Monthly Archives: June 2008

What Supplements Do You Need?

I’m often asked the question, “What are the basic vitamins or supplements should I take?” While each person is unique and will have their own specific requirements, here are some general guidelines.

However, before I even discuss supplements it is essential to understand that the diet is still most important. It is the majority of what we are putting into our bodies and we all know the saying, “you are what you eat.” I tell my clients that they can take all the supplements in the world, but it will not make up for a poor diet. Most people eating the typical “Standard American Diet (SAD)” come up short in three areas:

Fruits and vegetables – an important source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Most people simply do not eat enough. You should have fruits and vegetables throughout the day with at least two meals a day and for snacks. Vegetables should be eaten both raw and cooked, depending on the vegetable. Raw foods contain active enzymes which help digest our food. These natural food enzymes are destroyed by heating. Eat all the colors of the rainbow, as they all have different nutrient contents.

Healthy fats – by this I mean foods containing Vitamins A, D, and K from animal sources such as yogurt, kefir, and butter, as well as olive oil and coconut oil. Yogurt and kefir have the added advantage of providing probiotics (good bacteria) to aid digestion.

Foods that aid digestion – from over use of antibiotics and our generally sterile environment, many of us lack the bacteria that help digest our food. These are found in lacto-fermented foods such as the previously mentioned yogurt and kefir, but also in vegetables and pickles (that have not been pasteurized) such as raw cabbage, raw sauerkraut, or kim chi.

For a healthier diet I encourage people to avoid margarine and artificial sweeteners and to cut back on the processed and refined foods and the sugar based foods.

As far as supplements go, I suggest they are whole, real foods and that synthetic vitamins be avoided. While we are told they are the same molecular structure, this does not translate into how they are processed in the body. Vitamins appear in nature as a complex, not as an isolated molecule. Most people will benefit from supplements in three areas:

A multi-vitamin – to make up for the overall shortfall of nutrients in our food supply. This would contain a cross section of the important vitamins. My favorite is Catalyn by Standard Process.

Cod liver oil – contains the healthy fats of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D. Well respected brands are Green Pasture and Carlson’s. I prefer this to fish oil since it has the additional vitamins in addition to the Omega 3’s.

Antioxidant – since most of us are not eating enough fruits and vegetables this is a way to get these nutrients. It can be in the form of a green or red powder, grape seed extract, OPC, reservatrol. These are all different forms of antioxidants. I am not a big fan of the fancy juices. Yes, they are antioxidants, but they are expensive – in order to support the multi-level marketing.

In addition to the above supplements there are recommendations for middle aged and aging men and women:

For men – a common problem is an enlarged prostate. Zinc (a mineral) and saw palmetto (an herb) can help.

For women – a common problem is hormonal imbalances. Wild Yam (an herb) can help, although it is best to consult with a specialist to address these issues.

Supplements are meant to be that, a supplement to the diet, to make up for nutrients that we are not getting from food. Each individual’s needs are different, so it is best to consult with a professional to best understand your needs. There is a lot of marketing hype as well concerning nutritional supplements. Another reason to consult a trusted source that can help you cut through the hype. The above information serves as a general guideline and starting point.

Healthy Prostate = Healthy Male – Part 2

This is the second article in a two part series about the prostate gland. In Part 1, we learned what the prostate is, what it does, and the three common disorders that men experience. Now, we’ll take a look at what steps we can take to reduce our likelihood of prostate problems.

The key points from Part 1 were: 1) as men age they are increasingly likely to experience one of three prostate ailments – prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or prostate cancer; 2) the medical community is not sure what causes any of these ailments; and 3) once we have one of these conditions there are a variety of unpleasant symptoms.

However, perhaps there is a cause. Perhaps it is our modern lifestyle; let me explain five factors that play a role. First, many of us are sedentary with limited exercise which increases as we age. This leads to a lack of blood flow and circulation throughout the body, allowing toxins to accumulate, and providing less nourishment through the body. Second, many of our diets do not include all the nutrients required to nourish our body. Nutrient deficiencies, particularly in the prostate gland create favorable conditions for bacteria to grow and infections to develop. Third, the emphasis on constant sexual performance depletes nutrients from our bodies through excessive ejaculation. Each ejaculation requires the production of more sperm, which depletes nutrients that could be utilized elsewhere in the body. Increased sexual activity depletes the prostate gland of enzymes and zinc that sterilize the urethra and protect the gland from bacteria and infection. Fourth, emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, and worry add toxins to the blood. And fifth, prescription drugs also add toxins to the blood. As we age the likelihood of being on more prescription drugs increases. So, what is the impact of all these toxins in the blood? Remember, one of the main functions of the prostate gland is to filter the toxins and metabolic wastes. However, it does not only filter, it also stores.

From my research, I believe it is the toxins and the wastes (from the filtering) that have accumulated over time and why it becomes more prevalent as men age. And, remember the “non-bacterial” prostatitis that has no medical remedy? Well, my research shows that it is bacteria, and these bacteria are trapped inside the small sacs (called acini) that make up the interior of the prostate gland. When the fluid inside these sacs is stagnant or unhealthy, bacteria will grow. The sacs become inflamed and swell and then seal off. As they do this the prostate swells. These bacteria do not get outside of the sacs, so it can not be identified in the urine or semen.

Prostate problems likely come from four factors – genetic, hormonal, dietary, and lifestyle. The good news – we have some influence over three of the four. We can do something. We can change our diet, there are nutritional supplements that can support the prostate, we can increase our exercise, we can reduce our stress, and we can regulate our sexual frequency.

A diet primarily of bad fats, refined and processed foods, minimal fruits and vegetables will lead to nutrient deficiencies. The key nutrients for the prostate are Vitamin B6 (and all the B vitamins) which plays an important role in hormonal metabolism. It reduces the conversion of testosterone into DHT (DHT makes the prostate grow). We get B vitamins from whole grains and healthy animal products. Vitamins C, E, and the mineral selenium are antioxidants which neutralize the excess free radicals that are creating havoc throughout the body. Antioxidants come from fruits and vegetables. The essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s – EPA and DHA) are anti-inflammatory and help to build and maintain healthy cells. Omega 3’s come mainly from cold water fish. Zinc is a trace mineral that is involved in male hormone production, seminal fluid production, and sperm production. It also prevents the formation of DHT. A normal prostate gland contains more zinc that any other organ in the body. Our ability to absorb zinc declines with age. Zinc deficiency is very common today. The best sources of zinc include eggs, meat, organ meats, seafood (especially oysters), and seeds (particularly pumpkin).

The nutritional supplements that have been found to support the prostate gland include saw palmetto and pygeum. Saw palmetto blocks the formation of DHT. Pygeum is an anti-inflammatory.

Exercise is beneficial because it increases blood flow and nerve energy to the surrounding tissues and to the prostate itself. Other helpful ideas for enlarged prostates include Sitz baths (for 30 minutes minimum), and massage. Massage will help with blood flow. There are some specific massage techniques that can help to clean the prostate and reduce swelling. For more information on these techniques you would want to talk to a qualified professional.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He is an expert in the field of Nutrition and Erectile Dysfunction. His office is in Thiensville, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.

Healthy Prostate = Healthy Male – Part 1

You may be familiar with the old saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Here’s another truism – the key to a man’s health and his enjoyment of life, particularly as he ages, is his prostate. In this two part series we’ll explore the prostate gland. In Part 1, we’ll learn what the prostate is, what it does, and the three common disorders that men experience. In Part 2, we’ll take a look at what steps we can take to reduce our likelihood of prostate problems.

The prostate is a small gland and is part of the male reproductive system. The growth and functioning of the prostate are controlled by testosterone. The prostate is located under the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The urethra transports urine from the bladder and ejaculates semen. In this way the prostate acts as a valve that permits both sperm and urine to flow in the proper direction – out of the body. It receives sperm from the testicles and produces nutrients to nourish the sperm. When the prostate is normal sized this occurs without incident.

The prostate also functions as a filter. It ensures that the seminal fluid is a healthy environment for sperm cells by filtering out impurities from the blood stream. Healthy sperm increase the likelihood of a healthy baby! In young men the prostate is about the size of a walnut. However, it commonly enlarges with age.

There are three main prostate disorders – prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate cancer. By the age of fifty, 75% of men have enlarged prostates and 33% have cancer cells in their prostate. By the age of seventy five, 75% have cancer cells in their prostates.

Prostatitis is pain from the swelling of the prostate gland. The Merck Manual says that, “Prostatitis usually develops for unknown reasons.” It can result from a bacterial infection, yet most times it is non-bacterial.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that makes urination difficult. Again, the Merck Manual does not offer much help, “Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) becomes increasingly common as men age, especially after age 50. The precise cause is not known but probably involves changes induced by hormones, especially testosterone.” By age fifty 30% of men begin to experience BPH. By age sixty it is 50%, beyond age 70 it is 80%, and by age 80 it is practically 100%. In addition, 20% of men with BPH will develop prostate cancer.

Testosterone controls the growth and functioning of the prostate. As men age, they produce or have available less testosterone. This lower amount of testosterone may negatively impact the prostate. Another problem that can occur is an increase in the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is made from testosterone and makes the prostate grow. Its production is stimulated by estradiol (a form of estrogen). Men with BPH have been found to have excessive estradiol in their prostate. Where does this excess come from? Several places. The first is from fat cells. Estrogen is naturally produced in these cells. If the man is overweight, he may have excess estrogen. In addition, estrogen can come from food, water, and other environmental sources.

Also, as testosterone levels decrease and other hormones become out of balance males suffer from their version of menopause – andropause. Symptoms may include depression, irritability, loss of energy, withdrawal from activities and relationships, memory and concentration problems, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, muscle soreness, decreased lean muscle mass, sleep problems, blood sugar instability, weight gain, and prostate or urinary problems. In addition risk for cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis increases.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Often, it grows very slowly and may take decades to produce symptoms. However, sometimes it grows rapidly and spreads outside the prostate. According to the Merck Manual, “The cause of prostate cancer is not known.”

So, what do we know? Modern medicine does not know what causes any of these three disorders that affect the majority of males in their lifetime. Yet, they have some common symptoms, indicating they are likely on the same disease pathway. These include pain in the penis, pain in the testicles, pain in the perineum, frequent urination, burning urination, night-time urination, incomplete emptying of the bladder, painful ejaculation, painful urination, sensation of having to urinate immediately often accompanied by bladder pain or spasm, and recurring urinary tract infections. There are also some seemingly unrelated symptoms – lower back pain (very common), chronic pelvic pain syndrome, fever, chills, joint pain, muscle pain, and infection in the blood stream.

In Part 2 we’ll look at natural ways to reduce the likelihood of prostate problems.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. He is an expert in the field of Nutrition and Erectile Dysfunction. His office is in Thiensville, WI. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at bernie@brwellness.com, call (262) 389-9907 or go to www.brwellness.com.