Friday, November 29, 2013

Beware of Faulty Supplement Studies

NBC News produced a report titled "Vitamins don’t prevent heart disease or cancer, experts find" by Maggie Fox. This is one of the poorest articles I have ever read. I am in no way reluctant to post it because I believe in letting the "buyer beware". Make your own decision and if it works for you then good, keep doing it. However, I must say that many supplement studies are just B.S. because of many reasons or combinations of reasons: poor quality supplements for test; testing single nutrients; testing nutrients in small RDAS level doses; testing nutrients on subjects with widely diverse ages and health where a common baseline is impossible. Anyway, like I said, let the buyer beware!

The article: 

There’s not much evidence that vitamins can prevent heart disease or cancer – the two leading killers of Americans, experts said Monday.

Even though half the U.S. population pops vitamins in the belief they can help people live longer, healthier lives, a very extensive look at the studies that have been done show it may be a waste of time when it comes to preventing the diseases most likely to kill you.

The findings, by a team at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., being used as the basis to update recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), aren’t clear-cut. They are likely to add to confusion over the benefits of vitamins.

"A healthy balanced diet is critical for good health, and that's probably the most important way that we get the nutrients that are essential," says Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a heart disease specialist at the University of California San Francisco who's a member of the Task Force.

“The USPSTF reviewed 24 studies of individual vitamins, minerals, or functional nutrient pairs. Across all the supplements studied, there was no evidence of beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease, cancer, or all-cause mortality," they wrote.

That doesn’t mean people don’t need the nutrients. It’s just that a multivitamin might not be the best way to get them.

There are two clear exceptions, the researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Beta-carotene can raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers, and vitamin E does no good at all in preventing cancer or heart disease. “The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that the net benefit of vitamin E supplementation is zero," they wrote.

And it’s also clear that vitamins can help pregnant women ensure they have healthy babies. The benefits of folic acid are so clear that flour is supplemented with it.

Vitamins are a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States. “Americans spend an estimated $11.8 billion each year on vitamin and mineral supplements,” the researchers wrote. But study after study has returned mixed evidence, at best, that they help most people in any way. The exceptions are people with vitamin deficiencies.

The team did what’s known as a meta-analysis, pooling the evidence of many different studies.

Evidence is clear that “fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood may play a role in the prevention of cancer or cardiovascular disease,” the researchers wrote. The American Heart Association agrees in its latest statement. "We recommend that healthy people get adequate nutrients by eating a variety of foods in moderation, rather than by taking supplements," the group says.

Dr. Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who criticizes the supplement industry in his book “Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine,” says he is not surprised by the findings.

But he doubts that the millions of Americans who buy vitamins will stop because of this recommendation. “They are constantly hearing information from those who market these products that they are good for you, that they boost your immunity, that they reduce stress,” Offit said in a telephone interview. “Many celebrities endorse them. One cannot imagine how they could hurt you because you need vitamins, you need vitamins to live. The notion is the more, the better.”

Offit said the review could have done more to highlight some of the dangers of overdosing on vitamins. Vitamin A, for example, can cause liver damage if taken in high amounts. “I wish they had taken on the issue of taking megavitamins in excess," he said. “I would like to see someone step forward and say there’s harm.”

There is evidence that taking too many vitamins may be harmful. One study found that too much vitamin E may raise the risk of prostate cancer. And one study of 40,000 women found a slightly higher risk of death in women who took supplements.

Even studies showing benefit have mixed results. Last year, a study showed that men who took a specific multivitamin had a lower risk of death. But the benefit didn’t extend to women.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association and lobbying group for the supplement industry, said the findings show the benefits of vitamins. “Your multivitamin provides you those missing nutrients that are missing from poor diet or busy travel schedules and that's really what the importance of a multivitamin is,” said Douglas MacKay, VP for scientific and regulatory affairs at the group.

But Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC's Diet and Nutrition Editor and a professor of psychiatry, epidemiology, and surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, disputes this.

Consumers should know that taking vitamins does not offset poor lifestyle choices," she says. "Many people fool themselves into 'bartering' for self- selected lifestyle factors. Smokers who take vitamins to support heart health, or sun-worshippers who take antioxidant vitamins to prevent skin cancer, are only fooling themselves."

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Can Vitamin D Prevent Diabetes?

This article is from Lisa Collier Cool and was originally titled "Can This 7-Cent Vitamin Prevent Diabetes?".

Researchers have launched the world’s first large, definitive clinical trial to find out if vitamin D supplements can stave off type 2 diabetes in people at high risk for the disease.

About 20 US medical centers are participating in the National Institutes of Health-funded trial, known as the D2d study, which will include some 2,500 volunteers with pre-diabetes, a problem affecting 79 million Americans.

“Without an effective intervention, about 10 percent of people with pre-diabetes will progress to type 2 diabetes each year,” reports Anatassios Pittas, MD, co-director of the Diabetes Center at Tufts Medical Center, who has received a grant of more than $40 million over five years from the NIH as part of the D2d study.

In the double-blinded clinical study, pre-diabetic participants ages 30 and older will be randomly assigned to take 4,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 or a placebo. Their health will be tracked for about four years.

MyAchingKnees Comment:  While I think Vitamin D in a necessary supplement and a daily dose in the several thousand of IU's is required, I don't think these studies involving single nutrients do a lot of good since they do not consider nor evaluate the necessary and synergistic effect of taking all the required nutrients for the bodies immune system to optimally function.......still I am glad someone thinks that daily doses of more than the RDA recommended 400 IU are necessary.     

New strategies are urgently needed to halt the diabetes epidemic, which now affects nearly 26 million Americans—with about 1.9 million new cases diagnosed each year, according to the American Diabetes Association. Rates have been rising in tandem with the obesity epidemic.

Urgent Need for Safe, Low-cost Strategies to Stop an Epidemic

“There’s a lot of hype about potential benefits of vitamin D—which is one of the most popular supplements with sales of $425 million a year in 2009—but not enough good scientific evidence to support a recommendation for or against taking it for diabetes prevention,” adds Dr. Pittas.

However, there are strong signals that the inexpensive vitamin—available for as little as 7 cents per pill—might be helpful. For example, Dr. Pittas and colleagues reported in a 2012 study that pre-diabetic patients with the most vitamin D in their blood had lower risk for progressing to type 2 diabetes, even when lifestyle interventions known to cut the threat, such as weight loss, exercising more, and eating a better diet were taken into account.

Ample amounts of the sunshine vitamin are linked to dramatic drops in risk for both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Compared to people with the most vitamin D in their blood, those with the least are 50 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis of 16 studies published earlier this year in Clinical Chemistry.

High levels of vitamin D have an even more potent effect on risk for type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease). A 2012 study found that people with vitamin D levels of 17 nanograms or less per milliliter of blood had more than triple the risk for type 1 versus those with levels above 40.

While these and other studies show a strong correlation between vitamin D and lower diabetes risk, they don’t establish causation. In other words, there is no proof that the sunshine vitamin prevents diabetes.

Facing Diabetes Head On: Tips to Help You Cope

What’s the Link Between Vitamin D and Diabetes Risk?

“For type 2 diabetes to develop, people have to have two problems: their bodies become resistant to insulin and the beta cells in their pancreas don’t produce enough insulin to keep up with demand,” says Dr. Pittas.

“There is some preliminary evidence that vitamin D may improve both problems,” adds Dr. Pittas. “Another intriguing discovery is that the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin have the ability to activate vitamin D locally, which is not the case with most other tissues in the body.”

These discoveries offer a plausible biological mechanism by which vitamin D may fight diabetes, continues Dr. Pittas, who has been researching links with both forms of the disease for more than a decade. “I became intrigued with this association after learning that rates of type 1 diabetes rise as you move further from the equator.”

This geographic pattern also holds true for other autoimmune conditions, leading many researchers to hypothesize that sunshine, which sparks the body to produce vitamin D, may be protective.

However, there could also be other reasons, cautions Dr. Pittas. “For example, people who live close to the equator tend to have a healthier lifestyle than those in northern countries where people exercise less and eat a Western diet.”

Should You Take Vitamin D to Prevent Diabetes?

Since it’s not yet known if high doses of vitamin D, such as those used in the study, protect against diabetes, Dr. Pittas recommends sticking to the RDA of vitamin D (600 IU for people ages one to 70, and 800 IU for those over 70), unless your healthcare provider recommends higher doses.

Also discuss being checked for vitamin D deficiency, which is very common among Americans, especially in the winter, points out Amy Doneen, ARNP, medical director of the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center in Spokane, Washington.

“Although a cause-and-effect relationship with diabetes hasn’t been established, optimizing your vitamin D levels if they’re low appears to be particularly beneficial if you have insulin resistance, the root cause of both type 2 diabetes and many heart attacks,” adds Doneen.

The best dietary sources for vitamin D include oily fish like salmon and mackerel, beef liver, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Causes Heart Disease?

This article is by a world renowned Heart Surgeon who is speaking out on what he thinks really causes heart disease. This was published on by Dr. Dwight Lundell. Dr Lundell is the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital, Mesa, AZ. His private practice, Cardiac Care Center was in Mesa, AZ. Recently Dr. Lundell left surgery to focus on the nutritional treatment of heart disease. He is the founder of Healthy Humans Foundation that promotes human health with a focus on helping large corporations promote wellness. He is also the author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie.

What Causes Heart Disease? We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong.. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

World Renowned Heart Surgeon Speaks Out On What Really Causes Heart Disease

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labeled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body? Well,smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour and all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell – they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter.

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labeled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Over the Counter Brain Damage

Over the Counter Brain Damage This article was posted on Real Farmacy and titled: "Over the Counter Brain Damage: Common ‘Medicines’ that Cause Long Term Cognitive Impairment". The side effects from OTC and prescription medicine are dangers that have been written about time and time again.  I am glad to see yet another article warning us of possible unintended damage, this time impacting on cognitive function.

Drugs commonly taken for a variety of common medical conditions negatively affect your brain, causing long term cognitive impairment. These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter. They include such common over-the-counter brands as Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, and Unisom. Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil are available only by prescription.

Physorg reports:

“Researchers … conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began … ‘[T]aking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual’s risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs doubled this risk.’”

From Dr. Mercola:

Many view over-the-counter (OTC) drugs as safe because they don’t require a prescription. Well nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, many OTC drugs were previously carefully monitored prescription drugs. Many people are not aware that while I was in college in the 1970s, I worked as a full time pharmacy apprentice and helped sell drugs to patients all day long.

Motrin was the first non-salicylate prescription NSAID. Now it is a popular OTC ibuprofen option. Similarly, anti-ulcer drugs like Tagamet, Zantec, and Prilosec used to be carefully controlled. Now they can all be easily purchased in a smaller “OTC strength” that nearly doubles the number of pills required to equal the prescription dose.

Just because a drug is available without a prescription does not make it any less dangerous. It is still a chemical, which in no way, shape, or form treats the cause of the problem and can lead to complications that can seriously injure, if not kill, you or someone you love.

So this is clearly important information that can help you or someone you love reduce your risk of dementia as you get older. Based on the findings of this study, I would strongly recommend that seniors in particular avoid all anticholinergic drugs, like Benadryl (generic is diphenhydramine) which is a pervasive and commonly used in virtually all of the OTC sleeping pills.

Researchers will continue studying the matter to see whether anticholinergic-induced cognitive impairment can be reversed, but don’t hold your breath. Avoidance is really the best solution.

What are Anticholinergic Drugs?

Anticholinergic drugs block a nervous system neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease typically have a marked shortage of acetylcholine. Anticholinergic drugs are available both over-the-counter and by prescription, as medications used for a variety of symptoms can have this effect. Examples include night-time pain relievers, antihistamines, and other sleep aids, such as:

Excedrin PM
Tylenol PM

Prescription drugs with anticholinergic effects include certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers. Examples of prescription meds in these categories include:


A Special Note for Aspartame ‘Reactors’

Many of the drugs listed here, as well as a long list of additional ones, contain diphenhydramine. As an important side note, you need to beware that chewable tablets and rapidly disintegrating tablets that contain diphenhydramine may be sweetened with aspartame.

If you have the genetic disease phenylketonuria (PKU), you must be particularly careful to avoid these types of drugs and all other types of aspartame-sweetened foods and beverages in order to prevent mental retardation.

But many other people also suffer detrimental health effects from aspartame, so you should know that this is yet another potential source of this toxic sweetener.

Anticholinergic Drugs Increases Dementia in the Elderly

I’ve previously written about the health dangers of many of these individual drugs. Paxil, for example, is an addictive antidepressant that is well known to increase the risk of suicide in children and teens. It is also known to increase violent behavior.

Benadryl and Sominex have previously been found to cause hallucinations in the elderly, and a number of the drugs on the list also promote dental decay.

The results of this study indicate that drugs with anticholinergic effects may be yet another piece of the puzzle that might explain the sharp rise in dementia and cognitive decline.

According to the University of Michigan, dementia strikes about 50 percent of people who reach the age of 85. Of those, about 60 percent go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease. In this study, the researchers tracked the intake of anticholinergic drugs and monitored the cognitive abilities of 1,652 African-American seniors, aged 70 and older, for six years. All of the participants had normal cognitive function at the outset of the study.

Fifty-three percent of the participants used a ‘possible anticholinergic,’ and 11 percent used a ‘definitive anticholinergic’ drug. They found that those who took drugs classified as ‘definite anticholinergics’ had a four times higher incidence of cognitive impairment.

In those who were not carriers of the specific gene, APOE e4 allele, the risk was over seven times higher. (The APOE e4 gene is known to influence many neurological diseases, and is considered a high risk factor for Alzheimer’s.)

Taking two of these drugs further increased the risk of cognitive impairment.

PhysOrg reports:
“Simply put, we have confirmed that anticholinergics, something as seemingly benign as a medication for inability to get a good night’s sleep or for motion sickness, can cause or worsen cognitive impairment, specifically long-term mild cognitive impairment which involves gradual memory loss.

As a geriatrician I tell my Wishard Healthy Aging Brain Center patients not to take these drugs and I encourage all older adults to talk with their physicians about each and every one of the medications they take,” said Malaz Boustani, M.D., IU School of Medicine associate professor of medicine, Regenstrief Institute investigator and IU Center for Aging Research center scientist.”

Even More Reasons to Ditch the Sleep Meds

In 2008, Americans filled more than 56 million prescriptions for sleeping pills and spent more than $600 million on over-the-counter sleep aids. But anticholinergic sleep medications in particular may be causing far more harm than good, especially long term, without providing any benefit at all.

In a recent article, CBC News reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has had data for 15 years which shows that over-the-counter sleep aids like Tylenol PM and Excedrin PM do not offer any significant benefit to patients.

There’s no explanation for why the FDA took 15 years to evaluate the industry’s research, but upon final analysis “the data suggests the combination products are statistically better than a placebo but not by much,” CBC News reported.

I guess it can be chalked up as yet another vibrant example of how industry research frequently amounts to little more than corporate wishes and good PR fodder.

MyAchingKnees comment: This was a very long article. The second part of it contained information relative to the dangers of sleeping aids which the use of is in epidemic proportions.   It's just crazy to take all this crap thinking it is helping.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Good Foods to Add to Your Diet

Straight from your pantry—up energy, get glowing skin, sleep better and more. Keep clicking to find out what to snack and sip on when your body needs a boost. From a recent Yahoo Health article.

This chilled soup is a blend of tomatoes and vegetables—including onions and garlic, which have antiviral properties (they attack sickness-causing germs). The produce also boosts your intake of certain vitamins that help strengthen your immune system.

Chamomile Tea
Chamomile helps relax the muscles around your GI tract, and the water in the tea improves digestion to shrink a bloated tummy. For the best relief, look for teas that are all chamomile rather than a blend.

This water-rich fruit transports key nutrients to the brain and keeps you hydrated. (Even mild dehydration can lead to more frequent and severe headaches, according to one study.) A little bit of natural sugar from the fruit will fuel brain cells to increase alertness, too. Snack on a watermelon slice, or cut into cubes and add to a glass of water.

Eating parsley may help prevent allergy flare-ups because it contains an antioxidant called quercetin that helps reduce the release of histamines. Fewer circulating histamines means you'll experience fewer symptoms when exposed to allergens. Add it to salads, or mix with olive oil and lemon to make a chicken topping.

Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin—the antioxidant that gives the mild-flavored spice its bold color—turmeric helps ease arthritis pain and swelling, enhance immunity, improve digestion, possibly prevent cancer and may even help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's. Luckily, the spice isn't overpowering, so you can easily add it to any dish. Try shaking ½ tsp into vegetable soup or a stir-fry, or mix it into rice.

MyAchingKnees comment: The joint supplement I take each day, and what I attribute to my pain free knees and back, has a bioavailable curcumin complex. This form of curcumin, combined with Glucosamine, Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium and Vitamin C, make up the supplement I take for my joint health each day.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
It's rich in a component called oleocanthal that speeds muscle repair. In fact, research shows that consuming about 3½ Tbsp oil throughout the day is the anti-inflammatory equivalent of approximately 10% of the standard ibuprofen dose. Add some to a post-workout salad or on top of mixed steamed vegetables.

Cheese and Crackers
The crackers pack energizing vitamins B6 and B12 (look for those that list 100% whole grain as the first ingredient), while lowfat cheese has protein. That combo stimulates the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain, which gives you energy to power through the P.M. Cap snacks at 200 calories (about 1 oz lowfat cheese and 8 crackers).

Cherry Juice
Tart cherries contain melatonin—a sleep-promoting compound that's a rare find in food (other sources include walnuts and bananas). In one study, people who drank this juice daily had better-quality zzz's compared with those who didn't sip. Cherry juice won't knock you out, but it may help you fall asleep easier. Drink it any time of day, or try adding 6 oz to a smoothie.

This tropical fruit contains bromelain, a compound that calms the skin inflammation that happens when you get a bruise. Eat about a cup and a half of pineapple chunks throughout the day and drink water to speed healing.

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