Lower Blood Pressure

The Surprisingly Simple Exercise That Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
This isometric exercise is found to lower blood pressure even better than some cardio workouts.
The Washington Post  https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2024/01/30/wall-sit-isometric-lower-blood-pressure/

  • Kelyn Soong

The wall sit, a simple bodyweight exercise that can be done virtually anywhere, isn’t just for building strength. It can help your cardiovascular health, too.
recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that isometric exercises, like wall sits (also known as wall squats), can help reduce blood pressure even more effectively than other forms of exercise, including aerobic activity, weight training or high-intensity interval workouts.
The research is good news for people who struggle to meet physical activity guidelines that recommend at least 150 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling. The new analysis found that about eight minutes of isometric exercise, three times a week, can lead to a meaningful reduction in blood pressure.
This means holding a wall sit for two minutes and resting for two minutes. Repeat for a total of four wall sits with breaks in between. A single session, including rest, will take only 14 minutes.
On average, a regular isometric routine of wall sits lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 10 mmHg and diastolic pressure by 5 mmHg, according to the research.
The study’s authors say the findings support development of new exercise guidelines that go beyond recommending aerobic exercise for the prevention and treatment of hypertension.
“Our main message is that actually engaging in exercise is fantastic and any exercise might reduce your blood pressure,” said Jamie O’Driscoll, the senior author of the study. “But if you’re an individual who is currently exercising to the guidelines and you’re still having a bit of difficulty reducing that blood pressure and you want to avoid going on medication, perhaps isometrics is an additional mode to complement the exercise you’re already doing.”
Benefits of isometric exercises
An isometric exercise refers to a static contraction in which the length of the muscle does not change, said Jamie Edwards, the first author of the study and a PhD researcher at Canterbury Christ Church University.
“Any kind of an exercise that is holding tension in any position which doesn’t involve dynamic movement is generally isometric exercise,” he said.
The research reviewed 270 randomized controlled trials that collectively studied 15,827 participants. The researchers looked at the blood pressure effects of three isometric exercises: squeezing a handgrip dynamometer, extending your legs against a fixed resistance and squatting with your back flat against the wall. (While planks are a popular example of isometric exercises, they were not included in the study.)
The researchers found that, overall, isometric exercise training was the most effective exercise for lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
“From a clinician standpoint, these are very promising findings,” said Laura Richardson, a registered clinical exercise physiologist at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the study. “Being able to use isometric exercise as a therapeutic tool for those with hypertension is wonderful. I really think it’s a great way to get more individuals involved in being active.”
Isometric exercises effectively lower blood pressure because contracting a muscle and holding the position temporarily reduces blood flow to that muscle, O’Driscoll said. When you release that contraction, blood flow through the muscle tissue increases. This produces important signals that prompt blood vessels to relax more and creates less resistance to blood flow, which ultimately reduces blood pressure, O’Driscoll said.
How to do a wall sit
To do a wall sit, find a wall that you can lean against. Take a couple of steps forward. Keep your feet hip width apart and slide your back down the wall until your knees are at about a 90-degree angle, as if you’re sitting in a chair, Richardson said.
The lower you squat, the more intense the workout. Be careful of how much you bend your knees in the beginning. Work your way down to 90 degrees. If you can’t get there, Richardson recommends sliding down based on your knee flexibility and holding steady until you feel lower-body muscle fatigue.
Isometric exercises like wall sits engage a lot of muscles, help build strength and are helpful for improving balance and range of motion, Richardson said.
“Primarily, you’re going to be using a lot of your leg muscles: your quadriceps, your glutes, your calves,” said Richardson, who is also a clinical associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology. “If your back is flat against the wall, it’s going to help engage the abdominal muscles.”

Why staring at screens is making your eyeballs elongate – and how to stop it

by Nick Soloway

How much extra time on screen have you had in the past 18 months? It may be causing nearsightedness – but there’s hope for reversing it


Adam Popescu

How close is the smartphone or laptop you’re reading this on from your eyes? Probably just a few inches. How long have you spent looking at a screen today? If you’re close to the average it’s likely to be over nine hours.

New research from ophthalmologists shows that our constant screen time is radically changing our eyes. Just like the rest of our bodies, the human eye is supposed to stop growing after our teens. Now it keeps growing.

When our eyes spend more time focusing on near objects, like phones, screens or even paperbacks, it makes our eyeballs elongate, which prevents the eye from bending light the way it should. This elongation increases nearsightedness, called myopia, which causes distant objects to appear blurred. Myopia affects half of young adults in the US, twice as many as 50 years ago and over 40% of the population.

When many of us began working from home, researchers predicted this dramatic online increase would cause never-before-seen eye dysfunction. They were right

For adults this might cause eye strains or speed up existing vision issues. But for kids, whose eyes are still developing, the situation is so dire that the American Academy of Optometry and American Academy of Ophthalmology both consider myopia an epidemic.

Working for prolonged periods, whether texting, reading or jotting emails is what optometrists call “near work”. The trouble with holding a screen close to your face isn’t about light shining into your eyes, it’s about the strain of the eye. For one, your eyes blink far less when they’re focused so closely. As you’re holding your phone in your hand, performing near work, your muscles stretch and your lenses shift since our eyes over-accommodate to constant close-distance tasks. That’s why they’re growing.

When you put on a pair of glasses, your eye muscles relax because they’re no longer straining. Ditto if you put down your phone – sans glasses – blink a couple times and stare off into the distance for 20 seconds.

Does this affect you? Probably. How much extra time on screen have you had in the past 18 months? How much work have you been doing from home? Pre-pandemic, our phones were already constant companions. When many of us began working from home and e-learning last year, researchers predicted this dramatic online increase would cause never-before-seen eye dysfunction. They were right.

Last spring, Chinese researchers tested over 120,000 Covid-quarantined students aged six to eight and found myopia and other vision issues linked to home confinement increased up to three times compared with the previous five years – that’s with as little as 2.5 more hours of e-learning (not counting video games, social media, etc). Results for US students could be much higher since many American kids spend most of their days online. “Virtual learning has definitely increased myopia,” says Dr Luxme Hariharan, of the Nicklaus children’s hospital in Miami, Florida, who points anecdotally to a huge shift in cases in the last year. “Prolonged near work [like looking at screens up close] makes our eyes overcompensate.”

“We can clinically measure the millimeter lengthening of the eyeball,” explains Dr Eric Chow, a Miami, Florida optometrist. “Studies have shown that the longer the axial length, the higher the risk of eye diseases like glaucoma, retinal detachment and cataracts.”

Straining vision introduces a host of eye-related health problems. And it’s more than just kids needing prescriptions. “People say ‘oh, it’s just glasses,’” says Dr Aaron Miller, a pediatric ophthalmologist at Houston Eye Associates. “The nearsighted have much higher chances of retina tears and glaucoma, bigger issues secondary to nearsightedness. It’s the long game we worry about.”

He adds: “The shape of the eye is round like a basketball,” he explains. “When an eye becomes nearsighted, myopic, the eye is longer, like a grape or olive. The retina – the coating – can get stretched and thinned. As we age, sometimes there can be breaks in the retina. Like cracks in wallpaper. When that occurs, these cracks cause fluid to enter in behind the wallpaper, that’s what we call retinal detachment which causes a lot of people to go blind.”

This isn’t just a western problem. There is a genetic component here, but it’s clear that behavior accelerates the change. Poor eyes can lead to decreased work efficiency and huge loss of productivity – think money–for multinationals. That’s why nations like China are so worried about this that they have already changed their education system, limiting how long students study – even extra tutoring – to curb the near-work that heightens myopia. The US should do the same, says Miller.

Labeling myopia a second public health crisis is no hyperbole. 10-year-old Aleena Joyce’s screen time tripled in the last 18 months, with many school days – and two-thirds of Aleena’s waking hours – held almost entirely on her iPad. The Illinois fourth-grader had already been diagnosed with myopia – nearsightedness – in kindergarten, and her eyes had worsened each year. “Sometimes we would have to go in prior to her annual eye exam because she noticed more difficulty with reading the board at school,” says Yusra Cheema, Aleena’s mother.

Aleena was one of a handful of students who said that their vision had markedly worsened in connection with increased screen time. The parents of Alan Kim, the child actor and nine-year-old Minari star, said their son’s prescription doubled in the last year in part due to the near work of on-set studies held on his iPad.

Each child now uses new FDA-approved contact lenses that effectively reshape the eye to slow down myopia. But most parents and their kids have no idea this issue even exists.

These problems affect adults too. Constant connection can heighten high or degenerative myopia, severe nearsightedness that progressively worsens and can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment – since the eyeball stretches and the retina thins – but thankfully, it’s rare. Risk grows with age, and can speed up gradual loss of the eye’s ability to focus, called presbyopia.

Detection can help. Home approaches like GoCheckKids, an FDA-registered vision screening app allows any parent to take a photo of their child’s eyes to analyze how light refracts and measure their risks for near or farsightedness and other eye diseases.

Every 20 minutes, look at a distance 20 feet away, for 20 seconds

Dr Luxme Hariharan

Specialized contact lenses are another major tool, says Dr Michele Andrews, a vice-president of CooperVision, the company behind the FDA-approved MiSight contacts. “It’s a contact geared for children aged eight to 12 whose eyes are growing,” she explains, “Which slow down the progression of myopia and change the shape of the eyeball.”

Last week at the American Academy of Optometry meeting in Boston, an annual eye research conference, Andrews presented the results of a seven-year study that showed abnormal axial length growth slowed by an average of 50% among eight-to-17-year-olds who wore her company’s corrective contacts. Perhaps most striking is for those who suffered from myopia, wore the lenses, then stopped wearing them, “we learned there is no rebound effect,” she says. “Myopia did not come back” after kids stopped wearing her company’s contacts. That’s because these lenses “change the way the light bends inside the eye and pulls the image in front of the retina”, she says, which slows axial growth because the clear image is now in front of the retina. If there’s no reason to grow then the problem resolves itself early.

As myopia is typically most pronounced – and dangerous – as the eyes grow, this solution is geared for kids. But adults have hope too. “Spend more time outdoors,” recommends Chow, at least two hours daily. “Studies have shown that increased sunlight decreases myopia progression.”

Most important is taking breaks which help eyes rest, blink and lubricate. Then there’s the 20-20-20 model. “Every 20 minutes, look at a distance 20 feet away, for 20 seconds,” Hariharan advises. “Being on the computer for hours on end isn’t good for your health. Don’t break to play video games or pick up another screen. Go outside!”

How Does Screen Time Affect Your Brain, Anxiety & Overall Health?

by Nick Soloway


Robin Berzin, M.D.

In light of the “digital revolution,” we are spending more and more time looking at digital devices than ever before. We now have immediate and unlimited access to information and to one another. The American Optometric Association (AOA) reports that an average American worker spends at least seven hours a day on the computer either in the office or working from home. Other recent reports indicate that it could be as much as 11 hours each day that the average American adult spends looking at a screen of some kind—including mobile devices like phones.

At the same time, healthy young patients of mine in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are reporting chronic insomnia, brain fog, and short-term memory loss, as well as vision strain and headaches in droves.

While there isn’t an abundance of research, a few studies are beginning to emerge. Here’s what can happen if you stare at a screen all day.


It can rewire your brain (and even change its structure).

The effects on your brain are both behavioral and structural.

First, smartphone addiction is real. A study of students in 10 countries showed the majority feel acute distress if they have to go without their phones for 24 hours. Meanwhile, most people are checking their phones at least 150 times a day and sending upward of 100-plus texts.

This problematic use of cellphones has been associated with anxiety, stress, and even depression1 . These habits are causing what top neuroscientists have called “digital dementia,” harming important right-brain functions including short-term memory, attention, and concentration in ways that may or may not be reversible.  On the structural side, individuals who are perceived as having an online game addiction show significant gray matter atrophy in various areas of the brain (right orbitofrontal cortex, bilateral insula, and right supplementary motor area) once examined on brain MRI studies. These affected areas where volume loss is seen are responsible for critical cognitive functions such as planning, prioritizing, organizing, impulse control, and reward pathways. These areas are also specifically involved in our development of empathy and compassion as well as translation of physical signals into emotion.

Additionally, kids are at risk, too. Findings from an ongoing NIH study on 9- and 10-year-olds show that those who use smartphones, tablets, and video games more than seven hours a day are more likely to have premature thinning of the cortex—the outermost layer of the brain where most information processing occurs. At this point, researchers aren’t sure if that’s a bad thing and won’t know exactly what it means until they follow these children over time. However, the study also found that kids who had more than two hours of screen time per day scored lower on thinking and language tests.


It can cause long-term vision problems and other eye issues.

The American Optometric Association defines CVS—computer vision syndrome—also known as digital eye strain, as a complex of eye and vision problems related to the activities that stress the near vision and that are experienced in relation, or during, the use of the computer, tablet, e-reader, and cellphone. These symptoms can include eye strain and ache, dryness, irritation, redness, double or blurred vision and burning, and even neck and shoulder pain.


It can seriously mess with your sleep.

In 2014 a Harvard Medical School group investigated the biological effects of reading an e-book on a light-emitting device with reading a printed book in the hours before bedtime. They reported that individuals who read on the e-book took longer to fall asleep, had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock, and reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a printed book. Much of this likely has to do with the fact that e-books and other digital screens emit blue light, which has been shown to interfere with the production of the “sleep hormone” melatonin which helps regulate other hormones as well as our circadian rhythms.


It can make you more anxious, stressed, or depressed.

While the research to date linking mood and digital device addiction is still emerging, some recent studies2 are starting to link prolific social media use with increased risk for anxiety and depression. I’ve seen this first-hand, with countless numbers of my patients reporting anxiety, stress, and depression caused by spending too much time scrolling Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. Some even report that “social media detoxes,” where they delete these apps from their phones for a few days or weeks, drastically improve their sense of well-being.

How can you avoid or combat these symptoms?

If you find yourself experiencing symptoms like insomnia, short-term memory loss, anxiety, worsening vision, headaches, or brain fog, see your personal doctor for an evaluation first, but then try limiting screen time to six hours per day, avoiding all screens at least one hour before bed and taking the weekends “off” from social media. If you immediately feel better, you have a clear indication of how screens are affecting you.

For kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends3 avoiding digital media altogether for toddlers younger than 18-24 months (other than things like periodic video chatting with relatives), and limiting screen use for children ages 2-5 to one hour a day of high-quality programming, preferably with an adult. (Also consider trying out some of these amazing expert tips on how to raise a wild child in the age of tech.)

Some other precautions you can take: Load up on nutrients that have been shown to combat some of the symptoms of computer vision syndrome—specifically, the carotenoid antioxidants zeaxanthin4,  lutein4, and astaxanthin5, found in green veggies and a variety of colorful plant foods like these. And, if you can’t avoid using a computer or other digital device before bed, consider wearing a pair of blue light-blocking glasses in the evenings, which have been shown to6 help restore melatonin production.

From there, we should all be asking the bigger question, which is whether our technology serves us, or we are a servant to it, and how tech will affect our health and well-being in the future.

Robin Berzin, M.D.

Robin Berzin, M.D., is a functional medicine physician and the founder of Parsley Health. She currently lives in New York, NY and her mission is to make functional medicine affordable and modern, so more people can access a holistic, root-cause approach to health.

A Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Berzin went to medical school at Columbia University and later trained in internal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital. She is also a certified yoga instructor and a meditation teacher, and has formally studied Ayurveda. Dr. Berzin writes for a number of leading wellness sites, and speaks regularly for organizations including the Clinton Foundation, Health 2.0, Summit and the Functional Forum, on how we can reinvent health care.

She’s also a mindbodygreen courses instructor, teaching her Stress Solution program designed to help you tune down the stress in your life and tune up your energy and happiness.

Read More About Robin Berzin, M.D.

Sugar Cravings and Stress

by Nick Soloway

Why Do We Crave Sweets When We’re Stressed?

A brain researcher explains our desire for chocolate and other carbs during tough times.
Scientific American.com

Although our brain accounts for just 2 percent of our body weight, the organ consumes half of our daily carbohydrate requirements—and glucose is its most important fuel. Under acute stress the brain requires some 12 percent more energy, leading many to reach for sugary snacks.
Carbohydrates provide the body with the quickest source of energy. In fact, in cognitive tests subjects who were stressed performed poorly prior to eating. Their performance, however, went back to normal after consuming food.
When we are hungry, a whole network of brain regions activates. At the center are the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) and the lateral hypothalamus. These two regions in the upper brain stem are involved in regulating metabolism, feeding behavior and digestive functions. There is, however, an upstream gatekeeper, the nucleus arcuatus (ARH) in the hypothalamus. If it registers that the brain itself lacks glucose, this gatekeeper blocks information from the rest of the body. That’s why we resort to carbohydrates as soon as the brain indicates a need for energy, even if the rest of the body is well supplied.
To further understand the relationship between the brain and carbohydrates, we examined 40 subjects over two sessions. In one, we asked study participants to give a 10-minute speech in front of strangers. In the other session they were not required to give a speech. At the end of each session, we measured the concentrations of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in participants’ blood. We also provided them with a food buffet for an hour. When the participants gave a speech before the buffet, they were more stressed, and on average consumed an additional 34 grams of carbohydrates, than when they did not give a speech.
So what about that chocolate, then? If a person craves chocolate in the afternoon, I advise him or her to eat chocolate to stay fit and keep his or her spirits up. That’s because at work people are often stressed and the brain has an increased need for energy. If one doesn’t eat anything, it’s possible the brain will use glucose from the body, intended for fat and muscle cell use, and in turn secrete more stress hormones. Not only does this make one miserable, it can also increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke or depression in the long run. Alternatively, the brain can save on other functions, but that reduces concentration and performance.
In order to meet the increased needs of the brain, one can either eat more of everything, as the stressed subjects did in our experiment, or make it easy for the body and just consume sweet foods. Even babies have a pronounced preference for sweets. Because their brain is extremely large compared with their tiny bodies, babies require a lot of energy. They get that energy via breast milk, which contains a lot of sugar. Over time, our preference for sweets decreases but never completely disappears, even as we become adults. The extent to which that preference is preserved varies from person to person and seems to depend, among other things, on living conditions. Studies suggest people who experience a lot of stress in childhood have a stronger preference for sweets later in life.
For some, the brain cannot get its energy from the body’s reserves, even if there are enough fat deposits. The most important cause of this is chronic stress. To ensure their brains are not undersupplied, these people must always eat enough. Often the only way out of such eating habits is to leave a permanently stressful environment. So although many tend to be hard on themselves for eating too many sweets or carbs, the reasons behind such craving aren’t always due to a lack of self-control and might require a deeper look into lifestyle and stressful situations—past and present. Once the root cause of stress addressed, eating habits could ultimately resolve themselves.
Achim Peters is a brain researcher and diabetologist. He leads the Selfish Brain clinical research group at the University of Lübeck and has authored two books on how the selfish brain influences weight under chronic stress.

Nick’s comment:  Notice that stress comes up quite a bit in this article.  Here it is again…If you haven’t read this yet please do so… to learn methods for reducing your stress.

Lipoic Acid Supplements and Weight Loss

by Nick Soloway


Jonathan V. Wright M.D.

For nearly three decades, Dr. Tory Hagen has worked to understand how lipoic acid supplements act in the body. His journey began under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Ames at the University of California, Berkeley. Together, Hagen and Ames started on the path to understand how and why we age with the hope of learning how to live longer and feel better.

Lipoic Acid Supplements and Weight Loss
A New Clinical Trial Sheds Light on the Benefits
By Dr. Tory M. Hagen, Ph.D.

Investigators at the Linus Pauling Institute, along with their collaborators at Oregon Health & Science University, recently published results of a clinical trial using lipoic acid supplements. This study shows that lipoic acid supplements can help some people lose weight.

For over 20 years, scientists and clinicians have explored the potential health benefits of lipoic acid, including its ability to promote healthy aging and mitigate cardiovascular disease.

Researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute have documented that lipoic acid reduces oxidative stress and improves detoxification mechanisms and lipid metabolism. Although this work is primarily in rodent models, human trials at the Institute found that lipoic acid replicates some of the same effects listed above and may play a role in maintaining a normal circadian rhythm.

What is Lipoic Acid?

Lipoic acid is a naturally occurring compound produced by both plants and animals. It has a structure that is unique in nature: chemically, it is a medium-chain fatty acid with two sulfur atoms at one end.

Lipoic acid is typically found attached to enzymes, where it acts as an electron carrier. Therefore, it should be no surprise that these enzymes are involved in energy and amino acid metabolism in the mitochondria.

The body usually produces adequate amounts of lipoic acid to meet its metabolic needs.

However, something different happens when lipoic acid is taken as a supplement. Often marketed as alpha-lipoic acid, the molecule is found in a free (not protein-bound) form. This allows it to take other actions in the body, like stimulating certain types of cell signaling.

Lipoic acid supplements have been shown to stimulate glucose metabolism, antioxidant defenses, and anti-inflammatory responses. For these reasons, lipoic acid has been investigated as a complementary treatment for people with diabetes, heart disease, and age-related cognitive decline.

Changing Focus

These studies laid the foundation for better human trials. Dr. Tory Hagen, the Linus Pauling Institute’s expert on lipoic acid, just released the results of a clinical trial on lipoic acid in The Journal of Nutrition, renewing interest in the beneficial effects of lipoic acid supplements.

Over the last few decades, there have been a number of clinical studies on lipoic acid. However, Dr. Hagen and other researchers in this field felt the study designs of the previous trials needed improvement.

One persistent issue was the choice of study participants. In short, the previous trials focused on volunteers with pre-existing conditions like diabetes. This made it difficult to tell if the benefits were due to lipoic acid supplements improving disease or if lipoic acid supplements would provide potential benefits for people without a chronic disease.

Another issue was the formulation of the supplement. “Commercially, lipoic acid is often found in a combination of the R– and S- forms of the molecule, ” explained Dr. Hagen. “However, the R-form of lipoic acid is the only form that is naturally found in the body.”

Dr. Hagen has long been an advocate of only using the R-form of lipoic acid in his experiments and clinical studies because it is the form that has all the biological activity. There are some indications that the R-form is better absorbed, has fewer gastrointestinal side effects, and may act on target tissues better than the S-form of the molecule.

New Study, New Revelations

The latest study published by the Linus Pauling Institute last year was a joint effort with Oregon Health & Science University. Participants took either 600 mg per day of R-lipoic acid or a placebo for 24 weeks (roughly six months).

The study focused on people who were both overweight and had high triglyceride levels. The primary objective was to see if lipoic acid supplementation could reduce the amount of triglycerides in the blood. The principal investigators were careful not to include people who had a diagnosed disease.

In the end, some of the results were surprising. The analysis showed that the group taking lipoic acid did see a reduction in their blood triglyceride levels overall. Instead, it was clear that many participants taking lipoic acid were losing weight.

“The data clearly showed a loss of body fat that resulted in weight loss,” says Dr. Gerd Bobe, study statistician and coauthor on the study. “In some people, this resulted in lower triglyceride levels, but the weight loss had to come first.”

Some groups showed greater weight loss than others. For example, in female study participants there was over a 10% reduction in body fat in the lipoic acid group when compared to the placebo group.

Lipoic acid supplements had other effects as well. For example, participants in the lipoic acid supplement group had lower urinary F2 isoprostane levels than the placebo. This biomarker suggests that these participants were experiencing less oxidative stress.

However, it was unclear if these biomarker changes were due to the weight loss or if lipoic acid affected these biomarkers independently. Future trials by the Institute will likely focus on differentiating these effects.

The Future of Lipoic Acid Supplements

“This study shows that lipoic acid supplements can be beneficial,” said Hagen. “But like many dietary supplements, it’s possible that the effects won’t be seen by everyone taking them. Right now, it is not a perfect panacea.”

Dr. Hagen points out that just over one-third of the study participants in the lipoic acid group did not lose weight during the trial. While this was clearly an improvement over taking a placebo (in the placebo group about half of the participants gained weight), it suggests that lipoic acid might have limited effect on its own.

Also, some of the participants in this study reported side effects of the supplements like heartburn or stomach aches. Side effects are not uncommon with lipoic acid supplements, especially when taking large doses on an empty stomach.

Furthermore, cost can be an issue. Lipoic acid supplements, especially R-lipoic acid, are often quite expensive. So, it can be a costly endeavor to find out that they might not work out for you.

“If lipoic acid works better in some people and not others, we need to know why,” concludes Hagen. “It will make for a more targeted approach to lipoic acid supplementation in the future.”


Bobe et al. J Nutr 150 (2020) doi: 10.1093/jn/nxaa203
Keith et al. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 450 (2014) doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.05.112
Keith et al. Pharmacol Res 66 (2012) doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2012.05.002

About Dr. Tory Hagen, Ph.D.

After coming to the Linus Pauling Institute in 1998, Dr. Hagen’s research team consistently published on the effects of lipoic acid supplementation in older animals. From maintaining cellular antioxidant levels to cell-signaling pathways, each study found similar results: lipoic acid could make old animals appear like young animals, at least biochemically.

In recent years, Dr. Hagen’s focus has transitioned into human studies. Although there are some clinical data demonstrating the utility of lipoic acid in diabetes treatment, there is still little evidence for lipoic acid supplements in otherwise healthy older adults. As more research emerges, Dr. Hagen hopes that funding for these trials in older adults will follow. Ultimately, it will help everyone discover if supplements like lipoic acid may be beneficial in our pursuit of health.

Reprinted from the Linus Pauling Institute Oregon State University Research Newsletter – Winter 2021 by permission.

Quercetin and COVID

From https://doctormurray.com/

As you may know, in November 2020 I, Dr. Murray,  had a very mild and brief bout of COVID-19. My symptoms were limited to feelings similar to “jet lag” for about a day and a half.  

Many people have asked me if I had a secret weapon. And, yes, I think I did. It was a special form of quercetin…

Now two new clinical studies have been published with quercetin in the TREATMENT of COVID-19. I will get to those results soon. First, I want to tell you about another personal experience I had with quercetiin.

Just this past Saturday, a good friend of 35 years called me for recommendations. He had started experiencing symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 a day earlier and his test results confirmed it. He had been taking virtually everything that I suggest for COVID-19 prevention, yet he had a terrible cough and felt terrible. There was one thing he was not taking – you guessed it – QUERCETIN.

He was not able to start taking quercetin until Sunday morning. My instructions were for him to take six capsules of Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ twice daily for ten days. His response to the first dosage was amazing as he told me that his symptoms almost completely resolved twenty minutes after the first dosage. A day later he said he felt “1000% better.”

Now, his experience is consistent with the results from two clinical trials conducted by my friend Francesco Di Pierro, M.D., with Quercetin Phytosome®, another enhanced form of quercetin. In these studies, patients in the early stages of COVID-19 infection quercetin was added on to standard medical therapy.

The first study showed 400 mg of quercetin as Quercetin Phytosome® produced statistically significant improvement in all clinical outcomes such as need and length of hospitalization, need of non-invasive oxygen therapy, progression to intensive care units and death.

The second study provided even more encouraging results. The study enrolled 42 patients with early COVID-19 who were given either standard medical alone or quercetin as Quercetin Phytosome® at a dosage of 600 mg per day for the first 7 days and 400 mg for the next 7 days.

After 1 week of treatment, 16 out of 21 patients in the quercetin group tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 and 12 patients had all of their symptoms improved. In the group getting only standard care only 2 out of 21 patients tested SARS-CoV-2 negative and 4 patients had their symptoms partially improved.

By 2 weeks, the remaining 5 patients of the quercetin group tested negative for SARS-CoV-2, whereas in the standard group out of 19 remaining patients, 17 tested negative by week 2, one tested negative by week 3 and one patient, still positive, died on day 20.

These results are impressive and hopefully additional studies will be conducted on hospitalized patients to see how quercetin might be helpful in more severe cases.

Quercetin is a member of a group of pigments found in plants known as flavonoids. The excitement with quercetin as an answer to COVID-19 was initially the result of the possibility that quercetin may enhance the antiviral effects of ionic zinc.

The science on quercetin’s anti-coronaviral activity quickly evolved further showing additional specific actions useful against SARS-CoV-2. In particular, quercetin exerts significant inhibition on the binding of specific spike proteins to ACE-2 receptors, thereby blocking the ability of the virus to infect human cells.

Quercetin has also been shown to directly neutralize viral proteins the are critical in the replication of SARS CoV 2. It exerts multiple sites of inhibition of the virus.

In order to reproduce the antiviral effects of quercetin, the dosage of quercetin given must be able to raise the level of quercetin in body tissues so that it can effectively block the virus. And here is where things get tricky. Regular quercetin is not absorbed very well and there is a high degree of variability from one person to the next.

So, we have to look to special forms of quercetin that show enhanced absorption and reduced variability. The studies by Dr. Di Pierro used the Quercetin Phytosome®, however, a study led by Julia Solnier, Ph.D., showed that 500 mg of quercetin as Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ produces equal total absorption, but higher peak levels compared to 500 mg of quercetin as Quercetin Phytosome®.

Since both of these forms of quercetin produce similar blood levels, they should produce the same effects at equal dosages based upon quercetin content.

Now, my dosage recommendation as part of a nutritional supplement program to support immune function in the prevention of COVID-19 is Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ 250 mg twice daily.

And in patients with active COVID-19, my recommendation is much higher than the successful results from Dr. Di Pierro. Since my battle with COVID, I have been recommending six capsules of Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix™ twice a day providing a total of 3,000 mg of quercetin in this enhanced form.

This high dosage should be taken for at least 10 days and then reduced to a maintenance dosage of 250 mg twice daily.

Based upon Dr. Di Pierro’s results, this high dosage may not be necessary. But my dosage calculations are based upon likely tissue concentrations needed to exert the strongest antiviral effects. And given the safety of quercetin, there is no harm at this level.

If you found this information valuable, here is a quick, friendly reminder. On Thursday, July 29, I’ll be going LIVE on my free Covid-19 webinar #4.  Nick’s comment:  I can’t  vouch to the information that will be in this webinar.  But it may be of interest.


I’ll cover every important update the media is not sharing with you. I’ll also answer your questions directly, so I invite you to click here to register for free.

If you can’t make it live, register anyway so I can send you the link to replay.

Nick’s Comment:  you can get the mentioned Quercetin products at Emerson Ecologics

Quercetin LipoMicel Matrix and Thorne’s Quercetin Phytosome

https://wellevate.me/nick-soloway  to create an account

Key References:
Di Pierro F, Derosa G, Maffioli P, et al. Possible Therapeutic Effects of Adjuvant Quercetin Supplementation Against Early-Stage COVID-19 Infection: A Prospective, Randomized, Controlled, and Open-Label Study. Int J Gen Med. 2021 Jun 8;14:2359-2366.
Di Pierro F, Iqtadar S, Khan A, et al. Potential Clinical Benefits of Quercetin in the Early Stage of COVID-19: Results of a Second, Pilot, Randomized, Controlled and Open-Label Clinical Trial. Int J Gen Med. 2021 Jun 24;14:2807-2816.


by Nick Soloway


By Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DMN, CNS 

March 16, 2020

We are continually exposed to organisms that are inhaled, swallowed or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether or not these organisms lead to disease is decided by the integrity of our body’s defense mechanisms, or immune system.

When our immune system is working properly, we don’t even notice it. But when we have an under- or over-active immune system, we are at a greater risk of developing infections and other health conditions.

If you are wondering how to boost the immune system, be advised that it doesn’t necessarily happen over night. It’s a matter of strengthening the immune response with lifestyle changes and the use of immune-boosting nutrients and herbs. But hopefully you find comfort in knowing that the body is made to combat germs and protect it from harm.

What Is the Immune System?

The immune system is an interactive network of organs, white blood cells and proteins that protect the body from viruses and bacteria or any foreign substances.

The immune system works to neutralize and remove pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that enter the body, recognize and neutralize harmful substances from the environment, and fight against the body’s own cells that have changes due to an illness.

Our immune system works to protect us every day, and we don’t even notice it. But when the performance of our immune system is compromised, that’s when we face illness. Research indicates that underactivity of the immune system can result in severe infections and tumors of immunodeficiency, while overactivity results in allergic and autoimmune diseases.

For our body’s natural defenses to run smoothly, the immune system must be able to differentiate between “self” and “non-self” cells, organisms and substances. Here’s a breakdown of the differences:

  • “Non-self” substances are called antigens, which includes the proteins on the surfaces of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Cells of the immune system detect the presence of antigens and work to defend themselves.
  • “Self” substances are proteins on the surface of our own cells. Normally, the immune system has already learned at an earlier stage to identify these cells’ proteins as “self,” but when it identifies its own body as “non-self,” and fights it, this is called an autoimmune reaction.

The amazing thing about the immune system is that it’s constantly adapting and learning so that the body can fight against bacteria or viruses that change over time. There are two parts of the immune system:

  • Our innate immune system works as a general defense against pathogens.
  • Our adaptive immune system targets very specific pathogens that the body has already had contact with.

These two immune systems complement each other in any reaction to a pathogen or harmful substance.

Immune System Diseases

Before learning exactly how to boost the immune system, first understand that most immune disorders result from either an excessive immune response or an autoimmune attack. Disorders of the immune system include:

  • Allergies and Asthma: Allergies are an immune-mediated inflammatory response to normally harmless environmental substances known as allergens. The body overreacts to an allergen, causing an immune reaction and allergy symptoms. This can result in one or more allergic diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis and food allergies.
  • Immune Deficiency Diseases: An immune deficiency disease is when the immune system is missing one or more of its parts, and it reacts too slowly to a threat. Immune deficiency conditions, like HIV/AIDS and drug-induced immune deficiency, are due to a severe impairment of the immune system, which leads to infections that are sometimes life-threatening.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to attack its own body’s cells and tissues in response to an unknown trigger. Examples of autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.

Immune System Boosters

When searching for how to boost the immune system, look to these herbs, foods, supplements, essential oils and lifestyle factors.


1. Echinacea

Many of echinacea’s chemical constituents are powerful immune system stimulants that can provide significant therapeutic value. Research shows that one of the most significant echinacea benefits is its effects when used on recurring infections.

A 2012 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that echinacea showed maximal effects on recurrent infections, and preventive effects increased when participants used echinacea to prevent the common cold.

A 2003 study conducted at the University of Wisconsin Medical School found that echinacea demonstrates significant immunomodulatory activities. After reviewing several dozen human experiments, including a number of blind randomized trials, researchers indicate that echinacea has several benefits, including immunostimulation, especially in the treatment of acute upper respiratory infection.

2. Elderberry

The berries and flowers of the elder plant have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Even Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” understood that this plant was key for how to boost the immune system. He used elderberry because of its wide array of health benefits, including its ability to fight colds, the flu, allergies and inflammation.

Several studies indicate that elderberry has the power to boost the immune system, especially because it has been shown to help treat the symptoms of the common cold and flu.

A study published in the Journal of International Medical Research shows that when elderberry was used within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms, the extract reduced the duration of the flu, with symptoms being relieved on an average of four days earlier. Plus, the use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo.

3. Astragalus Root

Astragalus is a plant within the bean and legumes family that has a very long history as an immune system booster. Its root has been used as an adaptogen in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Although astragalus is one of the least studied immune-boosting herbs, there are some preclinical trials that show intriguing immune activity.

A recent review published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that astragalus-based treatments have demonstrated significant improvement of the toxicity induced by drugs such as immunosuppressants.

Researchers concluded that astragalus extract has a beneficial effect on the immune system, and it protects the body from gastrointestinal inflammation.

4. Ginseng

The ginseng plant, belonging to the Panax genus, can help to boost the immune system and fight infections. The roots, stems and leaves of ginseng have been used for maintaining immune homeostasis and enhancing resistance to illness or infection.

Ginseng improves the performance of the immune system by regulating each type of immune cell, including macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, T cells and B cells. It has also proven to possess antimicrobial compounds that work as a defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections.

A study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine suggests that ginseng extract successfully induces antigen-specific antibody responses when it’s administered orally. Antibodies bind to antigens, such as toxins or viruses, and keep them from contacting and harming normal cells of the body.

Because of ginseng’s ability to play a role in antibody production, it helps the body to fight invading microorganisms or pathogenic antigens.


5. Bone Broth

Bone broth supports immune function by promoting the health of your gut and reducing inflammation caused by leaky gut syndrome. The collagen and amino acids (proline, glutamine and arginine) found in bone broth help to seal openings in the gut lining and support its integrity.

We know that gut health plays a major role in immune function, so consuming bone broth works as an excellent immune system booster food.

6. Ginger

Ayurvedic medicine has relied on ginger’s ability for how to boost the immune system before recorded history. It’s believed that ginger helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs due to its warming effects. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, our network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials.

Ginger root can be used for a wide range of concerns with its immunonutrition and anti-inflammatory responses. Research shows that ginger has antimicrobial potential.

It’s also known for its ability to help fight inflammatory disorders that are caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, as well as physical and chemical agents like heat, acid and cigarette smoke.

7. Green Tea

Studies evaluating the efficacy of green tea show that it contains antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties. It works as an antifungal and antivirus agent, and may be helpful for immunocompromised patients.

Strengthen the immune system by drinking a good-quality green tea daily. The antioxidants and amino acids present in this tea may help the body to fight germs and get well.

8. Vitamin C Foods

Vitamin C foods, like citrus fruits and red bell peppers, improve the health of the immune system by providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Studies display that getting enough vitamin C (along with zinc) in your diet may help to reduce the symptoms of respiratory infections and shorten the duration of illnesses like the common cold and bronchitis.

The best vitamin C foods to add for a strong immune system include:

  • citrus fruits, including orange, lemon and grapefruit
  • black currant
  • guava
  • green and red bell pepper
  • pineapple
  • mango
  • honeydew
  • parsley

9. Beta-Carotene Foods

Beta-carotene has powerful antioxidant activity, allowing it to help reduce inflammation and fight oxidative stress. Instead of taking beta-carotene supplements, researchers propose that beta-carotene can promote health when taken at dietary levels, by eating foods rich in the carotenoid.

The richest sources of beta-carotene are yellow, orange and red fruits and veggies, and leafy greens. Adding the following foods to your diet can help promote a strong immune system:

  • carrot juice
  • pumpkin
  • sweet potato
  • red bell peppers
  • apricot
  • kale
  • spinach
  • collard greens


10. Probiotics

Because leaky gut is a major cause of food sensitivities, autoimmune disease and immune imbalance or a weakened immune system, it’s important to consume probiotic foods and supplements.

Probiotics are good bacteria that help the digestion of nutrients that boost the health and detoxification of the colon and support the immune system.

Research published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition suggests that probiotic organisms may induce different cytokine responses. Supplementation of probiotics in infancy could help prevent immune-mediated diseases in childhood by improving the gut mucosal immune system and increasing the number of immunoglobulin cells and cytokine-producing cells in the intestines.

11. Vitamin D

Vitamin D can modulate the innate and adaptive immune responses and a vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity as well as an increased susceptibility to infection.

Research proves that vitamin D works to maintain tolerance and promote protective immunity. There have been multiple cross-sectional studies that associate lower levels of vitamin D with increased infection.

One study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital included 19,000 participants, and it showed that individuals with lower vitamin D levels were more likely to report a recent upper respiratory tract infection than those with sufficient levels, even after adjusting for variables such as season, age, gender, body mass and race. Sometimes addressing a nutritional deficiency is how to boost the immune system.

12. Zinc

Zinc supplements are often used as an over-the-counter remedy for fighting colds and other illnesses. It may help to reduce cold-related symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold.

Research evaluating the efficacy of zinc shows that it can interfere with a molecular process that causes bacteria buildup in the nasal passages.

Essential Oils

13. Myrrh

Myrrh is a resin, or sap-like substance, that is one of the most widely used essential oils in the world. Historically, myrrh was used to treat hay fever, clean and heal wounds and stop bleeding. Studies conclude that myrrh may strengthen the immune system with its antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties.

A 2012 study also demonstrated myrrh’s enhanced antimicrobial efficacy when used in combination with frankincense oil against a selection of pathogens. Researchers expressed that myrrh oil may have anti-infective properties and may help to boost your immune system.

14. Oregano

Oregano essential oil is known for its healing and immune-boosting properties. It helps fight infections naturally due to its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasite compounds.

A 2016 study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition found that the main compounds in oregano that are responsible for its antimicrobial activity include carvacrol and thymol.

Several scientific studies show that oregano oil exhibited antibacterial activity against a number of bacterial isolates and species, including B. laterosporus and S. saprophyticus


15. Exercise

Incorporating physical activity into your daily and weekly regimen is extremely important to strengthen the immune system.

A 2018 human study published in Aging Cell revealed that high levels of physical activity and exercise improve the immunosenescence (gradual deterioration of the immune system) in older adults aged 55 through 79, compared to those in the same age group who were physically inactive.

The study also highlights that physical activity doesn’t protect against all of the immunosenescence that occurs. However, the decrease in a person’s immune system function and activity can be influenced by decreased physical activity in addition to age.

16. Reduce Stress

Studies prove that chronic stress can suppress protective immune responses and exacerbate pathological immune responses.

In order to promote health and healing, you need to minimize your stress levels. This can be difficult today, especially when people are concerned about becoming ill, but it’s important.

17. Improve Sleep

When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your immune system won’t be able to function properly. In fact, research analyzing the vulnerability of sleep-deprived adults found that those who slept less than six hours a night were more than four times likely to get a cold than adults who slept more than seven hours.

To reduce your chances of catching colds and the flu, make sure to get  at least seven hours of sleep every night.

18. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Consuming too much alcohol can certainly impact immune function, which is why you’ll need to cut back on alcohol to fight infections and promote immune system health.

Alcohol negatively impacts gut health, decreasing immune function and making you more susceptible to harmful pathogens. Stick to one or 2 alcohol drinks a week, or less, to boost the immune system.

19. Take Protective Measures

When there are germs and bugs going around, it’s important to protect yourself and those around you. This means:

  • frequent hand washing, for at least 20 seconds
  • minimize touching your face
  • staying home when sick
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow
  • seeking medical attention and treatment when needed

Risk and Side Effects

In the quest for how to boost the immune system, proceed with some caution. If you are using these immune-boosting herbs, supplements and essential oils, remember that the products are extremely potent and should not be taken for more than two weeks at a time. Taking a break in between long doses is important.

Also, if you are pregnant, be cautious when using essential oils and reach out to your health care provider before doing so.

Any time you are using natural remedies like plant supplements, it’s a good idea to do it under the care of your doctor or nutritionist.

Curious About Probiotics vs. Digestive Enzymes?

by Nick Soloway

Curious About Probiotics vs. Digestive Enzymes? Adapted From: https://doctormurray.com/curious-about-probiotics-vs-digestive-enzymes/

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  https://wellevate.me/nick-soloway  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 https://wellevate.me/nick-soloway

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 voxmedia.com 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, Inc.com

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.