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Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR (Controlled Release) – Healthy Serotonin Levels and More Restful Sleep

Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR
Available in a 60 Tablet formulation  Supports the normal biosynthesis of serotonin  Supports a normal and regulated appetite Supports a more restful and healthy sleeping pattern Supports a normal, healthy mood  Xymogen’s 5-HTP CR is a formulation of 5-hydroxytryptophan in a controlled release tablet. 5-HTP is well known as a precursor to production of serotonin. Within the body, the amino acid tryptophan converts to 5-HTP and subsequently to serotonin to elevate extracellular serum levels. Supplementing with 5-HTP or tryptophan bypasses the limited amount of conversion that occurs from dietary amounts of the amino acid being converted to 5-HTP.  Dosage and Recommended Use of 5-HTP (CR) Dosage may depend upon the use in mind for supplemental 5-HTP. Doses of 150 mg are commonly used/studied in trials to help regulate hormone levels and sleep patterns, while a high dose 300 mg is often used to regulate appetite or control weight.  We generally always recommend only using one tablet (100 mg) two times per day (taken with a meal) unless monitored by a healthcare professional, naturopath, or physician.  Given the ability of 5-HTP to impact serotonin levels and regulate brain activities, it is important for those that are on any prescription drugs for mood disorders (depression, BPD, etc.) or other psychiatric disorders completely avoid use unless cleared by a professional. 5-HTP is not for use by children or those under 18 years of age. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid the use of 5-HTP.  Each tablet contains 100 mg of 5-HTP and 27 mg of calcium (dicalcium phosphate dihydrate). This product does not contain any wheat, gluten, animal products, dairy products, fish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, or artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.  5-HTP CR for Regulating Mood, Hormone Levels, and Sleep Xymogen’s formulation of 5-HTP releases it slowly and steadily over a more prolonged period of time compared to traditional 5-HTP supplements that may cause a ‘peak’ and ‘valley’ rise + fall in serotonin levels. This 5-HTP is a completely prescription drug free product, derived from the amino acid content contained in a plant.  This 5-HTP will naturally increase the levels of serotonin within the body, which play a vital role in emotional regulation, mood, behavior, sleep, and appetite.  5-HTP has been demonstrated to effectively cross the BBB (blood-brain barrier) and displays efficacy when orally ingested without being degraded by the enzymes that degrade tryptophan.  Serotonin production is important for regulating norepinephrine and dopamine levels, and plays a role in normal mood and behavior. Normal levels of serotonin are commonly associated with being calmer and more relaxed.  Published scientific studies support a dosage of 100 mg – 600 mg per day for supporting healthy hormone levels, mood, and restful sleep.  Given that serotonin can also be converted to melatonin (sleepy after that turkey dinner – this is why) to help support longer REM sleep and a more peaceful sleep.

Magnesium Stearate in Supplements: Is it Safe

Magnesium Stearate in Supplements: Is it Safe?
Magnesium stearate is a common additive among many supplements – be it vegetarian capsule, tablet, or lozenge. Over the years, people online have demonized magnesium stearate as a potential ‘harmful’ additive that has the ability to impact the immune system. Is there any validity to these types of claims circulating online about magnesium stearate? Not quite. Let’s explore what magnesium stearate is, how this negative perception came to be, and why it is generally regarded as safe in supplements as an additive. What is Magnesium Stearate, and why is it in my supplements? Magnesium stearate is commonly found in supplements during manufacture because it helps make certain ingredients (especially powders) flow more evenly and prevents them from sticking to machines or clumping during the production process. It is created by a reaction of stearate – often derived from coconut oil or palm oil – with magnesium. The amount used in supplements is exceptionally small, with around ~1% being detectable in the final product of the total formulation. In essence, magnesium stearate is a ‘salt’ that is formed when a magnesium ion is bonded with two stearate molecules (often derived from coconut or palm oil). Stearic acid is a saturated fat that is commonly found in plenty of different foods. It is found to be the only long-chain saturated fatty acid that doesn’t raise cholesterol LDL levels. There is insufficient research and evidence to determine that magnesium stearate in these miniscule quantities could have any sort of negative effect. Magnesium Stearate – Plant Based vs. Animal Derived As an important aside, it should be noted that magnesium stearate can come from animal-based sources as well. Those who are strictly vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based will need to check the ingredient list of a product for “vegetable grade” or “vegetable magnesium stearate” to ensure it is derived from coconut oil or palm oil instead of animal fats. While allergic reactions to a formulation containing magnesium stearate are always possible, they are exceptionally rare, and the more common negative feedback on magnesium stearate simply holds no weight in reality. Debunking Magnesium Stearate and “Immune Suppression” The huge ‘claim’ about magnesium stearate is that it is known to ‘suppress’ the immune system. This claim is entirely based on one study that showed immune cells from mice being damaged by large amounts of stearic acid – which damaged the cell membranes of T-lymphocytes. This study does not depict what happens internally for those ingesting or consuming normal amounts of stearic acid (which is present, by the way, in fats like coconut) let alone the absolutely minuscule amount present in magnesium stearate as an additive used in production. This study has nothing to do with magnesium stearate to begin with (it is entirely based on stearic acid which is found in foods like coconut oil, chocolate and beef) and does not depict stearic acid used under normal conditions. Your cells are not dunked in a stearic acid solution, as is the case in this study. Another important note is that compared to the mice used in the study, human T cells have “the ability to desaturate fatty acids.” This means that even in the hypothetical situation where your T cells and immune cells were dunked in an excess of static acid, they would still maintain membrane functionality. Other claims, stating it contributes to “biofilm” growth would be inaccurate as well, as it appears as though stearic acid actually inhibits the formation and production of biofilms and is beneficial for those dealing with bacterial biofilms. Ultimately, the amount of magnesium stearate present in supplements and pills is extremely safe and will provide no ill effect unless you have an allergy to it – of course, it also provides no added benefit nor does it provide any nutritional substance. If you would rather avoid it or avoid the use of fillers/binders in supplements, always keep an eye on the ingredient list.

Colloidal Silver – Is it Safe, and Does it Work for Infections?

Colloidal Silver for Infection
First of all, yes, it does work for certain infections – colloidal silver has proven anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.  This is promising news, considering the harm and dangers of antibiotics + antimicrobial resistance. Silver has long been used to address bacteria / bacterial infections for centuries, and has known active properties against both gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.  Colloidal silver presents an effective treatment option for those looking to deal with a bacterial or viral infection – of course, this should always be done after consultation with a healthcare practitioner and should not be used to replace antibiotics in more serious bouts of illness or infection.  Now, is colloidal silver safe?  Most information out there online regarding colloidal silver seems to be conflicting and confusing at best – there are countless testimonials from people claiming silver helped them through severe infections or the first sign of illness. At the same time, there are plenty of well-known health sites or regulatory bodies that warn about safety concerns (like the FDA).  First, let us establish that colloidal silver is a “solution” of water that contains the suspended silver in nanometer-sized particles that are readily absorbed. The total silver content of the solution should be expressed on the supplement you purchase as “ppm” or parts per million. This is the same as mg of silver per liter of water (mg/L). Silver has been used as an antibiotic up until the early 1940s – this is thanks to various processes that occur once silver is ingested. Silver nanoparticles enter bacterial DNA, attach to bacterial cell membranes directly, and block the cellular process known as cellular respiration within the cells of organisms.  Ionic silver is not the same as true colloidal silver. Always ensure you purchase true colloidal silver when looking for a supplement – these do not contain additives, and the solution should only contain nanometer-sized silver particles and purified water.  Colloidal Silver is Safe for the Gut and Does Not Destroy “Good” Gut Bacteria After ~28 Days of Use As for colloidal silver being safe, there is plenty of debate online surrounding the use of silver internally. Those noting adverse effects like argyria (turning blue) are often not referring to pure colloidal silver, but rather low-quality, inexpensive products that contain silver that is not a nanoparticle.  Generally, when used for 10-14 days internally, it was not shown to cause any adverse side effects, nor was it shown to alter the gut microbiome. This means that even after 28 days of reported use, the diversity of “good” gut bacteria was not altered, destroyed, or changed by colloidal silver. This is a huge deal, especially when compared to the impact of traditional antibiotics on the microbiome.  Our stance is that colloidal silver will absolutely work as a potential antibacterial supplement, but it needs to be used/implemented short-term (10-14 days ideally; maximum of 28 days) on a strict dosage as indicated on the product.  Dosing Colloidal Silver, and a Word of Caution When it comes to dosing colloidal silver, most supplements are sold as a liquid tincture with a dropper. Depending on the condition, colloidal silver will be applied differently – generally, most practitioners will recommend against taking it for more than 14 consecutive days at a time.  Dosages may range depending on the concentration of the suspension itself. Always check/consult with the bottle or container for the most accurate dosing instructions.  2-5 drops can be applied topically to the skin for infections, wounds, and irritation.  5-10 drops can be taken internally, per day, for immune system support or to combat an infection. 1-2 drops can be placed in the eye directly for cases of pink eye.  Colloidal silver is always sold as a solution of purified water that contains nanometer particles of suspended silver. While silver has been demonstrated as safe, long-term or excessive prolonged use of colloidal silver may lead to some undesirable side effects – stick to recommended dosages, and only use it for the duration or period of time you need it for (I.E., recovery from a viral infection).  Colloidal silver can be applied topically or ingested internally – ensure to opt for a high-quality pure silver product, such as those sold on our website. 

Do Cranberries Really Work for UTIs? What the Science Says

Cranberries for UTI
Perhaps one of the most widely held, popular beliefs is that cranberry juice can help prevent recurrent UTIs or get rid of them.  A UTI itself can severely impact multiple parts of the urinary system – the bladder, kidney, and urethra. While UTIs are possible in men, women are more than 30 times more likely to experience them, with 55-60% of women having experienced one in their lifetime. They also account for close to 25% of all bacterial infections seen in women clinically.  Women’s urethras are more susceptible to bacteria entering the urinary tract, compared to men's. – if you experience pelvic pain, groin pain, urgent or frequent urination, or burning when you urinate, you should consult a healthcare professional for diagnosis of a possible UTI.  Given the prominence of antibiotic resistance to Escherichia coli, implementing alternate strategies to reduce this exposure to antibiotics is essential to protecting yourself from antibiotic overuse.  The majority of UTIs are caused by this bacterium, and this bacterium is becoming increasingly resistant to commonly prescribed UTI antibiotics like Bactrim and Cipro.  Aside from conventional wisdom towards prevention (increasing hydration with water throughout the day and gentle cleaning), cranberries often have the potential to alleviate symptoms or help prevent recurrence – but they must be in the form of an extract, not just the juice. Most store-shelf cranberry juices are also loaded with added sugars and won’t offer any sort of health benefit.  Recurring UTIs, while less common, are still a huge problem for a number of women and are often caused by the same pathogen. Do cranberries really work for UTIs? We’ll take a closer look at what the science says.  Cranberry Extract for Uncomplicated UTIs - What the Science Says Cranberry extracts contain a compound known as ‘proanthocyanin or “tannin.” This reduces the adherence of E. coli within the urinary tract and the colonization of the bacteria.  Studies show that extracts can help to prevent recurrent UTIs, but that cranberry juice is of little benefit. This is mainly due to the fact that there are not enough of the A-type proanthocyanins present in grocery store cranberry juice for it to be effective enough to stop bacteria from adhering to the walls of the bladder or urinary tract.  One scientific review from 2013 found that cranberry extracts were found to be protective against recurrent UTIs, in a PAC (proanthocyanin) dose-dependent manner.  You’ll typically want to look for 240 mg - 500 mg of cranberry extract per capsule, which contains ~15% PACs; 36 mg of PAC minimum in each capsule. Most brands won’t explicitly list the PAC content, so keep an eye out for the total mg of cranberry used per capsule.  Taking a supplement like D-Mannose in conjunction with cranberry extract can help ensure faster elimination of bacteria, and shows greater efficacy at preventing bacteria from adhering.  Given that cranberry extracts and unpasteurized cranberry juice products (with no added sugar) have no reported side effects and are of no harm, they offer a solution that is worth trying for any woman experiencing recurring UTIs.

Marshmallow Root – A Potent Digestive Aid for Better Gut Health

Marshmallow Root
A cursory Google search will prompt plenty of results associating marshmallow root with better digestive health, and “healing” the integrity of the gut for better health. But how exactly does it do this, and does it really work? First, let us touch on what marshmallow root is – before we approach it as a potent digestive aid for better gut health.  Marshmallow root is “Althaea Officinalis,” a perennial herb that is most commonly native to Europe, West Africa, and West Asia.  As an ancient ‘folk remedy,’ with widespread use across Middle Eastern countries, it has been consumed for thousands of years for relief of digestive and respiratory ailments.  Most commonly, it is consumed in capsule, powdered, or tea form – occasionally, you will see alcohol or glycerin-based tinctures. Marshmallow root is also typically added to many ‘natural’ cosmetics and personal care items.  How Marshmallow Root Protects the Lining of the Gut and can Help Restore Optimal Digestive Health In one study from 2011, an extract of marshmallow root was shown to help protect against gastric ulcers, platelet aggregation (clotting), and digestive inflammation. The extract also raised HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol) while having no adverse impact on the liver or other health markers.  When ingested, marshmallow root tends to bulk up, and form a gel-like consistency. This extract can help coat the stomach lining.  Both marshmallow root and marshmallow tea – and by extension, supplements that are sold as “marshmallow extract” act as “mucilage.” This means that it sort of swells up when it comes into contact with water, and functions as a kind of fiber.  Naturally, marshmallow root will contain various bioactive compounds, all of which seem to contribute toward beneficiary effects on digestive health: flavonoids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, and phenolic acids.  Various studies proclaim an immediate effect by protecting “inflamed mucosa” or intestinal membrane. This is also seen in the respiratory tract.  Marshmallow Root Dosage and Safety Profile Marshmallow root seems to have a high safety profile, and no negative side effects have been reported in people taking the supplement for colds, flu, cough, sore throat, respiratory issues, digestive issues, or IBD. Generally, the only concern is for those who may have diabetes, as it has been demonstrated to lower blood sugar levels. Otherwise, marshmallow root does not appear to impact any other health markers negatively.  Marshmallow root comes in powders, capsules, tinctures, and tea forms. If you are taking marshmallow root specifically for digestive distress/disorders, your best option is to go for a capsule, alcohol-based tincture, or raw powder/tea. With tinctures, you’ll get the most concentrated dose, and with capsules, you’ll have the most possible control over the among you’re taking compared to teas or powders.  Always stick to the recommended dosage as outlined on the product/bottle itself. The concentration may differ between brands, but the guideline for those with Crohn’s / UC or IBD is around ~6g daily, split into 2-3 daily doses.  If you’re using a powdered form or raw tea, you’ll want to ensure you consume enough water as it can form a more gelatinous substance. As always, you should consult with a healthcare professional prior to use if you have any sort of pre-existing medical condition. We’d also advise taking it a couple of hours before or after other medications.

Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe
This gluten-free vegan pumpkin pie recipe is super simple, and only requires a small handful of ingredients, including the crust. The recipe calls for canned pumpkin puree and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour.  You can also add Agar powder to the recipe to help with the final texture of the filling.  The Bob’s Red Mill flour isn’t as chalky or mealy tasting as many other gluten-free baking mixes and is primarily made from sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, and xanthan gum.  Utilizing canned pumpkin puree makes this recipe a lot more straightforward than if you were preparing it from scratch with a whole pumpkin – the end result will also taste just as good! This is the perfect pumpkin pie recipe for Thanksgiving and fall, with a flaky crust and creamy filling that only requires a total baking time of around ~1 hour.  Vegan & GF Pumpkin Pie Serving: 10 Slice Storage: Will keep for ~4-5 days in the refrigerator Ingredients: Pumpkin Filling 1/4 tsp sea salt 1 tbsp melted coconut oil  2 ½ tbsp cornstarch  1 ¾ tsp ‘spice mix:’ nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon 1/3 cup unsweetened oat milk, almond milk, or rice milk 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup maple syrup 2 ¾ cups canned pumpkin puree 1 tsp agar powder* (optional – will function similarly to a sort of vegan gelatin made from seaweed, and can help with the final texture of the filling).  Crust 6 tbsp cold water 1/4 tsp sea salt 6 tbsp cold vegan butter or margarine  1 ¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour Baking Instructions Prepare the crust first. Add the Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour and salt to a large enough mixing bowl, and whisk them to properly combine.  Slice or drop in the cold vegan butter (or margarine) and work it in gently with a fork – you don’t need to be aggressive here.  Next, slowly add the ice-cold water (not all at once), while using a wooden spoon or utensil to stir. Add as much as you need to help it form together.  Once you get a crumbly texture with the mixture (not flat), transfer it over to a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper. Work the dough gently with your hands to form a 1/2-inch-thick Wrap it up firmly, and refrigerate it for a maximum of 2 days, or a minimum of ~1 hour. Once the dough has been chilled in the fridge, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. We now need to prepare the pie filling. Add all of the pie mix ingredients to a blending or in a bowl for a hand blender, and blend until it is fully smooth. You can always taste and adjust if needed. Set this aside for now.  Roll out the crust. Unwrap the disc and place it between two layers of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, gently roll it to the shape of the pie pan you’ll be using (~9-inch). Transfer the crust by removing the first sheet of parchment paper and lay the pie dish over the top of the dough and use the bottom of the wax paper to flip it over quickly and invert it.  Once you’ve done this, you can slowly and gently use your hands to form it to the inner edges of the pie dish. Work it up along the sides and edges of the dish.  Pour the filling that has been blending into the pie dish and bake in the oven for ~1 hour. You can keep an eye on things, as it may take 5 or 10 minutes longer.  The crust should be a very light golden brown and appear flaky – while the pie filling should have some cracks in the top but appear with a bit of a jiggle. Remove it from the oven and let it cool for an hour before transferring it to the fridge. In the fridge, let it sit for 4-5 hours, or ideally overnight.  Slice and serve!

What are Collagen Peptides and are they the same as Gelatin?

Collagen
What is Collagen? Collagen and collagen peptides are often used interchangeably but may not necessarily mean the same thing. Liquid collagen, on the other hand, is often in the processed form of collagen peptides – just in a liquid format. Read on as we explore the differences between the various Types (I, II, III) of collagen, the different forms (liquid collagen, collagen peptides, and gelatin), and what they actually offer consumers in terms of health benefits.  First, what exactly is collagen?  ‘Collagen’ in the broadest sense of the term, is the long-chain amino acids that are found in our tissues, skin, joints, and bones. They are the most abundant protein in the body.  At the same time, they cannot be obtained directly through diet unless supplemented. Instead, our body naturally produces collagen out of pre-cursors: these are things like vitamin C and amino acids, which can increase collagen production in the body. However, as we age, the production naturally declines and this is why we see the ‘results’ of aging both internally and physically. These include fine lines, wrinkles, joint pain and inflammation, and arthritis.  In traditional, unhydrolyzed full-length form, collagen is not effective as a supplement, as the long chain is difficult to break down by the stomach during digestion. This needs to be further broken down and processed, so we can utilize it optimally in the forms of supplements – this is where we hear the terms “collagen peptides” and “hydrolyzed collagen” from, as these are processed forms of collagen that are easily absorbed and utilized by the body.  What about ‘Gelatin’ – Is it the Same as Collagen Peptides? What about gelatin? Gelatin is a form of collagen that has undergone ‘partial hydrolysis,’ which gives it that ‘gel-like consistency. These partially hydrolyzed chains in gelatin cause the gelling due to the water content – this is why it is often used as a thickening agent for soups and other recipes.  ‘Bone Broth’ is similar to ‘gelatin’ in this sense and is essentially the same thing. Bone broth, like gelatin, is made by slowly cooking bones and connective tissue in water – and the gelatin dissolves into the bone broth. The actual ‘benefits’ of bone broth, which are compared to that of collagen, are actually from the gelatin content of the bone broth. Bone broth does not have the same beneficial properties that collagen peptides do.  Liquid Collagen and Collagen Peptides: How to Choose the Best Option So, clearly, collagen peptides are what we want to be supplementing with. But what exactly are ‘peptides’ and how is this collagen produced?  Collagen peptides, also known as “hydrolyzed collagen” or “collagen hydrolysate” is a form of collagen that has simply been broken down first so it is useable by our bodies. The process of hydrolysis (where water molecules disrupt the bonds in an enzymatic process) breaks down the collagen into smaller chains of protein – these are what we know as “collagen peptides.” Almost all commercially available collagen will thus be hydrolyzed to be processed and for consumers to be able to dissolve it in water. At the same time, any “liquid collagen” you purchased is already hydrolyzed by nature of it being dissolved in water in a pre-manufactured product. The questions are then – are collagen peptides actually useful and do they have health benefits?  The literature and studies clearly tell us that yes, collagen peptides, when supplemented, do offer and confer numerous health benefits when used for a prolonged period of time.  Collagen supplementation is noted to help improve skin elasticity, and hydration of the skin, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, help with joint pain and inflammation from arthritis, improve bone loss in those with osteoporosis, and improve the health of nails, hair, and teeth.

Creatine: A Guide to the Popular Pre-Workout Supplement

Creatine Supplement
What Is Creatine? Creatine itself is naturally formed (made) in the kidneys and liver from bodily processes involving amino acids – glycine, arginine, and methionine.  Creatine is primarily consumed through the meat (red meat, poultry, fish) or individually as a dietary supplement.  It helps fuel high endurance or intensity exercise or workouts.  When ATP is used up (during these activities), it is converted into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and AMP (adenosine monophosphate). Creatine helps increase the overall amount of cellular phosphocreatine (this is what creatine exists in cells as) and this, in turn, helps speed up the process of recycling ADP back into ATP.  Creatine transfers a high-energy phosphate from creatine phosphate to ADP to essentially regenerate ATP. This means more energy and strength for workouts. Creatine not only appears to benefit strength during intense exercise or resistance training (helping to contribute to increased lean mass gain) but also appears to be of benefit for mental fatigue and cognitive function.  This may be especially true for those who are vegan or vegetarian and intake less through dietary means, given that these prerequisite amino acids are found in high concentrations in meat and seafood.  Creatine is one of the most clinically studied, safe, and peer-reviewed supplements available. There are well over five-hundred publications (according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine) regarding the various aspects of creatine supplementation, including its efficacy, safety, and tolerance of it.  Many people consider creatine to be a “natural anabolic,” which might be a tad confusing for some people, as creatine doesn’t have anything to do with anabolic steroids directly. Even Allmax Nutrition themselves proclaim creatine to be the most trusted natural anabolic.  What exactly does this all mean? Let us touch on anabolic steroids. Anabolic steroids are essentially a ‘synthetic’ version of androgenic hormones – most commonly testosterone, and are sometimes used with resistance training for the sole purpose of enhancing the speed of muscle mass gain and strength gain.  This increase comes from testosterone entering the muscle cells, binding with the “intracellular androgen receptor,” and increasing the expression of particular genes. This leads to increased ATP (adenosine triphosphate production).  Creatine, as a supplement, can increase the capacity of ATP as well as energy produced during resistance or strength training, and as such is often compared to synthetic hormones as a ‘natural anabolic.’  Therefore, we can say that creatine functions physiologically in a similar way to steroids (and can help performance in the same way), they are not the same in the way they do this, nor are they categorized in the same way because of this.  Anabolic steroids have a different chemical structure than creatine and are blatantly considered prescription drugs as regulated by the FDA.  So, while many companies or bodybuilders may refer to creatine as a “natural anabolic” – they might not be exactly correct, but they also aren’t explicitly lying.  Creatine and Hair Loss  A quick cursory search around the internet for creatine will probably garner hundreds of results of men worried about creatine causing baldness, hair loss, or accelerating male pattern baldness.  Is any of this true? Is there any validity to these second-hand stories? Creatine itself absolutely does not directly lead to hair loss. The science is clear on that, so we should establish that immediately.  Most men aren’t going to want to make the choice between being ripped and having a nice head of hair.  The primary connection between creatine, hair loss, and concern online – all really just comes down to a single fairly small study of Rugby players who were found to have increased conversion of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone).  This potentially shows that creatine may cause an elevation in a hormone (DHT) that can speed up the process of hair loss, but only in men predisposed to hair loss or male pattern baldness genetically.  The study does not explicitly link the two. In addition, the people in the study were taking quite a large serving size of 25g per day, compared to the recommended 5g. The size of the study is quite small as well, profiling only 20 volunteers.  What is the connection of DHT to balding? In men, DHT can bind to potentially susceptible androgen receptors in hair follicles and cause them to ‘shrink.’  Any anecdotal stories of men online may be men taking larger amounts of creatine long-term, who are at the same time genetically predisposed to hair loss or male pattern baldness.  Usually, these men also claim to recover any signs of thinning hair after stopping the creatine supplem ...

Goji Berries: A True Superfruit and Anti-Oxidant Powerhouse

Goji Berries
We all know some of the most nutritious, antioxidant-packed (super)foods are berries – from blueberries to mulberries – and everything in between. How does the goji berry or “wolfberry fruit” stack up against its humble competitors? Is Goji a true superfruit and anti-oxidant powerhouse as purported? Goji has been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years, and a popular superfood for fighting free radical damage, aging, and markers of disease. Typically, goji berries are eaten raw and dried, but can also be used in a powdered form for smoothies, bowls, and shakes. Nutritional Content of Goji Berries Before even getting into the polyphenol and antioxidant content of goji berries, the nutritional content alone is quite impressive. ¼ cup provides (depending on dried or powder form, and how they’ve been processed) approximately: 70 Calories 12g of Sugar 9g of Protein 6g of Fiber 150% DV Vitamin A 84% DV Copper 75% DV Selenium 27% DV Vitamin C 21% DV Potassium 15% DV Zinc 42% DV Iron Goji berries are also extremely rich in “phenolic acids,” “polysaccharides,” and “flavonoids” – biologically active compounds with beneficial health properties. These compounds are responsible for many of the health benefits attributed to goji berries. Various studies and literature denote the many health-promoting properties of goji berries, such as those documented and compiled here. Vision Support, Macular Degeneration, and Eye Health Goji contains many ‘carotenoids’ – the natural pigments that give fruits bright orange and red colors, such as carrots (and goji berries). This is why you have probably heard the old adage that carrots are great for vision health. They are extremely high in Vitamin A, and this is due to the beta-carotene content. In particular, goji is high in the carotenoid “zeaxanthin” which is sometimes sold as an individual natural supplement for vision support. Research shows this compound protects the retina and improves retinal function. Further, human and animal studies looking at goji berry extract (not just zeaxanthin) found that goji was protective and restorative in the early stages of retina and macular degeneration. Cardiovascular Protection, Lipid and Cholesterol-Lowering Support Studies demonstrate goji berry extract as having a notable reduction in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to non-goji berry treated animals with elevated blood pressure and hyperlipidemia. Meanwhile, “good” cholesterol levels, HDL, were unaffected or increased with the dosage of goji berry extract. Aside from the high antioxidant levels of goji, they have also demonstrated the ability to lower blood lipid levels effectively in diabetic animal studies. Abnormal fat oxidization and accumulation in the blood vessels were inhibited in animals fed a high-fat diet after administration of goji extract. Goji appears to also be beneficial for diabetes from other studies, which point to its ability to lower blood glucose levels significantly and impact the rate of glucose uptake. Anticancer Benefits and Neuroprotective Benefits Not only are goji berries beneficial for heart health, cholesterol levels, and lipids – but they also have potent benefits in the fight against neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s and even in protecting against cancer cell growth. Goji has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for many decades specifically to prevent the progression and early onset of cancer – the whole goji berry seems to have a better preventative effect than just extracts of specific compounds alone (those most commonly sold as supplements). The polysaccharides which are present in goji (polysaccharides are also extremely beneficial parts of what make medicinal mushrooms great) have the ability to inhibit and prevent tumor growth without negative side effects. Neurological brain health is an extremely important area of study, and the benefit of goji has been shown to reduce glutamate excitotoxicity, which is implicated in neurogenerative diseases. Treatment with goji showed a reduction in neurological deficits in stroke models and improved cognitive performance. Goji – Should I Be Adding Them to My Smoothies or Bowls? Similar to many other potent superfruits, goji berry offers a natural, whole-food antioxidant powerhouse that does not require supplementation or medication to confer benefits against cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, cancer, neurological disorders, and vision degeneration. Best of all, goji is easy to incorporate into daily diets in a wide variety of dried forms, powders, and extracts for any need – all available at Healthy Planet Canada.

Eating Gluten-Free at Restaurants

Gluten Free
Most people have a tendency to automatically assume certain food items are gluten-free and thus ‘safe’ for those with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. Chicken salad is gluten-free, right? Fries should be safe, shouldn’t they? Where could the gluten be lurking in chicken or a salad? Should you be genuinely concerned about eating out at restaurants? As always, those with severe gluten intolerance, allergies, or Celiac Disease should consult or contact the restaurant prior to dining to ensure they can enjoy their meal with peace of mind, as no one can confirm the absolute safety of environments where other gluten-containing food is being prepared. Those looking to avoid gluten – whether due to allergies or personal health reasons, are entitled to enjoy a meal at a restaurant without having to worry about problematic ingredients in their food making them sick.  Tips & Tricks for Enjoying a Gluten-Free Meal As we mentioned previously, never automatically assume a food or dish prepared in a restaurant is gluten-free. While it may seem ‘obvious’ that things which are not made from wheat or barley are ‘safe’ – this just is not the case.  Restaurants often prepare gluten-containing foods in the same kitchen, using the same utensils. This is in addition to ‘hidden’ ingredients that could be derived from wheat or barley and thus trigger a reaction. Ensure Proper Communication with Staff About Your Dietary Needs This extends far beyond just going gluten-free. If you have any sort of allergies, food preferences, or dietary requirements (such as a strict vegetarian or vegan diet), it is essential you let staff know prior to ordering. As such, they can either advise you on what to avoid (or if it is possible to accommodate you) or ensure the food is prepared isolated from potential problem ingredients. This tip applies to any restaurant you would be dining at. If the server has difficulty understanding your concerns, it is best to ask to speak to a manager, kitchen staff, or a supervisor to adequately address your concerns.  You should never feel guilty or critical for doing this, as it is the staff’s job to accommodate their customers and ensure their safety. Not yours. You should never feel like a burden for advocating for your health or dietary needs. Look for Potential ‘Problem’ Ingredients; Stick to ‘Simple’ Foods Never trust that all the ingredients in a dish are listed on the menu. If you are still unsure of what to order based on menu descriptions (which often will not accurately list all the ingredients), stick to food that is simple and straightforward. Gluten, from wheat or barley-related products, may be hidden in things labeled as “house dressing,” “sauce,” or “marinade.”  Look for dishes with a designated ‘gluten-free’ icon next to them, always ask the waiter or staff prior to ordering, and stick to things that are a ‘safe bet.’ This means things like fries or a fruit salad – are incredibly unlikely to have any sort of gluten due to the preparation process. It is also extremely unlikely that these dishes would have come into contact with wheat or barley and been ‘cross-contaminated.’  “Cross-contamination” is also a huge concern for people with severe allergies – not just to gluten, but to other problematic allergens like shellfish. What Does “Cross Contamination” Mean, and Should I Be Worried? Cross-contamination is not a gluten-specific term. The Department of Health actually qualifies cross-contamination as “the physical movement or transfer of harmful bacteria from one person, object, place or [location] to another.” This usually applies to things like raw meat contaminating, say, a salad – which may result in food poisoning due to improper handling techniques. This terminology, however, also extends to gluten and other allergens. Cross-contamination is a risk factor for anyone with a gluten allergy, or intolerance,  especially those with Celiac Disease. While you should have a healthy level of concern over cross-contamination, especially when your safety depends on it, many times it is difficult to know fully how food is prepared – in a facility producing pre-packaged food, or in a restaurant. Studies also offer conflicting information on this. While one study indicated that it is minimal or no gluten transfer between tools like toasters and knives when used for both gluten-containing and gluten-free foods, other studies indicate a major risk to those with Celiac Disease. Despite researchers finding ‘low’ gluten transfer between things like toasters, knives, and pans – there were still concerns over things like using the same cooking water for gluten-free pasta after cooking wheat pasta, and for restaurant appliances like fryers. This is why it is always best to check with restaurant staff to ensure optimal safety d ...
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