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7 Ways to Minimize Jet Lag


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Jet lag, also known as flight fatigue, time zone change syndrome or desynchronosis, occurs when travel across time zones disrupts your internal body clock, resulting in mental, emotional and physical symptoms such as:1,2

  • Daytime sleepiness and lethargy followed by nighttime insomnia
  • Anxiety, irritability, confusion and poor concentration
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Headache, nausea, indigestion, dehydration and/or general malaise
  • Decline in physical and athletic performance3,4

There are a number of helpful tricks and “bio hacks” that can help minimize the effects of jet lag when traveling between time zones, or help you overcome the effects faster. This includes pretending you’re in your destination time zone while still at home, stimulating your heart meridian at certain times, antioxidant support and use of supplemental melatonin. Interestingly, fasting may be an overlooked but potent antidote as well. I’ll review a couple of different dietary techniques below.

How Air Travel Affects Your Body and Mind

Aside from jet lag, air travel can have a number of other health effects as well, including the following (see list below).5 Air travel is even associated with a number of psychological effects, courtesy of low oxygen levels (hypoxia), including increased anxiety, stress and other negative emotions that can make you grouchy and unfriendly.

On the other hand, a heightened emotional response can also present itself as tears of joy and relief when watching inflight entertainment. As reported by BBC News: 6

“A new survey by Gatwick Airport in London found 15 percent of men and 6 percent of women said they were more likely to cry when watching a film on a flight than they would if seeing it at home. One major airline has gone as far as issuing ‘emotional health warnings’ before inflight entertainment that might upset its customers.”

Pressure in the ears due to changes in air pressure. Chewing gum during ascent, and swallowing or yawning during descent can help equalize the pressure

Headache due to low oxygen. Prevent by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine and alcohol during the flight

Foot, ankle and leg swelling, raising your risk for a blood clot, due to impaired blood flow.

Prevent by standing up now and then, and flexing, rotating and extending your ankles while sitting. Compression stockings may also be helpful

Dehydration due to dry air. Prevent by drinking plenty of water before and during the flight

Toothache due to shifts in air pressure. There’s no way to prevent the pain associated with the expansion of gas trapped in fillings or cavities, so see a dentist before traveling if you suspect you have a problem

Fatigue, sleepiness, increased reaction times and reduced ability to make decisions due to low oxygen

Gassiness due to shifts in cabin pressure

Altered/dulled sense of taste and smell. Taste sensitivity can be restored by staying well hydrated

Dry skin due to dry air — a problem easily addressed with moisturizing lotion. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water

Bad breath due to dry mouth. Remedy by brushing your teeth on the plane and staying well hydrated

Minimize Jet Lag by Pretending You’re Already There

As a general rule, your body will adjust to the time zone change at a rate of one time zone per day. What this means is, if you need to be at your physical or psychological best, you’d want to fly out one or more days ahead of time. If you cannot squeeze in the extra time, you could act “as if,” and pretend you’re in your destination time zone while still at home.7

To do this, simply wake up and go to bed according to the destination time rather than your local time. Also, be sure to shift your mealtimes accordingly. As an example, if you were planning to travel from New York to Paris, start going to bed (and shift your mealtimes up) an hour earlier each day, three days ahead of your flight, and avoid bright light for two to three hours before going to bed. Here are a couple of other helpful pointers to consider:

  • In the morning, be sure to expose yourself to bright full-spectrum light. If the sun is not yet up, use a clear incandescent light bulb along with a cool-blue spectrum LED to shut down melatonin production
  • If traveling at night, wear blue-blocking glasses on the plane, and continue wearing them until you go to sleep, as excess blue light will impair your melatonin production and make it difficult to fall asleep
  • Once you’re at your destination, get up as close to sunrise as possible and go outside. This will help to reset your melatonin production. If weather and circumstances allow, it would be best to do this outdoors with your bare feet on the ground

The Argonne Anti-Jet Lag Diet

Another jet lag trick you rarely hear about is the Argonne anti-jet lag diet,8 detailed in a 2012 Harper’s Magazine article by Steve Hendricks.9 The diet, developed by the late Charles F. Ehret in the early 1980s when he was a senior scientist at Argonne’s Division of Biological and Medical Research, claims to be able to help you quickly adjust your internal clock to a new time zone. It’s also recommended to “speed the adjustment of shift workers … to periodically rotating work hours.”

According to Ehret, who studied chronobiology, your biological clock is cued not only by light exposure but also by when and how much you eat. The technique involves determining the time of breakfast at your destination on the day of your arrival, and then rotating feasting and fasting four days ahead of your scheduled travel, as follows: 

  • Day One: Feast day. “Eat heartily with high-protein breakfast and lunch, and a high-carbohydrate dinner. No coffee except between 3 and 5 p.m.” Examples of high-protein breakfast/lunch include steak, eggs and hamburger. Examples of high-carb dinner include pasta (no meatballs), crepes (without meat filling), potatoes and other starchy vegetables
  • Day Two: Fast day. Avoid all carbohydrates and keep calories to a minimum. Eat only light meals of salads, soups, fruits and vegetables. If you must drink coffee or any other caffeinated beverage, drink it between 3 and 5 p.m.
  • Day Three: Feast day. (Same as Day One)
  • Day Four: Fast day. “If you drink caffeinated beverages, take them in morning when traveling west, or between 6 and 11 p.m. when traveling east.” Avoid all alcohol on the plane. Remain fasting until breakfast (about 7.30 a.m.) at your destination, at which time you break the fast by feasting on a high-protein breakfast  

The above protocol is not intended as a healthy eating strategy other than one that seems to be helpful when seeking to remediate jet lag. But alternating between feasting and fasting overall is a healthy approach as long as your food choices are healthy. As noted by Hendricks:

“Ehret theorized that the diet worked because the days of irregular eating gradually unmoored the body’s biological clock from its usual rhythms, while the big breakfast and subsequent meals re-anchored the clock in the new time zone.

In a 2002 study published in the journal Military Medicine, National Guardsmen who followed the diet were found to be 7.5 times less likely than a control group to suffer jet lag after flying from the United States to Korea. On their return, they were 16.2 times less likely to lag. (The difference between the two flights has not been explained, although, as the authors noted, jet lag is more common flying east than flying west.)”

The Anti-Jet Lag Fast

Another even easier strategy was devised by a team of researchers at Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. The anti-jet lag fast involves determining the time of breakfast at your destination and then fasting (abstaining from all food and drink except noncaloric beverages like water) for 12 to 16 hours beforehand. As noted by Hendricks, “Since most of us go 12 to 16 hours between dinner and breakfast anyway, the abstention is a small hardship.”

This strategy is thought to work because fasting causes your master clock to suspend the circadian clock and instructs your body to sleep less. When food intake resumes, the master clock switches the circadian clock back “on.” Hendricks explains:

“The master clock probably evolved because when our prehistoric forebears were starving, they would have been tempted in their weakness to sleep rather than forage for the food they needed to survive. 

Today, when a traveler suspends his circadian clock before flying from Los Angeles to London, and then reactivates it upon breaking the fast, the clock doesn’t know that it should still be on Pacific Time. It knows only that the breakfast and the daylight declare morning in Mayfair, and it resets the body’s rhythms accordingly.”

On a side note, fasting (calorie restriction) also activates a very potent biological pathway called Nrf2, a biological hormetic that upregulates all of your beneficial intercellular antioxidants. It also lowers inflammation, improves mitochondrial function and stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, among other things. So, in addition to resetting your body’s internal clock, fasting may help you feel better when traveling for these reasons as well.

Minimize Jet Lag With Traditional Chinese Medicine

You can also trick your body into connecting with a new time zone using Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques involving the stimulation of certain acupuncture meridians. As explained by acupuncture physician John Amaro in Acupuncture Today:10

“Borrowing the knowledge of the general circulation of chi, and being aware that each meridian undergoes a two-hour time peak that moves and peaks from meridian to meridian as it travels through its general circulation, it was reasoned that if one were to reset the body clock utilizing the horary cycle, the body in theory could be made to function at the horary cycle of wherever the person is physically located on the planet, disregarding the effects of so-called ‘time travel.’

The best part of the theory is that it worked! … In virtually every instance in which the subjects were advised to stimulate the proper points based on the theoretical concept, they reported (and it was observed) that jet lag literally did not occur. They felt they were connected to the time zone of their newly arrived destination, as opposed to the time of their departure location.”

Amaro details a technique involving stimulating points for a particular meridian based on the Chinese body clock,11 where each meridian corresponds to a two-hour interval. For example, if you were to board a flight in Los Angeles at 7 p.m., heading to Tokyo, where it would then be noon local time, you would stimulate the heart meridian, as it rules between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Two hours into your flight, 2 p.m. Tokyo time, you’d stimulate the small intestine meridian, which rules between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Every two hours, you’d stimulate the ruling meridian until you land at your destination.

Cardiologist Dr. Lee Cowden devised an even shorter version of this technique, focusing on just one meridian — the heart meridian. He explains this technique in the video above, originally taped in 2009. Here’s a summary of the steps:

1. The day of your trip, set your clock to match the local time at your destination (depending on the time of your flight, you may have to do this a day ahead)

2. At 11 a.m. (the local time at your destination), stroke your heart meridian three times on the left and three times on the right. Your heart meridian begins just to the outer side of your nipple, up through your armpit and down the ulnar aspect (inner side) of your arm, down the outside of your pinky. Once you reach the end of your pinky, gently press into the base of the fingernail (heart point in Traditional Chinese Medicine). For a demonstration, please see the video above

3. At noon, repeat the heart meridian strokes

Antioxidant Support Helps Ameliorate Jet Lag Symptoms and Shield Against Radiation

Cowden also recommends taking a high-quality, broad-spectrum antioxidant before and after boarding the plane. Astaxanthin may be an ideal choice as it also helps shield against cosmic radiation exposure, provided you’ve been taking it for at least three days ahead of time. Another antioxidant supplement that can be helpful when flying is molecular hydrogen, which is a highly effective selective antioxidant.

Tyler LeBaron’s website, molecularhydrogenfoundation.org,12 lists several hundred studies relating to hydrogen. You can also find a number of his lectures on YouTube. In summary, molecular hydrogen consists of two atoms of hydrogen, the smallest molecule in the universe, which:

  • Is a neutral molecule that can instantly defuse across any cell membrane
  • Has no polarity
  • Is a potent, selective antioxidant

Free radicals are not all bad; they do serve important health functions. The problem is excess free radicals, or the wrong ones. Molecular hydrogen has been shown to selectively target the damaging free radicals produced in response to radiation, such as the gamma rays you encounter at 35,000 feet in the daytime. Studies have shown molecular hydrogen can mitigate about 80 percent of this damage.

If you have a healthy microbiome, your body can make  about 10 liters a day of hydrogen gas. However, when you have a steady state of exposure, you don’t get the other benefits, so you need to pulse it. That’s where you get the benefit. I’ve taken molecular hydrogen tablets on my last few flights, and felt much better than I normally do when flying. There are a number of different ways to get it, but the most practical way is to take molecular hydrogen tablets.

Once you’re at about 5,000 to 10,000 feet, put the tablet in a small bottle of room temperature water, as ice water will slow the reaction. Put the cap back on and leave it on while the tablet dissolves to prevent the gas from escaping. Once dissolved, drink it as quickly as possible. The hydrogen gas will continue working for about two hours, so if you’re on a longer flight, you may want to do a second dose halfway through. 

Typically, what I wind up doing is just swallowing the tablet and make sure I get at least 8 ounces of water to buffer my stomach. I will take one tablet every hour-and-a-half to two hours, so on a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles I will take two tablets, but from Atlanta to Chicago I only take one.

Melatonin May Help You Sleep

Once you reach your destination, take a fast-acting sublingual melatonin along with a slow-release oral melatonin around 10 p.m. (or just before bedtime if you go to bed earlier). Keep in mind that only a very small dose is required — typically 0.25 mg or 0.5 milligrams to start with, and you can adjust it up from there. Taking higher doses, such as 3 mg, can sometimes make you more wakeful instead of sleepier, so adjust your dose carefully.

Also be sure to stay well hydrated before and during travel, whether you’re flying or driving to your destination. Your brain controls sleep and it functions best when fully hydrated. As you can see, there are several ways to minimize jet lag, so the next time you fly, try one or more of them to find a combination that works for you.


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This Federal Agency Is Concerned About the Rising Rate of Antibiotic-Resistant STDs


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) had been declining until the 1970s. However, a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)1 reveals that trend has reversed. Some of the diseases that fall under the category of STDs are treatable with antibiotics, while others have no known treatment or cure.

Interestingly, whether a disease is categorized as an STD depends on a number of factors, including whether infections transmitted through sexual contact are also counted in the category. For instance, you may not think of the Epstein-Barr virus,2 responsible for mononucleosis, as an STD, but many times it is classified as one.

STDs are the most common infectious diseases.3 There are more than 20 different types that affect over 13 million men and women in the U.S. every year. Unfortunately, these diseases may spread rapidly as they often don’t produce many symptoms, and the symptoms that are apparent often mimic other health conditions.

The causes are often bacteria, viruses or parasites that may be passed between sexual partners, from mother to baby during birth or breast-feeding, or from sharing infected needles. Through reports gathered from health departments across the U.S., the CDC has determined the rates of certain STDs has risen dramatically over the past several years and are now at a record high.4

What STDs Are Being Tracked?

The report from the CDC names three different STD infections: chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. These are the STDs that are reportable by law5 as they are considered important to the public’s health. By law, they need to be reported by either a doctor or laboratory when they are diagnosed for the purposes of collecting statistics and helping to identify trends and outbreaks.

Overall, there are at least 50 diseases that are reportable to the CDC, including anthrax, diphtheria, hepatitis, measles and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.6

This means that not all sexually transmitted infections or diseases need to be reported to the CDC or other governmental agency for tracking. However, every state has its own list of diseases that must be reported to a state agency, which must also include the federally mandated reportable diseases.7 According to some estimates, there are nearly 19 million new cases of herpes and genital warts diagnosed each year, but those numbers aren’t recorded or tracked by the CDC.8

One reason governmental agencies don’t track all STDs is that tracking is expensive and time-consuming, especially for a disease or infection that has no cure and no certain way to demonstrate the date of infection or how it may spread. Herpes and human papilloma virus (HPV) that causes genital warts are two such infections. Any data the CDC has is as a result of states that require reporting, and therefore they are not a total reflection of the entire U.S.

The CDC estimates that more than 16 percent of the U.S. population between 14 and 49 have been infected with genital herpes, some of whom don’t have symptoms and may not know they are infected.9 This may mean this estimate is very low, based on reporting requirements.

STD Prevalence on the Rise

Results of the CDC report indicate three of the more commonly transmitted diseases have reached record levels in the U.S. There were 1.6 million cases of chlamydia in 2016, 470,000 of gonorrhea and 28,000 new cases of syphilis.

Although all three have the potential of being cured with antibiotics, mutations of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria that causes gonorrheal infections have led to a high incidence of antibiotic resistance. Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, stated:10

“Increases in STDs are a clear warning of a growing threat. STDs are a persistent enemy, growing in number, and outpacing our ability to respond.”

The CDC information on syphilis and gonorrhea dates back to 1941,11 giving the agency a solid foundation of historical data on those diseases. Symptoms that are easily identifiable may be confirmed with a culture or physical examination. However, the symptoms of herpes are subtler and you may not even present with symptoms that prompt a visit to your doctor.

Once a treatable and reportable STD has been recorded, public health officials are tasked with finding ex-partners and recommending they are tested and treated for the infection.12

Pregnancy Rates in Many Age Groups Drop

Interestingly, although the spread of STDs has risen, the number of teen pregnancies has dropped. Since 1991 the birthrate among teenage girls has dropped over 65 percent.13 Fertility rates in women of childbearing years also declined to 62 births for every 1,000 women.14 Dr. Elise Berlan, an adolescent medicine specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, believes it is likely related to increased access and use of contraceptives, naming condoms as the top method for teen birth control. However, according to the CDC:15

“Male condoms may not cover all infected areas or areas that could become infected. Thus, they are likely to provide greater protection against STDs that are transmitted only by genital fluids (STDs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and HIV infection) than against infections that are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact, which may or may not infect areas covered by a condom (STDs such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus [HPV] infection, syphilis, and chancroid).”

Following this logic:

  • Condoms are the birth control of choice in teenagers
  • The rate of teen pregnancy is dropping
  • Condoms protect primarily against STDs transmitted by genital fluid such as gonorrhea and chlamydia
  • Rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia are rising

It appears there may be other reasons for a reduction in teen pregnancy as rates of STDs normally prevented by condoms are rising, indicating genital fluids are being shared. This could potentially signal a decline in teen fertility. The Pew Research Center attributes the declining birth rate in teens to several factors, including a poor economy, better information about pregnancy prevention and an increased use of birth control.16

Additionally, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that, while more teens are using contraception, more teens are also delaying sexual debut, and fewer teens having sex.17 However, it follows that fewer sexual encounters and better use of condoms to avoid pregnancy would likely not lead to rising rates of specific STDs commonly prevented by condoms.

Untreated STDs May Have Devastating Results

Since many STDs have few symptoms and the outcome of untreated infections may be lethal, investigators are mandated to contact the infected individual’s sex partners.18

Once the investigators have the contact information for any partners from the previous 60 days, they set about asking potentially embarrassing questions such as: How many partners have you had sex with in the past year, and were they men, women or both? Was sex vaginal, anal or oral? If the investigators have little information about the partners, they may resort to using social media contacts to find the individuals.

These efforts are necessary to prevent further spread of infections and to treat those who have contracted the disease. Men and women suffer from chlamydia in nearly equal numbers.19 Symptoms in men and women are slightly different, although the infection is caused by the same bacteria.

The number of cases of syphilis is also rising, but now affecting different groups of people. The CDC report found diagnoses of syphilis in men increased by 18 percent in a single year, with most cases occurring in men having sex with men.20

Women also experienced a 36 percent increase in the diagnosis of syphilis and there was a 28 percent increase in the number of newborns diagnosed. Infants infected before birth may trigger stillbirth, miscarriage or premature birth.21 Babies born with congenital syphilis may have deformed bones, anemia or neurological disorders, such as blindness or deafness. Nearly half of babies infected while in the womb will die before or shortly after birth.22

Syphilis is also deadly to adults. Left untreated it may affect the brain, heart and other organs, ultimately leading to death.23 The infection is often difficult to identify as the symptoms mimic other health conditions. The symptoms may include rashes, swollen lymph glands, fever, sores and muscle aches. These symptoms will subside, and the disease will progress silently to the end stage. David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, commented to CNN:24

 “For the first time in many years, we are now seeing more cases of babies born with congenital syphilis than babies born with HIV. It means that women are not getting access to prenatal care, testing and treatment for syphilis. It’s an unconscionable situation in America today.”

Gonorrhea rates also increased, with the largest increases occurring among gay or bisexual men.25 Fueling the spread are special phone apps for men to hook up with men, which may be driving the increasing diagnosis of oral and rectal infection.26 In women, the infection affects the mucus lining of the reproductive tract, including the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes.27

Men and women may be infected in the urethra, mouth, throat, eyes and rectum. Untreated infections may lead to permanent health problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and a life-threatening blood infection.

Greater Challenges With Gonorrheal Infections

Although theoretically gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that should respond quickly to antibiotics, the reality is that the bacteria has developed resistance to most of the antibiotics used to treat the infection. This may soon pose a major public health threat in the U.S. and is already called an emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) in several countries, including Norway, Sweden, Japan, France and the United Kingdom.28

WHO continues to monitor the development of antibiotic resistance in the bacteria that causes gonorrhea. In a news release, Dr. Teodora Wi, Medical Officer of Human Reproduction at WHO stated:29

“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them. These cases [reported from countries using surveillance to track gonorrhea] may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhea is actually more common.”

With rising antibiotic resistance, the CDC has recommended dual antibiotic therapy to “address the potential emergence of gonococcal cephalosporin resistance” as they believe it is the “only remaining recommended treatment.”30

Antibiotic Treatment Trends Toward Failure

Although I believe antibiotic use needs to be minimized, when used properly and responsibly, antibiotics can and do save lives that are threatened by bacterial infections. When antibiotics were first introduced for patient use, science didn’t account for the ability bacteria have to mutate and essentially outsmart antibiotics. This is clearly what has been happening in the past decades as we now have nearly 18 different superbugs identified in the CDC’s report “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013.”31

According to this report, 2 million American adults and children are infected each year with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, resulting in the death of 23,000 as a direct action of the infection and more from associated complications. Unless there are changes to the way antibiotics are used and prescribed, these numbers are only going to grow.

This is essentially the evolution of bacteria as they struggle for survival. These microorganisms have taught each other how to adapt to the best pharmaceutical drugs, and they are winning the battle.

With little financial incentive to explore new antibiotic options, pharmaceutical companies are focusing instead on medications meant to be taken for a lifetime, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs. Talk of an end to the era of antibiotics circulates through scientific communities and popular media. Editor and columnist Sarah Boseley commented in The Guardian on the speed at which bacteria have accommodated to antibiotics, saying:32

“The era of antibiotics is coming to a close. In just a couple of generations, what once appeared to be miracle medicines have been beaten into ineffectiveness by the bacteria they were designed to knock out.”

Stop the Spread of STDs and Antibiotic-Resistant Disease

There are several steps you can personally take to stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant disease.

Prevention and immune support

Preventing infections and focusing on naturally supporting your immune system will help you to stay well. Make positive lifestyle choices, such as eating a balanced diet, getting at least eight hours of quality sleep, staying hydrated and addressing your stress level.

Become familiar with natural compounds that have antimicrobial activity, such as garlic, oregano extract, colloidal silver, fermented foods, sunlight and vitamin D. Research has shown that bacteria do not tend to develop resistance to these types of treatments, offering hope for the future.

Avoid unnecessary antibiotics

Use antibiotics only when absolutely necessary. If your physician recommends an antibiotic, ask if it is necessary. Sometimes medications are recommended when other options are as effective, such as treating a non-debilitating cold or upper respiratory infection with quality sleep, vitamin C, zinc lozenges, staying hydrated and resting.

Purchase grass fed (antibiotic-free) meat and dairy products as these are an even greater contributor to antibiotic-resistant disease than medical overuse. Avoid using antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers at home as use contributes to antibiotic resistance and endocrine disruption.

Get involved on the national level

If you live in the U.S., you have the option of writing to your representative or senator directly from your computer. Let them know how you feel about the overuse of antibiotics in food production, and urge them to take a stand for the future of human health by changing policy.

Practice safe sex

The surest way to avoid an STD is to practice abstinence from all sex, including oral, anal and vaginal, according to the CDC.33 Using condoms correctly may help prevent the spread of STDs spread by genital fluids. If you have sex, be in a mutually monogamous relationship where you agree to have sex with only one person who agrees to have sex only with you. Before having sex, talk with your partner and both get tested for STDs. These conversations are not comfortable, but your health is worth it!

Natural Options Support Your Health and May Help Prevent Outbreaks

If you do contract an STD, discuss your treatment options with your physician. Ignoring the issue will not make it go away and may have unintended but dangerous consequences in your life and the lives of those with whom you are in contact. There are several supportive remedies you may use at home to prevent outbreaks of STDs that cannot be cured, such as herpes, and support the antibiotic therapy your physician prescribes for those infections that have recommended treatments.34

Probiotics or fermented foods and prebiotics

Antibiotics to treat STDs upset the bacterial balance of your gut microbiome. The addition of friendly bacteria from fermented foods and the fiber that feeds them (prebiotics) may help to restore that balance.

Propolis

This resin produced by bees may help genital herpes to heal faster when a 3 percent ointment is applied topically. In one study comparing the results of Zovirax (an antiviral drug used to lessen the symptoms of herpes infections) against propolis ointment, participants using the propolis saw their lesions heal faster than those participants using Zovirax.

Zinc

A zinc cream topically applied to genital herpes may reduce the severity and duration of the outbreak.

Lysine

An imbalance between lysine and arginine in your body may trigger an outbreak of herpes virus. Foods rich in arginine that may trigger an outbreak include chocolate,35 turkey, walnuts, peanuts and dairy.36 Foods rich in lysine include figs, pears, apricots, broccoli and cauliflower.

In one study,37 participants who took a lysine supplement suffered 2.4 fewer lesions than those who didn’t use the supplement during the duration of the study. When a lesion did occur, the symptoms were less severe and the lesions healed faster.

Green tea

When the extract is applied to the skin, it may speed the healing of genital warts caused by HPV. A proprietary extract ointment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently on the market.

Aloe vera

A 5 percent cream used topically may improve the symptoms of genital herpes in men.


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Vitamin E Helps Decrease Your Cancer Risk


Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal

By Dr. Mercola

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with potent antioxidant activity that helps combat damaging free radicals. It also plays a role in the making of red blood cells, helps your body use vitamin K (which is important for heart health1) and is involved in your immune function and cell signaling. As with many other nutrients, many do not get enough of this basic micronutrient from their diet.

In the U.S. alone, 75 to 90 percent of the population fails to reach the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin E.2,3 The RDA for people over the age of 14 is 15 milligrams (mg) of vitamin E per day, but most Americans get only half that amount.4 Insufficient vitamin E can increase your risk for a wide variety of diseases, including immune dysfunction, cognitive deterioration, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers,5 especially prostate, colon and lung cancers.6,7

Obesity heightens your risk of vitamin E deficiency further, in part because the increased oxidative stress in fat cells increases your body’s need for vitamin E to begin with. Obesity also impairs your body’s utilization of vitamin E.8,9 Food is your best source of vitamin E, since food contain a combination of the eight types of vitamin E. If you’re using a supplement, there are key considerations that need to be heeded, which I’ll review below.

Low Vitamin E Level Again Linked to Higher Risk of Colorectal Cancer

A number of studies have looked at vitamin E’s influence on diseases like cancer. It’s important to realize that while some studies have linked vitamin E supplementation to an increased risk for cancer,10 most of those studies were looking at synthetic vitamin E, which I do not recommend using. Natural vitamin E, on the other hand, has a protective effect.
Studies assessing the anti-cancer potential of natural vitamin E found that:

  • 300 IUs11 of natural vitamin E per day may reduce lung cancer risk by 61 percent12
  • Gamma-tocotrienol, a cofactor found in natural vitamin E preparations, may decrease prostate tumor formation by 75 percent13
  • Gamma-tocotrienol also fights existing prostate cancer tumors and may inhibit growth in human breast cancer cells14

Most recently, a meta-analysis15 of 11 studies concluded that patients with lower concentrations of serum vitamin E (the vitamin E level in your blood) had a higher risk for colorectal cancer. A much earlier study,16 published in 1993, also found that high intake of vitamin E helped decrease the risk of colorectal cancer — especially in those under the age of 65. As explained in the study:

“Vitamin E is the major lipid-soluble antioxidant found in cell membranes, where it protects against lipid peroxidation. In addition, like carotenoids and water-soluble vitamin C, it can also stimulate the immune system and may protect against the development of cancer by enhancing immune surveillance. Vitamins E and C reduce nitrite, compounds that induce tumors …”

Other Health Benefits of Natural Vitamin E 

Aside from its cancer-preventive potential, natural vitamin E may also:

Lower your risk of heart disease and stroke17

Help relieve symptoms associated with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a common obesity-related fatty liver disease

Lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss in the elderly18

Boost improvements in blood vessel function that occur when a smoker quits smoking19

Delay loss of cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.20 Results showed that clinical progression of Alzheimer’s slowed by 19 percent per year in the group receiving 2,000 IUs per day of vitamin E, compared with placebo. This delay translated into just over six months of delayed progression over the two-year follow-up period. Caregiver time also increased the least in the group receiving vitamin E.

This study actually used synthetic alpha-tocopherol that was not balanced with tocotrienols or any of the other tocopherols — beta, gamma and delta. Chances are the benefits would have been even greater if the natural form was used

How Much Vitamin E Do You Need for Optimal Health?

According to one scientific review,21,22 a mere 21 percent of the people studied had a protective level of serum vitamin E, which is thought to be 30 micromol per liter (?mol/L). This appears to be the threshold above which “definable effects on human health in multiple areas” are obtained.23 Human studies have also found that achieving a level of 30 ?mol/L requires a daily intake of at least 50 IUs of vitamin E.24

A primary reason for such widespread deficiency is that most people eat a primarily processed food diet, which tends to be lacking in vitamin E and other important nutrients. Moreover, following a low-fat diet can have the undesirable side effect of lowering your vitamin E level, as your ability to absorb the vitamin E present in the foods you eat or supplements you take is then impaired.

Since vitamin E is fat-soluble, taking it with some healthy fat, such as coconut oil or avocado, can help increase its bioavailability. In fact, studies have shown your body will absorb only about 10 percent of the vitamin E from a supplement when you take it without fat.25

Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency and Why Vitamin E Is so Important During Pregnancy

Signs and symptoms of serious vitamin E deficiency include:26,27

Muscle weakness and unsteady gait

Loss of muscle mass

Cardiac arrhythmia

Vision problems, including constriction of your visual field; abnormal eye movements; blindness

Dementia

Liver and kidney problems

Deficiency during pregnancy can be particularly problematic. Worldwide, about 13 percent of people have vitamin E levels below the “functional deficiency” threshold of 12 ?mol/L, and most of these are newborns and young children. Babies deficient in vitamin E are at increased risk for immune and vision problems. Being deficient in vitamin E during pregnancy also raises your risk for miscarriage.28

Natural Versus Synthetic Vitamin E

Synthetic vitamin E is derived from petrochemicals and has known toxic effects, yet synthetic alpha-tocopherol is the type most commonly used when investigating the health effects of vitamin E. Hence, it’s not so surprising that synthetic vitamin E supplements would fail to provide certain health benefits and potentially increase certain health risks. 

Natural vitamin E includes a total of eight different compounds, and having a balance of all eight helps optimize its antioxidant functions. These compounds are divided into two groups of molecules as follows:

1. Tocopherols  

a. Alpha

b. Beta

c. Gamma

d. Delta

2. Tocotrienols

a. Alpha

b. Beta

c. Gamma

d. Delta

Tocopherols are considered the “true” vitamin E, and many claim it’s the only kind that has health benefits. Part of the problem with tocotrienols is that they simply haven’t received as much scientific attention. In my view, it’s safe to assume you would benefit from a balance of all eight and not just one. Foods are the ideal source of vitamin E, as all eight vitamin E compounds are naturally available.

Synthetic vitamin E supplements typically include only alpha-tocopherol, and research29,30 published in 2012 concluded that synthetic alpha tocopherols found in vitamin E supplements provided no discernible cancer protection while gamma and delta tocopherols found in foods do help prevent colon, lung, breast and prostate cancers. Bear in mind that a supplement will not actually tell you it’s synthetic, so you have to know what to look for on the label.

  • Synthetic alpha-tocopherol is typically listed with a “dl” (i.e., dl-alpha-tocopherol)
  • Nonsynthetic or naturally-derived is typically listed with a “d” (d-alpha-tocopherol)

Note that when vitamin E is stabilized by adding either succinic acid or acetic acid, the chemical name changes from tocopherol to tocopheryl (as in d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate, for example). 

Guidance When Choosing a Vitamin E Supplement

I strongly recommend avoiding synthetic vitamin E supplements as they’ve been shown to have toxic effects in higher amounts and/or over the long term. Synthetic vitamin E has also been linked to an increased tumor progression and accelerated lung cancer in mice.31 So, if you opt for a supplement, make sure you’re getting a well-balanced all-natural vitamin E supplement, not a synthetic one.

Another potential problem is that if you take high amounts of alpha-tocopherol in isolation, it could potentially deplete the other tocopherols and tocotrienols from your body. This is true whether you’re taking a natural or a synthetic one, so I recommend looking for a food-based supplement that has a balance of all eight types of vitamin E (four tocopherols and four tocotrienols).

Also look for a supplement that is free of soy, soybean oil derivatives and genetically engineered (GE) ingredients (some of the most common GE ingredients found in supplements are derivatives of corn, soy and cotton seed).

Your Best Source of Vitamin E

Supplements are best taken in addition to, not in place of, a healthy diet, and only if you actually need them. One way to evaluate your need for a vitamin E or other supplements is to use a nutrient tracker, such as Cronometer.com/Mercola, which is the most accurate one on the market because of their decision to eliminate inaccurate crowd sourced data. It’s available free of charge.

Vitamin E can easily be obtained from a healthy diet, so before considering a supplement, consider including more vitamin E-rich foods in your diet. Vitamin E is synthesized by plants, and the highest amounts are found in plant oils.

However, while some health authorities recommend canola oil as a good source,32 this is actually a terrible source. Beans — which are a good source of vitamin E — may also be problematic for many due to their high lectin content. Three general categories of foods that contain higher amounts of vitamin E that will circumvent these potentially problematic sources are:

  • Leafy greens
  • High-fat foods such as nuts, seeds and fatty fish/seafood, including shrimps and sardines
  • Oil-rich/high-fat plants such as olives and avocados

More specific examples of foods high in vitamin E include:33,34

Food Serving Size Vitamin E (mg)

Sunflower seeds

1 ounce

7.4 mg

Almonds

1 ounce 6.8 – 7.3 mg

Sunflower oil

1 tablespoon 5.6 mg

Hazel nuts

1 ounce 4.3 mg

Avocado (sliced)

1 cup 3.2 mg

Broccoli (boiled/steamed)

1/2 cup 1.2 mg

Mango (sliced)

1/2 cup 0.7 mg

Spinach (raw)

1 cup 0.6 – 3.8 mg

Kiwi

1 cup 2.7 mg


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Article Source: Health And Fitness Journal
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