1. The All-American tradition that could save your heart

    The All-American tradition that could save your heart

    One of the most maligned foods on the planet is the All-American hot dog. Sausages, under many names, are eaten all over the world. Anywhere you go, they will tell you their sausages are better than our American hot dogs, and I tend to agree with them. But that doesn't mean they deserve the bad rap they've been given. In fact, a few months ago, the Associated Press reported a highly significant finding on these ballpark staples: Hot dogs are actually good for you.

    As it turns out, sodium nitrite, the chemical used to color and preserve hot dogs and other meats, has remarkable effects on the cardiovascular system. In fact, it appears that nitrite salts may have a beneficial effect on all of the body's organs: heart, brain, lungs-everywhere the blood flows. Dr. Mark Gladwin and an NIH cardiologist, Dr. Richard Cannon III, discovered that even very small doses of nitrate almost tripled blood flow. This translates to prevention and/or cure of heart attacks, pulmonary hypertension, sickle cell anemia, and strokes-and that's just the short list.

    They also proved that when people exercised, nitrite levels dropped dramatically in the muscles being exercised. This indicates that by some mechanism, the body was using the nitrite in exercise. Oxygen deprivation, for whatever reason, is what eventually does us in. If this deprivation can be avoided, you will live longer and healthier.

    Sodium nitrite seems to have the ability to guard your cells against hypoxia (lack of oxygen). The researchers were amazed at the finding because they had been taught that nitrites had little medical relevance.

    Yet despite these findings, people still have it in for the little dogs. Although the Associated Press (AP) reported the findings, it clearly didn't believe them: The AP reporter, not wanting us to get any funny ideas, warns: "It doesn't mean artery-clogging hot dogs are healthy."

    Who has ever offered any proof that hot dogs clog your arteries? Aren't hot dogs a little big to clog most arteries? Maybe the reporter means that after the dog is eaten, it forms "toxins,"-demon fat, demon cholesterol-and then clogs the arteries. Who am I to doubt the AP? But a little scientific proof would be nice.

    It just burns me up when a reporter with no scientific biological training makes sweeping pronouncements about nutrition, usually gleaned from other reporters or other so-called "experts" like the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Concession stands caught in the crossfire

    The state of Maine has gone whole-hog in the war on obesity. The Food Service Office is excited about the new crusade against fat people and is determined to do something about it. So what are they going to do? They're going to eliminate the nutrient-dense hot dog from school lunch programs.

    While I agree that it's important to do something to combat childhood obesity, taking action in any endeavor based on a false paradigm ("fat makes you fat") is doomed to failure.

    Maine's Kennebec Journal reported that "booster clubs traditionally have relied on hot dogs, candy bars and soda as concession stand staples. Under the amended Chapter 51, those staples would have to go."

    Do you see the injustice in comparing one of our most beloved and nutritious foods with the REAL enemies-candy bars and soda? And I can't help but wonder if any of these pseudo-scientists ever thought that maybe, just maybe, it's not the hot dog causing the problems, but the white-flour-laden bun that it's almost always nestled into? No amount of mustard or relish can save you from the havoc that will wreak in your body.

    The REAL nutritional science on "franks"

    All hot dogs are cured and cooked sausages that consist of mainly pork, beef, chicken, and turkey or a combination of meat and poultry. (They generally contain 150 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 5 to 7 grams of protein.)

    Ingredients, other than the meat, include water, curing agents and spices, such as garlic, salt, ground mustard, nutmeg, coriander, and white pepper. Contrary to popular belief, there are no "secret ingredients" like chicken beaks, ground hoofs, claws, or entrails in American hot dogs.

    If variety meats such as liver and hearts are used in processed meats like hotdogs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires the manufacturer to declare those ingredients on the package with the statement "with variety meats" or "with meat by-products." The manufacturer must then specify which variety meat is included. In the U.S., companies are required to list ingredients in order, from the main ingredient, to the least ingredient. This is the law for all processed foods in the U.S., so you can rest assured that hot dogs only contain meat and other animal products that you eat in your regular diet.

    Here's what to do:
    They may not be quite as tasty as bratwurst or kielbasa, but hot dogs are an American tradition, and a healthy one at that. So next time you need a quick lunch, bypass the salad bar and head to the nearest hot dog vendor. Use the bun as a handy way to hold the frank, but toss it when you're done-your heart, your waistline, and the neighborhood pigeons will all thank you.

  2. Prevent Parkinson's disease with 2 all-natural wonder drugs…


    Prevent Parkinson's disease with 2 all-natural wonder drugs

    Despite the plethora of research on Parkinson's disease, progress toward finding a cure has been painfully slow. In its classic form, Parkinson's is easily recognizable: Once you've seen it, you'll never mistake its characteristic symptoms-a blank stare, a nearly constant tremor, rigidity of the extremities, and an affected gait with a leaning forward of the trunk. In many cases, however, the patient is much more mentally alert than he looks, making the disease that much more tragic, since the patient must live in constant awareness of symptoms that he has no control over.

    Treatment often involves brain surgery. But a study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry contains breakthrough information that may eliminate the need for such barbaric surgery on Parkinson's patients. Researchers have found a link between Parkinson's disease and high levels of homocysteine, something that can be easily corrected by supplementing with a simple nutrient.

    The dark history of Parkinson's treatments

    Parkinson's disease is quite common in varying degrees in many people over 75. One survey indicates that 15 percent of people between 65 and 74 years old and more than half of everyone over 85 have abnormalities consistent with the presence of some level of Parkinson's. But it's not unusual for it to start in middle age (or earlier)-think of Janet Reno and Michael J. Fox-and for the disability to progress over time.

    We know a considerable amount about what happens to a person's brain after he has Parkinson's, most notably a loss of brain cells. The big problem is that no one knows why those brain cells die to begin with-or how to keep them alive. As with most neurological diseases, finding an effective treatment lags far behind our anatomical and biochemical knowledge.

    Theories on the cause have implicated environmental toxins and iron. I, for one, have always suspected that immunizations play a role in Parkinson's and other degenerative diseases-including multiple sclerosis and ALS. Unfortunately, since there's no conclusive research to back these ideas up, treating patients has remained a challenge.

    There are drugs that effectively improve the symptomsfor a while. But they have a tendency to wear off quickly and have potential side effects that can worsen the condition. Levodopa has become the drug of choice in most Parkinson's cases, but as with all drug treatments, it only works for a short period of time.

    Surprisingly, some forms of surgery, which can only be described as ghoulish, are dramatically successful, but with a price.

    "Destructive neurosurgical procedures," as they have been called, were used decades ago. Believe it or not, doctors actually used a treatment that involved digging out part of the person's brain. (Lobotomy, anyone?) Ninety percent of the patients reported a positive response to the surgery, but in exchange for what?

    Complications included destruction of brain tissue from a blood clot that hemorrhages in the brain (cerebral infarction), an inability to speak (dysarthria), an inability to talk (hypophonia), an inability to think, and a partial inability to see.

    That price is a bit high, so brain stimulation surgery is replacing the procedure. For this procedure, the surgeon uses an implanted electrode and a stimulator to shock selected areas of the patient's brain. This treatment, called thalamic stimulation, has proven very effective in relieving tremors. It also increases periods of consciousness in advanced Parkinson's disease. Brain stimulation surgery has a lower complication rate than destructive surgery, but it still seems barbaric.

    Others are turning to transplanting fetal cells into the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease. There is strong evidence that the fetal cells are "taking." In other words, they're surviving in their new brains. Problem is, no one really knows the benefits of such procedures at this point. And of course, there's the ethical arguments to consider. A lot of people are dead-set against it, but, in our secular society, I predict the research will continue-one way or another.

    All of these treatments occur "after the fact," so to speak-once the patient is already suffering from the maddening symptoms of Parkinson's. Obviously, prevention is always 100 times better than an attempted cure (especially one that involves cutting your skull open and fiddling with your brain), but until recently no one knew of anything that could work that sort of miracle.

    How to reduce your risk of Parkinson's by 71 percent

    Ever since a bunch of angry, overtaxed citizens dumped crates of the stuff into Boston Harbor a couple centuries back, tea has been a distant second to coffee in America. But new research just might help tea- specifically black tea-gain some ground on coffee. According to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, drinking three quarters of a cup of black tea 23 times a month may decrease the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by-hang on to your tea cozies-71 percent.

    This stunning finding comes from Singapore, where researchers studied over 60,000 Chinese men and women. As you probably know, it's green tea that's currently lauded as the hero beverage of choice because of its high antioxidant content. In fact, other studies have even reported that green tea helps to battle Parkinson's. But this new study actually found no Parkinson's-fighting benefits to green tea.

    The difference between green tea and black tea is time. Very simply, black tea is older-it's just green tea that's been fermented. The study found nothing to link the higher caffeine content of black tea to these benefits. In fact, the researchers aren't exactly sure why black tea has these anti-Parkinson's properties.

    "The key difference between black and green tea lies in the types and amounts of flavonoids," says Dr. Ann Walker of England's Tea Advisory Panel, noting that black tea has more complex varieties of flavonoids, called "thearubigins and theaflavins."

    While no one knows exactly why black tea is so beneficial, it seems apparent that the benefits are indeed real. As for me, I'm not shocked by this latest revelation. I've told you before about the health boost you can get from all kinds of tea. Flavonoids are good for your heart, and the caffeine and antioxidants can ward off cancer.

    What's more, these dramatic benefits can actually be measured by blood tests after only three weeks of a black-tea-drinking regimen.

    Even if this study is only half right, we're STILL talking about a 35 percent decrease in your risk of getting Parkinson's-and that's nothing to sneeze at.
    But drinking tea isn't the only way to fight Parkinson's

    Fight Parkinson's with folic acid

    Researchers at the National Institute on Aging have found evidence that a lack of folic acid in the body may contribute to the development of Parkinson's disease.

    In the study, the researchers injected two groups of mice with a substance called MPTP (something that induces a Parkinson's-like disease in animals). Then they included folic acid in the diet of one group of mice and compared those mice with ones that weren't given folic acid. They found that the mice fed folic acid only developed mild illness, whereas those who didn't receive the vitamin suffered severe symptoms.

    Folic acid is essential in the conversion of homocysteine to cystathionine, a harmless substance that occurs naturally in the body and can be excreted in the urine.

    A lack of adequate folic acid will cause a chain reaction in your brain. First, low levels allow homocysteine to build up in your brain. (One of the ways homocysteine is formed is from digesting "well-done" meat.) Too much homocysteine can damage brain cells in the substantia nigra, the area of the brain that produces dopamine. Dopamine levels are consistently low in patients suffering from Parkinson's disease.

    But there are steps you can take to keep those homocysteine levels under control.

    Here's what to do:

    1. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, whole wheat bread, poultry, and egg yolks. These foods contain significant amounts of folic acid.

    2. If you prefer to take folic acid supplements, you can buy them in most health food stores and pharmacies. Take 5,000 micrograms per day. (I should mention that you'll need a lot of pills since the FDA doesn't let manufacturers put more than 800 mcg in one pill.)

    3. Since vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 are also important in the metabolism of homocysteine, be sure to take these nutrients along with folic acid. If there is a history of Parkinson's in your family, take extra doses: I suggest 500 milligrams of B6 daily and an injection of 1,000 micrograms of B12 at least once a month. You can purchase B vitamin supplements in capsule form in any health food store or pharmacy. For injections, however, you should consult a physician trained in nutritional medicine. For a referral to one in your area, contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine at (800)532-3688 or visit them on-line at

  3. Why women can't live without testosterone

    But there is an even bigger threat to women's health, one that is often overlooked, misdiagnosed, or thought of as a primarily male problem.
  4. Two simple steps to keeping your balance at any age

    I've been critical of the weight-lifting and exercise crazes for a long time. The "body shops" are, for the most part, a sociological phenomenon…
  5. Relieve the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, naturally

    The history of using plant extracts to treat BPH dates back to descriptions written on an Egyptian papyrus 15 centuries before Christ.
  6. Two simple steps to keeping your balance at any age

    I've been critical of the weight-lifting and exercise crazes for a long time. The "body shops" are, for the most part, a sociological phenomenon…
  7. Halt the pain and damage of osteoarthritis in just 24 hours

    I have recommended cod liver oil for 30 years. I always said that if it was good enough for my great grandmother Bell then it is good enough for you and me.
  8. Still scared of eggs? Read this before you give up your omelet pan…

    I consider eggs to be the perfect food. Thirty years ago, when I was telling my patients to eat all the eggs they wanted, the medical literati and the surgical Aztecs were telling them to limit their egg consumption to one egg a week.
  9. The herb that's 42 times better for you than an apple

    The American Chemical Society (ACS), one of the pre-eminent scientific organizations in the world-and one with a degree of integrity far above any medical group I know of-has come out with a report to warm the heart of any barefoot doctor.
  10. Save yourself time and trouble--don't fall for the self-exam scam

    It is sad but still true--breast self-exams are a waste of time. To most people (including most doctors), it is very difficult to distinguish between a lump of mammary gland and a lump of cancer.

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