The Microbiome: A Key to Your Health

Abigail McShinsky
MegaFood Training and Education Specialist

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of probiotics. Perhaps you even take them, as a supplement, yourself. The research and information demonstrating their vital importance to our health is growing, and it’s remarkable. Probiotics comprise what we refer to as the human microbiome – the vast collection of beneficial bacteria that inhabit, and form a deeply symbiotic relationship with, us.

Our digestive tracts are home to over 5,000 different species of beneficial bacteria, all of whom perform specific functions within our body (LiveScience). In addition to aiding in the digestion of food and nutrient assimilation, they are our biggest defense against illness – over 70% of our immune response resides within our gut!

Beyond this role, however, science continues to link the health of our microbiome to things such as allergies, and even lend credence to the phrase “gut reaction,” demonstrating a link between the health of our friendly crusaders and the brain! It begins to make sense, then, why these helpful bacteria, so important to our health and well-being, are called what they are – probiotic – literally meaning for life!

Unfortunately, modern diet trends and a focus on refined foods do not make for a strong microbiome. The Standard American Diet lacks diversity and an emphasis on fresh, whole, and fermented foods that nourish and grow our probiotic army. In addition, our frequent antibiotic use decimates these good guys and lowers our defenses further.

There is, of course, good news at the end of all of this. There are great ways to get probiotics back into your diet, and of course, into your gut, where they belong!  One thing to consider is foods that are rich in probiotics. Traditionally, fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickles are great options to start including in your daily diet. Just be sure they are the real deal – look for the words ‘fermented’ or ‘traditionally fermented’ on the label, and make sure they come from the refrigerated section, as probiotics are living, and many strains require cooler temperatures to stay alive (they can actually be damaged by heat!)

There are, of course, less-familiar options to look into as well – foods such as kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are delicious and healthy ways to get probiotics into your child’s diet, not to mention helping them create healthy eating habits for years to come.

In addition to fortifying the diet with these good-for-the-gut foods, a probiotic supplement is another convenient choice. Seek formulations that deliver a wide-range of flora strains rather than just one or two, and one that requires refrigeration, to ensure you are getting viable, living strains.

Nordic Naturals: Perfecting the Art of Fish Oil Manufacturing

Blog Joar

       Joar Opheim – Founder of Nordic Naturals

Nordic Naturals has been revolutionizing omegas since 1995, pioneering a new definition of fish oil as it relates to purity, freshness, taste, and dosage. Based in California, the company also offers complementary foundational nutrients essential to health.

Nordic Naturals was born in Arctic Norway, where founder, Joar Opheim, grew up and where fish oil is a part of everyday life.

“Growing up, I never knew anyone who didn’t take fish oil to stay healthy,” Joar recalls. “Our fish oil was always really pure and fresh, with high omega-3 levels.”

When he came to the United States to complete his MBA in the 1980s and could not find quality fish oil, he decided to do something about it.

Joar founded Nordic Naturals in 1995. His vision was to manage every step of the manufacturing process in order to guarantee both high-quality fish oil and environmental stewardship.

Nordic Naturals’ award-winning omega oils are manufactured at its state-of-the-art facility in Arctic Norway that was recognized by the Norwegian government with a $1 million grant for its extensive use of green technology.

“In order to continue to bring our vision to fruition, Nordic Naturals will remain family-owned,” Joar states. “The past 20-plus years have required deeply committed work from my family, our dedicated employees, and me. And there is still more to do.”

Nordic Naturals works passionately to see generations of healthier, happier people around the world. Their products are distributed to over 35 countries and includes more than 200 items in a variety of flavors and formulations for adults, kids, athletes, and pets.

Further information is available at nordicnaturals.com.

My Favorite Supplements for Stress Relief

By Shannon Morehouse, MA, CHHCShannonHeadshot

Magnesium
This is my top-choice. Magnesium is a natural relaxant. It relaxes your muscles and your mind.  Because it is a sedative, I recommend taking before bed. It helps combat insomnia; it also helps with headaches. Take an Epsom salt bath; you will get the benefits of YOU time and the magnesium from the salts will not only relax your sore/tired muscles, but also, will seep into your skin and enter your bloodstream quickly. Recommended Dosage: 300-400 mg.

Omega-3 Fish Oil
Our brain is highly reliant on healthy fats to function optimally. Several studies point to fish oil for cognition and relief of depression and anxiety. Omega-3s have been shown to help produce dopamine and serotonin. I recommend Nordic Naturals, Wiley’s Finest, or the Minami brand. A good dosage is around 1,000 mg a day.

Holy Basil
Holy Basil (aka Tulsi) is something I take daily in the form of Organic India’s Tulsi tea…over 20 flavors to choose from! It is an adaptogenic herb that helps reduce cortisol and regulates blood-sugar. If you take it in supplement form, research confirms that 500 mg twice a day is extremely effective at reducing anxiety.

B-Complex
The B vitamins are essential when it comes to reducing stress. These vitamins regulate the nervous system. Because all the B vitamins are effective for boosting energy and reducing stress. I recommend taking it in complex form. Here is a summary of the major B vitamins:

B1 (Thamine):
          B1 can increase energy and improve fuzzy thinking (University of Wales Study)
          Recommended Dosage 50 mg + a day
          Note: Excess carbohydrates deplete B1 levels

B-5 (Pantothenic Acid):
          Mood-enhancing and calming effect by helping in the production of serotonin and reducing secretion of cortiso
          Helpful for fatigued adrenal glands
          Helpful for people with migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, or trying to curb drinking or smoking
          Helps to convert fat, protein, carbs into energy
          Recommended dosage: 50-250 mg once or twice daily

B-6:
          Reduces irritability, tension, and anxiety
          B6 works with folate, B12, and tryptophan to make serotonin
          Can reduce PMS symptoms
          Dosage: 50-120 mg, especially helpful when taken in B complex form 

Rhodiola
An adaptogenic herb, Rhodiola uniquely prompts a relaxing energetic state. It helps with many coinciding symptoms of depression, such as difficulty concentrating and mental fog. A good dosage to take is 100-400 mg a day.  Because of its energy-prompting properties, it’s best to take Rhodiola in the morning. 

GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid)
GABA is a neurotransmitter in our Central Nervous System. GABA is unique in that it functions in the adult human brain as the primary inhibitor and calmng agent for excitatory neurotransmitters which are firing too rapidly. Some things we do can produce GABA (such as yoga), but many find it to extremely beneficial to supplement GABA-producing lifestyle choices with GABA in supplement form. In fact, this is my top-choice for an “as needed” supplement for many situations: periods of having difficulty sleeping, periods of lacking the ability to concentrate, and also just before your menstrual cycle. It has been referred to as “nature’s valium” because of the calming effect it can exert. Many correlations have been established between low GABA levels and people who have trouble sleeping, those with depression, inability to focus or maintain attention, people with anxiety disorders, drug and alcohol addicts, and those suffering with panic attacks. Many research studies also demonstrate its ability to ease premenstrual moodiness and depression. Studies also show that it balances blood-sugar. Because of GABA’s beneficial calming ability, increasing GABA production results in an improvement in symptoms among those with deficiencies. I recommend taking it in sublingual form as it helps you to absorb it quickly. You can take this in varying dosages; I find that 250 mg in sublingual form works similarly to 750 mg in tablet form.

Ashwagandha
An adapotogen like Holy Basil and Rhodiola, Ashwaganda helps combat both physiological and psychological stress. An effective dosage is 300-600 mg a day. 

Ignatia
Ignatia is a homeopathic to take when struggling with grief. It is also helpful for nervousness and general moodiness. Dosage: three 30 c pellets every 6 hours. In times of extreme distress, three 200 c pellets every 8 hours. 

L-Theanine
Shown to increase levels of GABA and dopamine in the brain, L-Theanine is helpful for those struggling with anxiety. A safe dosage is 200-400 mg a day or you can start by drinking decaffeinated green tea to see if that helps.

Seasonal Allergies

Carol B. Blair, BS, DiHom, CNC
Wellness Educator

An allergen is a substance that has been targeted by the immune system as a carolforeign invader. The receptor on the mast cell binds to an allergen, and the body produces antibodies to this invader. The mast cells then release histamine that causes the typical allergic responses such as red, itchy eyes/coughing/nasal congestion/runny nose.

Most allergy medications work as anti-histamines, and there are many natural anti-histamines and anti-inflammatories that will help reduce symptoms without side effects.

Quercetin, a flavonoid found in apples, buckwheat, onions, and green tea, helps keep mast cells from releasing histamine. The absorption of quercetin is enhanced by bromelain, which potentiates its action, so you will often find them combined for best results. This combination is one of the most commonly used natural therapies for allergies.

Nettle leaf tea has been used for centuries to relieve allergies especially hayfever. It has been recommended highly by Dr. Andrew Weil. Nettle tea or the extract inhibits pro-inflammatory pathways related to allergies, and it has an impressive number of other benefits for the immune system.

Osha is an herb used for its anti-histamine-like properties. Osha will often quickly reduce allergic reactions; it also soothes a sore throat. Recent studies also show the herb, Butterbur, to be excellent for allergy symptom relief.

Antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Grapeseed extract, MSM, and fish oil can also help reduce inflammation, and therefore, symptoms.

Allergy relief is an area where homeopathy shines. Homeopathy is based on the theory that “like cures like.” Many homeopathic formulas contain the allergens, such as pollen, in minute doses that are prevalent in a certain region of the country, and formulas exist for allergies in our area. There are other allergy formulas available as well for individuals who have sensitivities to animal dander or dairy, for instance. These can be a big help for allergy sufferers.

Last but not least, new studies are showing the role of probiotics in down-regulating the immune system to help reduce allergies!

All of these supplements are quite effective in reducing congestion, sneezing, itchy eyes, headaches, and fatigue that are associated with seasonal allergies. The best part is that, instead of side effects, most of these supplements will have other beneficial uses for your immune system as well

“No, I won’t!” Homeopathy and Temper Tantrums

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Guest Article by  Joette Calabrese, HMC, CCH, RSHom 

Are temper tantrums a fact of life in your household?
The cantankerous two year-old.
The confrontational teenager.
But what if tantrums were actually beneficial?
Sounds peculiar that such behavior could be considered valuable, doesn’t it?

Well, temper tantrums are indicators that something is out of balance, not only behaviorally, but probably physiologically.  And since symptoms are the key to choosing the proper homeopathic remedy, then this aberrant behavior can actually become useful in addressing the underlying cause.

Many parents explain away their child’s behavior as simply an age-related stage.  Too often, they offer platitudes such as, “Well, of course he has temper tantrums.  He’s 3!” or “She has a terrible attitude, just like her dad!”

While it is true that these pathologies can be age or familyrelated, we should bear in mind that they are still pathologies. Therefore, even if they present, this doesn’t mean that they belong there.

Not every toddler throws a tantrum and not every teenager needs an attitude adjustment.  These problems are particular to the individual and are symptoms to which we ought to give our full attention.

They reflect an idiosyncratic personality that can be guided and brought to its best state through homeopathic remedies.

Homeopathy is gentle and won’t change your child’s personality.  When the remedy is chosen correctly, it will bring your child into balance both physically and emotionally.

Bye-bye temper tantrums!

Read through the following descriptions to find the remedy that best fits the entire “picture” of your child’s symptoms.  Administer one dose in the 30th potency every 3-4 hours until improvement is seen, then stop.  If no improvement after the fourth dose, try the remedy that seems to be the next best fit.  For more severe symptoms, the chosen remedy can be given every 1-2 hours.

Nux Vomica
This is the remedy to use for symptoms brought on by going “over-the-top.”  Ailments are brought on by too much sugar, too many drugs, too much stress, pressure, work, food, drinks, etc.  Irritability is a key factor in this remedy along with gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

Chamomilla
Although irritability is addressed by Chamomilla, it also encompasses symptoms that result from anger.  Symptoms include fractious behavior and acute sensitivity; that is, the reaction is far too great for the stimulus received. Words or physical touch which would normally cause a much less severe response will prompt testy and crotchety comebacks.  This remedy is also particularly useful in cancelling out the workings of unnecessary drugs.

Lycopodium
Individuals who might benefit from Lycopodium are generally insecure and cowardly and are typically afflicted by gastrointestinal complaints. Though they appear confident and self-assured, they worry about how they are perceived and judged by others.  Their worries increase when they are by themselves so just having someone nearby alleviates their anxiety. The behavior is often cross and cantankerous.

Coffea
As its name alludes, Coffea is made from coffee beans, and it addresses those pathologies which are similar to the ill-effects of caffeine. Though there isn’t marked anger or anxiety, which the former three remedies envelop, there is an inability to relax and the mind races. Despite these jittery thoughts, the disposition is quite even-tempered, though there might be some, though little, irritability. Because the mind is already quite excited, even the smallest pain causes inordinate distraction and there is an increased sensitivity to surrounding elements, such as noise, light, touch, etc.

When parents ask me what they should do until the remedy takes effect, I tell them to indeed discipline the child. Just because the behavior may have physiological roots, it doesn’t mean the child shouldn’t be held responsible and taught accordingly. We all have our bad days, and we need to learn how to adjust accordingly, so as not to disrupt family life and society in general.

Give the remedy most suited to your child and you might find that even if anger is still exhibited from time to time, it will be mitigated by an inner wherewithal that was previously absent.

MegaFood: Not Your Average Supplement Company

Submitted by MegaFood

From back in 1973, up to this very minute, MegaFood has always held a strong commitment to REAL: Real Food, Real Slow, Real People, Real Relationships. We have another big focus, too; to improve lives. We achieve this by delivering nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to the body in the way nature has always intended: through food.

Our process is unique, and we’re proud to be different. We call it the Slo-Food process, and it starts by sourcing real food from real farms. We partner with organic, sustainable farmers who are as passionate about their produce as we are about our products. Our oranges, for example, come from our friend Uncle Matt. The Stauner family – owner/operators of James Lake Farms are in charge of cranberries. Meanwhile, Stahlbush Island Farms has us covered in the beet department, and our newest farm partner, Kauai Organics, grows the most lovely fresh turmeric root you’ve ever seen. These beautiful crops land in our New Hampshire manufacturing facility where we grind all that goodness into a yummy pulp, integrating even more vitamins into the mix for potency. Then, we dry and tumble it into powder form before pressing it into nutrient-dense tablets that are small enough to swallow. One batch takes approximately 236 hours from start to finish–Fresh from Farm to Tablet. It’s all starting to make sense now, isn’t it?

In addition to our commitment to REAL, we are also committed to Non-GMO ingredients. Our food and ingredients are tested no less than three times during the manufacturing process to ensure that our strict purity standards are met in every batch for all of our product certifications.

Beyond our large range of vitamins and multivitamins, minerals, and condition-specific formulas, we are head-over-heels for our line of one-of-a-kind Daily Nutrient Booster Powders. Designed to increase your capacity with select nutrients and botanicals, these powders mix directly into your favorite smoothie, shake, or juice to boost your beverage up a notch.

Ready to get Real? We invite you to visit our website at MegaFood.com, join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and look for us on the shelves at Natur-Tyme. Come join us in the Journey of Real and see just how good real feels.

Your Friend,
MegaFood

Visit Natur-Tyme.com

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