Curious About Probiotics vs. Digestive Enzymes?

by Nick Soloway

Curious About Probiotics vs. Digestive Enzymes? Adapted From:

Gut health is a growing health craze for good reason. Digestive issues are a widespread problem affecting roughly one out or every three adults that contributes to millions of doctor visits in the United States every year. In an effort to improve their digestive health, Americans have become obsessed with probiotics or “friendly” bacteria. In addition to spending over $2 billion each year on probiotic supplements, there is also a growing rise in sales fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut. It is becoming popular to add probiotics to many other foods and beverages, as well including chocolate, nutrition bars, smoothies, and juice.

Marketing would have us believe that probiotics are the answer to all gut issues and there is no question that they are important considerations. But, do they always represent the best natural solution for common digestive complaints? Not really.

Improving Gut Health Beyond Probiotics
The simple truth is that the benefits that many people are looking for in improving their digestive complaints with probiotics, are better achieved with the use of other natural digestive aids, especially enzymes. Probiotics are living organisms that can have beneficial effects on digestive health, but they are not very effective in dealing with many common digestive complaints like the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well as indigestion, gas, bloating, and food intolerances. The reason is simple: probiotics do not digest food.

The real issue and the underlining cause of most gut discomforts, is not digesting food properly. Most people compound the problem by choosing to simply block symptoms with an over-the-counter acid-blocking drug while others will jump on the probiotic bandwagon only to be disappointed. And many others will simply suffer though the embarrassing and uncomfortable effects of improper digestion, because they feel they have tried everything and nothing has worked. The reality is that they have not tried everything, they have just not tried the right product.

Lack of Stomach Acid and Pepsin
Although much is said about hyperacidity conditions, a more common cause of indigestion is a lack of gastric acid secretion. Lack of stomach acid affects more than 15% of the general population and over 40% of people over 40! It is a major cause of indigestion in this age group.

The stomach’s optimal pH range for digestion is 1.5-2.5. The use of antacids and acid-blocker drugs will typically raise the pH above 3.5. Although raising the pH can reduce symptoms, it blocks the effects of both hydrochloric acid and pepsin, a key enzyme involved in protein digestion.

Hydrochloric acid secretion aids in protein digestion, activates pepsin, and it encourages the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes. Hydrochloric acid also facilitates the absorption of many nutrients, including folate, vitamin B12, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, iron and some forms of calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

The bottom line is that without HCL and pepsin proper protein digestion and nutrient absorption will not occur. In addition, a lack of HCL and/or pepsin can adversely affect the gut’s microbial flora including the promotion of an overgrowth of the bacteria Helicobacter pylori that is associated with ulcer formation.

There are many symptoms and signs that suggest impaired gastric acid secretion, and a number of specific health conditions have been found to be associated with insufficient gastric acid output, especially conditions linked to a “leaky gut” like psoriasis, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid disease..

Common Signs and Symptoms of Low Gastric Acidity

    Bloating, belching, burning, and flatulence immediately after meals
    A sense of `fullness’ after eating
    Indigestion, diarrhea or constipation
    Weak, peeling and cracked fingernails
    Chronic intestinal parasites or abnormal flora
    Undigested food in stool
    Chronic candida infections

You can check to see if you are making enough stomach acid:
Nick’s Comments:
There is a sophisticated test available to test for low stomach acidity called the Heidelberg gastric analysis test.  Unfortunately this test is not readily available and is expensive. I have included 2 self tests below to help you determine if you have low stomach acid.

I personally take HCl with each meal and I have found significant changes in how I feel. No longer do I have bloating, constant pressure in my stomach area and wake up with last night’s dinner still in my stomach.  I just started doing procedure 2 below and had good results.

Initially in addition to supplementing HCl you may consider using a product called Heartburn Free. Heartburn Free is an extract from orange peel that you take every other day for 20 days, it strengthens the LES function to prevent acid from going up into the esophagus. A very important thing to do is to directly treat the stomach. People often have a condition called a hiatal hernia in which the stomach and esophagus are mal-positioned allowing stomach acid to go up into the esophagus.

I treat this manually and then teach the person who has this condition how to treat themself which also greatly reduces the reflux symptoms.  People who I have treated manually and then put on HCl supplementation have done very well in reducing their symptoms of reflux.

    1.     Conduct an at-home test to see if your HCL is low. Mix 1/4 tsp. of baking soda in an 8 oz. glass of cold water. Drink the baking soda and water mixture first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. Time how long it takes to belch after drinking the mixture. You should belch within 2 to 3 minutes if your HCL is adequate.

    2.     Purchase supplemental HCL tablets. Take one 10 grain HCL capsule at the beginning of a substantial meal with protein. If this does not aggravate symptoms, at every meal after that of the same size take one more tablet or capsule. (One at the next meal, two at the meal after that, then three at the next meal.)
 Continue adding a capsule at every each meal (maximum 7 capsules) until you feel a burning sensation in your chest. Note how many capsules you took before you felt the irritation. Generally, the higher the number of capsules you take, the lower your HCL is.  After you have found that the largest dose that you can take at your large meals without feeling any warmth, maintain that dose at all of meals of similar size. You will need to take less at smaller meals.
    When taking a number of capsules, it is best to take them throughout the meal.
    As your stomach begins to regain the ability to produce the amount of HCl needed to properly digest your food, you will notice the warm feeling again and will have to cut down the dose level.

Both Heartburn Free and HCl (I use Vital Nutrients BETAINE HCL W/PEPSIN & GENTIAN) are available at Emerson Ecologic’s. Use this link to place your order  I also stock both of these products as well as Similase mentioned below

Digestive Enzymes to the Rescue
While probiotics are marketed as a cure-all for digestive complaints, the relief that people are seeking to find is best obtained through supplementation with digestive enzymes.  Unlike probiotics, enzymes can make an immediate difference in digesting a meal. That is because enzymes actually help digest food, probiotics do not. Many people who have occasional digestive difficulties such as indigestion, bloating, or gas will often feel a relief from taking a digestive enzyme supplement in minutes. This fast action is because the enzymes are directly working to breakdown a meal. Many digestive symptoms are simply the result of improper breakdown of food by enzymes.

While our own body produces digestive enzymes, it may not be enough especially in older adults. Aging leads to actual structural changes in the pancreas as well as reduced output of digestive enzymes, often leading to impaired digestion and symptoms ranging from minor gas, pain, nausea, and bloating to severe malabsorption and malnutrition.

Digestive enzymes can be derived from animal, plant, or microbial sources. Of these three sources, enzymes derived from bacteria and fungi are emerging as the most effective source because they are very stable, resist damage caused by the stomach acid, and can function within a wide range of pH levels. For example, while the pancreatic enzyme trypsin and chymotrypsin are only effective in a pH environment of 8-10, some digestive enzyme supplements contain blends of microbial-derived enzymes that can be effective throughout the entire pH range. Since the pH of the human gastrointestinal tract varies from very acid to alkaline, it is important to choose products that are effective throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract. Similase is the digestive enzyme product that I personally use. Available at

These more advanced enzyme preparations have ushered in a whole new era for digestive enzymes. For best results, digestive enzymes are recommended to be taken before meals or early in the meal.

Final Comments

Just a reminder, in most cases it is not food that is causing digestive symptoms, it is the improper digestion of that food. So, the first goal in trying to improve gut symptoms is to focus on improving digestion. As far was which to use first, Betaine HCL or digestive enzymes. Here is a good rule of thumb. If the bloating, gas, indigestion occurs within the first 30-45 minutes of eating go with Betaine HCL. If it occurs more than 45 minutes after eating, go with digestive enzymes first.

For more information on heartburn and digestion read this previous post:


by Nick Soloway

Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood

While we obsess about carbs and protein, we’ve ignored fiber — at our peril.

By Julia Belluzb Updated Jul 15, 2019, 12:02pm EDT

When we fret about the deterioration of the American diet, we tend to focus on the excessive amounts of sugar, salt, and calories we’re now eating.

What we don’t talk about: an important ingredient that’s gone missing as we’ve been filling our plates with more chicken and cheese.

Only 5 percent of people in the US meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That amounts to a population-wide deficiency — what nutritionists call the “fiber gap.”

“People are so busy avoiding carbs, they forget that these foods give [them] important dietary components,” said nutritionist Julie Jones, of St. Catherine University.

Fiber is the closest thing we have to a true superfood — or super-nutrient since it’s a part of so many different foods. Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers. That’s because fiber is amazingly helpful in many ways: It slows the absorption of glucose — which evens out our blood sugar levels — and also lowers cholesterol and inflammation.

These benefits grow the more fiber people eat.
In a recent Lancet review of 185 studies and 58 clinical trials, researchers found that if 1,000 people transitioned from a low-fiber diet (under 15 grams per day) to a high-fiber diet (25 to 29 grams per day), they’d prevent 13 deaths and six cases of heart disease. (Some researchers have described not eating high-fiber carbohydrates as “the opportunity cost” of the ultra low-carb ketogenic diet.)

If fiber were a drug, we’d be all over it. But the average American gets just 16 grams per day — half of what we should be eating.

A big reason for that has to do with what we now eat. Instead of munching on fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, more than half of the calories Americans consume come from ultra-processed foods. On any given day, nearly 40 percent of Americans eat fast food. These prepared and processed meals tend to be low in fiber, or even fiber free. (A cup of cooked oatmeal has 4 grams of fiber and a pear has 6 grams, while a McDonald’s hamburger has one gram and soda has none.)

This pattern of eating is not just leading to weight gain and obesity-related health issues; it’s hurting our gastrointestinal health in ways researchers are only beginning to understand. That’s because fiber’s benefits are a lot more complicated than our prune-peddling moms and grandmothers appreciated.

Fiber doesn’t just help us poop better — it also nourishes our gut microbiome.

The science, while still pretty nascent, is fascinating and it points to the fact that the fiber gap may be even more damaging than we’ve realized.
There are many different types of fiber — and they do different things in our guts

To think of fiber as just Metamucil and bran cereal is to do its complexity a disservice.

Fiber (or “fibers,” as the researchers who study it say) is a group of different kinds of plant-based carbohydrates that affect our gastrointestinal tract in myriad ways. The big difference between fiber and other carbs, like starches and sugar, is that we can’t directly digest or absorb it. And some fiber types can only be broken down by the gut microbiome, the ecology of trillions of diverse bacteria lining our intestines and colon.

Scientists have learned over the years that fiber can be soluble (meaning it dissolves in water), viscose (gel-forming), or fermentable (bacteria can metabolize it) — and they’re just beginning to understand how these different fiber types interact with our gastrointestinal tract and affect our health.

Take cellulose, a type of fiber in fruits and vegetables: it’s insoluble and it’s not fermentable. Hemicellulose, found in bran, can’t be dissolved in water and it’s not gel-forming (viscous) but it is fermentable. Psyllium, in Metamucil, is water soluble, gel-forming and less fermentable than other fibers. There’s also another class, known as “functional fiber”: industrially processed but natural fibers (such as inulin or fructan) and synthetic fibers (such as polycarbophil), all of which can be added to foods and supplements.

Understanding this variety is relevant to our health because different fibers have different health effects on our gastrointestinal tract, said William Chey, a professor of gastroenterology and nutrition at the University of Michigan. Gel-forming fibers like psyllium, for example, hold on to water. So if your stool is hard, they can help soften it, Chey said. “If your stool is too loose, the water-absorbing capacity can add form.”

Fermentability is also important, he explained, because it reflects whether the gut microbiome views fiber as a food source or not.
Fermentable fibers can exacerbate gas and bloating, so people who experience those symptoms might want to adjust their intake. Researchers have demonstrated that a low FODMAP diet — which limits fermentable foods, including fibers such as fructan — can alleviate irritable bowel syndrome.

“Most doctors and people think all fiber is created equal,” Chey added. “But different types of fiber have different properties in the gut, especially as it pertains to the microbiome.”    

Most humans have evolved to eat lots of fiber

The second thing to know about fiber is that humans evolved to eat it — a lot of it. Long before we learned to cook, domesticate animals, and put McDonald’s on every corner, our evolutionary cousins — such as chimps and bonobos — followed frugivore diets, subsisting mainly on fiber-heavy fruits, roots, shoots, nuts, and seeds. There’s also ample evidence that early humans went to great lengths to eat fiber-rich carbohydrates, such as oats and acorns.

Today, studies of Tanzania’s Hadza people, one of the few remaining hunter-gatherer groups on the planet, are a useful model for understanding just how much fiber early humans probably ate. Tribe members consume 100 to 150 fiber grams per day — enough to fill some 50 bowls of Cheerios, and 10 times what Americans take in, as NPR reported. Their daily diet is rich in roughage — tubers, berries, baobab fruits — and the Hadza people don’t eat any ultra-processed foods.

Researchers who study the health effects of fiber, including Jens Walter at the University of Alberta, say the Hadza’s enthusiasm for roughage should remind us of how much the human diet has shifted away from fiber.

“It’s really just within the last 5,000 years, and definitely within the last 100 years, that we basically took all the fiber away,” he said. “The average amount of fiber consumed by now is a small fraction to what we evolved with.” (Caveat: There are human communities — like the Inuit in Greenland — who’ve adapted to survive on meat-heavy diets without many plants, but they’re outliers.)

This change isn’t just attributable to the advent of fiber-free processed and fast foods in advanced economies. More than 10,000 years ago, before agriculture and selective plant breeding, early fruits and vegetables were almost unrecognizable by today’s standards.

Generation after generation of farmers have since bred them to be bigger and tastier — in many cases increasing their sugar content and stripping them of fiber. Milling, meanwhile, cleared the whole-grain fractions out of our bread and bakery products, which were a major fiber source, Walter said. And meat replaced fibrous beans and lentils as the main source of protein in many parts of the world. Researchers are now documenting the health impacts of that change.
Why fiber is good for our gut

Because our intestines can’t directly digest fiber, we’ve long seen fiber as beneficial for relieving constipation by adding bulk to stool and promoting regular bowel movements.

Another commonly touted fiber benefit: It can help us feel full, so we eat less and maybe even lose weight. (There’s some debate about fiber’s effect on satiety and appetite. The most recent systematic reviews of the research suggest fiber’s impact here is surprisingly modest, though others note that many studies have focused on supplements instead of whole foods, which are probably more satiating.)

Still, all this “was before people [realized] how much the non-digestible things we eat impact our gut bacteria,” said University of Michigan microbiologist Eric Martens.

Researchers now consider fiber’s role in nourishing our gut microbiome — the ecosystem of microbes in our intestines — to be one of its main health benefits. They don’t yet fully understand why fiber is so good for our gut, but they have some ideas.

Fermentable fibers — which include all soluble fibers and some insoluble fibers — are metabolized or fermented by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. That process produces chemicals, including short-chain fatty acids, which are important food sources for our gut bacteria.

They also carry health benefits, Martens said. Short-chain fatty acids have been shown to promote insulin production, so we can better manage the spikes of sugar (or glucose) in our blood, for example, helping to manage type 2 diabetes. In addition, they seem to have anti-inflammatory properties.

“When we don’t consume enough fiber, we are essentially starving our gut microbiome,” said Alberta’s Jens Walter, “which is likely detrimental for a variety of reasons. We also probably lose [microbiome] diversity.”

Andrew Gewirtz of Georgia State University was among the researchers who noticed that mice develop metabolic syndrome — obesity and its associated disorders, such as diabetes and high cholesterol — when they are fed a high-fat diet. But when fiber was added to the high-fat diet, most of that metabolic syndrome went away.

“We realized the fiber is very important for our metabolic parameters,” Gewirtz told Vox. So he decided to compare the microbiomes of mice on a fiber-enriched high-fat diet with mice on a low-fiber high-fat diet, to figure out what they might reveal about why extra fiber seemed to offset the health harms of dietary fat. And he found the two sets of mice wound up having really different microbiomes: Rodents on the low-fiber diet had a marked reduction in the total numbers of bacteria in their gut and a less diverse microbiome compared to the mice on the high-fiber diet.

That lack of diversity might have negative health effects — one of them to do with the mucus layer in the gut. Mucus acts as a protective barrier between us and the outside world. It’s constantly being replenished by secretions from the cells that make up our intestines, and it’s covered with a layer of bacteria, part of our microbiome. Fiber feeds the bacteria on top of the mucus layer as it passes through, helping to keep our microbiomes robust, Gewirtz said.

Another fiber study — again in mice — showed what happens when the bacteria in the digestive tract don’t get any fiber. Researchers, including Martens, found the bacteria begin to eat away at the mucus layer, bringing them into closer contact with the intestinal tissue.

“The hypothesis is if we stop feeding the microbiome [fiber], the bacteria will resort more frequently to digesting that mucus barrier as a source of nutrients.”

If bacteria eating up the mucus layer sounds bad, well, it is. The mucus layer keeps pathogens out, and the researchers were able to show that if they introduced a pathogen in the context of a low-fiber diet, it had an easier time getting into the intestine and causing an infection. “The lack of a mucus barrier made the disease get much worse much quicker,” Martens added. “It may irritate the [intestinal] tissue or provoke immune responses,” leaving the mice more vulnerable to disease.

While it’s not yet clear how or whether these findings will translate to people, researchers know that altering the fiber in one’s diet creates changes in the human microbiome.

And for now, this science shows us that we should start thinking about fiber differently, Gewirtz said. The exclusive focus on fiber’s constipation-fighting properties misses the big picture: “It’s just one thing that fiber does” and maybe not as important as fiber’s impact on our microbiome.
Christina Animashaun/Vox

Only five percent of Americans meet the recommended fiber target — and that means most miss out on fiber’s benefits. So how can you eat more fiber? Every researcher I spoke to suggested aiming to get a diversity of fiber from a varied menu of whole foods, instead of relying only on supplements or fiber-enriched processed foods, especially the sugary bars and brownies now being marketed as fiber-delivery tools.

To do that, consider snacking on whole fruits, replacing white bread with whole-grain alternatives, eating potatoes with the skins on, and tossing berries, nuts, and seeds on your yogurt, cereals, or salads, Hannah Holscher, an assistant professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois, suggested. “Lots of small changes can add up.”

If you like smoothies, throw your fruits, veggies, and nuts in a blender. Contrary to the hype about smoothies degrading fiber, some of the researchers I spoke to actually encouraged this approach. “Even baking does not destroy most fibers,” Walter said.

“[The] natural sources are probably better for both your digestive health and your microbiome. They’re more diverse from the chemical level,” Martens added. “If you can get 25 to 30 grams per day from beans, nuts, vegetables and fruits, and whole grains — that’s a good place to start.”
What a fiber-rich dinner looks like. Andrew Reynolds

Andrew Reynolds, a diabetes and obesity researcher at New Zealand’s University of Otago (and the lead author on that recent Lancet review of fiber’s benefits), laid out what meeting one’s fiber target might look like in a meal plan. He tracked what he ate on a recent day.

    Two slices chunky wholegrain toast with apricot jam: 5 grams fiber
    Two cups of black coffee: 0 fiber
    1 small apple: 2 grams fiber

    Red beans and brown rice with salsa verde and hot sauce: 7 grams fiber
    Large handful of unsalted peanuts: 2 grams fiber
    2 cups tea with low fat milk: 0 fiber
    1 carrot, raw: 2 grams fiber
    2 small prunes:  1.5 grams fiber
    Two cups of black coffee: 0 fiber

    1 wholemeal Turkish pide bread: 2.5 grams fiber
    2 cups of kale and white bean salad with tahini dressing: 8 grams fiber
    1/3 eggplant with yoghurt dressing and pomegranate: 2 grams fiber
    1 cob of corn: 2 grams fiber
    2 lamb meatballs in 1 cup fennel/tomato sauce: 4 grams fiber
    1 glass white wine: 0 fiber

Reynolds consumed 38 grams of fiber, the recommended target for adult men. But he also advised that people shouldn’t obsess about meeting fiber targets. “Any increase in fiber is good for you, especially for those on a low-fiber diet.”

For many Americans, upping the fiber intake may be easier said than done. The reasons people aren’t eating fiber look a like like the reasons they’re not following a healthy diet generally. “[It’s] a perceived lack of time to prepare meals at home, eating out more, [a lack of] knowledge about how to prepare different high-fiber foods … in a way that tastes good,” Holscher explained.

Some high-fiber foods — like fresh produce and nuts — also cost more than lower-fiber alternatives, such as sweets or soda. And even though grains, beans and lentils come cheap, they’re not always convenient to prepare. So maybe the solution to the fiber gap is making fiber cool, and as cheap and easy to eat as hamburger.

Smiling is good for you!

by Nick Soloway
Neuroscience Says Doing This 1 Thing Makes You Just as Happy as Eating 2,000 Chocolate Bars
It also gives you the same neurological boost as receiving $25,000.

                                                      Melanie Curtin,

Wanting to be happier is a universal trait. It’s rare to find a person whose reply to, “How would you like to feel today?” is, “Morose, please.”

The scientific study of happiness (aka positive psychology) has mushroomed over the last two decades. Major research institutions have taken on substantial and often thought-provoking forays into the joy of joy, with surprising and often enlightening results.

One such study took place in the UK, where researchers used electromagnetic brain scans and heart-rate monitors to generate what they called “mood-boosting values” for different stimuli. In other words, they had participants do, look at, or listen to different things, and measured how happy it made them.

One thing trumped all else. It emerged as giving participants the equivalent level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars. It was just as stimulating as receiving up to $25,000. What was this magic stimulus?

A smile.

Smiling, as it turns out, has truly remarkable effects. First, doing it actually makes you feel good even if you’re not feeling good in the moment. A 2009 fMRI study out of Echnische Universität in Munich demonstrated conclusively that the brain’s happiness circuitry is activated when you smile (regardless of your current mood). If you’re down, smiling actually prompts your brain to produce feel-good hormones, giving credence to the adage, “fake it til you make it” when it comes to your state of mind.

Smiling is also a predictor of longevity. In a 2010 out of Wayne State University, researchers looked at Major League baseball card photos from 1952. They found that the span of a player’s smile actually predicted his lifespan — unsmiling players lived 72.9 years on average, while beaming players lived a full seven years longer.

Similarly, a 30-year longitudinal study out of UC Berkeley examined the smiles of students in an old yearbook, with almost spooky results. The width of students’ smiles turned out to be accurate predictors of how high their standardized tests of well-being and general happiness would be, how inspiring others would find them, even how fulfilling their marriages would end up. Those with the biggest smiles came up on top in all the rankings.

Finally, research demonstrates that when we smile, we look better to others. Not only are we perceived as more likable and courteous, but those who benefit from our sunny grins actually see us as more competent (something to keep in mind while giving presentations or interacting in the office).

Want to know where you stack up when it comes to smiling? Know this: under 14% of us smile fewer than 5 times a day (you probably don’t want to be in that group). Over 30% of us smile over 20 times a day. And there’s one population that absolutely dominates in the smile game, clocking in at as many as 400 smiles a day: children.

So there you have it: smiling makes you feel good, makes you look good, and gets you a better marriage in the end.

Seems like something to smile about.

Some Solutions to your Stress

Is it possible that you are feeling more stressed these days?

I want to remind you of some of the resources that I have posted in the past and some newer ones.  More than likely you have the time to explore these resources and use them to help your mental health.  Calming your mind and clearing your negative emotions is much more important than brushing your teeth!  Stress reduction should be done several times a days for good health!  So many people neglect the importantance of daily mental hygiene.  Today is a good time to start!

First there is Stress Busters…an article that I wrote several years ago.

 It gives an introduction to EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) also known as Tapping. Reflexercise, a body positioning technique that quickly relaxes both the mind and body, Trauma Releasing Exercises which dispel stressors and Heart Math heart coherence technique

The following site has a wealth of information about EFT

EcoMeditation is a guided 22 minute meditation that has impressive clinical results

EcoMeditation produced extraordinarily high levels of Gamma Synchrony. In two days, many participants acquired elevated brain states normally found only after years of meditation practice. EcoMeditation facilitated participants’ ability to induce and sustain the alpha brain waves characteristic of high-level emotional, mental, and spiritual integration. … participants were able to carry elevated mental states into waking consciousness.

That last sentence is important. You don’t just experience elevated emotional states during your meditation practice. When you open your eyes and go about your day, you carry them with you.

Studies are now measuring the precise effects of EcoMeditation. Dr. Dawson Church and colleagues  assessed 208 participants at a one-day retreat. In just 6 hours, their anxiety decreased by 23% and their pain by 19%. Their happiness increased 9%. When we followed up with them 6 months later, we found that they’d maintained their gains in anxiety and depression over time, and were even happier (Church et al., 2019).

In another study, after an EcoMeditation weekend, the baseline cortisol levels of the 34 participants dropped by 29%. Their immune markers rose by 27%. Their resting heart rate, a measure of overall health, improved by 5%, while their pain levels decreased by 43% (Groesbeck et al., 2017).

Read more and access the free Eco Meditation  download here.
(I like the version with music.  There are several long pauses in the script which I thought the playback had stopped.  With the music version you know that it is still playing)

Do you want to work with a certified EFT practitioner to help you through any difficult time?

April 4-5, 2020 – 48 Hour Immunity Retreat – LIVE and Virtual!

Please join Dawson Church, PhD for this extraordinary immune-boosting event!
Three years ago at a weekend long retreat at the Esalen Institute we found that EcoMeditation was associated with a rise in immunoglobulin levels of 27%! That’s a big increase in your body’s ability to fight off invading viruses!
 Learn more here:

Here is a very good article on using Lavender and its use in anxiety and depression both as aromatherapy and orally. The oral form is Lavela WS 1265 60 softgels and can be purchased through Emerson Ecologics. See the top of the page on how to order.

Possible Natural Anti-Viral Agents

The following substances may be helpful in flu-like cases.



Lactoferrin 300-500 mg 2-3 times daily

Resveratrol 250 mg 3 times daily

Green tea extracts that contain ECGC

Red Marine Algae that has griffithsin

Chinese Skullcap



You can find everything at Emerson Ecologics. And contact me if you have questions.

It is very important to have adequate Vitamin D levels. A study showed the benefit in people with low Vitamin D levels… Winter is a time of year when many people can have marginal levels of Vitamin D in their body.

See my previous posts about treating the flu. My personal favorite is Yin Qiao and/or Ilex 15. Click the Flu link below.



by Nick Soloway

Jet Lag Syndrome: Using Horary Points to Relieve the Symptoms of Jet Lag
By Jeffrey Benton and Paul MacKenzie

The great explorers, DeGama, Magellan and Captain Cook, voyaged many thousands of miles and endured hardships unimaginable to modern travelers. About the only discomfort they did not experience was the kind of daze modern jet travelers feel as they zoom across the sky and time zones at near mach one speeds.

Jet lag syndrome is the term given to a number of symptoms that we experience under these conditions.
The debilitating effects of jet lag may include extreme fatigue, nausea, headache, reduced memory, attention lapse and overall disturbed sleep patterns.
The Circadian Cycle
The body has many rhythms that govern our lives. Babies are most often born late at night; heart attacks peak at 10 a.m. Almost every aspect of our lives is timed. We have many internal biological “clocks.” Those that pertain to a 24-hour period are referred to as circadian cycles (the Latin circa, meaning about, and dies, meaning day). The most familiar of these cycles is the sleep/awake cycle.
Jet lag occurs when our body’s natural daily (circadian) rhythm becomes disoriented. Until the body readjusts to the new time zone, many people experience jet lag syndrome. Laboratory tests cite suggestive evidence that cells “keep time,” showing regular cyclic activity even when they’re isolated in lab cultures and cut off from outside stimuli. Scientists have been studying cells to locate the mainspring mechanism responsible for this clockwork precision.
Light and darkness (our diurnal cycle) trigger the sleep/awake cycle. Our bodies are accustomed to night descending at a certain time each day. Scientists and doctors know that the rate of secretion of many hormones is linked to a 24-hour cycle. In fact, the hormone melatonin is produced while we sleep and fades at daylight; bright light turns off the hormone. Melatonin is secreted from the pineal gland, which is the timekeeper of the brain, and helps govern the sleep-wake cycle. Jet lag occurs when the circadian rhythm uncouples with the diurnal rhythm.
Chinese medicine has long studied the body’s rhythms. The development of acupuncture is based on these acute observations. Chinese medicine noted the body’s different energy centers.
During a 24-hour period, certain energy centers are at a high point, while others are at a low point. Imagine you are riding a Ferris wheel. At certain times you are at the top; at other times you are at the bottom. The body has an energetic cycle. In relation to our body, the Ferris wheel represents the body’s meridian system. Throughout the diurnal cycle, certain areas of the meridian system are going to be at the high point of the wheel, while other parts (meridians) will be at the low point. Of course, the body’s “Ferris wheel” turns slowly. It takes 24 hours for it to complete one full turn.

The body has 12 different meridians. The end of one of these is connected to the beginning of the next, so they are all connected and form a closed loop like the Ferris wheel. In 24 hours, you will spend two hours in each of the 12 meridians and end up where you started.
When the chi (life force energy) is in a certain meridian, say the lung meridian, we say that it is at its energetic peak. This two-hour peak is the “horary period.” Twelve hours later, that meridian will be at its lowest energy level. One 24-hour cycle around the body’s Ferris wheel is called a “horary cycle.” In the West, we call this cycle our biological clock, diurnal, or circadian cycle.
The 12 different meridians are named after organs (liver, lung, etc.) with the exception of two, which are named triple heater and circulation sex. The ancient Chinese calculated which was at its peak during the 24-hour period. If we start at 3:00 a.m., the lung meridian is at its horary period for two hours. Two hours later, the large intestine meridian takes over as the most energized, and holds that position for another two hours. Others follow suit and continue around the circuit. The last in the cycle is the liver meridian, which is at its energetic zenith from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Then the cycle begins again. This horary period is in relation to the position of the sun.
The biological clock must either speed up (when we move from east to west) or back up (when we move from west to east). Individuals who have high energy levels in their meridian system experience minimal symptoms when flying long journeys. Other individuals are not as fortunate. The best treatment for individuals suffering from jet lag is to balance the meridian system. Stimulating (massaging) specific horary points on the body allows the energy to transfer from one meridian to another, thus helping the biological clock update itself in mid-flight.
Note: Special thanks and acknowledgement for the research of John Amaro,DC,LAc, Alan Beardall,DC, and Victor Frank, DC.

“Time Travel”: Contemporary Applications for Jet Lag from Ancient Principles!
By John Amaro, LAc, DC, Dipl. Ac.(NCCAOM), Dipl.Med.Ac.(IAMA)

The world has become increasingly smaller with the advent of jet aircraft travel, allowing the average person to experience the joy of visiting faraway places previously unavailable to them with comfort and ease.
However, jet travel has also brought misery to countless individuals being made miserable by the experience. I am referring, of course, to jet lag.
Jet aircraft flight traversing international time zones at speeds approaching mach one (speed of sound) may produce a variety of symptoms in 96% of flyers, according to a 1994 New Zealand study. The symptoms of jet lag include fatigue; disorientation; insomnia; nausea; irrational behavior and mental confusion to edema; headache; and anorexia. These symptoms may last from 1-10 days depending on the person. As a result, many vacations, political and business dealings have been dealt serious blows because of the symptoms of jet lag.
Most authorities agree that flights with destinations to the east of the point of embarkation produce more severe symptoms than flights heading to the west. Jet lag does not occur when flying north to south or vice versa; it only occurs when crossing time zones. Children age five and below do not appear to be as affected as adults.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) estimates that disturbance to the normal circadian rhythm of the adult body takes approximately one day of recovery per time zone crossed to return to normal, healthy pre-flight functioning.
As early as 1975, I developed an interest in jet lag while practicing in Kansas City, which was then the home base of TWA airlines. Because of my close proximity to so many people employed by the airline, I had access to (and treated) scores of international pilots, flight attendants, and of course, corporate executives who frequently flew back and forth to Europe on business trips. Having begun my practice of acupuncture in 1971, I had observed the phenomena of jet lag in numerous patients who constantly inquired about what to do, and had attempted several treatment approaches to ease the symptoms through acupuncture for four years. Having discussions on this topic during a certification program in Denver, a group of acupuncture students and I discovered a treatment approach that has since become internationally known and accepted.
Jet lag is a contemporary disorder. It obviously never existed until the utilization of jet aircraft; therefore, a treatment approach does not occur anywhere in Asian medicine literature or in practical treatment approaches passed on from master to student. It was apparent that if a benefit to jet lag was going to occur through acupuncture, it would have to be an entirely new approach. The thought alone was exciting.
Since most discoveries of significance come by accident, I cannot say anything different about this one. Even though I was given recognition as the first to formulate the concepts of acupuncture jet lag, the credit must be shared with that group of 25 or so MD/DC acupuncturists who helped formulate the theory. Since that was approaching 25 years ago, and since many acupuncturists practicing today were children (or not even born), unfortunately, those who were in on the early discussions of jet lag reversal are nameless. However, as one who has always stepped to the side for those masters and scholars, I believe the real credit still goes to our ancestral colleagues who first discovered the “horary cycle” of meridian flow.
Borrowing the knowledge of the general circulation of chi, and being aware that each meridian undergoes a two-hour time peak that moves and peaks from meridian to meridian as it travels though its general circulation, it was reasoned that if one were to reset the body clock utilizing the horary cycle, the body in theory could be made to function at the horary cycle of wherever the person is physically located on the planet, disregarding the effects of so-called “time travel.” The best part of the theory is that it worked!

Figure I: The horary (circadian) cycle/general circulation of chi.

Having been a frequent traveler to Asia, Australia and Europe on numerous occasions, in addition to escorting as many as 66 doctors and spouses on 12 separate acupuncture study tours, I was able to experience first-hand the effects of the acupuncture jet lag formula. I was also able to observe personally those traveling companions that were given “sham” treatment as to their effects, or lack of it, as the case may be.
In virtually every instance in which the subjects were advised to stimulate the proper points based on the theoretical concept, they reported (and it was observed) that jet lag literally did not occur. They felt they were connected to the time zone of their newly arrived destination, as opposed to the time of their departure location. On the other hand, the subjects who were sacrificed and given sham treatment all suffered the effects of jet lag; in some cases, the effects were classified as severe. Hundreds of experiments were conducted over 12 years, with a rate averaging 96% perceived success in time zone flights over five hours between point of departure to destination.
When I first published the concept of beating jet lag in 1987, the procedure explained was much more complex than the one I am about to offer here; however, even though it was very effective, the revised approach is much more user-friendly (if not more effective).
For obvious reasons, there are certain common-sense things to consider in international time zone travel, the most important being proper and frequent hydration by drinking sufficient amounts of water. It is also important to hydrate the skin with water from a spray bottle. It is highly advised to completely eliminate coffee, tea, alcohol and juice in trade for water. This should be common sense; however, in observing fellow passengers, I find very few people are aware of hydration.
Jet lag is not restricted to long transoceanic flights. It can occur as easily in the three-hour time zone difference from coast to coast across North America. Therefore, the treatment described here is effective for jet lag, despite the length of the trip.
Once people finally arrive at their international destination, it is usual to reset their wristwatch to correspond to the time of day of their arrival. The problem of course is that a flyer’s body clock is totally different than the time of day of their landing, thus producing the myriad of symptoms associated with jet lag. When it is 12:00 noon Friday in Los Angeles, it is 4:00 am Saturday in Shanghai. What one simply does to eliminate jet lag is reset the body clock while flying across international time zones, allowing one’s horary cycle to be the same as the local time upon landing.

Figure II:

Time zone chart.

To accomplish altering the horary cycle to match local time, simply determine the time of day of your destination point upon boarding the aircraft. For example, if you are flying from Chicago to Munich, Germany on the 7:00 pm Monday flight, it is 2:00 am Tuesday in Munich. If, on the other hand, you are departing from New York at 10:00 am to fly to Honolulu, it is 4:00 am in Hawaii. Since each two-hour time zone on the horary cycle is attributed to a specific meridian, the jet lag formula begins by stimulating the horary point of the meridian which is active at the time of your destination. In other words, if you are boarding the 7:00 pm flight from Los Angeles en route to Tokyo, it is 12:00 noon in Tokyo the next day. Even though the horary cycle at your present location corresponds to the pericardium meridian beginning at 7:00 pm, it is 12:00 noon in Tokyo (your destination), which corresponds to the heart meridian. Thus, one stimulates the horary point for the Heart meridian (HT 8).
This same formula is repeated every two hours of flight as the flyer moves through time zones. Therefore, two hours later (9:00 pm on your wristwatch), it is 2:00 pm in Tokyo, which corresponds to the small intestine meridian. Stimulation would therefore be SI 5, the horary point for the SI meridian. Two hours later, it would be 4:00 pm in Tokyo corresponding to the bladder meridian and stimulation of BL66.

Figure III: Horary point chart. (See below)The rest of the formula simply follows the general circulation of chi around the cycle, stimulating the horary point for the meridian associated with the present time of day at your destination (Tokyo). Therefore, to continue the example, BL would be followed by KI, P, TH, GB, Liv, LU, LI, ST, SP and
In my experience, the best approach to jet lag is to treat the horary points for the entire 24 hour cycle ending where one began. In this example, treatment ends at the Heart meridian. Should you sleep through several horary zones, simply pick up upon your awakening. Remember that you must always stimulate the horary point for whatever time it is at your destination.
Upon arrival at your destination city, regardless of if you flew east to west or west to east, your body, mind and spirit will be operating on the time zone of your destination.
Stimulation may be achieved by any means of acupuncture. Needles are generally inserted .05 tsun with moderate stimulation. Needle retention of five to seven minutes is adequate. Treat bilaterally. Electronic and laser stimulation are acceptable alternatives to needles and produce startling results.
My personal favorite mode of stimulation is noninvasive: teishein (using a tool to stimulate the points). It is quick, effective, painless and easy to use. It is recommended to stimulate the point 25-30 times in short blasts of five strokes. The nonacupuncturist patient may have this procedure simply and easily explained, be given a copy of the attached charts and be advised to stimulate the points with something as easily available as a ballpoint pen. Finger pressure works as well. Treat until the point is significantly less tender. In this formula approach, the method of stimulation is of secondary importance to the application of the precise point.
On your return trip, employ the exact same rules: determine the time at your destination and begin stimulating the horary points according to the general circulation of chi. I once flew from Phoenix, Arizona to Melbourne, Australia to conduct a two-day, 16-hour lecture. The travel time was 24 hours each way, including auto travel, airport layover, etc. The whole experience lasted four days from time of departure to return, with no effect of jet lag in either direction. I arrived back in Phoenix at 10:00 pm and conducted office hours at 8:00 am the following morning.
This same approach can be effective in infants who have suddenly switched their days and nights, and in workers who frequently do swing shifts. In this case, have the patient stimulate the horary point for the time of day corresponding to the general circulation of chi. Stimulate the respective points every two hours moving through the cycle.
Best wishes on your future international travels. Remember: If you are going to take that “slow boat to China,” you won’t need this knowledge, but if you are going by air, you will find this to be one of the most significant things you will ever learn.

Sp3 Inside the foot just proximal to the “Bunion” bone at the junction of the red and white skin.

LIV 3 On the top of the foot, one and a half fingers proximal to the web between the first and second toe.

LU 8 On the forearm, in the depression between the radius and the radial artery, 1 finger above the transverse crease of the wrist.

ST 36 Three fingers below the knee and one finger lateral to the sharp edge of the shin bone.

KI 10 Inside of the knee between the two tendons just above the knee crease.

TH 6 Four finger widths towards the elbow from the back of the wrist crease, between the bones.

Bl 66 Anterior to the fifth metatarsophalangeal joint, at the junction of the red and white skin.

GB 41 In the depression distal to the junction of the 4th and 5th metatarsal bones, on the lateral side of the tendon of m. extensor digitorum longus (branch to little toe).

CX 8 When a fist is made, the point is where the tip of the middle finger touches, between the 2nd and 3rd metacarpal bones, closer to the 3rd metacarpal bone.

HT 8 When a fist is made, the point is where the tip of the little finger touches, between the 4th and 5th metacarpal bones.

LI 1 The thumb side of the index finger where a line drawn horizontal to the base of the nail & the side of the nail intersect.

SI 5 On the ulnar aspect of the wrist, in the depression just distal to the styloid process of the ulna.


by Nick Soloway

See the bottom of this article for two more concerning diet and health including one about breast cancer.

Natural Medicine Journal
Published on Natural Medicine Journal (

November 2019 Vol. 11 Issue 11

Skipping Breakfast Associated with Increased Cardiovascular Disease and Death

Results of a prospective cohort study

By Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO


Rong S, Snetselaar LG, Xu G, et al. Association of skipping breakfast with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. J Am Coll Cardiol [1]. 2019;73(16):2025-2032.
Study Objective

The authors examined the association of skipping breakfast with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

This is a prospective cohort study. Frequency of eating breakfast was compared to cardiovascular and all-cause mortality risk using weighted Cox proportional hazards regression models.

The study followed a cohort of 6,550 US adults, 40 to 75 years of age, who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III 1988 to 1994. Frequency of breakfast eating was recorded during an in-house interview. Death and underlying causes of death were ascertained by linkage to death records through December 31, 2011.
Key Findings

In following this cohort for 17 to 23 years, the researchers found that skipping breakfast was associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. Of the cohort, 59% consumed breakfast daily. The other 40% ate breakfast less frequently: 5% never ate breakfast, 11% rarely ate breakfast, and 25% ate only on some days. The study produced 112,148 person-years of follow up data, during which 2,318 deaths occurred, including 619 deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD).

After adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, dietary and lifestyle factors, body mass index, and cardiovascular risk factors, participants who never consumed breakfast compared with those who consumed breakfast everyday had hazard ratios of 1.87 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.14-3.04) for cardiovascular mortality and 1.19 (95% CI: 0.99-1.42) for all-cause mortality. The latter upward trend did not reach statistical significance.

After adjustment for age, sex, and race/ethnicity, participants who never consumed breakfast had a 75% higher risk of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.75; 95% CI: 1.46-2.10) and 2.58-fold higher risk of cardiovascular mortality (HR: 2.58; 95% CI: 1.64-4.06) compared with those who consumed breakfast every day. The associations of breakfast eating with heart disease–specific and stroke-specific mortality were examined further. Compared with those who consumed breakfast every day, participants who never consumed breakfast had a higher risk of heart disease–specific mortality (HR: 2.34; 95% CI: 1.44-3.80) and stroke-specific mortality (HR: 3.53; 95% CI: 1.40-8.95) in models adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity. In the fully-adjusted model, the association between skipping breakfast and stroke-specific mortality remained significant (HR: 3.39; 95% CI: 1.40-8.24).

Practice Implications

According to this study eating breakfast regularly reduces risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and probably stroke. Or, put another way, not eating breakfast raises risk significantly. We should foster in our patients the habit of eating breakfast.

Keep in mind that more people die of cardiovascular disease than any other cause—not just in the United States but worldwide. Even small decreases in risk have the potential of having large impacts on disease and suffering.

We often hear that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I had always assumed this was merely an advertising slogan invented by Kellogg’s to sell their breakfast cereals a century ago. Surveys tell us that almost a quarter of younger people skip breakfast daily. It looks as though this may have long-term detrimental effects on their health.

Accumulating evidence, while limited, suggests that skipping breakfast is associated with increased risk of overweight/obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease.

It’s not just about eating breakfast. Skipping breakfast may also signal other unhealthy dietary and lifestyle habits. Teenagers who skip breakfast tend to exhibit a list of other traits that may also put their health at risk (eg, eating more fast food, having more emotional problems). Asking patients if they eat breakfast is similar in a way to the old patient intakes in which we asked patients if they used seatbelts. A negative response may hint to a pattern of unhealthy lifestyle choices.

This is not the first study to suggest a negative association with skipped breakfasts. Cahill et al reported in 2013 that they had assessed the eating habits of 26,902 American men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. During a 16-year period, 1,527 cases of heart disease were diagnosed among these men. Men who skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) compared with men who did not (relative risk (RR): 1.27; 95% CI: 1.06-1.53). Furthermore, we should note that men who ate late at night had a 55% higher CHD risk compared with men who did not eat late at night (RR: 1.55; 95% CI: 1.05-2.29).9

Kubota et al reported results in a 2016 paper from a large group that included 82,772 participants (38,676 men and 44,096 women) in Japan. Those people who skipped breakfast had a 14% greater risk of CVD, an 18% increased risk of stroke, and a 36% greater risk of hemorrhagic stroke.10

The discussion now is not if skipping breakfast is bad by why. Several theories have been postulated. Skipping breakfast might lead to overeating later in the day and impaired insulin sensitivity. Eating breakfast helps regulate the appetite and improves the glycemic response at the next meal, increasing insulin sensitivity. Skipping breakfast is stressful, and the longer period of fasting leads to elevated blood pressure in the morning because of a hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal triggered response.

Eating breakfast on the other hand lowers blood pressure and reduces arterial stiffness. This is why measurements of these parameters are done in a fasting state. Skipping breakfast may also trigger unwanted changes in blood lipids, in particular increased LDL cholesterol.5

Whatever the reasons, data consistently shows skipping breakfast increases risk of cardiovascular disease. The advice to have breakfast may meet with resistance among those who fast overnight for their health.

Carol Marinac, in a 2016 paper noted the association of longer night-time fasting and lower risk of breast cancer recurrence. Specifically, the data showed that those who fasted more than 13 hours had less breast cancer recurrence. We covered this study [2] in 2016.

The problem with encouraging this type of fasting is that many people fulfill the 13-hour fasting suggestion by simply skipping breakfast. The resultant increase in CVD risk might outweigh any breast cancer risk reduction. We need an approach that will allow both a longer night-time fast and encourage eating breakfast, so the obvious solution would be to eat an earlier dinner. Such a meal pattern of eating an early dinner was encouraged by Kogevinas et al’s 2018 study. In those results, compared to participants who went to sleep immediately or shortly after supper, those who delayed going to sleep for 2 or more hours after supper had a 20% reduction in risk for breast and prostate cancer combined (adjusted odds ratio [OR]: 0.80; 95% CI: 0.67-0.96) and in each cancer individually (prostate cancer OR: 0.74; 95% CI: 0.55-0.99 and breast cancer OR: 0.84; 95% CI: 0.67-1.06).16 Read our coverage [3] of that study.

If we combine Kogevinas’s findings with Marianac’s, then we should encourage an early dinner (minimum of 2 hours before bedtime) and then breakfast 13 hours later. Once again, the research suggests that when we eat may deserve as much attention as what we eat.

About the Author

Jacob Schor ND, FABNO, is a graduate of National College of Naturopathic Medicine, Portland, Oregon, and recently retired from his practice in Denver, Colorado. He served as president to the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Physicians [6] and is on the board of directors of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians [7]. He is recognized as a fellow by the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology. He serves on the editorial board for the International Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor News and Review (NDNR), and Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. In 2008, he was awarded the Vis Award by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. His writing appears regularly in NDNR, the Townsend Letter, and Natural Medicine Journal, where he is the Abstracts & Commentary editor.


by Nick Soloway


Here’s What Actually Happens in Your Body When You Eat Protein
Besides help you make those #gains at the gym, of course.

While carbs and fat get alternately praised and punished, protein is basically the golden child among the macronutrients. That’s totally unfair to carbs and fat, first of all, but protein certainly does enough to earn its reliably good reputation. We know protein is a great thing to have, but why exactly do we need it, and what does our body even do with it? Here’s a rundown of what actually happens when you eat protein.
What protein actually is

Like we mentioned, protein is one of the three macronutrients (i.e. nutrients the body needs in sizable amounts). Unlike carbs and fat, protein is not usually a major energy source, although we definitely get some of that from it—protein provides 4 calories per gram. But protein is often referred to as a building block in the body because of its central role in growth and development.

Almost all animal-derived products—meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish—contain a significant amount of protein, so they get labeled as “proteins” when we’re talking about our diets and nutrition. But protein is also present in a lot of plant-based foods. There’s a good amount in beans, peas, nuts, and seeds, for instance, while vegetables and grains generally contain smaller amounts, according to the FDA. (Whole grains will have more protein than refined grains, though, which are missing the part of the grain that often supplies a lot of the protein content, as SELF previously reported.)

The different kinds of proteins

Proteins are made of small units called amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds containing structures made of elements including nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Hundreds or thousands of amino acids link up to form super long chains, and the sequence of that chain determines the protein’s unique function, the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains.

There are 20 different amino acids in total, which can be broken down into two main groups, per the FDA. Nine of the 20 are what are referred to as essential amino acids, meaning that the body is unable to produce them itself and so we must get them from food. The other 11 are nonessential because the body is able to synthesize them out of the essential amino acids or the normal process of breaking down proteins, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Many of these nonessential amino acids are also considered conditional amino acids, because they can become essential in rare, severe instances when the body is unable to synthesize amino acids properly, per the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Now, when a protein is a good source of all nine of the essential amino acids, we call it a complete protein, according to the FDA. All animal products are complete proteins, and so is soy. When a protein is missing or pretty low in any of those essential amino acids, it’s considered incomplete. Most plant foods are considered incomplete proteins.

The good news for vegetarians, vegans, and lovers of plant foods in general is that you can still easily get all the essential amino acids from eating a wide variety of incomplete proteins. As the FDA explains, incomplete proteins are often just lacking in one or two amino acids, so they can often make up for whatever the other one is lacking. (Pretty romantic, right?) For instance, grains are low in an amino acid called lysine, while beans and nuts are low in methionine. But when you eat, say, beans and rice or wheat toast with nut butter, you’re getting all the amino acids that you do when you eat, say, chicken. While people used to be encouraged to eat foods in combinations at meals, we now know this is not necessary, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, as long as you’re eating a variety of complementary incomplete proteins throughout the day.

Why we even need protein

That building block nomer is no exaggeration. The stuff is an integral component of every cell in the body, including, yes, your muscles. “If we don’t get enough protein, our bodies actually won’t be able to rebuild properly and we’ll start to lose muscle mass,” Colleen Tewksbury, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior research investigator and bariatric program manager at Penn Medicine and president-elect of the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF.

In addition to muscle growth, protein is essential to the growth and repair of virtually all cells and body tissues—from your skin, hair, and nails to your bones, organs, and bodily fluids, according to the FDA. That’s why it’s especially important to get enough of it during developmental periods like childhood and adolescence.

Protein also plays a role in crucial bodily functions like blood clotting, immune system response, vision, fluid balance, and the production of various enzymes and hormones, per the FDA. And because it contains calories, it can provide the body energy for storage or use. (But this definitely isn’t its main gig, which we’ll get into in a bit.)

What happens in your body when you eat protein

It’s not like we eat a piece of chicken and that protein goes directly to our biceps. Dietary protein gets broken down and reassembled into the various kinds of proteins that exist in the body. No matter what kind of protein you’re eating—plant or animal, complete or incomplete—the body’s first objective is to break it back down into all the different amino acid units it was assembled from, Tewksbury explains.

Breaking down protein requires more time and effort than carbs, but not as much as fat. It begins in the mouth, as proteins and especially animal proteins typically take more chewing than other kinds of foods, Tewksbury says. That mechanical process is the very first step of digestion.

Then, those pieces of protein move to the stomach to get mixed up with gastric juices containing acids and enzymes that help break down food. Next, that mixture gets passed on in steady increments to the small intestine, where more specialized enzymes and acids get injected (mainly by the pancreas) to help break that protein all the way down. Once you’ve got those little singular amino acids, they’re ready to get to work.
How the body uses protein

These amino acids get sent to the liver, where they’re shuffled around and reconfigured into any type of protein your body needs, Tewksbury explains. Your body is constantly regenerating and replacing cells and tissues, so there’s always a variety of proteins needed. For instance, some proteins in the body make up antibodies that help the immune system kick out bacteria and viruses. Others help with DNA synthesis, chemical reactions, or transporting other molecules, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences explains.

How much protein your body actually requires for the purpose of tissue growth and repair is determined by factors like sex, age, body composition, health, and activity level, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, but most of us are getting more than enough protein to fulfill these needs. The bummer is that once your tissues get all the amino acids that they need, they have no use for any extra.

So what happens to the rest, once our dietary protein intake exceeds what our tissues need? The body doesn’t have a protein holding tank like it does for carbs, where it can siphon away extras for quick access when we need it. “We have little to no way of being able to store protein [for future use] in our body,” Tewksbury explains. This is why you need to eat protein throughout the day, every day.

Since we can’t use excess protein for its intended purpose later on, the body breaks it down and stows it away in fat tissue, according to Merck Manuals. To do this, the liver removes the nitrogen from the amino acids and disposes of it through the urine, in the form of a waste product called urea, Linsenmeyer explains. What’s left behind is something called alpha keto-acids, which will most often then go through a chemical process that turns them into triglycerides to be stored in our fatty tissues, Linsenmeyer says. (This can technically be accessed at a later date when the body needs to tap into fat stores for energy.)

Alpha-keto acids can be converted into glucose and used for immediate fuel if necessary, when the body is in a fasting state or not getting enough calories coming in from other macronutrients, Linsenmeyer says. But this is not typical because the body prefers carbs as its primary source of energy, followed by dietary fat, which the body can adapt to use as fuel if it’s not getting enough carbs. “We can adapt to use protein for energy as well, but it’s not ideal,” Linsenmeyer says. “Ideally, [our bodies] want to leave it alone to build and maintain body tissues.”

Now, what we just walked you through is still oversimplifying the reality of what happens when we eat protein (or any food). Digestion and metabolism are complex processes happening constantly on a cellular level. But even just grasping the broad strokes can make you really appreciate what your body actually does with the protein you eat.

Lost Senses

by Nick Soloway



Here is an article about a woman’s journey after losing her sense of smell.

Here is a site to help you hopefully regain your sense of smell


Here is an article about low levels of a hormone Aldosterone can cause reduced hearing acuity.

I posted about Aldosterone previously on my web site. Just do a search