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Posts Tagged ‘immune system’

For centuries, the communities in the tropical regions have used virgin coconut oil as a source of food, health and general well being. New research is verifying these traditional beliefs that the coconut palm has many health benefits and that organic virgin coconut oil has the potential to cure many of the ailments which have manifested in our bodies through the highly refined diet of modern society (ie cholesterol levels). In the past coconut oil has received bad press due to its saturated fat content, but research shows that not all saturated fats are the same and that coconut oil is unique in its structural makeup. Coconut oil is not the highest source of saturated medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) of any naturally occurring vegan food source. Further, around 50% of these MCTs are made up of lauric acid – the most important essential fatty acid in building and maintaining the body’s immune system.

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Until recently, scientists have primarily focussed on the study of proteins as it was believed that proteins were responsible for cellular communication and cellular recognition (Smith 2002). However, within the last ten years, the developing field of glycobiology has shown that glyconutrients may play a vital role in cellular communication and may represent a new category of nutrients and dietary supplements.

It is said that these sugar molecules constitute an ‘alphabet’ of ‘letters’ that can be combined in endless ways to form ‘words’ which are used by the body to communicate information required for healthy function. McAnalley and Vennum (2000), explain that the process of molecular communication codes can be thought of as a written language whereby just as four different shapes can be combined to make many letters and the letters can be combined to make words, the different carbohydrate molecules combine to make cellular recognition (McAnalley and Vennum 2000, p2).

Once cells have been sufficiently glycosylated only then are they able to send a cell-to-cell communication and communicate with other cells, (i.e. recognise the enemy and tag it). It is believed that autoimmune diseases occur when cells are not glycosylated (the presence of a sugar added to a protein) and thereby unable to differentiate between a ‘friendly’ cell and an ‘unfriendly’ cell (Nugent 2005, p21). Although it is recognised that a multiple of factors ensure good health and no nutrient stands alone in this process, there is strong belief that without proper cell-to-cell communication, there is no hope for good health because without communication there can be no function (Nugent 2005, p21).

The above is an extract from my dissertation, for which I received a First Class Honours:  ‘What is the evidence for glyconutrients? The concepts and theories behind glyconutrition and glyconutrient supplementation’.

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A short Synacthen test is a blood test performed for the investigation of adrenal insufficiency.

The adrenal glands are small cone shaped glands which sit above each kidney. They rmake and release stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol which are released to enable us to ‘fight or flee’. When the adrenals have been weakened they simply do not function properly – they’re fatigued. The main reason with poorly functioning adrenals is stress: worry, fear, anxiety, panic all the things that we experience almost daily in this 21st century lifestyle we all lead.

How the adrenals are weakened:

Adrenals can also be weakened by the use of stimulants – caffeine being a big culprit. In the short term, coffee makes us feel better from the stimulation it gives. Over time, however, the constant stimulation drains the adrenals which leads to fatigue, irregular blood sugar, anxiety and even sleep disruption. Sugar and refined foods and carbohydrates are other culprits which deplete the body of B vitamins and drain the adrenals.

A short synacthen test is not a readily available routine blood test – but is a good way of investigating the efficiency of the adrenal glands and it’s a test I feel people who suspect they have adrenal fatigue should be aware of.

It’s best performed in the morning as the cortisol responses between the morning and the late afternoon differ (by as much100 nmol/L at 30 min sample post Synacthen).

Blood needs to be taken 3 times during a one hour period to be prepared to spend to spend some time with the phlebotomist! It may be a good idea to have someone with you also as blood sugar levels would be quite depleted post test.

An excellent book on the subject of adrenal fatigue is: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr James L. Wilson who has also formulated a nutritional supplement to help this condition.

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The human body is an amazing living machine. The body has the genetic capacity to defend itself against bacterial invaders to cleanse itself of destructive toxins and thus to heal itself from damage and disease as well as to absorb and utilize nutrients needed for fuel. Equipped with natural killer cells it can identify and kill tumour cells and cells infected with viruses, fungi and bacteria. However, the health of the body will largely depend on how well it is fed. If vitally important nutrients are missing from the diet then the body cannot keep healthy, it cannot succeed at the complex job it is designed to do. To illustrate this point, research studies have shown that the immune system (over the past 15 years) has lost over 25% of natural killer cell (NK) function due to toxins, viruses and daily stressors (Khemka, D.M et al, 1997). Additionally, NK cell activity increases by 50% after glyconutritional supplementation in healthy individuals and by 400% amongst chronic fatigue individuals (See et al, 1997). It seems then that the ability of the human body to heal itself is present, yet is lacking the energy required to adequately protect, detoxify and heal itself. Roger Williams internationally known biochemist and nutritional scientist, in his book Nutrition Against Disease, stated that the theme of his life’s work and all his many books on nutrition is captured in the statement: “The human body heals itself and nutrition provides the resources to accomplish the task”.

Glycoscience is the study of the structure and function of carbohydrates – biological sugars. Scientists in the field of glycobiology (the study of these sugars and their role in human biology) have proposed that specific dietary sugars, called glyconutrients, could represent a new class of nutrients with interesting benefits to health. Being neither vitamins, minerals, herbals, homeopathics or enzymes, they are a class all to themselves.

In the 1960s research first began to appear on glycoproteins – protein molecules bound with carbohydrate molecules. Glycoprotein molecules coat the surface of every cell with a nucleus. It is now known that carbohydrates on the cell surface are used as communication molecules. Carbohydrate molecules, therefore, are thought to provide the most specific form of biological information. This new technology demonstrates that by providing the body with the raw nutrients in the form of these simple sugars, the body is able to heal, correct and repair itself.

It goes without saying then, that if our immune systems are strong and healthy then we can fight off invaders which attack it.

The above is an extract from my dissertation ‘What is the evidence for glyconutrients? The concepts and theories behind glyconutrition and glyconutrient supplementation’. I received a BSc First Class Honours in Complementary Health Sciences.

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Having found out that my DHEA level was low I decided to look into this hormone. DHEA is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is known to ameliorate the effects of aging on many body functions. My research, however, led me to a safer alternative: 7 -Keto DHEA.

7-Keto DHEA is a safer and more potent form of DHEA. 7 Keto is NOT DHEA, rather it is a natural metabolite of DHEA which means that our bodies eventually convert DHEA into 7 Keto DHEA in the skin and kidneys.

Benefits of 7-Keto DHEA:

  • Reduces body fat
  • Strengthens immune function
  • Helps balance thyroid function
  • Enhances the liver enzyme catalase
  • Enhances IGF-1 (growth hormone) hormone production
  • Improves cognitive function and enhances memory
  • Helpful for overcoming insulin resistance in type II diabetes
  • Relieves depression
  • Has anti-aging benefits
  • Helps lower stress-induced high blood pressure and may be beneficial for other heart-related diseases
  • Increases muscle mass
  • Eases inflammatory conditions like lupus and arthritis
  • Boosts energy and relieves fatigue
  • Helpful for asthma
  • May be helpful in Alzheimer’s disease

The most fundamental difference between DHEA and 7 Keto DHEA is that 7 Keto DHEA is already converted DHEA, so, it will not dangerously spike oestrogen and testosterone as does DHEA. Studies have shown that DHEA can raise blood levels of testosterone by as much as 10 times above normal. Since 7-Keto does not convert into testosterone or oestrogen, it is a safe alternative. (Elevated testosterone can increase hair growth in women and cultivate prostate cancer in men).

7 Keto is non-toxic. Liver and blood hormone levels have shown it to be safe and without adverse side effects.

7 Keto DHEA has been proven to promote greater weight loss than DHEA. One clinical trial published in the Journal of Exercise Physiology Online looked at 30 obese people who took a placebo or 7-KETO. Both groups took three one-hour sessions of aerobic and anaerobic exercise per week. At the end of the eight-week study, the 7-KETO group had lost 1.8 percent of body fat, compared to 0.57 percent among the placebo exercisers. Their overall weight loss was 2.88 kilos, about three times the loss among those who took the placebo.

There are signs that 7 Keto DHEA imitates thyroid hormones which cause the body to make more heat and thus burn more calories and helps the body lose weight.

7 Keto lends greater support to the immune system by increasing IL-2 production in human lymphocytes. IL-2 is the key cytokine regulator of T-helper cells which helps activate the immune system against invading pathogens. It also helps to reduce cortisol – a hormone associated with stress as well as chronic mood disorders and aging.

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Readers of my blogs will know that I have suffered from adrenal stress and have looked into a number of ‘alternative cures’. I’ve looked into and talked about Macca but I never actually got around to using it because I discovered Ashwagandha first. I’ve been using Ashwagandha for several months and I do believe it’s gone a long way in helping me. I’m starting to feel ‘normal’ again.

What is it?
Ashwagandha (meaning: strength of a horse) is a known herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Found in India, it’s an evergreen shrub the roots of which are used medicinally. It has a reputation for improving strength, energy and stamina.
It’s an adaptogenic herb suitable for long-term use (avoid if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding).

Stress
Ashwagandha is an adaptogen: a class of herbal medicines that improve energy and help the body adapt to stress. It relaxes the nervous system and increases strength and stamina. Excellent for promoting restful sleep; its antioxidant effects help immunity and increase white blood cell count and reduces arthritic pain and inflammation.

Research published in the journal of Phytomedicine (2000) found Ashwagandha was ‘comparable to some orthodox drugs for treating anxiety and depression’.

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