Watch Out For Soy Products

Soy-based products are still quite popular, and the majority of them are touted as “health” foods. However, there is a huge difference between fermented and unfermented soy products.

People of Asian descent like me tend to eat fermented soy products such as soy sauce, miso and tempeh (I draw the line at natto, which is another fermented soy product with a distinctive texture and flavor which I can’t stand). The fermented forms of soy based foods are safe because the fermentation process destroys the antinutrients which are present in soybeans.

In stark contrast, unfermented soy products, including soy milk and tofu, have high concentrations of these antinutrients, including phytates, phytoestrogens, MSG, saponins, trypsin inhibitors, and goitrogens. These substances have multiple deleterious effects on the body, such as impaired absorption of vitamins and minerals, interference with pancreatic and thyroid function, disruption of endocrine function, and damage to the nervous system.

For these reasons, I am strongly opposed to the consumption of soy-based products and eliminate them from patient and client diets whenever possible. If you are vegan, or if you are intolerant of whey or casein, look for other forms of protein, such as pea, quinoa, hemp and amaranth, which cause less inflammation when consumed and have a more benign side effect profile.

Organifi Review from August 2016

Please check out my YouTube review of Organifi products here:

Though I shot and edited this video a year ago, the information hasn’t changed. I love how clean Organifi products are, and encourage people to try them. My favorite products are the Daily Turmeric Boost and the ProBiotic.

I’ve actually run out of both products, and am using other brands right now, but I honestly felt fantastic while on Organifi products. My digestive tract functioned better, and I had fewer aches and pains with the Turmeric Boost on board.

Why Zinc Is So Important

zinc-image

Here is an article which I wrote a few years ago and which still applies to general health:

Zinc is a vital mineral which is found in every tissue in the body due to its involvement in cell division. In the world of fitness and bodybuilding, zinc has a number of roles, including maintenance of normal hormonal levels, proper endocrine function, body composition, energy levels, optimal physical performance and protein synthesis. Thus it is crucial to maintain normal levels of zinc in the body when training or prepping for a competition.

Zinc is highly concentrated in meat, dairy and some seafood. This is why vegetarians most commonly suffer from zinc deficiency. So how can you tell if you suffer from a zinc deficiency? Common symptoms include an altered sense of taste which leads to cravings for sweets and salty foods. Other symptoms of zinc deficiency include low energy, infertility, low libido, memory problems, poor immunity and diarrhea.

A relatively easy way to test yourself to see if you are deficient in zinc is to do a taste test. Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of zinc sulfate (you can get this at health food stores) and add to a cup of water. If it tastes just like water, you are very zinc deficient. If you experience a slightly metallic taste, you are moderately zinc deficient. If it is strongly metallic and unpleasant, you most likely have normal zinc levels. Please bear in mind that this test is never as accurate as a blood test, but at least it will give you an idea of what your levels are.

For those of you who want to know the specific health benefits of zinc, here is a list of benefits.

Enhances Strength and Athletic Performance:

Zinc plays a major role in anabolic hormone production which makes it a key player in optimizing athletic performance and strength. When zinc levels in the body are normal, more growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 is released, which result in enhanced muscle growth and performance. Researchers have also noted that zinc enhances the conversion rate of androstenedione to testosterone, which improve strength gains during the recovery phase.

Enhances Reproductive Health and Fertility in Both Men and Women:

The cells of the male prostate require an extremely high concentration of zinc for proper function. To give you an idea of how much zinc is necessary in the prostate, male prostate tissue requires ten times more zinc than other cells in the body for normal function. There is a correlation between low zinc levels in men and increased risk of developing prostate cancer and infertility. There is also evidence to support the link between low zinc levels and low libido. Another implication with low zinc levels is its importance in maintaining optimal testosterone levels. Men with low zinc also tend to have low testosterone, which puts them at greater risk of andropausal symptoms.

In women, proper levels of zinc are essential for egg maturation and ovulation. Zinc also optimizes utilization of estrogen and progesterone and regulates their levels. During pregnancy, zinc plays a vital role in ensuring proper cell division in the growing fetus and helps to prevent premature delivery.

Essential For Taste, Smell and Appetite:

Zinc activates areas in the brain that process information from taste buds in the mouth and olfactory cells in the nasal passages. In addition, levels of zinc in the plasma influence taste preference and appetite. Many programs which treat anorexics use zinc to revive taste and appetite.

Makes Skin, Hair and Nails Healthy:

Zinc accelerates skin cell renewal which is why it is commonly used in diaper rash creams, acne treatments and creams which are used to treat dermatitis. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and has a soothing effect on rashes, burns and blisters. Some shampoos contain zinc to help prevent dandruff. What you may not know is that zinc is important for healthy hair and that low zinc levels can cause hair loss, dull and thin hair, and loss of pigmentation.

Essential For Vision:

Zinc is found in high concentrations in the retina, but this level declines with advancing age, precipitating age-related macular degeneration which is characterized by a partial or complete loss of vision. Zinc also has a protective effect against the development of cataracts and night blindness.

Supports Cardiovascular Health:

Zinc is vital to normal cardiovascular function. When levels of zinc are low, the endothelial layer in blood vessels becomes inflamed and accumulates cholesterol deposits, both of which increase one’s risk of heart disease. Low levels of zinc can amplify the negative cardiovascular effects of diets which are high in fat and cholesterol, whereas adequate levels of zinc will inhibit the progression of heart disease.

Increases Insulin Sensitivity:

The presence of zinc is essential for normal function of most hormones, including insulin. Zinc binds to insulin and aids in storage in the pancreas as well as release of insulin in the presence of serum glucose. In addition, zinc is found in the enzymes which enable insulin to bind to cells so that glucose can be utilized for fuel, a process better known as insulin sensitivity. Why is this important? If zinc levels are low, enzyme levels drop, insulin sercretion drops and glucose remains in the bloodstream, a process which can lead to diabetes if it is chronic.

Improves Mood:

Dopamine, a chemical in the brain which boosts mood and energy, is partially regulated by zinc, so zinc once again plays an important role in the body. There is also evidence to support the theory that the presence of zinc boosts serotonin levels in the brain.

Supports Immune Function:

Zinc supports T cell function and is thus strongly tied with combating inflammation. T cells are responsible for mounting an immune response to invaders such as bacteria or viruses.

Has Potent Antioxidant Effect:

Zinc can remove toxins from the body and prevent accumulation of harmful compounds in tissues. This mechanism has a protective effect against the development of cancers, especially in the prostate, ovaries, pancreas, breast and colon. In addition, zinc prevents the buildup of heavy metals in the brain such as aluminum, which has been closely linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

If you suspect that you are deficient in zinc, you can supplement daily with 20 to 30 milligrams.

(Original post can be found here: http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-lab-supplement-school/7294-why-zinc-is-so-important.html?hitcount=0)

Ibuprofen Has Its Merits

ibuprofenOver the years, numerous medical studies have explored the idea that ibuprofen interferes with muscle growth, with conflicting conclusions. I know that there are some weightlifters who will take ibuprofen on a daily basis to combat numerous pain issues so that they can lift more comfortably, but this is something I would NEVER recommend. As a physician I am well aware of ibuprofen’s remarkable ability to shut down acute inflammation, but I am also aware of the risks of taking high dose ibuprofen over an extended period of time. I think it is also important to bear in mind that 1) there are different types of inflammation found in the body, and 2) some inflammation is actually necessary for optimal muscle growth.

The reason why I broach this subject is that I also know people who lift who stubbornly refuse to take ibuprofen under ANY circumstances, stating that it isn’t worth the impaired muscle growth. These people could be in agony from a muscle strain, bursitis, arthritis flare-up, tennis elbow or any number of conditions which arise from localized inflammation, yet will refuse to take anything. I will see them at the gym, struggling to move the weight that they are accustomed to lifting, only to cut their lifting regimen short or sharply reduce the weight lifted. Some of these people are so intent on pushing through the pain that they often make things WORSE and have to stop training completely until their injuries subside. Now that is just stupid. It makes far more sense to tackle the acute inflammation systemically with ibuprofen and rest the area for a few days so that one can return to full capacity, rather than risk even greater injury which essentially forces one to stop training.

I have recently dealt with a mild ankle sprain which I aggressively treated with ice, elevation, compression and high-dose ibuprofen for four days. Instead of being stubborn and refusing to take anything, I took 600-800 milligrams of ibuprofen twice a day with food, and also avoided any activities which required me to push off from my feet. I also refrained from doing any high impact moves which would aggravate my ankle. Was I concerned about adversely affecting my body’s ability to build muscle? Certainly not. Healing was my primary concern. Besides, there would have been no way that I could have trained the way I normally do while dealing with such outright pain, so it made sense to shut down the inflammatory process which was causing all the discomfort in the first place by taking the dreaded ibuprofen. I was smart about how I took it, and I did not take it for an extended period of time. Thankfully, it was a successful therapeutic treatment and I am glad I did it.

With all this said, I am still very cautious about prescribing high dose ibuprofen. The effects on the gastrointestinal tract are significant, so it is imperative to eat when taking this medication. I also caution people against taking too many doses throughout the day. A very real example occurred with a friend who was apparently taking high doses of ibuprofen (600-800 mg 4 times per day) without food for severe daily headaches. This practice resulted in a peptic ulcer which bled enough to cause her to pass out twice, landing her in the emergency room.

For those of you on the other side of the coin who have a habit of taking ibuprofen chronically, even if you are only taking 200 or 400 mg at a time, I highly recommend that you discontinue such chronic use. It is best to reserve ibuprofen for acute flare-ups.

What Killed Knut The Polar Bear

Knut sit
Please check out my original post at:

http://xactmind.com/xc/articles/what-killed-knut-the-polar-bear/

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Zoo veterinarians were astonished and puzzled when Knut, the polar bear at the Berlin Zoo who rose to celebrity status, died suddenly in 2011 after suffering from a seizure and collapsing into the pool in his enclosure. Knut’s death at the young age of four was a complete surprise, since polar bears can live up to 20 years in the wild and even longer in captivity, so researchers were determined to find out the cause of his bizarre demise.

Mystery Solved

Researchers have finally discovered what killed Knut. The reason for his death was an autoimmune disorder called anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a type of brain inflammation in which the body attacks its own brain cells and causes them to malfunction. Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis strikes one in 200,000 people and is the main cause of non-infectious encephalitis. Initial symptoms are nausea, fever, headaches and hallucinations, later progressing to motor abnormalities, seizures and death if untreated. Until Knut’s cause of death was discovered, scientists believed that this form of encephalitis only occurred in humans.

Knut’s Legacy

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is treated in humans with high-dose steroids and plasma exchange. Now that scientists have determined that the disease affects other creatures in the animal kingdom, zoo veterinarians are optimistic that zoo animals who exhibit signs of encephalitis without a clear cause can be treated with the same medications. The knowledge of what killed Knut has also made scientists aware that anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis may be undertreated, which can aid in the development of earlier intervention and more effective treatments for this disease.
Knut hug

Do Anti-Inflammatory Medications Hinder Muscle Growth?

stupidest

There has been a heated debate over many years within the bodybuilding community about whether anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium hinder muscle growth. These medications inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, which also play a role in muscle synthesis. All it took was one clinical study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism to put bodybuilders into a panic about reduced protein synthesis, and it didn’t matter that such results were found in laboratory rats. While there is some evidence to suggest that the anabolic signal is shut off when anti-inflammatories circulate in the bloodstream, nothing is absolutely conclusive, and what might be seen in the rat model might not necessarily be the case for humans.

While I will never advocate chronic use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory agents, I think they definitely serve a purpose when acute injury is present. When I find myself in the middle of disputes with bodybuilders who INSIST that a few days on such medications will completely destroy all their efforts in the gym, I simply shake my head in frustration. If you are injured and your lifting is adversely affected by the injury, whether it be a muscle strain, a ligament tear, or a minor disc herniation, you need to be aware that training through that injury, especially when it deranges your form and causes other body parts to compensate for the injury, will end up really messing you up over time. I honestly think that a minimal decrease in muscle mass over the course of a few days is preferable to the imbalance and asymmetry which usually occur when a bodybuilder foolishly pushes through heavy workouts despite an injury which has a domino effect on the body.

Common sense, and medical expertise, dictate that the inflammation must be removed from the area, most commonly through short term administration of anti-inflammatory agents, ice, and rest. Trust me, if you follow a regimen like this, you won’t lose all the muscle you have built over the years. Be sure to take these medications with food, and if you have any history of gastric ulcers. bleeding disorders, or kidney dysfunction, avoid taking them. Remember that I am talking about DAYS, not weeks or months. This is one time when eating constantly has its benefits, since bodybuilders and fitness people can pretty easily fit in their medication administration with one of their meals. I know it’s difficult to back off from training, but if you truly want to HEAL, you must give the injured area time to repair itself. If you insist on continuing to train through the injury, especially, without any medications or other interventions on board, you can count on the injury either lingering or worsening over time.

emptystomach

I Need An Oil Can

Lately I have been in CONSTANT pain from inflammation in my neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and ankles which has me creaking like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. I wouldn’t mind it so much if the pain patterns were completely predictable, but there have been days when the pain has shifted from one side to another. No amount of massage or adjustment seems to calm things down either. Granted, I have not been as diligent about taking my daily supplements due to almost two weeks of international travel which threw my daily routine off track in a big way. Now that I am back in the States for a while now, I plan to get back into my daily rhythm which will hopefully cause most of my aches to abate.
Tin Man
As a result of the pain I was enduring, I had a massage last week while in Bali. It was an amazing deal at 120,000 rupiah (about $10 U.S.) for a full hour of shiatsu massage, so I jumped on it. What I had forgotten was that shiatsu massage can hurt like a mother^%#@$* due to its focus on trigger points and deep pressure. I was writhing in pain for the entire hour, but figured I needed the torture. Usually if my patients experience deep massage, I will tell them to take arnica or ibuprofen for the next 24 hours to address inflammation, but since I am a doctor (and doctors really DO make the worst patients), and also since I had no access to anti-inflammatory agents, I tolerated the pummeling I got and simply hydrated as much as I could. The next morning, I was in so much pain that I could barely walk, and I couldn’t turn my head at all. Stretching was almost impossible because my range of motion was terrible. Thankfully, my range of motion increased gradually as the day progressed and my muscles warmed up.

After dealing with such intense discomfort for a while now, I think I will take my own advice and resume my daily intake of antioxidants, glucosamine, and turmeric. For those of you who may also be feeling like a poorly oiled tin man, you might want to follow suit.

A Couple Of Nuts

Most people love nuts, especially those of us in the fitness industry who will actually fantasize about the calorie dense morsels. Since I usually take a stance from the fitness end, I want to explore one very popular nut as well as another which had until recently been considered more forbidden. Meet the peanut and the cashew.

Peanut products
Peanuts have become popularized by baseball stands, candies which feature them, and clever labeling on peanut butter jars which, through their colorful and whimsical labels, have won great favor by children and adults alike. The problem with consumption of large amounts of peanuts and peanut products is that androgen dominance develops, which is closely tied to inflammation and insulin resistance. Individuals who are more sensitive may find that they have more acne breakouts when they consume peanuts, peanut oil, or peanut butter. So in a sense, peanuts can wreak some hormonal havoc on the body.

In contrast, cashews may be considered a hormonal ally. Cashews contain compounds referred to as anacardic acid which has a demonstrated anti-estrogen effect in which it blocks the activation of estrogen receptors once they have attached to estradiol. Anacardic acid also kills hormone sensitive breast cancer cells in vitro and may have a beneficial effect in human subjects. If you consume one half cup of cashews, you will ingest approximately 20 milligrams of anacardic acid. The jury is still out on how much of an impact the anti-estrogen effect has, but it certainly won’t hurt either.
cashews
By no means am I suggesting that you eliminate peanuts or peanut products from your diet (provided you aren’t allergic to them). But if you consume excessive amounts of peanuts and are noticing that you are suffering from acne breakouts, the peanuts may be the culprit. You might want to stop eating peanuts for a couple of weeks to see if your skin clears up. If you simply cannot live without a nut butter, you can consume almond butter or cashew butter as an alternative. If you have any interest in blocking estrogen through consumption of key foods, adding cashews to your meal plan may be just the boost you need to balance estrogen levels.