Supplements

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM TO HELP COMBAT CORONAVIRUS

weight, Rebecca Lazar - BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM TO HELP COMBAT CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus is here and Boca Raton schools and shuls (synagogues) have shut down much like many other cities across the country. My once-a-week cleaning lady has canceled, 3 of my 4 kids are at home doing online school (for those of us who have never home-schooled our kids it’s so weird seeing them in their room on their online classes, right?), and my 19 year old son cannot come back from Israel where is a lone soldier in the IDF even though he has not started service yet and likely won’t be drafted for the foreseeable future (if anyone knows a way to get him out of this and bring him home, let me know!). I never thought I’d see this kind of eerie sci-fi movie-like existence in my lifetime, have you? The good news is I think we have enough toilet paper….at least for now! tongue

We all know the CDC recommendations by now and they are so important to follow as instructed: wash your hands for 20 seconds, don’t touch your face, keep a social distance, etc. etc. But what else can we do? Well, there ARE things you can do to help boost your immune system so that if you do get the virus it will be over quickly and the symptoms will hopefully be mild.

Please note that the advice I outline below is not to replace that given to you by your medical doctor as I have no way of knowing what medications you might currently be on or what your particular health situation is. Rather, these are general guidelines for you to help make the best food, supplement and lifestyle choices to keep your immune system as strong as possible in these crazy times with such an incredibly contagious virus around the world.

Immune System Boosters

One of my son’s teachers used to tell his class “you can’t boost your immune system – you’re not a car” which always made me laugh – and get annoyed – at the same time.  To his credit, my son would argue with his teacher, something along the lines of “my Mom always gives us extra Vitamin C and herbal medicine when we get sick” to which he would respond “well, that’s just stupid.” Okayyyyy.  It didn’t matter that there is scientific evidence or the fact that it worked a majority of the of the time….some people are just very stuck in their ways of thinking.

Yes, of course you can boost your immune system! Just like there are certain activities, foods (think white sugar and white flour) and medications that will lower your immune system, the same holds true for increasing it’s ability to ward off viruses and infections.  Some people think “Well, the coronavirus is so contagious I’m going to get it anyway so what’s the point?”  That may be true but it’s important to recognize that anything you put into your body, or on your skin for that matter, has the ability to either put you “up the slope of health” or “down the slope of health,” to quote one of my mentors, the highly respected Canadian functional nutrition practitioner and teacher Josh Gitalis.  Basically, as he explains, the higher up the slope of health you are, the faster and easier your body has to respond to any type of invader and the better off you are but you have to work on getting up the slope and staying there on a daily basis.  You aren’t “healthy” or “unhealthy” – you are somewhere along that line and must keep striving toward better health.  Hopefully that puts things into perspective!

Some of the recommendations below are known to be effective against the common flu virus and we are hopeful that it has the same effect with Coronavirus although we don’t know for sure.  Others are simply known to help strengthen your overall immune system:


Immune Boosting Foods:

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables – but make sure you aren’t adding toxins to your body with pesticides.  Wash produce well but check out the annual Dirty Dozen list for produce especially high in pesticides.  It is recommended that those on this list are bought organic whenever possible.  If you don’t like to eat your fruits and veggies, juice them in this top-rated juicer or do what my family does and blend them into a smoothie such as in this high speed blender.  There are tons of fruit and vegetable smoothies online or get the kids involved and create your own!
  • Speaking of fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit are high in natural Vitamin C – known to help boost your immune system.  Interestingly enough, red peppers are even higher in Vitamin C than oranges! Red pepper juice, anyone? 
  • Drink lots of water – reverse osmosis or spring water is best.  I personally use this inexpensive, easy to install, under the sink filter.
  • Drink bone broth – I know it’s all the rage these days but with good reason: your grandmother was right, chicken soup really does help your immune system – and maybe your soul, too.  But to really get all the benefits that bone broth has to offer including strengthening your immune system, follow a bone broth recipe.  If you don’t want to wait that long for it to cook, use an instant pot and it will be ready in no time! 
  • Garlic and onions have natural anti-viral properties.  Chop them up and use them in whatever you are cooking and of course add some to your bone broth for extra benefits.  If you have IBS and/or are following a LOW-FODMAP diet, skip this suggestion.
  • Ginger – aside from being known as the anti-nausea herb of choice, it also contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols which inhibit the formation of inflammatory messengers of the immune system.[1]  It also contains antibacterial and antiviral properties and soothes lung tissues.  Make a simple tea with fresh ginger, lemon, mint and this delicious organic honey.

 

Immune Boosting Supplements:

  • Vitamin C – the immune system vitamin – 1000 mg 3x/day (or more).  Some suggest to take it to bowel tolerance – meaning, until you develop loose stools and then cut back on the dose.  Since this varies person to person, start with the recommended dose and go up from there.
  • Zinc –  the immune system mineral – 30 – 60 mg twice a day.
  • Oregano – but especially this type containing the Mediterranean source P73 wild oregano that was used in studies to successfully destroy bacteria and viruses. It is best to take it 3x/day when you feel the start of symptoms as taking high doses for a long period of time can have negative effects on the good bacteria in your intestinal tract (similar to antibiotics but not nearly as detrimental). 
  • Elderberry extract – in addition to being an excellent source of Vitamin C, it improves and strengthens immune system function, helps detoxify the body and reduces cold and flu symptoms. [2]
  • Echinacea – shown to have profound immune enhancing effects, and direct antiviral activity. [3] We like this brand.  That being said, it’s best NOT to take during a fever as it may increase the inflammatory response of this type of unfamiliar virus.  Best to take as a preventative measure or if your symptoms during the virus do not include a high fever.
  • NAC – N-Acetylcysteine is an antioxidant and precursor to glutathione, one of the major antioxidants in lung tissue.  In a double blind trial, using NAC during the flu season reduced the frequency and severity of symptomatic flu episodes. [4] While we don’t have studies showing it’s effectiveness specifically on Coronavirus, my guess would be that it would show similar effects.  I recommend this quality formula.

Make sure your supplements, whether they are Vitamins, Minerals, or Herbal remedies are low in sugar, and don’t contain fillers or other unnecessary ingredients.  It defeats the purpose to take high sugar, chemical filled synthetic supplements. They should also have enough of the active ingredient to do the job.  Often when studies are done showing supplements did not have a positive effect it was because they were too low in potency or made with unhealthy ingredients. [Hint – don’t buy them from Costco or your local drugstore.]  A health food store, quality brands like those I recommended above from Amazon or a professional Supplement Dispensary is a much better option.

Lifestyle:

  • Make your own easy natural hand sanitizer – get a spray bottle and add 70% alcohol along with a few drops of essential oil of tea trea (melaleuca), eucalyptus, thyme, lavender, rosemary, clove or a combination, and optionally a few tablespoons of pure aloe vera taken from inside the actual aloe vera leaf.  There are many brands of essential oils out there that are not pure and have added ingredients used to dilute the products.  Pure essential oils are NOT the same as botanical oils or the inexpensive essential oils you can buy at your local health food store. I personally have been using Doterra essential oils for a while since they have a great reputation but lately I have been switching to Living Libations which I feel are even more pure. 
  • Lowering your stress helps your immune system so do yoga or dance using an online streaming service (I love Les Mills on Demand), or go for a walk outside which will also benefit you by getting some sunlight.  The naturally occurring vitamin D helps your immune system as well and so many of us are deficient because of the overuse of sunscreen.  It is a good idea to be out in the sun for at least 15 minutes a day without any sunscreen. After that, use an all natural brand like this one or this one.  
  • If you feel like you are coming down with something don’t do a hard workout like running, heavy weight lifting or HiiT as these forms of exercise can increase cortisol levels – the stress hormone. But don’t sit still either – a light workout is fine as long as you feel up to it.
  • Sleep 8 hours a night – this is so important! Go to bed before 11 pm and sleep in complete darkness to have the best benefits.
  • Be happy – I know, I know, easier said than done.  Writing down things you are grateful for….it might sound cheesy but it helps.  I am personally grateful to live in Florida where I can sit in my backyard as I write this, go for a bike ride which is apparently safe for social distancing and of course grateful for my awesome family despite the fact that it’s only Day 2 of them being home and it has been a non-stop cooking and eating fest!
  • Most of all have faith….we will get through this! happy
If you found this helpful, please share with family and friends!

References:

[1] “The Healing Power of Herbs and Spices.” The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, by Michael T. Murray et al., Time Warner International, 2006, pp. 486–487.

[2]“The All-In-One Guide to Natural Remedies and Supplements: Discover the Health and Healing Powers of Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals, Fats, Enzymes, Amino Acids, Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, Flower Remedies, Leading Edge Discoveries, Nutraceuticals, Phytochemicals.” The All-In-One Guide to Natural Remedies and Supplements: Discover the Health and Healing Powers of Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals, Fats, Enzymes, Amino Acids, Aromatherapy, Homeopathy, Flower Remedies, Leading Edge Discoveries, Nutraceuticals, Phytochemicals, by Ken Vegotsky et al., AGES Publications, 2001, pp. 202–203.

[3]“Immune Support.” The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine, by Joseph E. Pizzorno et al., Elsevier, 2016, p. 391.

[4]“Influenza.” Nutritional Medicine, by Alan Gaby, Fritz Perlberg Publishing, 2017, p. 1249.

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10 SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP BUILD LEAN MUSCLE

Lean muscleSome people can literally look at a free weight and get beautifully sculped and defined muscles.  Others, like myself, can lift a lot heavier weight than we seem on first glance and yet the muscle growth and definition takes a longer time and a lot more hard work.  Mind you, I’m not talking about the muscle-bound women found in bodybuilding magazines, (sorry, but ew), rather the lean and defined muscular look like the girl shown at right.

So, how does one put on lean muscle?  Well, with commitment to the right exercise program  you CAN change the shape of your body but there are also a number of supplements that can help get you there. These supplements can be used to boost energy levels. That being said, if you aren’t eating a clean, healthy diet (no chemicals, additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, refined sugars, GMOs, etc), then don’t waste your money ordering a truckload of supplements because all it will do is add further stress to an already exhausted liver.  Once you are committed to these lifestyle changes, then adding some of the following supplements is the next logical step.  While these are not the only beneficial supplements for weight training by any means, they are simply the ones I either personally use and/or have recommended to my clients with good results (in no particular order):

1. BCAAs: Branched Chain Amino Acids are 3 amino acids (isoleucine, leucine and valine) that may help you have increased energy during your workouts.  They are also involved in creating new muscle tissue and can help protect your muscles from the catabolic (muscle breakdown) effect of dieting.

Preferred brand: The powder form from AOR, which has no other ingredients; It tastes a little bitter on it’s own though, so I recommend adding a tsp of [easyazon_link asin=”B0026SAEIM” locale=”CA” new_window=”default” tag=”reaheafit0c-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”default”]Truvia[/easyazon_link].  Dosage: 1 scoop with water before and/or after your workout.

2. CLA: An omega 6 fatty acid, Conjugated Linoleic Acid is different than other omega-6 fats in that it supports fat loss while promoting muscle growth and strength.

Preferred brand:  Genestra  Dosage: Take 1 cap  3x/day with meals.

3. B-Complex: B-vitamins help your body derive energy from the food you eat and helps get oxygen to muscle tissue.  Certain B vitamins also help the body use the protein you’re eating to help build muscle properly.

Preferred brand: While many professional brands make good quality B-complex formulas, I like Orti B from Genestra  Dosage: 1 capsule/day with a meal, but there are plenty of other protein products that you can get yourself.

4. Magnesium: Without Magnesium the body cannot produce adenosine tri-phosphate (ATP). ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism and is critically important in building lean muscle.  If you have muscle or joint pain or spasms, magnesium may help to relax your muscles and ease the aches. Additionally, magnesium helps to block excess calcium from depositing in your muscles.  I recommend Magnesium Bisglycinate since it’s readily absorbable and easier on the digestive system than other forms.

Preferred Brand: CanPrev.  Dosage: 1 – 2 capsules/day.

5. Matcha Tea: While you can take Green Tea Extract in supplement form, I prefer to drink it in my tea! Green tea extract contains EGCG – epigallocatechen gallate – which helps muscle recovery after intense workouts, and increases metabolic rate and fat burning.  To learn more about matcha tea and how to make the perfect latte to replace your morning coffee, click HERE.

Preferred Brand: DoMatcha  Dosage: 2 cups/day

6. Bovine Colostrum:  Yep, that’s exactly what it sounds like but it’s not as weird as you might think! Colostrum is the initial type of breast milk mothers produce during pregnancy and for several days after giving birth.  It has high levels of protein, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and antibodies called immunoglobulins. (The molecular structure of colostrum from cows is identical to human colostrum).  Several studies suggest that colostrum supplements may improve exercise performance and increase lean body mass, especially during periods of high-intensity training and recovery from high-intensity training.

Preferred brand: SurThrival, which is not de-fatted like other brands, is verified 6 Hour Colostrum, tested to be free from herbicides, antibiotics and hormones, and taken only after baby calves have had their share.  You can purchase SurThrival Colostrum HEREDosage: 3 capsules, 2x/day on an empty stomach.

7. Vitamin C:  Vitamin C fights free radicals created by weight training, reduces cortisol production (cortisol breaks down muscle tissue and tends to promote extra abdominal fat storage), and helps decrease muscle soreness.

Preferred brand: AOR – Vitamin C with Bioflavanoids  Dosage: 1 capsule/day with a meal.

8. L- Glutamine: An amino acid, L-glutamine has many benefits including improved muscular recovery, lower levels of muscular pain, and reduced risk of muscle breakdown.  Additionally, it’s very beneficial for intestinal health, so you will be able to utilize all the nutrients you eat in your diet, which in turn helps build lean muscle.

Preferred brand: AOR  Dosage: 1 capsule, 2x/day.

9. Coconut Oil:  Coconut oil improves endurance and athletic performance, promotes fat burning, and maintains muscle mass.  What this means is that it is one of the best ways to get lean AND ripped.  Many people are afraid of the fat content in coconut oil but I assure you it’s very different than other types of fat.  Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil HERE.

Preferred brand:  [easyazon_link asin=”B000AN36I0″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” tag=”reaheafit-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”default”]Spectrum Naturals – Coconut Oil Unrefined[/easyazon_link]  Dosage:  1 teaspoon, 1 – 3 times per day, preferably before and after your workout.

10. Whey protein: Due to its complete protein content, Whey protein, derived from cow’s milk, helps increase muscle mass while decreasing body fat.  It also helps enhance exercise performance and protect against free radicals.  While there are many brands and types of whey protein, one thing is certain: steer clear of brands made with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and Aculfame K.  There is also some debate as to whether it is better to use Whey protein in concentrate or isolate form – each have pros and cons.  For example, whey concentrates contain high amounts of lactose, which many people are sensitive to, however they contain more health promoting compounds.  Isolates, on the other hand, are more rapidly absorbed and contain higher amounts of protein.

Preferred brand:  (Kosher-certified)  Integrated Supplements; For those who do not require Kosher certification, I prefer the comprehensive combination of healthy ingredients in Shakeology (they have 2 vegan options as well which contain plant-based proteins instead of whey if you are sensitive/allergic to whey protein and want to help build lean muscle).  Dosage: 1 serving per day.

[Note: unless indicated otherwise with a website or Amazon affiliate link, items discussed above are available for purchase in our Online Dispensary.  If you sign up for our monthly newsletters, you will receive 15% off all available supplements.]

Have you tried any of the above items? I’d love to hear your feedback on the supplements that worked for you and the ones you felt were a waste of time or money.

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A LOOK AT CAMELINA OIL

indexWhen I first heard of Camelina oil, also known as “false flax” because of its visual similarity to regular flax, I was intrigued.  The seed oil of Camelina contains an exceptional amount (up to 45 per cent) of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a unique antioxidant complex making the oil very stable and resistant to heat and rancidity. Unlike flax oil or any other omega-3 oil, Camelina oil can be used not only as a well-balanced omega-3 supplement, but also as a health-promoting everyday cooking oil since heat does not destroy it’s chemical makeup and health benefits.

Omega-3 fatty acids, essential to our health, have been almost entirely forced out of the everyday North American diet by the commercialization of our food supply. In recent years, extensive research and numerous clinical studies have confirmed that omega-3 fats are involved in vital physiological processes in our bodies, and that not consuming enough may cause or aggravate many serious medical problems and conditions, including atherosclerosis, hypertension, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, dermatitis, asthma, ADHD, and even cancer. Therefore, adding a good source of omega-3 fatty acids to your diet is believed to be a good way of improving or preventing these conditions. The question of what constitutes the best source of omega-3 supplementation is, however, still being debated.  While I have always recommended fish oil and/or flax oil as dietary supplements for omega-3 fats, some people do not like taking fish oil because of the taste or the concern of the purity of the product; The problems with flax oil are that it cannot be used for cooking, it becomes rancid after a few weeks and it doesn’t taste all that good.

Camelina oil seems to be the answer to all these issues, so why not give it a try and see if you like it?  Some people describe the taste as “nutty” and others as “earthy” but when I opened my first bottle, I have to admit I was disappointed because it just smelled…..strange.  But I figured I’d give it a shot anyway so the first thing I made with it was a chicken and vegetable stir-fry.  I’m so glad I didn’t base my opinion on that first smell, because the stir-fry not only smelled delicious, it tasted great as well.

With further experimentation, I learned that Camelina oil is excellent in any type of vegetable stir fry, grilled veggies, salad, chicken or meat but I would personally avoid it for some fish and any sweet dishes or baked goods.

How does Camelina oil stack up to other oils I recommend for cooking and/or every day use, namely cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil or grapeseed oil? Camelina oil has the most balanced fatty acid ratio between Omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9 and Saturated Fats.  With this favourable balance, the health benefits include lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure and anti-inflammatory properties.

The brand I use is by three farmers, a Canadian company based in Saskatchewan.  Their oils are GMO-free, Certified OU Kosher, and available in regular or flavored varieties.  To learn more about three farmers as well as more details about Camelina oil in general,  CLICK HERE.

Would love to hear your comments and feedback if you have tried this versatile oil!

 

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FLU PREVENTION & TREATMENT

I occasionally start arguments when I tell people I do NOT recommend the flu shot.  Oh well, I just love stirring trouble big grin .  Well, instead of arguing the valid reasons why you shouldn’t get it, I will just offer you the best ways to help strengthen your immune system and treat a cold or flu the natural way, using supplements & eating healthy:

SUPPLEMENTS

Antioxidants: Vitamins A, C, and E boost the immune system by increasing the white blood cells that fight disease, and blocking the enzyme neuraminidase, which viruses need in order to reproduce. A good quality antioxidant formula will do the trick.

Garlic: A very effective anti-viral (not to mention anti-fungal), it’s no wonder that our grandparents and great-grandparents used it for pretty much whatever ailed them. It’s best used raw and crushed within one hour of crushing; although enteric coated capsules are available (the capsule doesn’t break down until it reaches the intestines) so now we can actually consume garlic and still go out in public.

Resveratrol: In addition to inhibiting neuraminidase, Resveratrol also sends a message to cells to stop manufacturing viruses. This anti-viral found naturally in red wine, peanuts, raisins and red grapes but is more effective taken in supplement form, unless you’d like to drink many, many glasses of red wine daily–while this might be tempting, I don’t recommend it winking

Vitamin D: Plays an important role in the body’s immune defense system, so it’s a good idea to take 1000 IU of Vitamin D daily, especially during the winter months or if you always use sunscreen. If you are low in Vitamin D, as indicated through a blood test, you may have to take more for optimum health.

Green Tea: Another effective anti-viral, this can be taken in supplement form, although I prefer the actual tea. Green tea is high in antioxidants and low in caffeine, although if you are sensitive to caffeine like I am, decaf green tea is available.

Pro-biotics: Natural bacteria in the gut are essential to maintaining proper health (not to mention digestive function). It never hurts to take this important supplement, especially for people who have received repeated courses of antibiotics.

Echinacea: One of the more popular supplements, Echinacea helps stimulate the immune system and fight viral infections. (Do not use if you are allergic to daisies or ragweed. If you have asthma or a general propensity for allergies, you’re also more likely to have an allergic reaction to Echinacea, so it’s best to avoid in that case).

Influenzinum or Mucococinum: A homeopathic flu prevention remedy taken typically once a week or every 2 weeks during the flu season. (Do not take these if you are pregnant or have an auto-immune disorder).

DIET

Say no to sugar, additives, preservatives, and artificial food coloring: I know this is a tough one, but these items weaken the immune system and make it more likely that you will get sick.

Limit dairy products: Dairy products increase mucus production, certainly not helpful for a cold or flu.

• And of course, drink lots of water: This helps to flush toxins out of your body.

OTHER METHODS

Wash your hands. Purell your hands. You know the drill. Coming in contact with germs doesn’t mean you have to get sick. Washing your hands is a simple and effective way to destroy bacteria and viruses.

Gargle with salt water and clean your nose with salt water on a q-tip: Sounds hokey, but this is actually medical professional advice, not alternative medicine! Since it takes some time for the virus to take hold, much like washing your hands, these methods can kill it where it enters so it doesn’t spread.

Get enough sleep and try to relax: Do not under-estimate this one. Stress wreaks havoc on the immune system and makes you more susceptible to getting sick.

If you still catch that cold or the flu, the supplements listed as preventatives can also be taken to reduce the symptoms & duration, but here are some additional ones that help destroy the virus:

Oil of Oregano: Study outcomes vary on its effectiveness against flu, although for the common cold, much like that Buckley’s commercial, “it tastes disgusting but it works”.

St. Johns Wort: Oddly enough, this herb has nothing to do with warts. It’s normally used as an anti-depressant but it is also a very potent anti-viral. (Do not take if you are on prescription anti-depressants).

Olive Leaf Extract: Helps eliminate the flu virus by interfering with certain amino acid production processes.

Goldenseal and Elderberry: Two more excellent flu fighters.

Now, before you run out and buy every item I listed here, please note that not all supplements are created equal. The cheaper ones have fillers, binders and coatings that make them not break down as easily, and are certainly not absorbed well by the body. They may also contain much less of the active ingredient(s) than a high-quality supplement, and some have even been found to contain toxins. It’s better to spend a little more and get good quality supplements from a health care professional or at a reputable health food store. There, you will also find combination formulas that contain many of the ingredients mentioned in one easy to take capsule 2 or 3 times daily.

Additionally, please do not give any of the items listed to children because not only do you have to be careful with dosing, some are simply not safe for kids. However there are some herbal remedies, such as Echinacea, Goldenseal and Elderberry that are available in liquid form (tinctures) that are specifically designed for children. If you are unsure, it is always best to consult with a natural health practitioner. That being said, the homeopathic remedies listed below can be safely used for younger kids (and adults as well) to reduce the severity and duration of flu symptoms. Give 3 pellets, 3 times a day of your chosen remedy, 15 minutes away from food or drinks. If there’s no improvement after 3 doses, switch to a different remedy. If there is some improvement, stop the remedy and only give again if and when those same symptoms return.

Gelsemium, 30ch: A flu remedy when the symptom picture is complete and utter exhaustion.

Bryonia, 30ch: The remedy to try when everything in the body hurts, especially if there is a headache, cough, and irritability.

Mercurius solubilis, 30ch: for a lingering flu that just doesn’t seem to go away. Symptoms include sore throat and tender, swollen glands.

Wishing everyone a great Holiday Season!

This article was written exclusively for the Toronto Jewish Family Magazine and first appeared in their November 2012 issue.

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UNDERSTANDING ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

What are Essential Fatty Acids (or EFA’s as they are commonly known), and why are they so darn essential?

Essential fatty acids play a very important role in the prevention of cancer and heart disease, help reduce and prevent inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, eczema, and psoriasis; they improve the softness and smoothness of your skin and provide many other health benefits.  Essential fatty acids are important components of the outer skin or membrane of every cell. The membrane determines which chemicals and nutrients will be allowed to enter and exit the cell; within the cell membrane essential fatty acids are continually activated and converted into prostaglandin hormones, a process that allows essential fatty acids to supply their disease prevention and anti-aging effects to a wide range of tissues within the body

Anti-aging and disease prevention?  Sounds amazing, right?

Well, if your terrified of eating fat, as many people on diets are, you aren’t getting enough because your body cannot make this stuff.  You NEED to get it through diet and/or supplements.  But hang on a second, before you think “I KNEW those high-fat, carb-free programs are the best!,” because not ALL prostaglandin hormones are good for you.

Some more boring scientific stuff:

There are three main types of prostaglandin hormones (PG): PG-1, PG-2, and PG-3. PG-1 and PG-3 have positive impacts on our health, while PG-2 can lead to highly negative effects. It encourages blood vessels to constrict and blood platelets to clot abnormally,  increasing the chance of heart attack, ischemic stroke, and high blood pressure. It also encourages inflammation, worsening arthritis and other joint, muscle and tendon conditions, including Crohn’s disease and colitis. PG-2 is associated with greater risk of cancer in that it prompts rapid cell division. Finally, it can make the skin dry, rough, and scaly, and aggravate a number of common skin disorders, such as eczema, psoriasis, and possibly roscacea.  surprise YIKES!

Reading that makes you want to stay away from that stuff like the plague…..but unfortunately….you love it too much.  You see, PG-2 is formed from a saturated fat known as arachidonic acid, found in high-fat meats and high-fat dairy products.  Yep, your steaks, burgers, milkshakes, cheese and other yummy foods.  You know what else makes PG-2? The over-consumption of linoleic acid, an unsaturated fat found in your typical grocery store corn oil, sunflower seed oil, safflower seed oil, and mixed vegetable oils, all of which promote the production of arachidonic acid by the body. Unfortunately, the typical North American diet is a rich source of arachidonic acid and linoleic acid, and most individuals produce too much PG-2.

You can lower your tissue concentrations of arachidoninc acid by choosing chicken, turkey or fish, instead of high-fat meat products, and non-fat or 1 percent milk and yogurt products.  Remove from your diet any cheese that is more than 3 percent milk fat, and use cold-pressed olive oil or organic canola or grapeseed oil in place of other vegetable oils in salad dressings.  These are good sources of monounsaturated fat, which does not participate in the formation of prostaglandin hormones and is known to help reduce cholesterol and contribute to cardiovascular health in other ways.

So now you know how to reduce the formation of PG-2, but what about the good prostaglandin hormones, PG-1 and PG-3, the ones with all those health benefits?

The key building block for PG-1 is an unsaturated fat known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is found in high concentrations in borage oil or evening primrose oil. GLA can also be formed in the body from linoleic acid (the oils we consume too much of), but individuals who suffer diabetes, eczema, or premenstrual syndrome have a defective enzyme that prevents the conversion of linoleic acid to GLA.  Drinking alcohol, eating refined sugars, and hydrogenated fats (margarine, shortening, pastries, chips and other snacks) tends to inhibit this conversion as well, as does the aging process itself.  For all these reasons, virtually everyone has suboptimal cell membrane concentrations of GLA, so it’s a good idea to supplement especially if you have one of the conditions mentioned.

PG-3, on the other hand,  is formed from an omega-3 unsaturated fat called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is found in cold-water marine fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and tuna.  This is the reason that fish oil supplements are so popular, and rightfully so.  The body can also convert the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed oil, and chia seeds as well as walnuts, into EPA, increasing the production of PG-3, but as you can see from the chart below, it’s a much quicker process to go directly from fish oil to PG-3. Fish oil, by the way, also contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which enhances immune function and the development and function of the brain, and is essential to good vision.  (This is why a higher DHA to EPA ratio fish oil supplement is often recommended for kids with ADHD).

PG-3 is considered very important for total body wellness, as it reduces risk of heart attacks by dilating blood vessels and discouraging abnormal blood clotting. It slows the rate of cell division and so reduces the risk, especially of breast, prostate, and colon cancer. PG-3 is also known to reduce inflammation, including skin inflammatory responses, a role it shares with PG-1.

If you are looking to build muscle, you’ll like this one:

For exercisers, particular relevance is the anti-oxidant and acute, exercise-related anti-inflammatory nature of EPA and DHA. Since high-intensity exercise and weight training cause increases in inflammation and oxidation, reducing this response may be beneficial in improving exercise recovery. Even more interesting for people looking to build muscle, EPA and DHA supplementation has been suggested to support muscle protein synthesis and limit muscle protein degradation. This can mean less muscle breakdown and more muscle growth.

Why supplement?

Most individuals suffer unknowingly from an essential fatty acid deficiency or imbalance, thanks to modern agricultural and food processing methods and the typical North American diet.  To ensure optimal essential fatty acid nutritional status, it is highly recommended to take a quality EFA supplement, preferably in the form of professional-quality fish oil.  This simple practice can result in significant benefits for your health, your appearance, the rate at which your body will age, and your risk of future illness.

The bottom line?

Taking fish oil daily may seem disgusting, but high quality brands like those found in our Online Dispensary make great-tasting fish oils, free from mercury and other impurities.  I also highly recommend Organic Atlantic Salmon Oil from Vital Choice.  Give either of those a try, you’ll be glad you did! On a personal note, I used to have high cholesterol as a teenager (if you’re thinking that’s insane, you’d be right!) and even after changing my dietary habits it still stayed on the border.  Taking a fish oil supplement daily has helped bring the levels down to normal, with no other meds required.

 A handy chart, which may or may not clarify things:  tongue

weight, Rebecca Lazar - UNDERSTANDING ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

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