Real Advantage Nutrients

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

Run, don’t walk, to the organic produce aisle

You grab a strawberry from your fruit bowl… wash it off with some cool water… and sink your teeth in.

And not only does it taste great, but you FEEL healthier with every juicy bite, knowing that the fiber and nutrients you’re swallowing can help shield your heart, brain, and lungs from damage.

But if your strawberry or other fruit selection isn’t organic, you could be biting off more than you intended to chew.

According to a new report, that’s because conventionally grown strawberries top the list of fruits and veggies that are loaded with toxic pesticide residue.

And washing or even peeling your produce will do NOTHING to protect you!

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) issues a list of the produce MOST likely to contain pesticide residue, appropriately named the “Dirty Dozen.”

It’s based on nearly 40,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture tests of about 50 fruits and veggies that are washed and peeled before testing.

And beloved strawberries have now held the top Dirty Dozen spot for the third year in a row.

This year, the EWG found that a third of all conventionally grown strawberry samples contained not one… not two… but residue from at least 10 different pesticides.

That’s one toxic cocktail!

Spinach, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, and tomatoes were also high on the list — and even though there’s no such thing as a “safe” pesticide, the chemicals that these fruits and veggies harbored were serious offenders.

A whopping 80 percent of apples and 30 percent of cherries were tainted with pesticides so dangerous that they’re BANNED in Europe.

And the report found that spinach was likely to have high concentrations of an insecticide that’s a known neurotoxin.

Now, feds and farmers argue that these substances won’t hurt you in small amounts.

But that simply flies in the face of a bushel of high-quality research that’s tied pesticide exposure to dementia, cancer, developmental issues, reproductive problems, and more.

And that sure is ironic — because fruits and veggies are known to PROTECT you from the very health problems that pesticides can cause!

Now, you could simply swap the Dirty Dozen for the “Clean 15,” EWG’s list of produce that’s LEAST likely to contain pesticide residue. This year, it includes avocados, pineapple, asparagus, and cabbage.

But even those selections aren’t exactly “clean,” either. Many of them still showed residue from at least one pesticide.

So, if you don’t want to cancel out the health benefits of your produce with pesticides, aim to buy only fruits and veggies that are certified organic… and therefore NEVER sprayed with that toxic gunk.

Organics are not only safer than conventionally grown, but they’ve also been found to be richer in health-boosting nutrients.

They may cost a little more — but just think of it as an insurance policy against doctors’ bills later on!

These popular pills pave the way to allergies

Ah, spring.

This season is surely one of the loveliest times to be alive, with trees sprouting new leaves and flowers bursting into bloom.

That is, unless you sniffle and sneeze your way through the entire season!

No one knows for certain why some folks suffer with seasonal allergies while others breathe in that sweet spring air with no trouble at all.

But according to a new study, whether you can tolerate all that pollen may have something to do with what pills you’ve popped in the past.

That’s because two medications commonly found in your medicine cabinet — antacids and antibiotics — can raise your risk of ALL types of allergies!

In a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers analyzed the health records of nearly 800,000 children and found that those given antacids or antibiotics as babies were more likely to develop childhood allergies than those who weren’t.

Antacids doubled their chances of food allergies… and antibiotics doubled their chances of asthma.

And both drugs increased the risk of hay fever or a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called “anaphylaxis” by 50 percent!

Now, you may be wondering what on earth antacids and antibiotics have in common that could trigger such similar reactions.

And the answer begins and ends in your gut.

Yesterday, I shared how non-antibiotic drugs can disrupt the balance between the “good” and “bad” bugs in your belly. Well, the same holds true for those acid-blocking meds – and it’s a result of the drugs doing exactly what they’re designed to do!

You see, the very same stomach acid that can kick up painful acid reflux also provides a first line of defense against any “bad” bugs that hitch a ride in on the food you swallow.

When you block that acid with an antacid, bad bugs can slip through to your gut, where they can take up residence and throw off your delicate balance of bacteria.

Of course, antibiotics can lead to a similar result — because they wipe out the “good” bugs in your belly along with the bad.

And when your gut bacteria are knocked out of whack, your immune system may overreact, which leads to allergy symptoms.

Now, even though the study was done on kids, these drugs can have the same effect on people of all ages – even if you’re just “young at heart.”

In fact, the results may even help explain why ADULT-ONSET allergies to food and pollen have risen in recent years!

So, whether you want to protect yourself from allergies… or just don’t want any new ones… avoid BOTH antacids and antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.

If you’ve got reflux, try taking capsules of Chios mastic gum, which can bring your acid levels down AND may also kill off nasty gut bugs.

Avoiding acidic foods (like tomatoes and citrus) and shedding excess pounds can also help take the sting out of reflux.

And if you do need an antibiotic, the probiotics found in foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can not only repopulate your belly with good bugs, but they can also ease seasonal allergy symptoms.

Not taking antibiotics? Your belly bugs might still be at risk

Friend, right now… as you read this… you’re crawling with bugs.

No, I’m not talking about those multi-legged pests like ants and spiders that have started to hatch with the warmer weather.

I mean the community of bacteria inside your GUT!

Your gut is home to TRILLIONS of bacteria (a.k.a. your “microbiome”), and the majority of them are beneficial. They help your body break down food… synthesize vitamins… and even pump up your immune system.

But “bad” bugs also lurk among them — and if anything disrupts the balance between good and evil, these rogue critters can take over, walloping you with everything from toilet troubles to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Now, I’ve told you before about how antibiotics can wipe out the good guys and open the door for an overgrowth of infectious bacteria like C. diff (a.k.a. “deadly diarrhea”).

But according to a new study, antibiotics aren’t the ONLY offenders in your medicine cabinet — because even non-antibiotic drugs can wreak havoc on your microbiome!

In the study, European researchers tested over 1,000 drugs that are currently available behind the pharmacy counter to see what effect, if any, they had on 40 different strains of beneficial bacteria that normally reside in the human gut.

And it turned out that 24 percent of the drugs zapped the good bugs and made it tough for them to grow!

Now, some of the drugs tested were antibiotics, so no surprises there.

But what’s really shocking is that nearly 30 percent of the NON-ANTIBIOTIC drugs also threw the balance of the gut flora off-kilter.

Those drugs came from all therapeutic classes, from painkillers to sleep meds to antipsychotics – which means that you could be putting your belly bugs in peril EVERY time you fill a prescription!

What’s more, the researchers noted that when non-antibiotic drugs threaten your microbiome, they can cause the SAME side effects as antibiotics, such as abdominal cramps and the desperate need to “go.”

Of course, the ideal way to guard your gut is to turn to nature — rather than drugs — for whatever ails you.

But if you’re currently taking any prescription meds, you want to do everything you can to protect the delicate balance of bacteria in your belly.

Eating fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can help beef up the good guys and keep pathogens from gaining a foothold.

If the sour tastes of those foods aren’t your favorite, supplement your diet with probiotics from a trusted maker. Look for a brand with multiple strains and colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions.

Eating a diet full of fiber… exercising regularly… and even drinking black or green tea can also help promote the growth of beneficial strains in your gut.

Just stay away from sugars (whether “natural” or artificial) and refined carbs — because the sweet stuff makes harmful bacteria grow like gangbusters.

Raid the spice rack to beat back bulge

It’s the time of year when every magazine on the newsstand tells you to start getting “beach-body” ready for summer.

Which is pretty funny — because the best way to have a “beach body” is simply to put your body on the beach!

All of the fad diets and workouts they’re trying to sell to you are ridiculous… but it’s never a bad idea to shed a few extra pounds any time of year.

We know that carrying around too much excess weight can raise your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer — and those stubborn pounds can be harder to lose as you age and your metabolism slows.

But you don’t need to do a crazy “cleanse” or extreme exercise to zap that fat — because according to a new study, something sitting in your spice rack can accelerate weight loss naturally.

I’m talking about the dynamic duo of turmeric and black pepper!

As you may know, turmeric — which flavors everything from Indian curry to ballpark mustard — contains a natural anti-inflammatory called “curcumin,” while black pepper gets its peppery taste from a compound called “piperine.”

In the study, published in Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers fed obese mice a calorie-restricted diet either on its own or supplemented with curcumin, piperine, or a combination of both curcumin AND piperine.

After about five months, it turned out that the mice who received both curcumin and piperine lost MORE body fat than mice in ANY of the other groups.

That means that combining a sensible diet with this spicy twosome had a greater impact on weight loss than diet alone.

Not only that, but the spice compounds were stronger TOGETHER than they were individually!

The theory is that curcumin can speed weight loss by helping to hold blood sugar in check… reversing insulin resistance … and even reducing the formation of fat tissue by suppressing the blood vessels needed to form it .

And adding piperine to the mix can boost the effectiveness of curcumin — because piperine is known to shield curcumin from damage as it travels through your belly, making more of it available to your cells.

That’s nothing to sneeze at! (Forgive my grandpa humor, I can’t help myself sometimes.)

Plus, the benefits don’t stop there. Previous studies have shown that the turmeric-pepper combo can improve knee osteoarthritis symptoms, benefit your heart, and even protect your blood vessels from diabetic damage .

So, whether you want to slash your risk of disease… or just want to look good on the sand… try shaking these tasty spices into your meals.

As the study shows, the spices work best with a diet that promotes weight loss, and for that, you can’t beat the Paleo (a.k.a. “caveman”) diet, which eliminates the grains and sugars that can pack on pounds.

Getting some exercise can grease the wheels of weight loss, too!

Why your breakfast should be bursting with color

Spring is in full bloom, and that means that something colorful and juicy is starting to show up at your local farmers market.

That’s right — it’s the beginning of berry season!

Sure, you could pick up strawberries or blueberries at most grocery stores year-round. But berries picked during the peak season are naturally sweeter… plumper… and more vibrantly colored.

And according to a new study, those vivid colors may even be the key to an important benefit berries have for your health.

That’s because the plant compounds that give berries their deep red, blue, or purple colors — called “anthocyanins” — are powerful weapons against cancer!

In the study, Finnish researchers exposed cancer cells to anthocyanins from various berries.

They found that the anthocyanins increased the activation of an enzyme called “sirtuin 6” (a.k.a. SIRT6) inside the cells.

Now, you definitely want as much SIRT6 running through your cells as possible — because the enzyme has been linked to everything from reducing inflammation to repairing damaged DNA.

And in the study, SIRT6 also fired up a gene that’s responsible for suppressing cancerous tumors — which means that the more SIRT6 is activated in your cells, the harder it is for cancer to grow and spread.

That may be part of why berries have been shown in previous studies to not only stop cancer cells in their tracks… but also slash your risk of developing cancer in the first place.

Aside from boosting SIRT6, berries are also packed with flavonoids, ellagitannins, vitamin C, and fiber — all of which are known cancer-fighters.

And they’ve even been proven to boost the effectiveness of radiation treatments.

That’s a whole lot of anti-cancer potential in one pint-sized package!

Plus, the benefits of berries don’t stop there. They can also boost your immune system… slash your risk of diabetes and stroke… and even protect against cognitive decline.

Now, in the study, the berries that increased SIRT6 the most were two varieties that are popular in Europe but tough to find fresh in the States: ligonberries and blackcurrants.

But if you’re not jetting over to “the Continent” anytime soon, you really can’t go wrong with any berry that’s available right here and right now. (Just make sure it’s organic.)

Toss some colorful berries into your salads… layer them into Greek yogurt for a healthy “parfait”… or blend frozen berries into smoothies.

You can even add them to savory marinades and sauces for meat and fish.

Just don’t be too tempted by berry pies and shortcakes — because the refined carbs and sugars in these treats only up your risk of cancer.

Smooth out blood sugar spikes with THIS vitamin

When you’ve got diabetes, it can feel like your blood sugar is taking you on a wild ride… and all you want is for the heart-pounding journey to be over.

But popping a pill to get diabetes under control can be like trading the roller coaster for the “haunted house” attraction — with terrifying side effects around every corner.

There are no “thrills” to these “chills”!

But according to the latest research, there’s a natural way to get off the scary ride of diabetes for good — because vitamin E can get your blood sugar under control without side effects.

In the new meta-analysis, published in Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome, researchers analyzed a dozen studies that looked at the effects of various vitamins — including B, C, D, and E — on diabetes.

And it turned out that among the vitamins tested, vitamin E showed the strongest ability to reduce both blood sugar and “glycated hemoglobin,” which is a measure of your average blood sugar over the past three months. You may know that measurement better as HbA1c.

The theory is that the powerful antioxidant properties of vitamin E can reduce the oxidative stress that damages cells in your pancreas, where insulin is made.

In fact, previous studies have shown that vitamin E deficiency is common among those in the early stages of diabetes — which suggests that your pancreas can’t function properly without enough of it!

What’s more, the meta-analysis also found some evidence that combining vitamin E with vitamin C, another potent antioxidant, may help reduce diabetes complications.

And that’s fantastic news, since the complications of diabetes — from nerve pain to foot damage — can be harder to bear than the disease itself.

Of course, the benefits of vitamin E aren’t limited to diabetes. Studies have also shown that it can slow down atherosclerosis… slash your risk of age-related macular degeneration… and even protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

So, whether you’re struggling with diabetes or just want to prevent it, why not up your intake of this essential vitamin?

Leafy greens, avocados, nuts, and seeds are all rich in vitamin E — and these foods are a delicious part of the high-protein, low-sugar Paleo (a.k.a. “caveman”) diet, which can help put diabetes permanently in reverse.

But since it gets harder to absorb vitamins and other nutrients from food as we age, it’s also a good idea to take vitamin supplements.

Most high-quality daily multivitamins have enough E (and C) to meet your needs — and they also contain vitamin D, which helps manage blood sugar, too.

Are you DRINKING your dessert?

You drink a glass of OJ at breakfast… crack open a can of soda at lunch… and grab a fancy coffee drink mid-afternoon.

Before you even get to dinner, you’ve already guzzled a whole meal’s worth of calories — in liquid form!

And faster than you can say Jack Robinson, you could drink more sugar than you’d eat in a slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream.

In fact, according to a new study, regularly knocking back sugary beverages may actually be WORSE for your health than raiding the dessert tray — because over time, those liquid sugars could tax your heart in a deadly way.

In the study, which was recently presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association, researchers gave about 18,000 people — none of whom had heart disease — questionnaires about their intake of sugary drinks and foods and then followed them for six years.

By the end of the study, it turned out that those who drank the MOST sugar-sweetened beverages each day — the equivalent of about two cans of soda daily — had more than DOUBLE the risk of DYING from heart disease than those who drank the LEAST.

And that held true even after the researchers controlled for other factors that typically boost heart disease risk, including smoking, inactivity, and high blood pressure.

Curiously, the study didn’t find a link between eating a lot of sugary FOODS and an increased risk of death. The association was limited to sugary DRINKS.

Now, that doesn’t mean that sugar-loaded foods will do your heart any favors.

The theory is simply that the liquid sugars in drinks can spike your blood sugar even more quickly than sugars in solid foods because they speed through your digestive tract with little fat, fiber, or protein to slow them down.

And the steeper those blood sugar spikes, the more strongly your blood vessels contract, making heart attacks more likely AND more severe .

Sugar-sweetened beverages have also been linked to everything from obesity to diabetes and hypertension — all of which are bad news for your heart.

So, to protect your ticker, you want to avoid beverages with added sugar like your life depends on it… because it does!

That goes for everything from fizzy sodas to Frappuccinos to fruit juice.

Of course, orange, cranberry, and cherry juices all contain natural fruit sugars and do have proven health benefits.

But read labels carefully — because when the ingredients include “high-fructose corn syrup” or “juices from concentrate,” it’s just sly way of upping the sugar content without using the word “sugar.”

The best way to wet your whistle is with a cool glass of plain ol’ water… or a steaming cup of unsweetened tea.

These meds create a buffet for bad bugs

You check in to the hospital… and you expect to check out feeling much healthier than when you arrived.

Thankfully, most folks do.

But more and more, we’re seeing that those who’ve spent time in hospital beds pick up secondary infections that are WORSE than the illnesses they came in with!

That’s because nasty bacteria often lurk in healthcare facilities — and one of the worst offenders is a bug called Clostridium difficile (a.k.a. C. diff), which causes deadly diarrhea.

Now, the overuse of antibiotics is primarily to blame for the C. diff epidemic that’s currently sweeping the nation — because antibiotics wipe out the “good” bugs in your gut along with the bad, allowing C. diff to swoop in and fill the void.

But we haven’t known exactly HOW C. diff thrives once it takes up residence in your gut… until now.

A new study shows that antibiotics practically serve an “all-you-can-eat buffet” to these rogue bacteria!

In the study, North Carolina State University researchers introduced C. diff into the guts of mice that were treated with antibiotics. Then, they analyzed the contents of their guts four different times over the next day.

It turned out that as the population of C. diff in the mice’s guts INCREASED, an amino acid that normal gut bacteria “eat” as a fuel source — called “proline” — DECREASED.

After further analysis, the researchers found that the proline was being gobbled up by none other than C. diff — because antibiotics had pretty much wiped out all of the other competition!

Imagine the regular patrons of a restaurant clearing out to make way for a private banquet, and you’ll have a pretty good picture of how C. diff got to eat like a king.

That feast allowed C. diff to multiply rapidly and ultimately dominate the mice’s guts, developing into full-blown infections.

Once C. diff takes over, it’s tough to stop these bugs — because they’re resistant to some of our most powerful drugs. That means that you want to do everything you can to avoid this pathogen in the first place.

C. diff can hide out on everything from medical equipment to bed linens. And alcohol-based hand sanitizers DON’T kill C. diff – so when spending time in a healthcare setting, be sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water.

Above all, you should only take an antibiotic when absolutely necessary.

But if you do end up needing one, taking probiotics — or eating fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut — can repopulate your gut with beneficial bacteria that fight C. diff by crowding them out.

Just don’t take your antibiotic and probiotics at exactly the same time, because the antibiotics will neutralize those good bugs as soon as they’re in your belly.

Here’s why you should indulge in a weekly fish feast

One day you’re feeling swell… and the next you’re overcome with fatigue, numbness, and pain.

When you’ve got multiple sclerosis (MS), it seems like the only certainty is uncertainty.

You never know when a flare-up will strike!

And to make matters worse, we don’t know exactly what sets off this neurodegenerative disease — or how to cure it.

But according to a new study, there’s one CONSTANT you can add to your life — or rather, to your dinner plate — that puts the brakes on MS.

And it’s a rather tasty one, too.

I’m talking about FISH.

In the study, which was recently presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers looked at the dietary habits of about 1,100 people, half of whom had MS or an early hallmark of the disease called “clinically isolated syndrome.”

And something really fascinating emerged about the biggest fish eaters: Those who ate fish at least once a week were 45 percent less likely to develop full-blown MS than those who ate less fish.

That means that they cut their MS risk nearly in HALF just by enjoying a weekly seafood meal!

And the same reduction in risk held true for those who ate slightly less fish — one to three times a month — but who supplemented with fish oil.

The theory is that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (especially fatty fish like salmon and mackerel) — called DHA and EPA — have a protective effect that tamps down inflammation.

You see, even though we don’t know what gets the ball rolling on MS, we do know that its symptoms are caused by an immune system that’s gone haywire and started attacking the nervous system as it would an infection.

And that immune response sets off inflammation that may not quit, wreaking havoc on your nerve cells and saddling you with everything from walking difficulties to brain fog.
But the omega-3s in fish are such potent anti-inflammatories that they can put out these flames… and put the kibosh on MS in the process. They’ve even been shown to beat back heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease!

So, why not serve yourself more “fruits of the sea”?

Fish are delicious baked, steamed, or grilled. Just stay away from fried fish and those breaded sticks and sandwiches.

Choose wild-caught varieties, which will have higher levels of omega-3s than farmed fish.

But if you’re just not partial to the taste, fish-oil supplements are widely available at health food stores and online.

And if you’re looking to ease the symptoms of MS, studies have shown that vitamin D and the “sleep hormone” melatonin can both tame flare-ups.

Does your restaurant order come with a side of… PLASTIC?

Remember when gathering around the dinner table was the anchor of every family’s day?

I think we can safely say that ship has long since sailed. In fact, the number of Americans who regularly whip up supper at their own stoves declines year after year.

And with everything from drive-thrus to apps that let you have food delivered to your door with just a swipe or two, who could blame you for spending a little more time enjoying your meal than preparing it?

So much for “Sunday Supper.”

Now, restaurant meals can be convenient and easy for everyone to agree on. But according to a new study, whether you hit a fast-food joint or linger at a fine restaurant, eating a lot of meals out can mean that you’re also eating something that you’ll never see listed on the menu.

It turns out that restaurant meals can be loaded with high levels of toxic chemicals from plastic, called “phthalates”!

In the study, University of California researchers found that those who’d consumed the MOST meals out over the prior 24 hours had 35-percent HIGHER levels of phthalates in their urine than those who consumed the LEAST. (And note that some amount of phthalates showed up in pretty much everybody’s urine samples.)

Now, we’ve known for a while that fast food is loaded with phthalates — because those chemicals can leach right out of plastic wrappers and takeout boxes and right into your “value meal.”

And sure enough, the study shows that certain food items (like cheeseburgers and other sandwiches) only boosted phthalate levels if they were purchased from a fast-food outlet.

But the surprising finding from this study is that ANY restaurant meal — even meals from “wholesome” dining establishments like cafeterias and sit-down eateries — boosted the participants’ phthalate levels.

The theory is that foods prepared in restaurant kitchens are exposed to multiple sources of phthalates that are rare in home kitchens — including food-processing equipment and latex sanitary gloves.
The authors of the study say that the problem with their findings is that two-thirds of Americans eat at least some outside food.

But if you ask me, the really big problem — besides the “ick factor” of eating chemicals from plastic (which just isn’t appetizing) – is that phthalates are known to disrupt your hormones by mimicking estrogen.

And that can create big problems for both ladies AND gents.

Now, the best way to keep these plastic poisons out of your system is to roll up your sleeves and channel your inner Julia Child!

If you’re pressed for time, try chopping veggies and marinating meats on a Sunday so it’s easy to throw together meals throughout the week.
Use only glass containers instead of plastic to store food… and never “nuke” anything plastic in the microwave, which releases more of the chemicals.