There is a lot of conflicting information out there on nutrient supplementation. Questions like: “Do we need to take vitamins to be healthy?” or ” Can’t we get everything our bodies need from the food we eat?” have different answers depending upon who you ask. I’ve decided to weigh in on the subject in an attempt to help you make some sense of the confusion.
First, I don’t believe that everyone needs to take supplements. If you are feeling great, have plenty of energy, have consistently good bowel habits (you “go” one to two times daily …. sorry!), sleep soundly, don’t often get sick with colds or flu, do not take medications, are not exposed to chemicals in your food or environment, have no chronic conditions like high blood pressure, arthritis etc.. and are not stressed, then read no further because you are likely biochemically balanced. On the other hand, if you ask yourself “Am I feeling at the top of my game?” and the answer is a resounding “NO” for whatever reason including any of those listed above, the cause could be as simple as a vitamin or mineral deficiency in which case you may benefit greatly from supplementation.
Now vitamin deficiency diseases such as Scurvy (severe vitamin C deficiency), Beriberi (severe thiamine deficiency) and Pellagra (severe niacin deficiency) are rare today in developed countries, but “subclinical deficiencies” of these and other nutrients are more common than ever. A “subclinical deficiency” occurs when not enough of a nutrient is present to allow the systems of the body to work correctly or efficiently, however the deficiency is not severe enough to show symptoms of the specific deficiency disease. These relatively low-level deficiencies contribute to many chronic health issues today from depression to insomnia to high blood pressure … the list goes on and on!
If you are wondering why our society is prone to nutrient deficiency, the answer is multi-fold. Aside from the potentially obvious reason of poor diet consisting of highly processed foods, there are other “hidden” variables that contribute to deficiencies. For instance, adherence to a healthy diet abundant in fruits and vegetables no longer guarantees that one is obtaining all of the nutrients necessary for optimal functioning of the body mostly due to over-farmed, mineral-depleted soil and extended transit time from farm to table. These are critical factors that lead to a decrease in the vitamins and minerals present in those foods.
Impaired digestion is another common cause yet often ignored contributor to nutrient deficiencies. The digestive system must have an adequate amount of hydrochloric acid as well as digestive enzymes in order to break down the food we eat into nutrients that feed our cells. Not only does acid and enzyme production tend to decrease with age, but the use of antacid medication blocks the production of stomach acid. Supplements that heal and balance digestion are readily available out there and a good first step to assuring that your body is getting the nourishment it needs to function optimally.
Speaking of medications, antacids are not the only ones that undermine our general nutrition. The majority of common medications available today, both prescription and over-the-counter, including aspirin, ibuprofen, antibiotics, antacids, anti-depressants, diuretics and so on, actually deplete the body of important nutrients. This becomes a problem because each vitamin and mineral plays an active role in, well, everything that your body does! Nerve function, metabolism of hormones, energy production, cholesterol metabolism, brain function … everything! Over time the body becomes increasingly depleted and then symptoms sneak up on us in the form of chronic conditions. Upon a close look at an individual’s mix of medications, simply adding back in what the medications are pulling out may make the symptoms (or medication side effects) disappear. Keep in mind though that a similar situation occurs when one is under emotional or physical stress. Whether experiencing a challenging life change, coping with an illness, over-exercising (yes, that too!), or going through a physiological change like (for you women) menopause or even the monthly menstrual cycle, the body’s demand for certain vitamins and minerals increases substantially, potentially depleting it of the very raw materials it needs to function.
So it is my opinion that, given the state of our food and soil, our levels of stress, and any nutrient-depleting medications that we take, often there is a need for a vitamin or mineral supplement. THAT SAID …
Swallowing bucketloads of random supplements based on very general advice from TV or internet health gurus is not the way to go in my opinion and here’s why: First and most critically, it’s important to consider any medications that you are taking prior to embarking on a supplement regimen. While medications can create a need for supplementation as pointed out earlier, they can also interact with certain supplements, so it’s important to check with your doctor or nutritional consultant first. A good (and common) example of this is fish oil, which will thin the blood and therefore is not safe to take with a prescription blood thinner like Coumadin. In addition, these and other blood thinning herbs and nutrients should not be consumed for a couple of weeks prior to any type of surgery.
Next, consuming high doses of specific nutrients can sometimes create secondary nutrient imbalances. I’ve seen this happen with 5000 iu’s of daily Vitamin D3 supplementation in a Vitamin D-deficient (confirmed with blood tests) adult male. Following about 2 months of consistent D3 supplementation, he began to experience heavy heartbeats and sporadic palpitations, symptomatic of magnesium deficiency. You see, in order for Vitamin D3 to work properly, it needs several “cofactors”, one of which is magnesium. So the D3 will pull magnesium from the tissues which will create a deficiency state for someone who is already borderline low in that mineral. This is easily correctable, however this is a good illustration of how there is no “magic bullet” that works alone when it comes to the complex human body. It is for this reason that, whenever possible, I recommend whole-food-based supplements made from actual fruits, vegetables and herbs and consist of the complete package of nutrients and cofactors, even those which have yet to be discovered and named!
So, although nutrient supplementation should be far from necessary in an ideal world, modern life throws us some really stressful curveballs 24/7 like the ones pointed out above. Hopefully this post has given you some food for thought to help you make an informed decision as to whether supplementation is right for you.
If you have any questions on this post or if you would like to explore the possibility of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis to determine your nutrient levels, email me at Sue@HealthyByNatureHWC.com or call (215)833-6713 for more information.
I can only imagine what people go through when they suffer from a long-term, chronic cough. Knock on wood, the only time I tend to cough is immediately after a cold, when the old bronchial tubes are not quite settled but trying to be. When this happens I never have just single coughs. Not even a couple at a time. My coughing becomes throat-tickle oriented and is basically uncontrollable and incessant. It interrupts life (and sleep!) Forget social interaction. I can’t carry on conversations without having anxiety that the cough will sneak up on me and force me to hack my way to the nearest source of drinking water! Going to “silent” places is most definitely off limits during the coughing stage of a cold. Church? No way. Library? I envision disapproving glances in my direction. As the tail-end to colds, my coughs are frustrating to say the least. But to live with a condition like this all the time? I’d be miserable. As I said, I can only imagine how disruptive this can be to someone’s life. So why do certain people suffer with a chronic cough that seemingly has no obvious cause? Well, the key word here is “obvious”.
There are many different causes of coughing, as evidenced by a quick internet search on the subject. But although the list of search results is very well-populated, there are a couple of potential issues that are significant, yet well-hidden in the literature. Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of these difficult-to-find, anything-but-obvious potential origins of chronic cough. Two things that readily lead to this deficiency are certain prescription medications and stress. You see, B12 needs stomach acid in order to be absorbed by the body (more on that below). So antacids, proton-pump inhibitors like Prilosec, some diabetes medications like Metformin, and aspirin will lend themselves to B12 malabsorption and subsequent deficiency due to their direct affect on the stomach and acid production. Still other medications may list “unexplained chronic cough” low on the list of potential side effects in the “rare” section. This is something that you may not notice at first, due to its seeming insignificance. Remember though that our bodies don’t all respond the same way because we’re biochemically unique. The same medication that causes one person to cough incessantly may not even bother another. Or an individual could respond to a drug in a way that has never even been documented before! In addition to medication-based depletions and side-effects, high stress levels further diminish levels of B vitamins.
Some questions and answers regarding Vitamin B12:
What are a few of the most important functions of Vitamin B12? This vitamin is essential for the manufacture of red blood cells. It’s needed to support the normal function of nerve cells, and to manufacture myelin, the insulating material that surrounds some of our nerve cells and speeds neural transmission. Lastly, Vitamin B12 is required for the replication of DNA, meaning new, healthy cells cannot be generated without it. This mimics all of the effects of aging.
Why might you be deficient? Lack of stomach acid (a condition termed hypochlorhydria) interferes with B12 absorption. Why? Most of the B12 in food is attached to proteins, and stomach acid is necessary to release the B12 from these proteins. Also, to get into the bloodstream, B12 must be escorted by a protein called intrinsic factor, produced by cells of the stomach. Many disorders of the stomach, such as gastritis, can interfere with the production of intrinsic factor and result in a condition is called pernicious anemia. Medications that affect the stomach – such as aspirin, antacids and proton-pump inhibitors – can also interfere with intrinsic factor production and result in B12 deficiency. The commonly used diabetes medication, Metformin, can do so as well.
What can happen if you are deficient? Anemia that results from severe B12 deficiency can be identified by a simple blood test however it’s important to note that even if your blood test comes back “normal”, subclinical B12 deficiency causes a myriad of symptoms, many of which are very uncomfortable and scary. These may include muscle weakness, fatigue, shakiness, unsteady gait, incontinence, low blood pressure, depression and other mood disorders, and cognitive problems like poor memory. In addition, Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a known cause of central and peripheral nervous system damage. It has been implicated in sensory neuropathy and autonomic nervous system dysfunction which can have a role in chronic, unexplained coughs. A recent study showed that patients with vitamin B-12 deficiency had a higher prevalence of laryngeal hyperresponsiveness. After being given B-12 supplements, their symptoms and laryngeal, bronchial, and cough thresholds significantly improved.
Who should have their B12 blood levels checked?
- Individuals over 50 years of age, as the ability to absorb B12 from food declines with age
- Anyone taking a proton-pump inhibitor or H2 inhibitor to block stomach acid
- Anyone taking Metformin (a diabetes drug)
- Strict vegetarians
- Those who have had weight-loss surgery or have a condition that interferes with the absorption of food
How do you correct a deficiency? First, you should strive to obtain more Vitamin B12 from dietary sources. In its natural form, B12 is present in significant amounts in animal foods, most prominently in liver. Other good food sources include red meats, turkey, fish and shellfish. Lesser amounts of the vitamin are present in dairy products, eggs and chicken.
Secondly, you can can take supplemental Vitamin B12 in the easily absorbed form of methylcobalamin. To bypass stomach acid and intrinsic factor deficiency issues, it is best to take a sublingual form (dissolved under the tongue) of this supplement. I have used Biospec Methyl B12 2000 with Folic Acid with much success. Keep in mind that when you supplement with nutrients you are “balancing” your system. What has likely taken years to become imbalanced will take longer than overnight to re-balance. And with any luck, that re-balancing will allow that chronic cough to become a distant memory!
Nutritional emptiness. That’s what sugar is. Oh it certainly delights the palate and that is one reason to love it or even become addicted to it, but it’s certainly not in our best interest. The history of man’s love of sugar goes way back. The difference between now and then is that whole fruits accounted for most of the sugar in primitive man’s diet, so he was getting the whole package. Vitamins, minerals, fiber .. these all paid the body back, so to speak, for the energy it was putting out to digest the food it was taking in. I’ll explain more about that below.
Now the whole point of sugar and other carbohydrates in the diet are to provide the body with energy. You’ve likely experienced a feeling of hunger at one time or another. That is your body signaling that blood sugar has dropped and it’s time to refuel. Refined sugar (sucrose) goes right to the bloodstream so it makes sense that it is an easy modern-day go-to for a quick energy boost. Unfortunately, there are several problems associated with that, not the least of which is that the short-lived burst of energy you get is followed by lethargy and weakness, which results in yet another sugar fix to drive your blood sugar back up. The cycle then continues.
Sugar can be characterized as an “anti-nutrient”. Rather than contributing to the pool of nutrients responsible for the energy of the body, it automatically depletes that pool.
Sugar can be regarded as “empty calories”, and that presents a huge health concern. Digestion and metabolism require energy. To generate energy, the body must use a variety of nutrients. Because refined sugar has every nutrient processed out of it, it cannot pay the body back for the energy used to digest and metabolize itself! In other words, the nutrients used must be replaced by robbing the vitamin and mineral reserves of the body, further depleting these with every bite. Over time this leads to malnutrition, setting the stage for chronic health issues and serious disease.
Believe it or not, malnutrition is a serious modern-day concern, even in the obese.
Not only are we a high-sugar society today, but we also rely quite a bit on manufactured foods. These “fake foods” that come in boxes and bags and other man-made packaging are similar to refined sugar in that they have been stripped of most of their nutrients. In addition, these foods often have plenty of hidden sugar in an effort to improve taste when fats have been limited or removed. All of this will provide short spurts of energy as described above, while providing nothing to help the body live, let alone thrive. Modern-day malnutrition. So yes, it is quite possible to be overweight, even obese, and still lack adequate stores of the vitamins and minerals necessary to be well, thanks to diets high in refined carbs and empty calories.
There are a couple of [NASTY] things that do benefit from sugar . . .
First and foremost, sugar feeds yeast. Think athlete’s foot, jock itch, vaginal infections, skin rashes, thrush (whitish coating inside the cheeks or on the tongue)… not pleasant stuff. What’s even more unpleasant is when yeast (otherwise known as Candida albicans) goes way overboard and becomes a systemic problem. It can grow out of control in your digestive tract and, quite honestly, all over your insides if given the opportunity. This itself causes nutrient malabsorption and weakened immunity. Legitimately, the body views candida as an infection and acts to fight that infection, which in turn takes energy from your immune system’s front line that typically defends against the other viruses and bacteria making the rounds.
Next and even nastier: Did you know that cancer cells need sugar to survive? Okay, all cells need glucose to survive. Or do they? Apparently not, it turns out. Healthy cells are able to survive without glucose because they switch to an alternate fuel – ketone bodies. A defect in cancer cells do not allow for the same adjustment and they are therefore 100% dependent on glucose for survival. So when you take away the glucose … in essence starving the cancer cells … they die. The “Ketogenic Diet”, an anti-cancer diet currently at the media forefront, consists of natural proteins and fats but close to zero carbohydrates. Research, along with a bunch of anecdotal stories, indicates that it works to kill the cancer cells.
Okay, so it turns out that there is really nothing good about sugar when it comes to your health. And keep in mind I only covered a few things here, in an effort to keep the blog post under control. Don’t forget about things like insulin resistance and diabetes, premature aging, the well-known ill effects of sugar on dental health, mental health, behavior, etc. While you are considering all of this, don’t strive for perfection. Every little bit of sugar you avoid is one big step in a healthier direction!
Hoffer, Abram, and Morton Walker. Putting It All Together: The New Orthomolecular Nutrition. New Canaan, CT: Keats, 1996.
Ballentine, Rudolph. Diet & Nutrition: A Holistic Approach. Honesdale, PA: Himalayan International Institute, 2007.
Negative emotions do more than make you feel bad psychologically. They also change your body chemistry, and not for the better. This is what happens:
Every time you feel negative emotions your body responds as though it is being chased by a hungry tiger. Digestion, elimination and healing shut down so that all energy can be directed toward keeping your senses alert and your heart pumping with the goal of getting away fast. Sure, nobody wants to face the threat of a hungry tiger, but at least that would be a temporary concern – once the tiger is gone you can resume your peaceful existence until another tiger shows up.
Unfortunately in today’s world negative emotions can be the rule rather than the exception. We often hold onto these feelings long-term, so our bodies really never get the chance to rest and regenerate. Instead, time passes and the emotion festers, wearing down the body internally. Rather than recognize it and deal with the feeling at its very core, we stay occupied, sometimes excessively so, in an attempt to forget about it. Unfortunately, the body doesn’t forget. Tension mounts – even over the smallest things, the immune system weakens, there is insufficient energy for detoxification, causing damage to organs and tissues until your body regains enough energy to push out waste and toxins, breathing becomes shallow and does not supply enough oxygen to your blood and organs, and digestion becomes problematic.
If you find yourself stuck in negative feelings like anger, resentment, fear or even guilt, do what it takes to move beyond that. Use deep breathing, counseling or other healing techniques such as meditation or yoga to change your perspective and get to the bottom of it. Your long-term health depends on it.
Unfortunately, they could be living inside you right now. Yes, parasites -those disgusting wormlike microbes that reside inside of a host, stealing nutrients and excreting toxic waste. We tend to think of this being the stuff of jungle tribes. Yet even in our developed country microbes such as parasites, bacteria, yeast and fungus can be linked to a multitude of diseases and chronic conditions. In fact, recent studies estimate that 85% of the adult population of North America is infected with at least one form of parasite!
Microorganisms such as those listed above can lie dormant in the body for many years until they are “awakened” by certain foods, medications, chemicals or immune dysfunction. How did they get in there in the first place? Undercooked meat, especially beef, pork and raw fish, contaminated water, travel to undeveloped countries, unwashed fruits and veggies, exposure to animals (that includes pets!) and mosquitoes are the most common sources. The good news is there are natural ways to prevent these bugs from setting up house in our body, or at least lessening their stay, even after we have been exposed.
First and foremost, maintain a healthy colon. Constipation, leading to the buildup of fecal matter on the colon wall, provides an ideal breeding ground for these nasty bugs. Take a high quality probiotic daily to insure that you have an abundance of “good” bacteria to overpower the parasites and harmful bacteria. Lots of fiber in the diet is also very effective at keeping these guys at bay. Psyllium husk is my fiber of choice.
If you suspect that you are infected with microbes of any kind, it is prudent to avoid all sugars, as this is their food of choice. Also take as much of the load off of your liver as possible by eliminating alcohol and both environmental and food-based chemicals. The less junk that your liver must filter out through the day, the more energy can be spent to rid your body of these unhealthy bugs. Many folks also find periodic colon cleanses helpful in eliminating any foreign invaders. There are a variety of cleansing kits available, most of which use some form of fiber along with anti-parasitic and anti-fungal herbs together or at different stages in a daily regimen.
How do you know if these bugs have taken up residence in your body? A few of the most common symptoms of parasites in humans include: a bloated tummy, inability to lose weight, dark circles under the eyes, teeth grinding, bad breath or body odor, anal itching, sinus congestion, fatigue, moodiness, diarrhea or constipation. That doesn’t help a bit, does it?! These symptoms obviously have a wide variety of causes, so it is difficult to pin any one of these on a case of the worms! So here is what I think….
If you take care of your colon, eat healthy foods and avoid anything processed, take in plenty of fiber (that is very significant) and if you include in your daily regimen a couple of “parasite-destroying” foods or supplements, on the whole, you’ll keep these guys out. If you already have a chronic condition or are in a diseased state, you may have to go a bit further than mere “maintenance” and undertake a more structured colon cleanse.
Some of the more common parasite destroyers …
BLACK WALNUT - The dried and ground green hull of the Black Walnut contains tannin, which is organic iodine, as well as juglandin, extractive matter from the juice of the green shucks of the walnut. Black walnut has been used for centuries to expel various types of worms, including parasites that cause skin irritations such as ringworm. It oxygenates the blood, which also helps kill parasites. Black Walnut is very effective against tapeworms, pinworms, Candida albicans (yeast infections) and malaria. It is also effective in reducing blood sugar levels, and helping the body rid itself of toxins.
WORMWOOD - This is one of the MOST POWERFUL tools in the parasite-killing herb kingdom. It is most effective against roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and pinworms. Wormwood contains the potent chemicals thujone and isothujone, which are the primary components that kill parasites. Wormwood also helps produce bile, which in turn helps the liver and gallbladder.
CLOVES - Cloves contain eugenol, caryophyllene, and tannins, which are powerful antimicrobial agents. These components travel through the bloodstream, killing microscopic parasites and parasitic larvae and eggs. I personally love my Clove Essential Oil which can be diffused or taken internally – 1 drop in 8 oz of water. It’s interesting that cloves are also effective at killing Staphylococcus and Streptococcus bacteria. Keep this in mind when you are hearing about antibiotic-resistant germs. There are other options, and this is one of them.
THYME - Thyme contains flavonoids that are most commonly known for their antioxidant activity, and thymol and carvacrol, which are effective in killing bacteria, fungal infections, and yeast infections. Thyme is especially effective in killing hook-worms, roundworms, threadworms and skin parasites. Thyme also destroys Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus, Saprolegnia, Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureas, and Escherichia coli.
GARLIC - Garlic is known to slow and kill more than 60 types of fungi and 20 types of bacteria, as well as some of the most potent viruses known to humans. Garlic has a history of killing parasites and controlling secondary fungal infections, detoxifying while gently stimulating elimination, and has antioxidant properties to protect against oxidation caused by parasite toxins. It’s been shown to eliminate candida albicans (yeast overgrowth). I personally love garlic, but my family doesn’t love being around me after I eat it!! So, I take Kyolic garlic capsules with each meal. You can’t go wrong with this supplement, as there is no garlic flavor or aftertaste.
CAYENNE - A member of the Capsicum genus, known for assisting with assimilation, healing, improved circulation, cleansing, indigestion, urinary tract health, colds, flu and other benefits too numerous to mention, cayenne also destroys parasites.
GINGER - The components of gingerol, the active constituent of fresh ginger, destroys parasites including the roundworm, the blood fluke, the anisakid worm, and the Salmonella bacteria.
Then there are the “detoxifiers” ….
MILK THISTLE - Silymarin is the primary component in Milk Thistle that removes liver toxins. Milk Thistle promotes liver cell regeneration, and its antioxidant action protects against cell damage from toxins. Milk Thistle is most helpful in cleansing the toxins given off by parasites.
MARSHMALLOW ROOT - Marshmallow Root contains mucilage, a gummy substance obtained from certain plants. When Marshmallow Root gets wet, it becomes soft and sticky, which soothes the mouth, throat, stomach and intestinal tract. When parasites are dislodged from body tissue, they can leave an open sore. Marshmallow Root coats these sores so there is less irritation.
PAU D’ ARCO- Pau d’Arco is used for Candida, yeast infections, fungal infections, viral infections, and
parasitic infections. It also helps relieve cystitis, prostatitis, ringworm, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Pau D’Arco is one of the most powerful antioxidants known, and stimulates the immune system. Pau d’Arco also helps relieve leaky bladder syndrome.
BURDOCK - Burdock removes accumulated waste and toxins from the skin, kidneys, mucous and serous membranes. A very effective blood purifier, Burdock is wonderful for head, face and neck skin problems including, eczema, psoriasis, boils, carbuncles, eyesores, and dermatitis.
LICORICE - An anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and mild laxative. It purifies the organs and the endocrine system, especially the liver.
Lastly, this stuff will move those bugs right out!
BARBERRY - The ingredients of Barberry, columbamine, berberine, and oxyacanthine, have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Research indicates that berberine in Barberry is specifically effective against cholera, giardia, Shigella, Salmonella and E. coli. The berberines aid in the secretion of bile and are good for liver problems. It is also a mild laxative, and helps the digestive processes. Barberry helps to purify the respiratory and digestive systems, and also has an antiparasitic effect.
CASCARA SAGRADA - Also known as Buckthorn, Cascara Sagrada stimulates increased wavelike contractions of the intestines, helping to expel parasites. It is highly recommended during parasite removal and colon detoxification and is considered one of the safest laxatives.
SENNA - Senna is a powerful laxative that is excellent for expelling worms. Senna works best when combined with other anthelmintic herbs (used in the treatment of roundworm), such as ginger or fennel. These herbs increase regularity and reduce the chance of bowel cramps due to Senna’s strong action. Senna effectively cleans the elimination system, and has a vermifuge action that repels parasites.
SAGE - Sage has the power to relax the muscles lining the digestive tract. Sage contains relatively high levels of thujone which is the same ingredient in wormwood that kills parasites. Sage is also used to increase circulation, and is considered an excellent remedy for poor digestion and stomach problems.
PSYLLIUM - Removes toxins from the colon and is especially useful in cleaning out all of the pockets in the colon wall. Psyllium swells up to 50 times its size, and is powerfully effective in removing waste and toxins from the colon.
PEPPERMINT - Peppermint is well known for relieving indigestion, but it also relaxes the stomach muscles, relieves gas, and is also good for nausea and vomiting. Peppermint also has antiparasitic properties.
An awesome and very effective first step no matter where you are on the parasitic continuum is a hair tissue mineral test. This will not only tell you which important nutrients are depleted in your body (perhaps due to microbes) but also levels of toxic metals present such as lead and mercury. Parasites love to attach to these toxic substances so it is very important to know your levels and then rid yourself of what is there.
If you would like to learn more or to schedule a Hair Tissue Mineral Test, fill out the contact form below. We will set up a free consultation and take it from there! To find out more about how I can help you reach your health and nutrition goals, go to http://www.healthybynaturehwc.com/services.html
Have a great day!
Sue Hughes, MSEd, HHP, CNC
What is DIM?
DIM (diindolylmethane), is a food-based compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel’s sprouts. Studies have shown that it has the ability to reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially those influenced by excessive estrogen levels, such as breast, uterine and prostate. DIM can also stimulate fat breakdown and encourage an increase in muscle mass. I can attest, through my own personal experience supplementing with DIM as well as that of quite a few clients (both male and female), that DIM effectively modulates estrogen metabolism – helping to do away with uncomfortable symptoms of PMS, perimenopause and prostrate issues.
The following excerpt comes from Dr. Scott Rollins, MD, founder and Medical Director at the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado (http://imcwc.com/news/index.php?id=3271124400587032289). This is a very well-written and comprehensive account of the effects of DIM and how to best use this supplement to make the most out of its incredible benefits:
“Lower your risk of cancer, help lose weight and build muscle – all remarkable benefits of a simple food supplementcalled DIM. For men or women, DIM is something to consider as part of an overall supplement program.
DIM, or diindolylmethane, is a plant based compound found in cruciferous vegetables, such as brussel sprouts,cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. DIM has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially those driven by abnormally high estrogen levels, such as breast, uterus and prostate cancer. DIM can also stimulatethe breakdown of fat while encouraging muscle development.
Estrogen hormones are naturally found in men and women and have many benefits such as preserving artery health and brain function while fighting oxidative free radical damage. Higher estrogen levels found in women cause the female body shape with breast and hip development. Many women are estrogen dominant however, meaning they have too much estrogen accumulating in the body for the complementary progesterone to balance.
Natural estrogen dominance occurs as women near menopause, starting even ten years prior to menopause, where they often don’t make as much progesterone to balance their estrogen. Symptoms such breast pain, water retention, heavy painful menstrual cycles, or irritable anxious moods are typical bothersome symptoms. Estrogen’s over-stimulation of breasts and uterus tissue can lead to breast cysts or adenomas and uterine growths – both unpleasant and potentially dangerous physical outcomes are too often accompanied by worrisome mammograms and hysterectomies.
Some women have estrogen dominance throughout their life for various reasons, such as low thyroid, high cortisol, exposure to environmental estrogen-like chemicals, or impaired detoxification pathways for estrogen.
Men often suffer from estrogen overload as well. With normal aging our testosterone levels drop as the conversion to estrogen increases, leading to a falling ratio of testosterone to estrogen. Higher estrogen levels in men lead to weight gain, loss of muscle mass, feminization of the body, further decreases in already falling testosterone levels, and increase the risk of diseases such as heart disease and prostate cancer. The enzyme that normally converts testosterone to estrogen is most abundant in fat, so as men put on weight the cycle of falling testosterone and rising estrogen simply
picks up steam!
How does DIM work?
There are two main pathways in the liver for our estrogen to be normally metabolized and excreted. One pathway leads to very good metabolites called 2-hydroxy estrogens. The other pathway leads to bad metabolites called 4 or 16-hydroxy estrogens. DIM stimulates the favorable 2-hydroxy pathway for estrogen metabolism and this is how DIM works to improve our health. DIM is not a hormone, nor is it a hormone replacement. It is a plant compound that will improve our hormone balance. By improving the metabolism of our natural estrogens DIM will help lower high levels of estrogen in the body. This alone can help remedy estrogen dominant conditions and restore a healthy estrogen/testosterone ratio in men and women. The favorable 2-hydroxy metabolites promoted by DIM are potent anti-oxidants and help prevent muscle breakdown after exercise, as evidenced by female athletes having less muscle tissue breakdown after intense exercise than men. By reducing the estrogen dominance and also reducing the accumulation of cancer-promoting 4/16-hydroxy metabolites DIM can help lower the risk of cancer. The 2-hydroxy metabolites help increase the active testosterone levels in men and women by displacing inactive protein-bound testosterone to its active “free” portion. This leads to significant improvements in the ability to build muscle and enjoy the benefits of testosterone including better mood, increased stamina, endurance, sex drive and erectile function. The accumulation of fat around the belly, hips and buttocks is partly due to excess estrogen levels combined with falling testosterone levels. DIM will help lower excess estrogen and promote the fat-burning 2-hydroxy metabolites. This can help you achieve a leaner body with less body fat.
Hormone balance with DIM
How do you supplement DIM and how much should you take? First of all, only the “micro-encapsulated” forms of DIM are well absorbed. For women, doses of 100-200mg daily are typical, and after menopause, whether taking hormone replacement therapy or not, doses of 50-100mg daily will improve estrogen metabolism. For men, doses of 200-400mg daily are sufficient during intense exercise or weight loss efforts. For general healthy aging a dose of 100-200mg daily is sufficient. Doses as much as a thousand times higher have been shown to be safe in animal studies and there has never been a reported complication with DIM usage in humans.
How do you know if DIM is working? Aside from the improved clinical circumstance we often measure the good and bad estrogen metabolites with a simple blood test. We routinely observe increases in the good 2-hydroxy metabolites with the use of DIM. As an aside, correction of low thyroid conditions also improves estrogen metabolism. I recommend DIM instead of its precursor compound known as I3C or indole-3-carbinol. Two I3C molecules combine in the body to make DIM. But I3C is variable in its absorption, reacts with other supplements such as vitamin C, and can convert to unhealthy compounds. As much as 10 times amount of I3C is needed to get levels comparable with straight DIM supplementation. I start many women on DIM in their early 40s when there are signs of falling progesterone levels early in the perimenopause. For many this alone can help the estrogen dominance while also increasing a low testosterone level. Sometimes we add progesterone to further balance the estrogen. We also routinely add the health-promoting adrenal hormone known as DHEA during this time which helps with weight loss, strength, sex drive and more. We strategically combine DIM with other supplements to help with athletic conditioning or with overall healthy detoxification. During weight-loss or athletic training we might add creatine and a higher-protein diet, combined with targeted workout and recovery drinks that maximize insulin and muscle building. My favorite DIM supplement also contains curcumin, green tea and wasabia for a broad detoxification effect.
DIM can be used at any age as part of a weight-loss or strength training program. DIM promotes healthy hormone balance that can help you achieve peak exercise efficiency and healthy aging. Hormone balance can help you stay healthy, resist aging and get the most from your exercise or weight-loss efforts.
As you might have assumed, I am not a big fan of processed foods. In fact, I try to avoid them at all costs. However, I am also a big fan of ice cream, which flies in the face of my first comment. Store-bought ice cream is no longer cream, sugar and eggs like it was back in the day. Today many brands can barely fit the long list of ingredients on the packaging! Fillers, preservatives and coloring are bad enough, but don’t forget about the milk or cream. If it is not certified organic, that means you and your family are also taking in a nice serving of hormones and antibiotics with your dessert. Yuck.
There is hope for those of you who, like me, are serious about maintaining good health but also have a weakness for a delicious dairy treat every now and again.
It was about one year ago when my frustration peaked resulting in my decision to purchase an ice cream maker. After reading many excellent reviews, I pulled the trigger on a nice Cuisinart model (for those of you interested, the ICE-30BC Series). This ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This thing has already paid for itself, as my family makes a fresh batch of ice cream just about every other week. All of our batches are 100% organic, no fillers, no preservatives, and I even experiment with different types of sugar or sugar substitutes (i.e. coconut sugar or stevia, not chemicals) as well as the use of Young Living Pure Essential Oils like Orange or Peppermint!
100% ORGANIC CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT ICE CREAM
- 1 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup organic raw cane sugar
- 1/2 cup organic blonde coconut sugar
- 2 1/4 cups organic heavy cream
- 2 1/2 cups organic half and half
- 1 T pure organic vanilla extract
- 4-6 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil*
Combine the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl. Add the half and half and whisk until the cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla. Add peppermint oil* to taste (this can be very strong so be sure to do some taste testing!) Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and let mix until thickened, 30 minutes. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container until ready to serve.
*I recommend Young Living Essential Oils due to the fact that they are 100% pure and both their peppermint and orange are safe for ingestion. Please contact the manufacturer prior to ingestion of any other essential oil brand, as many advise against this due to impurity.
Okay, this certainly isn’t a low-calorie recipe, but it is pure and it is delicious! If you and your family are big fans of ice cream, consider making the switch to your own homemade version so that you can better control what your putting into your bodies. Enjoy!!