Real Advantage Nutrients

Real Health News from Medicine's Most Notorious Myth-Buster

Vitamin B3 prevents chemo-related neuropathy

B vitamin stops cancer drug pain in its tracks

As if going through chemo for your cancer weren’t bad enough, you then find your hands and feet are tingling… burning… and crackling with “electrical” sparks.

It’s not your imagination. It’s a very real condition called “chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy” (CIPN), which can sometimes feel like tiny firecrackers going off inside your hands and feet.

Your doc may have tried to give you powerful pain meds for it… but that can be a one-way ticket to even MORE side effects.

According to a new study, though, you may be able to beat chemo-induced nerve pain just by changing your diet.

The study, published in the journal PAIN, found that vitamin B3 (a.k.a. niacin) could prevent neuropathy pain from the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel, used most commonly in breast and ovarian cancer patients.

Researchers gave some lab rats daily doses of vitamin B3 for a week before attempting to induce pain with paclitaxel (in the same way it affects humans).

But what actually happened was that vitamin B3 stopped CIPN before it started! The rats showed no signs of heightened pain responses, compared to those that were given paclitaxel without B3 supplements.

Without B3, the rats’ heightened sensitivity to pain lasted for five weeks AFTER their chemo treatments ended!

The reason B3 may work is that it boosts levels of an important cell component called nicotinamide acenine dinucleotide — a.k.a. NAD+. Previous studies have shown that increasing NAD+ levels can defend against many types of nerve damage.

In the current study, B3 increased NAD+ levels by 50 percent!

What’s more, this effect lasted for two weeks AFTER the vitamin B3 supplement was stopped.

Now, I know you’re not a rat, but the truth is that animal responses like these tell us a lot about how humans would respond in such cases.

Now, an oncologist may have told you not to take vitamins during chemotherapy, since some believe that certain vitamins like A, E, and C can lessen the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.

If you ask me, the jury is still out on that one. But there’s one thing we’re sure of: Don’t skip the B3!

You can get more B3 in your diet by eating foods like beets; organ meats like beef liver and kidneys; fish like salmon, tuna, and swordfish; sunflower seeds; and peanuts.

Also, your body converts the amino acid tryptophan into B3, so you can bolster your B3 levels by enjoying tryptophan-rich (and Paleo-friendly) foods like turkey and other poultry, red meat, eggs, and dairy.

You can also get B3 as part of a B complex vitamin supplement. If you choose to take B3 on its own, beware of the “flush” that often occurs with niacin. It’s generally harmless, but it can be a little uncomfortable for some people.

Staying active reduces chronic pain

More exercise means less “ouch”

Your back aches… your joints throb… and your body is hurting every which way.

When you live with chronic pain, it feels like you’ll never be able to enjoy your daily activities again without being stabbed by your constant “companion.”

Whether it’s arthritis, fibromyalgia, or any other ongoing condition, you NEED relief that’s long-lasting and safe.

Prescription painkillers won’t cut it. Between the side effects and addiction potential, you don’t want to reach for them too often, if at all.

But according to a new study, the key to finding joy in your daily activities again — without any drugs — might be MORE activity!

The study, published in the aptly-named journal PAIN, found that older adults who exercised regularly reported feeling less pain than those who were more sedentary.

The research included 51 adults, aged 60 to 77, who each wore an activity monitor device for a week to measure how active they were.

They participated in two tests of what’s known as “pain modulation,” a fancy term for how your nervous system interprets pain signals.

The first test measured how much pain each person felt when exposed to painful stimuli repeatedly.

In the second test, the researchers evaluated to what degree introducing new pain reduced the sting of prior pain.

The researchers found that the more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity the participants got, the LOWER their pain scores were on both tests.

That means the active folks actually perceived less pain during these tests than their sedentary counterparts, even when exposed to the same “painful” stuff!

How is that even possible?

Well, you see, pain isn’t an objective thing… because some people tend to get that “ow!” feeling at lower thresholds than others.

Those are also the ones who are more likely to develop problems with chronic pain in the first place.

But, as this study shows, physical activity is a way to actually CHANGE your pain threshold.

So, to put a lid on chronic pain, get moving!

Now, I know it’s hard to imagine exercising when you hurt so much you just want to lie in bed, but these results are worth paying attention to.

You don’t have to train for a marathon — there are plenty of gentle ways to add physical activity to your life.

It can be as easy as spending more time gardening, going for a swim, or climbing some stairs.

Staying active will benefit you in lots of other ways, too — from preventing disease to improving your mood.

Heart disease can be prevented

Don’t let your heart take you before your time

Imagine… you go in for routine heart surgery, but you never make it out alive.

You should have come out just fine. You weren’t ready to go yet. But instead, complications from that surgery became deadly.

I’m not trying to scare you to death (so to speak), but this is a very real possibility — one that we were reminded of recently with the news of a celebrity death.

You might not recognize Bill Paxton by name, but you know his face. He was all over the big screen over the last 30 years — whether it was fighting aliens, chasing storms, slinging guns, or hunting for treasure.

He had a lot of life in him, and, at just 61 years old, he had a lot of life LEFT in him.

That is, until a heart surgery-related stroke put him down for the count.

And according to a new CDC report, he didn’t have to make his grand exit so soon. And neither do you.

Because heart disease — a top killer in this country — is entirely preventable.

Remember that it takes YEARS for heart disease to become a problem. That gives you some time to stop heart disease before it starts.

Now, the feds and I don’t 100 percent agree on how you can dodge the heart disease bullet — especially since the CDC is still hyper-focused on what it considers “high” cholesterol and “high” blood pressure.

But they are right about one thing: Especially if you’ve got a family history of heart problems, make sure what you’re eating isn’t tipping the scales out of your favor.

You may think you’re eating “healthy” food, but if it’s wrapped in plastic or was shipped halfway across the country (or around the world), it’s probably loaded with preservatives and other chemicals that won’t do your heart a bit of good.

If you’ve been reading my eTips for a while now, you know I’m a staunch proponent of the Paleo Diet.

It’s not just that it takes your eating habits “back to basics” by relying on foods that our ancestors would’ve eaten. I’m actually OK with you eating something that your ancestors would’ve never had any access to — as long as it’s fresh and not processed or packaged.

While you’re at it, get outside and move around a little. At the very least, you’ll lower your stress levels. (And that can be a life-saver.)

Finally, as I shared with you in the February issue of my Nutrition & Healing newsletter, make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C. According to the research by legendary scientist Dr. Linus Pauling (who discovered C’s ability to fight the common cold), a long-term deficiency of vitamin C can trigger the development of deposits in the arteries of the heart, as associated with atherosclerosis.

In fact, according to their research, low levels of C — sometimes referred to as ascorbate deficiency — are a COMMON DENOMINATOR of cardiovascular disease in humans.

You can get vitamin C supplements pretty much anywhere, for just pennies a day.

Inflammation causes chronic autoimmune disease

Put out the fire in your body to free yourself of disease

When you’ve got an autoimmune disease, your body is literally fighting itself.

More specifically, your body’s immune system goes haywire, attacking your healthy cells as it would to fight off an infection, even when everything is perfectly normal.

The painful inflammation that comes with the process always seemed like it was just a result of the battle that your body has waged from within.

But a recent study from Massachusetts Eye and Ear finds that inflammation may also be the cause of that autoimmune response.

There’s no doubt that inflammation — even at low levels over the long term — plays a role in a multitude of health conditions. Whether it’s IBS… or psoriasis… or even depression… you can bet that there’s inflammation at work.

And over the long term, inflammation can be deadly. It’s been linked to killers like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.

According to the study, at least TWO of the factors that cause autoimmune disorders to be a lifetime reoccurrence are inflammatory markers called interleukins — or, specifically, interleukin-7 (IL-7) and interleukin-15 (IL-15).

We’ve known from previous studies that what was responsible for a range of autoimmune disorders (like multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and chronic inflammatory eye disorders) was something called the “T Helper 17” cell of the immune system.

TH17 cells come in handy when fighting off pathogens, because they can “remember” what causes disease and infections and stick around as long as those are present.

But when TH17 cells go haywire, that “memory” works against your favor — because once they start fighting your healthy tissue, they don’t stop. They stick around, which is what makes the resulting inflammation chronic.

But as researchers found in this new study on mice, it’s a vicious cycle. TH17 cells have receptors for the inflammatory interleukins, which seem to “lock in” the cells’ memory and perpetuate the creation of even more inflammation.

When the researchers neutralized the interleukins, however, lo and behold: There was a big reduction in TH17 memory.

All this time, mainstream medicine has been running in circles trying to TREAT the inflammation that’s only a SYMPTOM of autoimmune disease… when what we really need to do is to STOP inflammation before it STARTS!

The good news is you don’t have to wait on researchers to fight inflammation, because you can adopt some basic anti-inflammatory changes right now, on your own.

Supplement with some of the best anti-inflammatories out there — including omega-3s, vitamin C, curcumin, resveratrol, and a good probiotic.

Cut out the processed foods… the ingredients you can’t even pronounce… and get back to basics. Delicious animal protein, fresh fish, leafy greens, colorful vegetables, and healthy fats all fit the bill — and you’ve got plenty of choices of them with the Paleo Diet.

You’ll want to get up and get moving, too. A recent study found that walking briskly on a treadmill for just 20 minutes reduced blood levels of inflammation markers.

But there’s no need to buy a treadmill — just go outside! (And you’ll get some of that vitamin D while you’re at it.)

Fight prostate cancer without surgery or radiation

The most radical treatment for prostate cancer is…

Q: A friend of mine has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He doesn’t have any symptoms, but the doctor said he had to either cut it or have radiation. Can you suggest anything that might help him… that doesn’t involve lots of side effects?

GR: I’m sorry to hear about your friend. This can be a scary time for any guy — as well as his friends and loved ones.

Unfortunately, the treatments of the mainstream medical community aren’t the best first line of defense, since they can translate into a lifetime of having trouble “down there.”

Many men don’t need to do something so radical — at least not right away. Most prostate cancers grow pretty slowly… and they may NEVER require going under the knife or getting zapped!

In my practice, I look at a whole combination of factors in my patients — including hormones, toxins, immune systems, and nutrition.

First off, since any elevation of estrogen can lead to prostate cancer (and certainly won’t help if you’ve already been diagnosed), I have my patients naturally reduce their levels of it by:

  • Switching to Paleo. Less fat will make less extra estrogen!
  • Supplementing with DIM and I3C. The two best supplements that reduce estrogen in your bloodstream are both extracts from cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc.).
  • Limiting exposure. Limit the use of plastics, a common source of xenoestrogens and other toxins. The thousands of toxic chemicals in our environment have been linked to EXPLODING cancer rates.

As well, I often recommend one of the best immune boosters out there: intravenous vitamin C (IVC) therapy. But IVC can be expensive — especially with repeated treatments — and, depending on where you live, it can be difficult to find a practitioner who offers it.

I also recommend supplementing with quercetin, a polyphenol. Among the polyphenols, quercetin has been one of the most studied… and yet somehow overlooked!

It packs a one-two punch when it comes to knocking out cancer. First, it’s a powerful antioxidant that helps control the inflammation that damages your tissues — something that’s essential to any battle with cancer.

And second, it helps cut off communication between cancer cells — which kills them DEAD.

And that means it can slow its progression, even if you’ve already got prostate cancer.

Eating a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables will give you a fair amount of quercetin — but maybe not enough to make a difference. Supplements are available in common doses like 500 mg for less than $20 a month.

Several recent studies have demonstrated that quercetin with green tea extract can be even more effective than either alone, and others have looked at quercetin combined with the soy flavone genistein. All combinations have shown positive activity against prostate cancer.

Want me to answer your question next? Email me at askdrrothfeld@nutritionandhealing.com and keep an eye on your inbox for more Q&As in the future.

L-arginine and B vitamins improve hypertension

A natural combo for easing the “silent killer”

When you have high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension), the truth is you may not actually feel like anything is wrong.

They call it the “silent killer,” because it puts you at greater risk of stroke, heart attack, and aneurysm — often WITHOUT symptoms to tip you off that it’s happening.

Taking prescription meds to lower your BP, on the other hand, can make you so dizzy that you’re likely to fall. And if you’re a little on the older side, even a minor fall can do some major damage.

You know you can’t let your blood pressure go through the roof… and fortunately a new study shows that you can treat your high blood pressure effectively AND feel great without drugs.

Researchers in Germany have found that supplementing with a combination of the amino acid L-arginine — along with the B vitamins folic acid, B6, and B12 — can help you safely and effectively lower your blood pressure, with NO adverse side effects.

The three-month study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, gathered 81 middle-aged folks with mild to moderate blood pressure and randomly assigned them to receive either a placebo or a combination of L-arginine and B vitamins.

At the end of 90 days, systolic blood pressure decreased by an average of 6 mmHg for the treatment group, compared to no significant decrease for the placebo group.

That may sound like a small drop, but it’s actually pretty mighty.

To give you a reference point, previous research has shown that a 5 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure can equal a 14 percent reduction in stroke risk and a 9 percent reduction in coronary heart disease risk — not too shabby!

Not only that, but another measure of vascular system health improved in the German study, too: something known as the reactive hyperemia index (RHI), which is a marker of healthy blood vessel function.

Among those in the treatment group only, RHI increased by .37 — another small change that packs a big punch. A normal RHI score is 1.67 or higher, so improving yours by even a fraction can have a substantial impact.

As if all of that weren’t enough, the study also showed that levels of the amino acid homocysteine — which is linked to a higher risk of heart failure and stroke — decreased among those in the treatment group only.

That’s a bundle of evidence that if you have hypertension, you should get more L-arginine and B vitamins in your system.

Eating a Paleo diet of plentiful meat and vegetables will likely up your levels of both.

You can find L-arginine in protein sources such as beef, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. Leafy greens and citrus fruits are good sources of folate (B9), while B6 and other B vitamins are bountiful in bell peppers, summer squash, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.

If these foods aren’t your cup of tea, you can find your new hypertension fighters in supplement form.

New link between Alzheimer’s and diabetes

Control your diabetes to prevent Alzheimer’s

Let’s face it: Alzheimer’s disease is a thief.

It can steal your memory, your sense of time and place… and maybe even your personality.

You want to do everything you can to put Alzheimer’s in handcuffs before it starts breaking and entering!

And that’s especially true if you have diabetes.

Scientists have known for awhile that having type 2 diabetes may increase your chances of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis — and that the poorer your blood sugar control, the greater the risk.

In fact, they’ve gone so far as to coin the term “type 3 diabetes” to describe this mind-robbing disease!

But what they haven’t known is how diabetes might cause or contribute to dementia — a link that’s now been made much clearer by a new study published in the journal Nature.

Researchers at the University of Bath have discovered a potential “tipping point” between the two diseases.

And it turns out that excess blood sugar may be the domino that tips off a cascade of events allowing Alzheimer’s to progress.

The researchers studied brain samples from people with and without Alzheimer’s to see how elevated blood sugar affects cells in the brain.

They already knew that excess glucose (a.k.a. sugar) in the blood could damage delicate proteins in these cells, a process known as glycation.

When these abnormal proteins build up in the brain, an enzyme called MIF — short for the tongue-twisting “macrophage migration inhibitory factor” — comes on the scene to respond to the inflammation.

In other words, MIF is like a good cop trying to protect your brain cells from the development of tangles and plaques that are associated with Alzheimer’s.

And here’s the key: The researchers found that high blood sugar can reduce or hamper MIF’s ability to do its job.

The study showed that MIF is already affected by glucose even in subjects who are in the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s.

It appears that as Alzheimer’s progresses, the damage to MIF from blood sugar increases.

Though there’s still a lot to learn about the changes diabetes sets off in the brain, this is strong new evidence that diabetes isn’t just correlated with a greater risk of Alzheimer’s — it plays a part in its development.

So, the message is obvious: You don’t want your brain cells awash in excess sugar!

But you don’t want to suffer the potentially nasty side effects of blood sugar meds, either.

Luckily, there are many natural ways to keep your blood sugar at healthy levels without the risks of drugs:

  • Try eating a Paleo (“caveman”) diet of natural fats, proteins, fruits, and vegetables to improve your blood sugar control.
  • Add cinnamon to your dishes — it’s a warm, delicious spice that studies show helps diabetics regulate glucose.
  • Take berberine (a.k.a. “Emperor’s Salt”), a natural supplement extracted from plant sources that’s proven to be as effective in regulating blood sugar as the drug metformin — but much safer.

Green tea can save bone marrow patients’ lives

Yet another reason to go green… with your tea!

There are two bone marrow disorders that often come with fatal complications. It’s an awful reality.

One, multiple myeloma, is a cancer in which normal plasma cells become malignant in the bone marrow.

In the other — a rare condition called amyloidosis — protein builds up in the organs.

In both cases, patients can be overrun with a fatal complication. But according to new research, there’s something that’s powerful, life-saving, and widely available at a reasonable price.

It’s my favorite: green tea!

It all has to do with a beneficial compound in it, a polyphenol called epigallocatechine-3-gallate (or, EGCG for short).

According to a new study out of Washington University in St. Louis, EGCG has the ability to STOP the processes that take place in creating the life-threatening situation.

If you’ve been reading my eTips for a while now, you’ve heard about how green tea’s compounds can boost your metabolism, protect your cells from damage, prevent cancer, and reduce anxiety.

It can even reduce joint swelling, calming the inflammation that causes painful flare-ups from rheumatoid arthritis. And it can do it in just over a week!

Well, in this new study, scientists looked at nine bone marrow patients and isolated their light chains and found that the EGCG stopped the protein buildup from occurring and growing to dangerous levels.

That’s pretty powerful stuff.

And what’s more, it appears that the same mechanism is at work with EGCG and the protein buildup (or “amyloid plaques”) that’s thought to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, animal studies have demonstrated protection in AD as well as Parkinson’s disease and ALS.

It’s also been shown to improve cognitive function after neurological traumas!

You can find EGCG supplements pretty easily online for less than a dollar a day.

But even if your bone marrow is perfect… and you haven’t got any neurological disorders… green tea is chock full of antioxidants and therefore one of the healthiest things you can drink.

Drinking a cup or two of green tea can give you about 300mg of EGCG — but to get the most benefit out of it, go for good quality, loose-leaf tea imported from China or Japan, not cheap teabags.

And you won’t have to worry about getting the jitters, because green tea delivers about a third the caffeine content of coffee.

If you’re particularly sensitive, you can also find decaffeinated versions at your local health food store.

Exercise improves breast cancer survival

Get moving to thrive and survive breast cancer

When you’re a breast cancer patient or survivor, your follow-up care probably feels like the lyrics to that old disco hit, “I Will Survive.”

You yearn to go from “At first I was afraid, I was petrified”… to “I’ve got all my life to live.”

Whether it’s changing your diet or quitting smoking, you want to do everything you can to increase your chances of getting — and staying — cancer-free. But when it comes to your doc harping on you to start or maintain regular exercise, you probably feel like throwing in the towel.

But a new meta-analysis shows why it’s so important to start or maintain an exercise routine, even when the cancer has sapped your energy: Exercise could SAVE your life!

A review published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at 70 articles related to lifestyle habits — including diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, and vitamin supplementation — to see which factors had the most impact on breast cancer survival.

Exercise came out at the top of the list!

Of all the lifestyle choices that the researchers checked out, physical activity had the strongest effect in reducing breast cancer recurrence.

In fact, they found that women who exercised regularly reduced their risk of dying from breast cancer by 40 percent compared to women who didn’t.

This was true whether the women were newly diagnosed or at any stage in their treatment or recovery.

I know that you probably feel downright lousy. You might even feel too depressed to move.

You’re not alone in this: Less than 13 percent of women with breast cancer get the recommended amount exercise per week. And breast cancer patients who have undergone chemo or radiation exercise even less than those who haven’t.

But exercise can make you feel BETTER — especially if you’ve got breast cancer (or are in remission).

It helps keep your weight in check, which itself lowers the risk of breast cancer recurrence. And regular exercise also leads to fewer side effects from chemo, radiation, and hormone therapy.

So, don’t throw in the towel! Pick it up to mop up your sweat.

The researchers in the study recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, five days per week.

Maybe even move your workout outside to soak up more UV rays, which your body converts into vitamin D (a.k.a. the “sunshine vitamin”) — shown in other studies to improve your chances of surviving breast cancer.

Also, just because exercise tops the list doesn’t mean you can overlook other healthy lifestyle habits, like your diet.

Make sure to eat abundant amounts of veggies, especially cruciferous ones like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts — they contain a compound called sulforaphane that can stop the growth of breast cancer tumors, studies show.

Nature’s greenery helps combat depression

A mood boost from our feathered friends

When you’ve got the blues, you may feel like you never want to step outside your front door again.

Depression — and its close cousin, anxiety — has a way of making you want to stay inside, draw the curtains, and nurse your woes with a box of tissues on the couch.

You’d sooner pop a pill than have to face the world in your gloomy state, right?

Well, according to a new study, you may not have to expose yourself to the risky side effects of prescription antidepressants to boost your mood.

Instead, swap the blues for a dose of nature beneath spring’s blue skies!

Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that feasting your eyes on nature — specifically trees, greenery, and birds — is associated with a lower prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress.

The study, published in BioScience, surveyed several different neighborhoods within a metropolitan area of southern England and measured the presence of shrubbery, trees, and birds in each area.

The researchers also surveyed how common mental health issues were among people living in each neighborhood and collected demographic information.

After crunching the numbers, the researchers found that people living in neighborhoods with more birds, shrubs, and trees are less likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress.

This was true whether people resided in urban or suburban neighborhoods.

What’s more, the link between the presence of nature and improved mental health held true even after the researchers controlled for variations in neighborhood deprivation, household income, age, and a variety of other demographic factors.

That means you don’t necessarily have to live in an upscale or a secluded area to reap the benefits of the great outdoors — just keep your eyes on any trees and, especially, birds in sight.

The researchers found that the more birds people could see in the afternoons from their windows, in their garden, or around the neighborhood, the fewer mental health problems they had, which suggests that these creatures can help your happiness take flight!

So instead of binge-watching Netflix in a dark room to combat depression and anxiety, you should throw open those curtains and at least peek out the window at the birds roosting in the trees.

You can also get a bird feeder that you can install pretty easily right outside your window.

Better yet, step outdoors and take a stroll.

Being active outdoors will serve to combat your depression and anxiety in other ways, too.

The vitamin D you soak up from exposure to the sun can help ease depression, especially in those who are vitamin D deficient, studies show.

And there’s also plenty of evidence that getting your body moving is another way to beat the blues.