Real Advantage Nutrients

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

Replace potatoes with THIS to slash blood sugar

From potato salad… to potato chips… to baked potatoes hot off the grill, it seems like no summer picnic or BBQ is complete without a side of spuds.

And while you could argue that America’s favorite tuber is technically a “vegetable,” potatoes are mostly composed of starch, which your body later breaks down into glucose (a.k.a. sugar).

That means that “taters” can quickly spike your blood sugar, significantly raising your risk of diabetes.

But according to a new study, there’s another side dish that’ll please your taste buds AND smooth out those blood sugar spikes — because swapping potatoes for lentils can slash your blood sugar by over a third.

In the study, Canadian researchers measured the blood sugar of a group of healthy adults both before and two hours after they ate a meal of potatoes only, and then they tested subjects again before and after they ate half potatoes and half lentils.

They found that when lentils partially took the place of the potatoes, the participants’ postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar was 35 percent LOWER than when they ate potatoes only.

Now, that’s no small potatoes — and just think how much lower it would have been if the participants had eaten lentils only!

The researchers also repeated the study with white rice and found that swapping out lentils for half the rice led to a 20 percent drop in blood sugar.

That makes these little legumes the perfect substitute for any “white carb” you may be craving!

Technically, lentils are “pulses,” which are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family.

And all pulses — including chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and dried beans (like kidney beans and lima beans) — are rich in fiber, which slows down the release of sugars into your bloodstream, protecting you from dangerous blood sugar spikes.

Pulses also contain certain components that inhibit enzymes involved in your body’s absorption of glucose from food, meaning that less sugar finds its way into your system in the first place.

Plus, the benefits of lentils don’t stop there. They’re loaded with heart-healthy folate and magnesium — and previous studies have shown that they can slash your risk of death from heart disease by 82 percent !

And while potatoes set you up for a blood sugar crash later on — leaving you hungry and fatigued — lentils are packed with protein and iron that give you long-lasting energy.

So, whether you’ve got diabetes or just want to prevent it, say “See you later, taters!” and try some lentils instead.

Cooked, seasoned lentils are delicious added to soups and salads or on their own as a side dish.

And if you don’t want to bother with cooking, you can pick up a flavorful lentil dish at your local Indian or Middle Eastern restaurant.

Quit these 2 habits to save your memory

It keeps your bones healthy… your muscles, nerves, and blood vessels humming along… and your heart beating.

I’m talking about calcium.

This essential mineral is a cornerstone of good health — but there are places you don’t want to have too much calcium.

You may already know about calcium deposits in your arteries… but did you know that it can also happen in your BRAIN?

And an excess of calcium in your delicate brain cells can up your risk of Parkinson’s and even Alzheimer’s disease .

Fortunately, according to a new study, you can protect your gray matter from calcium buildup by cutting back on two things: sugar and cigarettes.

According to Dutch researchers, brain scans showed that diabetics and smokers were 50 percent more likely to have calcium buildup in their brains than non-diabetics and non-smokers.

Even worse, that buildup occurred specifically in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s typically damaged in those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia!

Now, when the researchers gave the participants cognitive tests, they didn’t find any evidence that these calcium deposits had impacted the participants’ cognitive function.

But the hippocampus has many layers, so it’s possible that the calcification hadn’t yet reached the layers involved in short- and long-term memory. In fact, the study found that each added year of age was associated with a 5 percent greater risk of these calcium deposits — so it could be that smoking and diabetes are like ticking time bombs.

Plus, that’s not all you have to worry about with smoking and diabetes, which also both raise your risk of cardiovascular disease… kidney disease… and even leg circulation issues that result in amputation .

So, if you want to protect your health — from your gray matter all the way down to your toes — snuff out those cigarettes and cut out the sugar.

Here’s how:
1. To kick the smoking habit, your best bet is to go “cold turkey” and talk to a holistic doc who can recommend natural methods (like acupuncture) to curb those cravings.
2. Switching to the Paleo (a.k.a. “caveman”) diet has been proven to put diabetes in reverse. And the fresh meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, fruits, and vegetables you’ll be eating are so satisfying that your sugar cravings may even disappear!

Finally, don’t take this to mean that you shouldn’t take calcium supplements – because you still need calcium, you just need it in the right places in your body and in the right way. You can optimize how calcium can work for you by getting enough of two essential vitamins.

Vitamin D3 helps your body absorb calcium, and vitamin K2 helps sweep excess calcium out of arteries and tissues where you don’t need it and sends it off to where you DO need it: your bones.

Your belly bugs can beef up your bones

Good health begins and ends in your gut.

Boy, is that becoming clearer and clearer.

Researchers keep stumbling upon surprising ways that probiotics — which are beneficial bacteria that populate your gut — can support your health in parts of your body far removed from where they take up residence!

Recently, I’ve told you about how probiotics can wipe out seasonal allergies and protect you from blood poisoning (a.k.a. sepsis ).

And according to a new study, they can even fortify your BONES!

In the study, Swedish researchers randomly divided a group of 90 older women with low bone mineral density (BMD, a measure of bone strength) into two groups.

Half of them took a powder containing probiotics every day over the course of a year, while the other half took a placebo.

By the end of the study, when the researchers compared CT scans of the women’s lower legs to scans taken at the beginning of the study, they found that those who took the probiotic powder lost HALF as much bone as those who took the placebo.

That means that their bones were a heck of a lot stronger and less likely to snap like twigs.

And unlike osteoporosis drugs — which can come with some pretty hefty hazards, from a-fib to increased cancer risk — the probiotic powder caused NO side effects.

Now, the study didn’t determine exactly how critters that live in your gut can slow deterioration in your bones.

But previous research on mice has shown that probiotics can up the levels of a bone-building hormone called “osteocalcin” in your blood and increase the number of bone-forming cells called “osteoblasts” in your skeleton.

Plus, we know that probiotics can lower the levels of inflammation throughout your body — and inflammation is a major risk factor for osteoporosis .

And in the study, probiotics were so effective at slashing bone loss that the researchers wagered that they’ll “be an effective and safe way to prevent the onset of osteoporosis in many older people in the future.”

But why wait for the future when you can start beefing up your bones right NOW?

Look for a brand of probiotic supplements with multiple human-tested strains and colony-forming units (CFUs) in the billions.

Drinking tea… exercising regularly… and getting ample amounts of magnesium and vitamins D and K (which help calcium do its job) can also strengthen your bones and ward off osteoporosis.

The heart attack warning sign you shouldn’t ignore

This time of year, everyone’s looking to beat the summer heat.

And whether that means taking a dip in the pool or hiding out in an air-conditioned movie theater, finding ways to stay cool can be lots of fun.

But guys, there’s one place you DON’T want things to cool off.

The bedroom!

When things aren’t “sizzling” with your special gal, it can really be a blow to your manhood.

But according to a new study, your bruised ego is the least of your worries — because guys who have trouble performing “in the moment” may also be sitting ducks for cardiovascular disease.

That is, if your bedroom issues are vascular-related… and not caused by anxiety or other emotional issues.

In a study published in Circulation, researchers tracked the heart health of about 2,000 older men — some of whom had vascular-related bedroom troubles — for four years.

By the end of the study, they found that the men who struggled in the bedroom were TWICE as likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or sudden cardiac death.

And that was true even when the researchers controlled for other CVD risk factors such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and smoking.

Now, when your bedroom issues are vascular-related, it means that you’re not getting enough blood flow to your “manly parts,” typically because of some kind of damage or blockage in your blood vessels.

So, the theory is that losing your “oomph” below the belt may be an early warning sign that arterial blockage and decreased blood flow are underway in OTHER areas of your body — namely, in the critical vessels that deliver blood to your heart and brain.

In fact, previous studies have shown that guys with bedroom woes are more likely than guys without them to have two hidden risk factors for CVD.

First, they’re more likely to have impaired endothelial cells, which line the inside of blood vessels and help them dilate fully. And we know that when those cells don’t function properly, your blood can’t flow freely… sending your risk of heart attack and stroke through the roof.

Second, they’re also more likely to have a precursor to atherosclerosis, which causes your arteries to become clogged with cholesterol and hardened with plaque.

So, gentlemen, if you’ve lost those “fireworks” in the bedroom, don’t shrug it off.

But don’t turn to one of those “little blue pills” either, as they won’t do a thing to address the underlying vascular issues or protect your heart.

Instead, make some heart-healthy lifestyle changes that will also restore your “mojo.” Quit smoking, lose weight, manage your blood sugar, and keep your blood pressure in an optimal range.

And taking a supplement “cocktail” of L-arginine, pycnogenol, and red ginseng (sometimes called Korean ginseng or Panax ginseng) can also boost blood flow everywhere that counts.

Scary new link between blood sugar and Parkinson’s

Getting diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease can be pretty harrowing, because the disease can rob you of your balance, motor control, and independence.

I should know — I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s over a dozen years ago.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep the disease from progressing with diet, exercise, and detox — because we know that toxins from pesticides and other environmental sources are a major trigger of Parkinson’s disease.

But according to a new study, there’s something INSIDE of your body that may be toxic enough to your brain to set off Parkinson’s disease.

High blood sugar!

In a study published in Neurology, researchers tracked Parkinson’s diagnoses among millions of diabetic and non-diabetic patients over the course of 12 years and found that those with diabetes had a 32 percent GREATER risk of developing Parkinson’s than those without it.

And those who had already developed diabetes-related health complications — including damage to their retinas, kidneys, or nerves — faced a whopping 49 percent hike in Parkinson’s risk compared to non-diabetics.

What’s more, those who were on the younger side when they received a diabetes diagnosis — ages 25 to 44 — had a FOURFOLD greater likelihood of eventually developing Parkinson’s than non-diabetics.

That suggests that the longer you live with diabetes, the more likely it is that you’ll face this debilitating neurodegenerative disease.

Now, the study didn’t determine that diabetes causes Parkinson’s — just that the two are linked.

But unlike most tissues in your body, your brain cells are almost exclusively reliant on glucose (a.k.a. sugar) as a source of energy, which means that if there’s a problem ferrying glucose out of your blood and into your cells (as we see with diabetes), your gray matter can suffer.

And as previous studies have shown, excess blood sugar can damage cells in areas of your brain that control everything from speech to movement, AND it can also reduce the ability of your brain’s immune system to tamp down inflammation , a major risk factor for Parkinson’s.

So, to protect your brain from injury that could trigger Parkinson’s, you don’t just want to control diabetes… you want to REVERSE it.

Switching to the Paleo (a.k.a. “caveman”) diet has been proven to put diabetes in reverse — because it eliminates the grains and sugars that spike your blood sugar in favor of proteins and produce that hold it steady.

It’s also a simple way to dodge the toxins of processed and packaged foods that contribute to Parkinson’s risk.

Staying active is another way to naturally keep blood sugar in check — and as a bonus, it’ll help you sweat out any toxins that might otherwise wind up in your brain.

Is this ‘silent killer’ stalking your BRAIN?

You may FEEL perfectly healthy. But if your BP is soaring, it could be wreaking havoc on your body in ways you’ll never even notice (at least, not until it’s too late).

That’s why they call hypertension the “silent killer,” because it can quietly damage blood vessels throughout your body — without any obvious symptoms.

Typically, the top concern with BP on the higher end is that it ups your risk of a heart attack that strikes without warning. But according to a new study, all that pressure in your “pipes” can ALSO pave the way to brain changes that are linked to dementia.

And it can happen YEARS before you have any symptoms.

The study involved about 140 patients aged 40 to 65, none of whom had been diagnosed with dementia. In participants with hypertension — a systolic (“top”) number greater than 140 mmHG — MRIs revealed early evidence of the very same neurological damage that we see in dementia.

More specifically, the hypertensive folks showed microscopic damage in their brains’ white matter — which refers to the millions of bundles of nerve fibers in your brain that help neurons in different areas communicate with one another.

Those with hypertension also scored worse on tests of memory and executive function when compared to participants whose “top number” was below 140 mmHG.

Now, a diagnosis of hypertension is somewhat of a moving target — because the “goal posts” for what’s considered dangerously high BP keep shifting.

But a new study published in the European Heart Journal shows that higher-than-normal blood pressure in midlife boosts your risk of dementia even if it’s BELOW the threshold of an “official” hypertension diagnosis.

In that study, when researchers measured the blood pressure of over 8,500 participants four times over the course of four decades, they found that those whose systolic BP was greater than 130 mmHg at age 50 had a 45 percent HIGHER risk of developing dementia than those whose systolic BP was lower at the same age.

Now, take that with a grain of salt. If you’re over 50… or even over 65… your blood pressure can naturally go up over time. And that’s usually not a cause for concern.

Plus, we don’t know how the BP was being measured each of those four times in that second study… and really, it was only four times. And we don’t know whether the participants’ BP was actually spiking higher than that at any point between measurements.

A better way is to measure it consistently at home, where you’re comfortable, instead of in a doctor’s office – an environment that often causes artificially high BP readings, a phenomenon known as “white coat syndrome.”

If you choose to rely only on what your doc finds, ask him or his staff to take your BP a second time. As I recently shared with you, that second reading is often lower and more accurate.
And if it turns out that your BP is consistently (and dangerously) high, bring it down to a more reasonable level by making some simple lifestyle changes like losing weight, moving around a bit more, and supplementing your diet with tart cherry juice and cinnamon.

Bask in the sunshine to beat back cancer

Ah, summer. It sure is a feel-good season.

The days are long… the nights are warm… and that means more time to spend with friends and family in the great outdoors.

And those sunny skies alone may be enough to make you feel cheerful — in part because when your skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun, your body produces vitamin D (a.k.a. the “sunshine” vitamin), a proven mood-booster.

Now, getting TOO much sun on your skin can turn you as red as a lobster… and even up your risk of skin cancer.

But according to a new pair of studies, avoiding the sun completely isn’t wise, because if you’re not getting enough vitamin D, you’re at a higher risk of two OTHER types of cancer: breast and colorectal.

In the first study, published in PLOS ONE, researchers pooled data of over 5,000 postmenopausal women who had their blood levels of vitamin D measured periodically over the course of about four years.

After the researchers crunched the numbers, they found that the higher the participants’ blood levels of vitamin D, the LOWER their risk of developing breast cancer.

In fact, those with the highest blood levels of vitamin D (60 ng/mL) slashed their risk of breast cancer by 20 percent compared to those with the lowest levels (less than 20 ng/mL).

Now, the National Academy of Medicine currently recommends a blood level of only 20 ng/mL — which means that if you’re only getting enough D to meet that guideline, you could be a sitting duck for breast cancer!

What’s more, a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that the same holds true for colorectal cancer.

Compared to those whose blood levels of vitamin D were only high enough to meet the guideline, those with blood levels of 30 to 35 ng/mL had a 19 percent LOWER risk of colorectal cancer, and those with blood levels of 35 to 40 ng/mL had a 27 percent LOWER risk.

The theory is that vitamin D boosts immune system function by activating T cells that recognize and attack cancer cells, raising your body’s natural defenses against cancer.

So, to protect yourself from breast and colorectal cancers, let the sun shine in!

I recommend at least 10 minutes of direct sunlight every day… without sunscreen, big funny hats, or long sleeves.

After that, cover up so you don’t burn.

Supplementing with vitamin D3 (not the synthetic version, D2) is also a good idea. To reach a blood level of 60 ng/mL per day, take 4,000 to 6,000 IUs daily — less if you also soak up some sun.

And you can also load up on D-rich foods including fatty fish (like salmon and mackerel), beef liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

Why you should sleep in the darkest room possible

You buy the plushest pillowtop mattress… set the thermostat to the perfect temp… and maybe even pop in some earplugs.

When it comes to creating the ideal environment for a good night’s sleep, you don’t want to cut any corners — because if things aren’t “just so,” you could toss and turn all night long.

Yet while some of us need it to be pitch black before we can fall asleep, others drift off easily with light from the TV or a nightlight brightening the room.

But according to a new study, even if being exposed to light doesn’t SEEM to bother your sleep, it may upset your metabolism — because being exposed to light while you’re snoozing ups your risk of DIABETES.

In the study, Northwestern University researchers divided a group of healthy adults into two groups: One group slept in a completely dark room for two nights, while the other spent the first night in a dark room and the second night in a room with overhead light.

On both mornings, the researchers tested participants’ blood sugar and found that those who were exposed to light during sleep became significantly MORE resistant to insulin than those who slept in the completely dark room only.

Now, as I’ve shared with you before, insulin helps deliver sugar from your bloodstream to your cells.

And when your cells become resistant to insulin — preventing it from doing its job — your blood sugar numbers can skyrocket.

That means that just ONE night of sleep in a room with light can set you on a path toward insulin sensitivity.

And if it happens night after night, we’re talking a fast track to Diabetes City!

Now, the study didn’t determine exactly why light exposure can wreck your body’s response to insulin.

But we do know that light can suppress your levels of the sleep hormone melatonin.

And when you sleep, melatonin typically tells your pancreas to decrease insulin secretion — most likely because while you’re sawing logs, you’re not sending any food into your stomach!

So, it stands to reason that if light exposure reduces your melatonin levels, your pancreas may shoot more insulin than necessary into your bloodstream, paving the way to insulin resistance.

That means you should aim to sleep in the DARKEST room possible — even if you’re one of those people who can nod off when it’s bright as day.

At bedtime, shut off all your lamps and keep all electronic devices — including the boob tube — off or out of your bedroom.

If you need a nightlight for those wee-hours bathroom trips, place it in the bathroom or hallway instead of in your bedroom (or get one that’s set to turn on when it detects motion).

And if light tends to drift in through your windows, consider investing in some “blackout” shades or a good eye mask to block it out.

Don’t turn a blind eye to the risks of Lasik

It sounds like a fast track to visual freedom: A doc aims a powerful laser into your eye, and boom! You never have to wear glasses or contacts again.

Of course, I’m talking about Lasik surgery. With most procedures lasting just 15 minutes, Lasik promises to knock your specs off faster than Clark Kent can change into Superman.

Mainstream eye docs will swear up and down that the procedure is practically foolproof… and that complications are exceedingly rare.

And they’ll even tell you there’s no such thing as “too old ” for Lasik.

But according to a new study, you should look before you leap — because in the blink of an eye, Lasik can open a Pandora’s box of vision problems that CAN’T be corrected.

In the study, FDA researchers surveyed nearly 600 people both before and after they underwent Lasik, and they found that three months after the surgery, nearly HALF of those who’d had healthy eyes before Lasik developed first-time vision issues afterward.

We’re talking stuff like extreme light sensitivity… double vision… and visual distortions such as blinding halos around bright objects.

Jeepers creepers!

What’s more, nearly a third of the participants developed dry eyes, an exceedingly painful condition that can’t always be relieved with eye drops.

And even though eye surgeons insist that complications like these subside within a few months for most patients, that wasn’t the case in the study.

Six months post-surgery, 41 percent of the participants STILL had visual aberrations… and a quarter of them still had mild or severe dry eyes.

For some, those complications were debilitating.

You see, Lasik involves reshaping your eye’s cornea, which is the clear round dome that covers the front of your eye. And when the tiny nerves that run through your cornea get severed, it can cause permanent damage.

Plus, previous studies have shown that those who undergo Lasik may be at increased risk for long-term eye complications such as needing cataract surgery earlier in life and developing a sight-robbing condition called “corneal ectasia.”

And in those who’ve had Lasik, it can be harder for docs to detect glaucoma, which is an abnormal buildup of pressure in your eye that can lead to blindness if not treated soon enough.

Translation: If you want to save your precious eyesight, don’t go under the laser beams! The inconvenience of wearing glasses or contacts is nothing compared to living with paralyzing visual distortions for the rest of your days.

To support your vision over the long term, keep sugar to a minimum and eat lots of fruits and veggies full of vision-protecting nutrients.

You can also find vision-supporting supplements that combine eye-healthy nutrients like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin in one convenient capsule.

Walk THIS way for a longer life

As the summer warms and those “dog days” set in, it can be so hot that you don’t want to leave your shady spot on the porch… or even the comfort of indoor air conditioning.

Things feel lazy and languid — and taking a walk, let alone a brisk one, is probably the furthest thing from your mind.

The only thing you want to be “brisk” is the icy glass of tea in your hand!

But according to a new study, there’s no time like the present to pick up your walking pace — because the faster you walk, the longer you’re likely to live.

Now, I take this with a grain of salt, and I’ll explain why in a moment. But first, here’s what the latest science has to say.

In the study, when Australian researchers linked surveys of over 50,000 people on their walking pace to mortality records, they found that those who walked at an average pace cut their risk of dying from ANY cause by 20 percent when compared to the slowest walkers.

Not only that, but those who walked at a fast pace reduced their risk of death even further, by 24 percent.

All it took was putting one foot in front of the other a little more quickly!

And when the researchers zeroed in on cardiovascular disease deaths among participants over age 60, the results were even more striking.

Compared to the slowest walkers, average-paced walkers slashed their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 46 percent — and the fast-paced walkers slashed it by a whopping 53 percent.

Imagine cutting your chances of death in HALF with nothing more than a sturdy pair of walking shoes and a spring in your step!

Now, the study didn’t determine exactly how walking at a faster pace can add years to your life. And how fast do you have to walk just to hit the “average” mark? How brisk is brisk?

In the study, a “fast” pace was defined as one that makes you slightly out of breath or sweaty when sustained. That could vary depending on how much you weigh, how much sleep you got, how much you ate earlier in the day, etc.

There’s no exact science to it – not yet.

But there might be something there, since we know that brisk walks increase your heart rate … get blood flowing to every nook and cranny… and even lower your risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol as much as running does.

So, if you want to live longer… just try walking a little bit faster than you normally do, without causing any injury.

You don’t have to keep it up for long. Even just three daily 10-minute walks five days a week will add up to the recommended 150 minutes of exercise weekly.

And if it’s too hot (or cold) to walk outside, you’ll get the same benefits hoofing it inside with the A/C on. That old trend of “mall walking” still hasn’t gone out of style!