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.

A Clean Multivitamin endorsed by Alicia Silverstone

At Natur-Tyme, we carry a wide variety of high-quality multivitamins. One such selection is Garden of Life’s mykind line. This is the story of the inception of this line.

Several months ago, Garden of Life met with Alicia Silverstone, noted actress, author, and health advocate, to talk about supplements. Hauling her luggage-sized purse with her, she proceeded to pull out several multivitamin products…and quickly proclaimed, “I’m confused. . . which of these products is actually from organic foods that I eat and which of these do not start off with chemicals?” To which Garden of Life answered, “None.”

That was the shocking truth. Silverstone went to great lengths to eat a diet of organic, chemical (and cruelty) free foods. But to supplement that diet, there was not a multivitamin on the market that she could take. Even the best fermented or cultured multis all started off with chemical isolates and the tableted versions had harsh chemical binders, fillers, or coatings. What a disappointment. Silverstone wanted a multivitamin that was made from the types of foods she ate—Certified-USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and real!

Garden of Life wanted the same thing—they always have. Creating a vitamin that started off with organic foods, concentrating those foods into meaningful amounts of vitamins and minerals, was always a goal for them. And after years of research, they were close to achieving it.

The process for efficiently harvesting the vitamins and minerals from their organic food sources eluded them for over a decade. However, a few years ago, they began their relationship with a scientist who holds multiple international patents for his novel approach to harvesting vitamins and minerals from organic fruit and herbs. So, they realized that fate had brought them together at just the right time, and they joined forces with Silverstone to create mykind Organics.

Shortly thereafter, they had a major breakthrough with the last obstacle to creating their Certified-Organic multi—they figured out an entirely new, organic way to make a tablet without using the common binders such as magnesium stearate. The process was so novel that it’s now patent-pending, and they call it, Clean Tablet Technology™. This newly invented, entirely organic tablet system worked beautifully, and the finished tablets looked great, had a pleasant smell and taste, and an organic coating making them easy to swallow.

Check out the mykind Organics line at Natur-Tyme and if you have any questions, our professional supplement & vitamin educators would be happy to assist you.

What to Look for in a Supplement

carolCarol B Blair, BS. DiHom, CNC
Wellness Educator

Some of us spend a fair amount of money on supplements to keep us well but are you getting what you pay for?

Here are a few tips in what to look for:

  • Are the minerals in forms that your body can absorb such as citrate, glycinate, or another chelated form (not oxide, carbonate, sulfate which are poorly absorbed by the body)?
  • Vitamin D should be the more easily absorbed D3 as opposed to the cheaper and synthetic D2.
  • Vitamin E should be mixed tocopherols and even added tocotrienols if possible. How do you know if E is synthetic? Look for an “l” after the D such as Dl-alpha tocopherol. The natural form would be D-alpha tocopherol. Studies show the synthetic form to be useless and possibly even harmful.
  • Is the nutrient in an amount that is useful or is it what I call pixie dust – enough so they can put it on the label?

Be sure to check the “other” ingredients. You may be surprised at what you find there:

  • Artificial colors, flavors, and dyes should be avoided. Why do you want to give you body more work to detoxify these non-foods?
  • Fillers such as propylene glycol (think antifreeze!) are not in there for your health. They are in there for economical purposes – so they can run supplements through the machines faster. Time is money.
  • Some supplements even contain artificial sweeteners!

Natur-Tyme carries only high-quality supplements and you won’t find any of these ingredients in our Natur-Tyme brand.

Speaking of that, our Natur-Tyme brand of supplements is a superior line. They are from GMP-certified labs that are FDA-approved, and you won’t find any “junk” in them. I use them myself because I know they are top-shelf.

So don’t waste your money buying substandard supplements that aren’t doing you any good. If you can’t afford a quality vitamin, mineral, or herb, do your body a favor and wait until you can get a good one.

This is Your Brain on Fish

factoids-banner_fish

Hundreds of studies have found that Omega-3 fish oil is excellent for brain health. A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that regular fish consumption actually creates more voluminous brains (more gray matter), protecting individuals from Alzheimer’s disease. The subjects who consumed fish just once a week had hippocampuses that were 14% larger than those who did not consume fish once a week. If you dislike fish, consider an Omega-3 fish oil supplement, to help prevent cognitive decline.

Raji et al., Am J Prev Med. 2014 Jul 29 published online.

Zap that Migraine with…Ginger?

factoids-banner_gingerWe all have read about the use of ginger to alleviate nausea and an upset stomach. A recent research study has discovered that ginger may help treat migraines as well. One hundred subjects who suffered from a history of migraines were divided into two groups. One group took a common migraine prescription drug, sumatriptan(50 mg), and the other group took ginger capsules (250 mg). The participants recorded how they felt when the migraine occurred and rated the pain at multiple time lapses after taking their assigned treatment. Favorable relief was achieved in 70% of the sumatriptan-treated individuals and in 64% of the ginger-treated individuals within two hours after taking their respective treatments.If you suffer from migraines, perhaps you should give ginger a shot!

Phytotherapy Res March 2014;28:412-415.

Alexis’ Health & Beauty Journey #11: On Time and Going Natural

Capers-Alexis_AFTERBy Alexis Capers – Alexis Capers is our Enhanced Beauty Salon and Enhanced Beauty Area manager. Join her every other Wednesday for a blog about her journey into natural health & beauty products.

Time. If I could bottle it and sell it to people, boy would I be rich! We never seem to have enough of it, always running out of it; and in some cases wishing it would go faster! Yet the one time trap I catch myself in periodically is the “I have plenty of time to get to that later” mantra.

As life moves on, I find that saying to be sadly inaccurate. I don’t have infinite amounts of time to get my health in order. Time to spend enjoying the moments I should cherish with my children. Time to reconnect with loved ones and friends I have lost touch with, not having the “Time” to stay connected.

Our wellbeing is balanced in good nutrition, peace of mind, healthy relationships, and effective management and use of our time.

Take a look at the common things you use every day on your body. Most women put up to 515 different combinations of chemicals on their bodies daily, many that are combined to “save time” getting ready in the morning, while never really thinking of the impact on their health. Common shampoos contain an average of 15 chemical ingredients, eye shadows 26, lipsticks 33, hairsprays 11, blushes and foundations a whopping 40 combined!!!

How many of these items and more do you slather on each day? I know I wear my fair share. And we wonder why our minds are not as sharp. Where has our energy gone? Personally, I always blame it on my kids! (They always take the best of you ya know!)

Well it’s time to stop the insanity as Susan Powter used to say! Get back the vitality you once had. Be sharp again. Heck, remember where you left your car keys for a change! We can help you reduce the numbers of nasty chemicals by introducing you to safer alternatives. The beautiful part is, you don’t have to give up a whole lot to be natural!

Start today on a healthy path by taking the time to talk with us about what products you can add to your daily routine, even one at a time, to reduce your exposure to nasty ingredients. While you’re here, take the time to meet with our wellness and supplement educators on how to add one or two essentials into your daily regimen to give you more strength and clarity to live stronger and longer! Hey, did I just buy you more time???

What I’m falling for this week:

Jarrow Vitamin B12 gives me the energy I need to keep going! MegaFood supplements carry a wonderful women’s multi-vitamin to get the basics down. Griffin Daily or Restorative Shampoo and Conditioners are both very “clean” products and they are all on sale for August! Dead Sea Warehouse bath salts (also on sale) have the right amount of minerals in them to get your body balanced and your skin feeling wonderful! I could go on and on…

AlexisBlog_073114

A Course in Supplements: How to Know if a Supplement is High Quality – Part II

156209448

By the Natur-Tyme Wellness Team

Natur-Tyme is excited to start a blog series on the importance of supplementation. There are so many supplements on the market; it is difficult to decipher supplements you need and which brands or forms of vitamins are best. We’re here to help!

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of looking at how the raw materials in a supplement are sourced. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of the manufacturing process and the physical characteristics of the supplement in question.

THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS

What part of the herb is used? Is it the same part shown in studies to contain the active ingredient? Is the final product tested for potency? Some less-than-ethical companies actually buy the “straw” left over from an extraction process to make tinctures, then encapsulate the spent herb, label it, and sell it as a regular herbal supplement.

Some nutrients and herbal compounds are best rendered with solvents. Is the final product tested for solvent residue? If present, these residues must be detoxified by the body—not always easily accomplished. Also, does the company test the final product for microbial contamination, such as bacteria or mold?

Several nutrients are derived from substances such as corn, wheat, soy, or dairy, to which some may be sensitive. Many can tolerate small amounts of these substances, others require an ultra-clean product that is either highly purified or extracted from a more expensive agent.

If you take fish oil, how is it prepared? Is it extracted and packaged in an oxygen-poor environment to help prevent rancidity? Most quality fish oil manufacturers will test their final products for rancidity.

If probotics such as Acidophilus and Bifidus are part of your regimen, does the company who makes them guarantee that there are live, viable organisms in their product? How long will they be stable and at what temperature? What was the growth media for the probotics? If a person is sensitive to dairy, it may be best to use a probotic grown on beets or chicory, for instance.

THE ADDITIVES

Finally, what are the physical characteristics of the tablet or capsule? Are the binders, fillers, flowing agents, colorings, etc., nutritive or benign? Can they result in negative side-effects? Yellow Dye #5 and Red Dye #1, for instance, have been associated with Attention Deficit Disorder and migraines, as well as many other conditions. Tablet or capsule, dissolution rates are also of paramount importance; both must dissolve at the precise time in order for your body to use the nutrients.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of supplement ingredients and qualities available. If you have adequate stomach acid or assimilate nutrients well, you may be fine taking a medium-grade supplement. On the other hand, if you do have certain health conditions or sensitivities, you will want to use physician-grade supplements.

A Course in Supplements: How to Know if a Supplement is High-Quality – Part I

156209448

 

By the Natur-Tyme Wellness Team

Natur-Tyme is excited to start a blog series on the importance of supplementation. There are so many supplements on the market; it is difficult to decipher supplements you need and which brands or forms of vitamins are best. We’re here to help!

We’ll embark on this series by discussing what constitutes a high-quality supplement. Not all supplements are created equal. The form of nutrient or part of the plant used, the process of extracting compounds from plants or oil from fish, and the fillers, binders, and other stabilizers used are just some of the factors that determine how well your body may utilize or tolerate your supplements.

So, the first question you want to ask is:

WHAT IS THE THE QUALITY OF THE RAW MATERIAL(S)?

Where did the raw material(s) originate? If it’s an herb, is it organic or does the company test for pesticide and herbicide residues? Is the plant harvested when the active ingredients are at their peak? Is the material screened for dirt or other residue?

If it’s a fish oil product, what is the source of the oil? How were the fish raised: farmed or wild? Is testing or purification performed to make sure the oil is free of pesticides, PCBs, dioxins, heavy metals, and other pollutants?

If it’s a nutritional supplement, are the nutrients made or derived according to United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) standards? Are the nutrients in a form easily used by the body? For instance, it is easier for your body to use the calcium from calcium citrate than from calcium carbonate. Also, magnesium oxide, while great for constipation relief, is poorly broken down and absorbed across the intestines. We will discuss the most easily absorbed forms of a variety of nutrients in a later blog.

In our next supplement series blog, we will discuss the importance of the manufacturing process and the physical characteristics of the supplement.

Beta-alanine and Whey Protein as Part of a Mens’ Supplement Regimen

By Kevin Duerr136147555_Small

As a supplement educator at Natur-Tyme, I often have male fitness enthusiasts ask me what they can do to increase power, strength, energy, endurance, and focus through their supplement reigmen. I will be devoting three blogs to this subject. In the first blog I discuss Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha GPC. In the second blog, I discuss Creatine, and in the third blog, I discuss Beta-alanine and Whey Protein.

Beta-alanine is a unique version of the amino acid alanine. Beta-alanine supplements are taken to help increase intracellular levels of carnosine. Carnosine is a dipeptide that consists of the amino acids histidine and alanine. Increasing intracellular levels of carnosine helps protect your body against uncontrolled oxidation and glycation. Carnosine is also a powerful intracellular buffer that reduces acidity. This fact is of interest to athletes. During exercise, your muscles produce a pH-lowering byproduct known as lactic acid. Lactic acid interferes with muscular contraction due to its high concentration of hydrogen ions. The hydrogen ions that are released from lactic acid cause a painful chemical burn within your muscle tissue. Carnosine reduces the acidity and keeps your muscle pH up by absorbing these hydrogen ions. The net result of increased carnosine levels is an increase in your ability to extend a set of given exercises beyond normal limits. You can train harder, run longer, and obtain better results. Preformed carnosine is available in supplement form, but it can be pricey and difficult to absorb intact. A better strategy is supplement with beta-alanine. Beta-alanine increases intracellular carnosine levels better than taking oral carnosine supplements. If you desire to push yourself to your absolute limit; beta-alanine supplements are crucial.

Whey protein is a superior form of protein due to its ideal aminoacid content and its high bioavailability. The body better utilizes and retains the amino acids from whey protein when compared and contrasted to other protein sources. Whey protein is rich in the amino acids valine, leucine, and Isoleucine. These amino acids comprise roughly one third of your skeletal muscle structure. Supplementing your diet with whey protein provides your body with the building blocks to recover from intense workouts. Whey protein is also high in the amino acid cysteine. This amino acid helps boost immunity by boosting glutathione levels. Whey protein is also very low in fat so you can use it while dieting as well. If your mission is to build a better body, you better be training hard and supplementing with whey protein.

Creatine as Part of a Mens’ Supplement Regimen

By Kevin Duerr136147555_Small

As a supplement educator at Natur-Tyme, I often have male fitness enthusiasts ask me what they can do to increase power, strength, energy, endurance, and focus through their supplement reigmen. I will be devoting three blogs to this subject. In the first blog I discuss Acetyl L-Carnitine and Alpha GPC. In the second blog, I discuss Creatine, and in the third blog, I discuss Beta-alanine and Whey Protein.

Creatine is a tripeptide that can be biosynthesized from the amino acids methionine, glycine, and arginine. In other words, your body can make creatine as long as the appropriate building blocks are available. If you are deficient in any of the three aforementioned amino acids, your body’s ability to synthesize creatine will suffer. Fortunately, you don’t have to rely solely on those amino acid building blocks to form creatine. Preformed, supplemental creatine is available. Once in the body, creatine is phosphorylated (forming creatine phosphate) and is ready to be used by skeletal muscles, cardiac tissue, and the brain. Creatine phosphate increases strength by regenerating ADP into ATP (It does this simply by donating it’s phoshate to ADP). ATP is the universal energy molecule that allows for muscular contraction. The heart, brain, and skeletal muscles demand a constant supply of ATP. Numerous studies have clearly indicated that supplemental creatine boosts strength and athletic performance. Creatine keeps your muscle cells in a hydrated state, creating an anabolic environment. It has also been shown to act as an antioxidant and to decrease mental fatigue. Creatine monohydrate is the most studied form of creatine. Creapure is a trademarked form of micronized creatine monohydrate. The particle size of this micronized version of creatine is substantially smaller than the traditional monohydrate form. Creapure is also devoid of contaminants and is the purest form of creatine available. Creatine is clearly conducive to muscular gains, greater energy levels, and increased strength.

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