesterol and were more resistant to oxidation. This experiment was conducted in mice that were genetically programmed to produce numerous arterial plaques as a model for atherosclerosis. The daily consumption of pure allicin drastically decreased the size of the plaques that were formed. While these mice had a genetic predisposition to a chronic condition, this dramatic illustration suggests that healthy humans with no pre-existing cardiovascular disease may benefit greatly from the consumption of garlic and allicin, as this compound promotes arterial health and wellness. The dose used in this mouse study was the equivalent of daily supplementation in humans with about 500 to 600 mg of pure allicin daily.

References:
1. Rahman K, Lowe GM. Garlic and cardiovascular disease: A critical review. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):736S-740S.
2. Weiss N, Ide N, Abahji T, Nill L, Keller C, Hoffmann U. Aged garlic extract improves homocysteine-induced endothelial dysfunction in macro- and microcirculation. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):750S-754S.
3. Lau BH. Suppression of LDL oxidation by garlic compounds is a possible mechanism of cardiovascular health benefit. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):765S-768S.
4. Ide N, Keller C, Weiss N. Aged garlic extract inhibits homocysteineinduced CD36 expression and foam cell formation in human macrophages. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):755S-758S.
5. Ahmad MS, Ahmed N. Antiglycation properties of aged garlic extract: Possible role in prevention of diabetic complications. J Nutr 2006;136(Suppl.):796S-799S.
6. Gonen A, Harats D, Rabinkov A, Miron T, Mirelman D, Wilchek M, Weiner L, Ulman E, Levkovitz H, Ben-Shushan D, Shaish A. The antiatherogenic effect of allicin: Possible mode of action. Pathobiology 2005;72:325-334.

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Colon Ecology, Probiotics, and Prebiotics

The colon is a dynamic ecologic system in which human colon cells and immune cells, microbes and ingested foods interact in the near-absence of oxygen. The human gastrointestinal tract normally contains trillions14 of living bacteria, representing over 400 individual species. Most live in the colon. The goal of dietary maintenance of colon health is to foster a symbiotic relationship, with the human host and its microbial guests living in harmony and balance.

The colon harbors a large variety of microorganisms. The most common bacterial species in the healthy human colon are the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. In addition, even the healthy colon normally contains pockets of Clostridia, yeasts and protozoa. The species of bacteria that most quickly and efficiently produce butyrate in the human colon, and which therefore are the most beneficial and the most desirable, are the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.

Beneficial Probiotic Organisms

The Bifidobacteria are the most common microorganisms in the healthy human digestive tract and are the predominant microbes in human breast milk. Bifidobacteria comprise about 50% of all intestinal microflora in the healthy colon and ferment dietary fiber to short chain fatty acids, especially butyrate. By producing large amounts of butyrate, the Bifidobacteria support the health and function of human colon cells. In addition, the Bifidobacteria suppress the growth of harmful bacteria by keeping the acidity of the colon interior just high enough to inhibit bacterial growth but not too high to affect the colon cells. Bifidobacteria also compete with unhealthy bacteria for space within the colon.

Lactobacilli (the “lactic acid bacteria”) comprise about 25% of all intestinal microflora. The Lactobacilli perform many of the same colon-friendly functions as the Bifidobacteria but produce a little more lactic acid, helping the Bifidobacteria keep the colon slightly acidic. The Lactobacilli also secrete an enzyme that breaks down lactose from milk.13

Species of Saccharomyces, a yeast commonly living in both the small and large intestines, help stimulate intestinal digestive activities. In addition, they are antagonistic to Candida albicans and keep them at bay. These yeasts also enhance immunity in the gut and dietary supplementation with Saccharomyces boulardii has been found to support the consistency of healthy bowel movements.14

The most common and beneficial bacteria and yeasts share an important fundamental characteristic. They all prefer to feast on soluble dietary fiber. Feed them and they will produce all the butyrate your colon can eat. Starve them and risk the health of your colon.

Disturbances of Colon Ecology

The colon is a dynamic system. Its health is directly influenced by our dietary choices. These choices impact the supply of nutrition to the gut bacteria and our intestinal cells. A number of common dietary and medical practices can disturb the symbiotic relationship between microorganisms and human cells that is absolutely vital to the health of the colon. Among these are infant formula feeding, low fiber diets, and oral antibiotic therapy.

Infant Formula Feeding — The human gastrointestinal tract is sterile at birth. During birth, the tract is seeded initially by organisms living in the maternal vagina. During breastfeeding, mammary gland microflora contribute the early populations of Bifidobacteria that begin to populate the infant’s colon. Food borne microflora and self-inoculation also contribute to early intestinal ecology. Species distribution in the newborn digestive tract is modulated for the first few days of life by maternal antibodies transferred in colostrum. In breastfed infants, over 90% of intestinal bacteria consist of Bifidobacterium infantis. In contrast, the intestinal tracts of infants who are not breastfed are characterized by low numbers of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli and high numbers of less healthy Enterococci, Coliforms and Clostridia. The lack of proper healthy gut bacterial species in childhood has been associated with a number of digestive health issues.14

Low Fiber Diets — Lack of dietary fiber for fermentation reduces the supply of butyrate available to colon cells and interferes with their ability to seal the colon off from the bloodstream, increasing the likelihood of toxins and bacteria from the guts entering circulation. As discussed above, butyrate starvation also slows the renewal of colon cells. Insufficient amounts of nonfermentable fiber slows the rate of passage of the digesta, increasing the time available for water absorption by colon cells and providing increased exposure of the longer-lived colon cells to free radicals.15 Increased water absorption results in stool hardness and affects the consistency of bowel movements.16 Fiber provides the food for intestinal bacteria and the bulk for optimal bowel function.

Oral Antibiotic Therapy — Antibiotics can also kill beneficial Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. As the numbers of these beneficial bacteria decrease, there is a compensatory increase in the unhealthy species that have been kept under control by the beneficial bacteria, resulting in disturbances in gut ecology. This shift in microbial populations can have a severe impact on colon health. Most importantly, this disturbance of gut ecology may lead to decreased levels of butyrate as most of the overgrown microbial species are inefficient fermenters of dietary fiber. The combination of reduced ability to seal off the colon and increased populations of unhealthy organisms can compromise the colon lining and affect immune function.

Supplemental Prebiotics and Probiotics

The colon is dependent on its microbial residents for nourishment and defense. In turn, our microbes need to eat foods that are healthy for them. Ideally, good food sources of fiber would have been a major part of our diet all of our life, and our colon and its residents would require very little attention from us. Realistically, the average American is fiber deficient and has a colon to reflect it. Restoring the healthy ecological balance in the colon is absolutely mandatory if health and healthy aging are your objectives.

Prebiotics — Starter Foods for Your Microbes

Prebiotics are dietary ingredients often consumed in the form of foods and dietary supplements that stimulate the growth of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli species and foster the production of butyrate within the colon. The most widely available prebiotics are fructans (fructooligosaccharides; FOS), inulin and the oligofructoses, galactooligosaccharide and the levans (occurring in tubers and grasses). Foods that contain large amounts of these prebiotics include wheat, onions, asparagus, chicory, banana and artichokes.

These compounds all are indigestible by humans within the small intestine, are converted to short chain fatty acids in the colon and are essentially calorie-free. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) – These long-chain indigestible sugars are specifically fermented to short-chain fatty acids (especially butyrate) by Bifidobacteria. The results of a study published recently in the Nutrition Journal confirm that the daily consumption of as little as 2.5 g of FOS increases the proportion of Bifidobacteria in the colon.17 The consumption of FOS by infants has been documented to be safe and to decrease the incidence of infant emesis and regurgitation. In addition to fostering colon health, the products of FOS fermentation may promote cardiovascular health.

Probiotics — Dietary Supplements to Repopulate Your Colon

Probiotics have been defined as oral dietary supplements containing live microbes that enhance colon health. When effective, such supplements increase the numbers of intestinal Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli and decrease the numbers of those microbial species that do not produce butyrate. An ideal probiotic supplement will have the following characteristics:

1) The bacteria must survive passage through the stomach and small intestine so that they reach the colon while still alive,

2) They must produce short-chain fatty acids from dietary fiber while in the colon

3) They must maintain a slightly acidic colonic pH, and 4) They must be capable of eventually permanently repopulating the colon themselves or stimulate other healthy bacterial species to do so.

As suggested by the results of a recently published study, successful reseeding of the colon’s microbial populations can support increased immune defenses.18 According to articles published recently in Gut and the American Journal of Physiology, this benefit may result from an effect of the probiotic organisms leading to an increase in the stimulation and vigilance of the immune cells that are interspersed within the lining of the colon.19,20

Successful reseeding with probiotic species requires at least 6 months of daily ingestion of at least 10 billion “colony forming units” (1010 CFU) per species. Successful reseeding may not be possible in some individuals with chronically compromised colon health; they may well require life-long daily supplementation in order to maintain appropriate microbial populations in their colon.

Bacillus coagulans: A Novel, Unique Probiotic Organism

Bacillus coagulans is a bacterial species that may offer unique benefits to digestive health. This bacterium is a spore former and is especially hardy with respect to different intestinal environments. A specific strain of Bacillus coagulans known as BC30™ is available as a dietary supplement for digestive health. Research indicates that this particular strain has beneficial immune effects while it also enhances the repopulation of the digestive tract with other friendly bacterial strains. While BC30™ is a transient organism in that it does not colonize the digestive tract itself, it promotes optimal gut ecology and aids in crowding out other non-beneficial organisms.

BC30™ can be an effective nutritional tool on its own or in combination with other multi-strain probiotic dietary supplements to support digestive tract wellness. Since BC30™ is a spore former and is a hardy strain of bacteria; it does not need to be refrigerated.

Combinations of Prebiotics and Probiotics

Because probiotics are the bacteria you want to live in your colon and prebiotics are the food they love best, it would make sense to combine the two, so that you can be sure that the newly-arriving residents have plenty to eat after their trip through your digestive tract. The benefits of “combination supplementation” are well-documented.

The published human clinical trials have been summarized recently in the Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering and the World Journal of Gastroenterology.14,21 This large body of scientific evidence demonstrates conclusively that dietary supplementation with prebiotic/probiotic combinations consistently yields health benefits that extend beyond digestive wellness on several fronts. A review article published recently in the World Journal of Gastroenterology recommended Lactobacillus-containing “combination supplements” for enhancing digestion of lactose.22 Conversely, because it encourages normal water management by colon cells and healthy contractions by colonic smooth muscles, “combination supplementation” also promotes the consistency of healthy bowel movements.21,23

The Bottom Line

Maintaining healthy digestive function consists of supporting multiple aspects of the complicated physiological function of the gastrointestinal system. While the process of digestion itself is complex, supporting several fundamental aspects of the process can lead to tangible benefits for overall health. Dietary factors are critical as the foundation for digestive health. This entails consuming foods that are healthy and eating an adequate amount of dietary fiber. Nutritional interventions are also a key element. These include supplemental enzymes, fiber supplements, prebiotics and probiotics. An optimally functioning digestive system can yield dividends that can lead to a lifetime of health and wellness.

References:
13. He T, Priebe MG, Harmsen HJ, Stellaard F, Sun X, Welling GW, Vonk RJ.Colonic fermentation may play a role in lactose intolerance in humans. J Nutr 2006;136:58-63.
14. Nomoto K. Prevention of infections by probiotics. J Biosci Bioeng 2005;100:583-592.
15. Topping DL, Clifton PM. Short-chain fatty acids and human colonic function: Roles of resistant starch and nonstarch polysaccharides. Physiol Rev 2001;81:1031-1064.
16. Kay RM. Dietary fiber. J Lipid Res 1982;23:221-242.
17. Bouhnik Y, Raskine L, Simoneau G, Paineau D, Bornet F. The capacity of short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides to stimulate faecal bifidobacteria: A dose-response relationship study in healthy humans. Nutr J 2006;5:8 doi:10.1186/1475-2891-5-8 (http://www. nutritionj.com/content/5/1/8).
18. Tubelius P, Stan V, Zachrisson A. Increasing work-place healthiness with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri: A randomised, doubleblind placebo-controlled study. Environ Health 2005;7;4:25 doi:10.1186/1476-069X-4-25 (http://www.ehjournal.net/ content/4/1/25).
19. Rook GA, Brunet LR. Microbes, immunoregulation, and the gut. Gut 2005;54:317-320.
20. Shanahan F. Physiological basis for novel drug therapies used to treat the inflammatory bowel diseases. I. Pathophysiological basis and prospects for probiotic therapy in inflammatory bowel disease. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 2005;288:G417-G421.
21. Chermesh I, Eliakim R. Probiotics and the gastrointestinal tract: Where are we in 2005? World J Gastroenterol 2006;12:853-857.
22. Montalto M, Curigliano V, Santoro L, Vastola M, Cammarota G, Manna R, Gasbarrini A, Gasbarrini G. Management and treatment of lactose malabsorption. World J Gastroenterol 2006;12:187-191.
23. Hamilton-Miller JM. Probiotics and prebiotics in the elderly. Postgrad Med J 2004;80:447-451.

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CoQ10 and Cholesterol

The effectiveness of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor drugs, the so-called “statins,” in lowering serum cholesterol concentration cannot be denied. However, CoQ10 production and cholesterol synthesis share the same biochemical pathway. As could be predicted from these pathways in the liver effectively blocking cholesterol production can also lead to blocking CoQ10 production. Numerous studies have proven this to be the case.14,15

The results of this drug-induced mild CoQ10 deficiency is not without harm – it is associated with damage to hard-working muscles. These potentially detrimental effects have been reported in several journals.16,17 In terms of the side effects of statin therapy, published studies have found fundamental derangements in muscle cell metabolism with exposure to statins.18 Several recent reports indicate that these drugs impact the nerves that communicate with muscles in addition to affecting the mitochondria of all muscles, including the heart muscle.19,20 Depleted levels of CoQ10 could play a major role in these side effects of statin drugs.

The good news – dietary supplementation with CoQ10 may help overcome the potential interference of statin drugs with CoQ10 metabolism.21 And CoQ10 is very safe – amounts of up to 3000 mg daily are considered safe.22

Thus, if you choose to use cholesterol-lowering medication to protect your heart and circulatory system, don’t be counterproductive. Really protect yourself – supplement with CoQ10 to replenish what you lose with the use of statin drugs. Add this vital nutrient to your Healthy Heart program.

References:
14. Rundek T, Naini A, Sacco R, Coates K, DiMauro S. Atorvastatin decreases the coenzyme Q10 level in the blood of patients at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Arch Neurol 2004;61:889-892.
15. Thompson PD, Clarkson P, Karas RH. Statin-associated myopathy. JAMA 2003;289:1681-1690.
16. Tomlinson SS, Mangione KK. Potential adverse effects of statins on muscle. Phys Ther 2005;85:459-465.
17. Baker SK. Molecular clues into the pathogenesis of statin-mediated muscle toxicity. Muscle Nerve 2005;31:572-580.
18. Paiva H, Thelen KM, Van Coster R, Smet J, De Paepe B, Mattila KM, Laakso J, Lehtimaki T, von Bergmann K, Lutjohann D, Laaksonen R. High-dose statins and skeletal muscle metabolism in humans: A randomized, controlled trial. Clin Pharmacol Ther 2005;78:60-68.
19. Baker SK, Tarnopolsky MA. Statin-associated neuromyotoxicity. Drugs Today 2005;41:267-293.
20. Nawarskas JJ. HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and coenzyme Q10. Cardiol Rev 2005;13:76-79.
21. Ferrante KL, Shefner J, Zhang H, Betensky R, O’Brien M, Yu H, Fantasia M, Taft J, Beal MF, Traynor B, Newhall K, Donofrio P, Caress J, Ashburn C, Freiberg B, O’Neill C, Paladenech C, Walker T, Pestronk A, Abrams B, Florence J, Renna R, Schierbecker J, Malkus B, Cudkowicz M. Tolerance of high-dose (3,000 mg/day) coenzyme Q10 in ALS. Neurology 2005;65:1834-1836.
22. Chopra RK, Goldman R, Sinatra ST, Bhagavan HN. Relative bioavailability of coenzyme Q10 formulations in human subjects. Intern J Vit Nutr Res 1998;68:109-113.

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Critical Tools for a Healthy Liver: Green Tea Catechins

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Critical Tools for a Healthy Liver: Green Tea Catechins

One cup of brewed green tea contains about 200 mg of polyphenols, about half of which is (–)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). As shown in a study published in Biomedical Research, drinking green tea (which has a high content of catechins) protects the liver from the damage caused by free radicals.1 The results of another recently published study confirmed that the liver, bile duct and gallbladder all receive valuable support from the phytonutrients present within green tea.14

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Critical Tools for a Healthy Liver: N-Acetylcysteine

References:
1. Abe K, Ijiri M, Suzuki T, Taguchi K, Koyama Y, Isemura M. Green tea with a high catechin content suppresses inflammatory cytokine expression in the galactosamine-injured rat liver. Biomed Res 2005;26:187-192.
14. Abe K, Ijiri M, Suzuki T, Taguchi K, Koyama Y, Isemura M. Green tea with a high catechin content suppresses inflammatory cytokine expression in the galactosamine-injured rat liver. Biomed Res 2005;26:187-192.

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Critical Tools for a Healthy Liver: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Selenium

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Critical Tools for a Healthy Liver:
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Selenium

This group of nutrients forms the foundation of the liver’s ability to protect itself from the “collateral damage” that could be caused during the chemical reactions it performs when regulating energy flow to the body, rebalancing amino acids, packaging and repackaging fats and cholesterol, producing bile acids, and converting toxins to harmless compounds. A large body of scientific evidence conclusively demonstrates that each of these nutrients works individually to control free radical production while they cooperate in controlling overall cellular exposure to harmful chemicals.13 By recycling other antioxidants within liver cells, alpha-lipoic acid increases their efficiency and vastly enhances the antioxidant capacities of vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and the carotenoids. Because it can function both within the interior of a cell and within its membranes, alpha-lipoic acid is the most versatile of all antioxidants. Alpha-lipoic acid also protects hepatocytes from free radical damage caused by excessive heavy metal exposure. In addition, the antioxidant actions of alpha-lipoic acid serve to normalize the overall inflammatory response.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Critical Tools for a Healthy Liver: Green Tea Catechins

References:
13. Bilska A, Wlodek L. Lipoic acid — the drug of the future? Pharmacol Rep 2005;57:570-577.

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Liver Health: Support Your Gallbladder along with Your Liver

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Liver Health: Support Your Gallbladder along with Your Liver

Fat floats. This is a problem because fats in most of the foods you eat (if not all) cannot pass through your small intestinal lining to reach your blood stream and the rest of your body without first being dissolved in water. Your liver, gallbladder, pancreas and small intestine team up to accomplish this very complicated chemical feat. In its part, your liver passes along to your gallbladder bile acids and bile salts that help fats in your gut dissolve in water, as well as excess cholesterol, fat-soluble vitamins, steroid hormones, and other metabolic wastes that do not otherwise dissolve in water. Some of the materials sent to the gut by the gallbladder are later excreted in the stool. This represents a major pathway for the removal of estrogens, cholesterol and some “detoxified” toxins from the body and is a vital component of health maintenance. As is evident, the gallbladder is a major contributor to the overall detoxification process.

The smooth operation of this system requires the routine production of healthy bile by the liver. Several studies point to dietary and lifestyle measures that can help to promote the efficiency of the gallbladder, lending support to this vital portion of the detoxification system. Papers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the American Journal of Epidemiology, the Annals of Internal Medicine and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown that eating peanuts and mixed nuts, and drinking coffee or tea every day, while decreasing animal fat consumption and trimming your waistline, are all factors that can help your gallbladder continue humming along in good health.9,10,11,12

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Liver Health: Supply Your Liver with the Cofactors It Needs

References:
9. Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Spiegelman D, Colditz GA, Giovannucci E. A prospective study of coffee consumption and the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease in men. JAMA 1999;281:2106- 2112.
10. Ruhl CE, Everhart JE. Association of coffee consumption with gallbladder disease. Am J Epidemiol 2000;152:1034-1038.
11. Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. The effect of longterm intake of cis unsaturated fats on the risk for gallstone disease in men: A prospective cohort study. Ann Intern Med 2004;141:514-522.
12. Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Prospective study of abdominal adiposity and gallstone disease in US men. Am J Clin Nutr 2004;80:38-44.

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Liver Health: Stop Smoking!

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Liver Health: Stop Smoking!

Tobacco smoke contains at least 40 recognized carcinogens that can cause harm to many parts of the body besides the lungs, including the liver. In addition, there are over 2000 separate chemicals in cigarette smoke that are capable of oxidizing cell membranes and proteins. Certainly, nicotine is an addictive drug, much like alcohol. And just as certainly, both alcohol and nicotine are hepatotoxic. No matter what other “protective” steps you may take, continued cigarette smoking will continue to damage your liver and lead to early liver disease.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Liver Health: Support Your Gallbladder along with Your Liver

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Liver Health: Don’t Overmedicate Your Pain

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Liver Health: Don’t Overmedicate Your Pain

Several over-the counter and prescription pain medications have well-known liver damaging side effects when used chronically. All of these medications are metabolized by the liver, increasing its metabolic burden and, with excessive use, they may cause the liver harm. As with any other condition, prevention of pain always is preferable to treatment. Controlled exercise, improved posture, chiropractic adjustments and stress reduction, as well as a good night’s sleep, can help decrease the need for pain-relieving medications. In addition, a slow-down in the pace of life can help prevent minor accidents with their annoying consequences.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Liver Health: Stop Smoking!

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Liver Health: Don’t Give Your Liver a Hangover

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Liver Health: Don’t Give Your Liver a Hangover

No alcohol-containing beverage is totally safe and every sip of any amount (large or small) of alcohol challenges your liver’s ability to perform several functions quickly and without error. Although every molecule of alcohol processed by your liver means one less that might affect your brain, that molecule of alcohol could work with stored fat to change a healthy liver into an unhealthy one. The risk increases with increasing alcohol consumption. In addition, alcohol is known to stimulate the liver to produce enzymes that can interfere with the metabolism of many medications, reducing their effectiveness. No matter how you look at it, there is no way to conclude that any amount of alcohol is healthy for your liver. The less you drink, the more your liver will thank you and continue performing at its best for decades.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Liver Health: Don’t Overmedicate Your Pain

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Liver Health: Cut Down on Unhealthy Fats

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Liver Health: Cut Down on Unhealthy Fats

The more saturated fats and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (omega-6 PUFA) you eat, the more fat gets deposited in your liver (as well as everywhere else). When the liver stores too much fat, it becomes clogged and much less efficient at detoxifying chemicals and toxins in the blood.

On the other hand, eating healthy fats can help optimize liver function. As shown in recent research published in Circulation, omega-3 PUFA (fish oils) are utilized in cell membranes and in anti-inflammatory processes and are not stored in the liver as fat.8 One way of reducing the stress on your liver is to ease up on animal fat and omega-6 rich vegetable oil consumption on the one hand and to replace the foods that contain them with healthy servings of fatty cold-water fish and olive oil. Supplementing with a high quality dietary supplement rich in fish oils is also liver-healthy. Shifting the balance of the fats you consume away from saturated fats and omega-6 PUFA and toward omega-3 PUFA can keep your liver smiling during those extra decades of life.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Liver Health: Don’t Give Your Liver a Hangover

References:
8. Harris WS, Sands SA, Windsor SL, Ali HA, Stevens TL, Magalski A, Porter CB, Borkon AM. Omega-3 fatty acids in cardiac biopsies from heart transplantation patients: Correlation with erythrocytes and response to supplementation. Circulation 2004;110:1645-1649.

 

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