A century old, Aspirin is a true miracle medicine

Complied by Dr Lipschitz

Working for Adolf Von Bayer, the chemist Felix Hoffman discovered aspirin, by chance, in 1897, when he combined acetic with salicylic acid to create acetylsalicylic acid in a chemically stable form.

Soon thereafter, scientists at Bayer realized they had identified a drug that reduced fever, relieved pain and had anti-inflammatory properties. By 1915, it was available without the prescription as a tablet used primarily for joint, back and neurological pain.

In 1948, a family physician noted that 400 patients taking aspirin never had a heart attack and recommended an “aspirin a day” to reduce heart disease.

And in 1988, a classic research study clearly showed that middle-aged men taking aspirin daily had a 40 percent reduction in heart attacks and a 32 percent reduction in all cardiac events.

Later, aspirin was shown to reduce the risk of stroke, peripheral vascular disease and in helping treat high blood pressure.

Aspirin’s benefit goes beyond protecting the heart and brain. Everyone knows that aspirin is an excellent pain reliever and anti-inflammatory drug.

But one of the most intriguing findings is aspirin’s effects on preventing cancer. In 2003, Dartmouth researchers reported that people taking a baby aspirin daily reduced their risk of precancerous polyps in the colon by 19 percent.

The anti-inflammatory effects of aspirin is believed to prevent damage to the lining cells of the colon, reducing cell abnormalities that can lead to polyps and cancer.

And in an article just published in the journal Lancet, scientists in Great Britain evaluated 14,000 people who were taking low dose aspirin for heart disease.

Taking 81 mg (baby) aspirin daily reduced the risk of colon cancer by 24 percent and the risk of death from cancer by 35 percent. Although still open to question, there is suggestive evidence that aspirin may decrease the risk of breast cancer.

In February 2010, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported that taking regular aspirin decreased recurrence of or death from breast cancer by 50 percent in women with the proven disease.

Aspirin impairs the function of an enzyme system called the cyclooxygenases (COX).

Two forms of the enzyme, COX1 and COX2 are inhibited by aspirin. The COX1 form is essential for normal platelet function and the integrity of the stomach wall.

By inhibiting the COX1, aspirin interferes with platelet function by reducing their ability to clump on arterial walls. This, in turn, reduces the risk of a blood clot and hence a heart attack or stroke.

Unfortunately, it also increases the risk of damage to the stomach wall leading to pain, indigestion and a high risk of bleeding.

Aspirin effects on the COX2 enzyme lead to less pain and a reduction in inflammation. Thus, the analgesic effect of aspirin and its role on inflammation may be protective against cancer.

What is truly remarkable is that the benefits occur as effectively when a baby or 81 mg aspirin tablet is taken daily as compared to larger doses.

But side effects remain a concern. Even at a tiny dose, the drug can cause severe bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, heartburn and indigestion — and in some patients, an allergic response leading to asthma.

Aspirin is a part of a family of medications called Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs that include Motrin, Aleve and Celebrex. When used together with these agents, the adverse effects of aspirin become more common and elevation of the blood pressure and declines in kidney function are significant risks.

For reasons that are not clear, women don’t benefit from aspirin as much as men. The drug doesn’t reduce the risk of heart attacks and only decreases the risk of stroke in women over 65. However, the reduction in cancer risk appears to occur in men and women equally.

Despite the somewhat disappointing evidence that aspirin doesn’t reduce heart attacks in women, the benefits beyond the age of 65 and the potential reduction of two of the most common cancers makes it prudent that from aged 50 onwards we should all take a baby aspirin (81 mg) daily.

Despite the risk, the benefits of aspirin far outweigh its potential side effects. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, take an aspirin a day. It can save your life.

Dr. David Lipschitz is the medical director for the Mruk Family Education Center on Aging and the Fairlamb Senior Health Clinic. Contact him at askdrdavid@gmail.com.

 

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Slash omega-6 heavy foods to cut cholesterol dangers

Most folks know a bit about omega-3s these days. Perhaps you’re even taking an omega-3 rich fish oil supplement.

Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids that we get in our food. And they’re critical for our health. In fact, without them our bodies wouldn’t even function.

Plus they also deliver some hefty health benefits such as helping to protecting us from major diseases such as Alzheimer’s, asthma and heart disease.

EPA and DHA are omega-3s that you will get from eating fish. And ALA, another fatty acid, is in plant foods such as seeds and nuts.

Shining a spotlight on omega-6 fatty acids

But if you’ve never heard of omega-6 fatty acids, you’re in good company. They aren’t a household name like the omega-3s. However, like the omega-3s they’re found naturally in some healthy foods you’re likely already eating such as nuts, seeds, chicken and cheese.

When combined with omega-3s, omega-6s help keep your brain, bones and hair healthy. Plus they help make your skin looking gorgeous, and even play a role in keeping your metabolism humming along.

But omega-6s have a dark side too. When you get too many of them, they trigger systemic inflammation. And that means they can contribute to all kinds of health problems, including heart disease, arthritis, dementia and more.

Omega-6 and omega-3 misbalance harms health

Which is why it’s critical that you’re getting enough omega-3s to balance out your omega-6 levels. And that’s where we run into a problem. Because the typical Western diet is drowning in omega-6s, and far too low in omega-3s. Some experts estimate that our modern diet has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of more than 10 to 1.

Vegetable oils—such as corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower—are one of the main culprits behind excess omega-6s. These inflammatory oils are lurking in everything from so-called health foods to fried fare. And, ironically, mainstream medicine has pushed them on us as a “healthier” alternative to animal fats.

But it gets worse. Because when those excess omega-6s meet LDL cholesterol, it can trigger a series of events that ultimately ends in a heart attack or stroke.

Oxidized LDL dangers triggered by excess omega-6s

Longtime Healthier Talk readers know that despite its reputation, cholesterol isn’t the villain it’s always made out to be. In fact, even so-called “bad” cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein, isn’t really a bad guy.

LDL helps to deliver cholesterol to tissues throughout your body where it’s used to make vital hormones including vitamin D. But when unstable omega-6s deteriorate, they generate damaging free radicals that bounce around in search of molecules to attach themselves too.

When those molecules are LDL cholesterol, they form oxidized LDL or oxLDL, and that’s when the real trouble starts. Your body identifies these damaged molecules as a danger, triggering inflammation and sending white blood cells  rushing to the site.

The white blood cells surround the oxLDL, walling it off in an attempt to protect you against it. And these sticky particles begin to stack up on the inside of your blood vessel walls forming plaque.

Over time, this build up restricts blood flow, raises blood pressure, contributes to heart disease and eventually can even lead to a heart attack or stroke. In other words, an omega-6 stuffed diet isn’t just dangerous for your health it could be deadly too.

3 simple changes help dial back omega-6 overload

But the good news is with a few small changes you can start dialing back on the omega-6s, and achieve a better ratio between the omegas, starting today.

1. Dump the veggie oils:

Inflammatory vegetable oils are one of the main sources of omega-6s in the Western diet. Cutting back on them can make a drastic difference in your omega-6 levels.

Corn oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil and canola oil are all examples of these unstable oils. Clear them out of your pantry and switch to coconut oil, avocado oil, organic cold-pressed olive oil and butter instead.

2. Read ingredients labels:

When you go grocery shopping, take a moment to spin your food around and check out the ingredients label. You’re looking for any of those vegetable oils we’ve just mentioned. Sometimes food manufacturers simply use the generic term “vegetable oil.”

Omega-6 heavy veggie oils can be in almost anything, including some of your favorite go-to pantry staples. For example…

  • Wishbone Ranch Salad dressing contains soybean oil
  • Kraft Mayonnaise contains soybean oil
  • Goldfish Baked Snack Crackers contain sunflower oil
  • Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Bars contain soybean oil

In general, avoid commercial salad dressings which tend to use veggie oils. And crackers, snack foods and fried foods are often heavy in omega-6s so strike them from your shopping list too.

3. Create a better balance:

You can’t eliminate all omega-6s from your diet, nor would you want to. But your goal should be to cut back on them to avoid their dark side, especially the potential heart consequences. And to create a better balance with the omega-3s in your diet.

Boost your omega-3s…

  • Add more omega-3 rich foods to your menu such as wild-caught salmon, sardines and mackerel.
  • Switch to pasture raised eggs. Conventionally grown have significantly higher levels of omega-6.
  • Choose grass-fed beef over grain fed, which typically are far higher in omega-6.
  • If you’re not already taking a high quality fish-oil supplement, consider adding one to your routine.

A few smart choices can go a long way towards correcting the omega-6 misbalance in your diet. Protect your health and your heart by making these changes today.

 

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Balance Blood Sugar with these Pancreas Partners

The pancreas has two main roles:

  1. working with the liver to make enzymes which break down food for digestion
  2. producing insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels

Which means when your pancreas is working properly it helps digest your food so you get the nutrients you need. Plus it keeps your blood sugar on an even keel, preventing both spikes and crashes.

In other words, a lazy pancreas can have serious consequences for your health.

Following are the five best pancreas-stimulating superfoods to balance blood sugar.

1. White beans:

White beans are the ultimate superfood in disguise. Sure, they don’t seem very impressive at first glance. But the humble legume has earned the title.

The white bean is brimming with good-for-you nutrients including magnesium, which could help balance blood sugar. Magnesium helps relax muscle cells reducing insulin resistance. And diets high in magnesium are associated with a lower risk of diabetes.

The white bean is packed full of pancreas-supporting protein too, which helps balance out the fats in your diet. In fact, a single cup of the most common beans—including white, black, kidney, pinto and garbanzos—have an average of 15 grams of lean mean protein, and very little fat.

Plus white beans, like all legumes, are high in fiber. Which means they partner with your pancreas to support healthy digestion and balance blood sugar.

With a winning combo of protein, fiber and slow-digesting carbs white beans are low on the glycemic index as well. That means they help keep your blood sugar steady, to ward of dips and spikes.

2. Blueberries:

Running low on antioxidants can be a sign of a sluggish, damaged pancreas. But loading up on antioxidant rich foods, such as delicious blueberries, can help.

Antioxidants help combat free-radical damage and oxidative stress in the body. Which means they can help protect your pancreas against damage while they promote healing.

Plus research has found blueberries improve insulin sensitivity. In one study, nearly 70 percent of folks eating blueberry smoothies had significant improvements in their insulin resistance. And experts say the anthocyanins in blueberries can fight pancreatic tissue death and insulin resistance.

3. Tart cherries:

Like blueberries, tart cherries are loaded with pancreas-friendly antioxidants. And their anthocyanin content means they too help protect your pancreas while battling insulin resistance.

In at least two different studies, the anthocyanin in tart cherries boosted insulin production in sluggish pancreas cells by up to 50 percent. Which means including tart cherries in your diet could help balance blood sugar.

4. Lemons:

Lemons are swimming in oxidation fighting antioxidants, which protect your pancreas. And their high vitamin C content can help combat inflammation in your pancreas, which left unchecked can eventually lead to tissue damage.

Research has found lemon juice can help lower blood sugar after eating, slowing the absorption of glucose. And according to Harvard Medical School, eating lemon juice with other foods can lower their glycemic index, helping to balance blood sugar.

And the lemon’s peel is packed with insulin-resistant fighting polyphenols. So be sure to zest your lemons for extra blood sugar protection.

5. Turmeric:

The exotic, golden-yellow spice turmeric provides two layers of protection for your pancreas.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. Which means it helps fight the kind of chronic pancreatic inflammation that causes damage to insulin producing cells. And the ongoing inflammation that eventually can lead to diabetes.

In a lab study curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, significantly reduced inflammation driven injury to the pancreas.

And new research has found that curcumin could also be beneficial in fighting deadly pancreatic cancer. In one study, a patient had a temporary 73 percent reduction in tumors when taking curcumin. And another volunteer had slow and steady improvements over time while on the spice.

Aim for a tablespoon of turmeric a day. Sprinkle it over salads, soups or nuts. Or sip on some turmeric tea.

You’re putting up a good fight in your battle to balance blood sugar. Let these pancreas-stimulating superfoods help you win the fight.

 

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Do you know about White Tea?

You probably already know that green tea is terrific for jump-starting weight loss. Experts say it’s the catechins in the tea, such as (EGCG), which can help us beat the battle of the bulge.
And if you’ve followed our past advice, you may have already sipped on some of this delicious beverage when you needed to shed a few pounds. But it turns out green tea has some serious competition when it comes to effortless weight loss.
White tea, made from the youngest buds of the tea plant, is also rich in flab-fighting polyphenols, including EGCG. In fact, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition white tea contains some of the purest forms of catechins, which boost metabolism and speed up weight loss.
A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism revealed that drinking white might could help us stay slim and trim in two different ways.
White tea doesn’t just encourage our bodies to burn through a bit more fat. It can also help slow, or prevent, fat cells form forming in the first place.
White tea delivers bunches of health benefits
White tea, with its light and slightly sweet flavor, can add a bit of variety to your routine. And white tea’s benefits don’t end with weight loss either.
Blood pressure and heart health:
The powerful polyphenols in white tea are anti-inflammatory, which means they naturally expand blood vessels, which can improve your blood pressure. Plus they help calm the inflammation that’s at the center of heart disease.
Since white tea goes through minimal processing it retains more of tea’s natural antioxidants than other varieties. And studies show those free-radical fighting antioxidants can put up a fight against the plaque buildup that causes narrowing and hardening of arteries.
Cancer prevention:
The hardworking polyphenols in white tea don’t just protect your heart. It turns out they can help take on cancer too.
The cancer-fighting benefits of green tea are well known. But researchers from Linus Pauling University found white tea kills even more cancer cells than green tea.
And another study, published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, backed up those results. The researchers uncovered compounds in white tea which are highly effective against cancer cells.
And over the years, hundreds of studies have found an association between regular tea drinking and better outcomes for many cancers including skin, breast, lung, and prostate.
Stronger bones and teeth:
As you get older, your bone health becomes more important than ever before. Because if your bones are weak a fall that would once have been merely an inconvenience can suddenly be a life-changing experience.
According to the University of California, Berkley, drinking tea is associated with stronger bones, and greater bone density.
And in an animal study published in the journal Bone Abstracts, when researchers exposed rats to heavy metals which are associated with low bone mineral density, white tea significantly improved their bone health. The rats fed the tea had a 65 percent increase in bone elastic strength and a 25 percent jump in ultimate bone strength, compared to the control critters.
Plus white tea’s natural antibacterial properties can help slash the number of bacteria hiding in your mouth. Which means a regular white tea habit could help protect your teeth against plaque buildup and decay, too.
Immune system support:
Antioxidant rich white tea is a natural immune system booster.
In animal studies, the tea made them significantly more resistant to sickening salmonella. And according to researchers at Pace University, white tea effectively fights bacteria, viruses and fungi.
In some cases, it was even more effective than green tea. Extracts from the white tea reduced the growth of the bacteria that cause strep infections, pneumonia and cavities.
If you’re already a green tea fan, that’s great. There’s no need to give up on your healthy habit. But go ahead and try adding some white tea into your routine too.

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Gaining weight is a common drug side effect

If you’re sick, uncomfortable, or in pain gaining weight is probably the last thing on your mind. Which is likely why ballooning weight is an often overlooked drug side effect.
You just wake up one day and realize you’ve packed on 15 or 20 pounds (or more!) without even knowing it was happening.
Because while few doctors warn their patients about it, gaining weight is a common side effect of a number of popular medications.
If your pants don’t seem to be fitting quite like they used to, but you don’t know why, take a look in your medicine cabinet. A drug you’re taking could be to blame.
1. Antidepressants:
If your doctor has you on an antidepressant for anxiety or depression, it could be behind your growing belly.
Serotonin is a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, which carries signals between brain cells. It regulates mood and plays a role in our appetite, too.
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressants which work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain. And although we don’t know why, they can trigger carbohydrate cravings and an increase appetite in some users.
Plus experts say the drugs may affect your metabolism or how efficiently your body burns through calories. As a result, around 25 percent of SSRI users gain weight… in some cases 100 pounds or more!
If you suspect antidepressants are behind you gaining weight talk with your doctor. Simply switching the med you’re on could help.
Together you can work on strategies to lose the extra weight. And if your depression is mild to moderate, you can discuss drug-free ways to improve your mood such as exercise, meditation and supplements.
2. Antihistamines:
Allergy season and gaining weight often seem to go hand in hand. And many experts believe antihistamines may be to blame.
Once again researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but allergy sufferers who take antihistamines often put on a few extra pounds. In fact, an observational study done at Yale University found that folks who regularly use these drugs weighed an average four to ten pounds more than people who didn’t use the allergy meds.
The Yale researchers theorize that histamine, the neurotransmitter that antihistamines suppress, may help regulate your appetite. So suppressing it could trigger cravings and increase your appetite.
The good news is antihistamine triggered weight gain tends to be temporary. So once you go off the meds, you should lose the extra pounds.
Try natural allergy remedies to avoid gaining weight in the first place. See our special report Tackle your worst allergy symptoms without drugs for some ideas.
3. Beta blockers:
Everyone knows that a heart-pumping cardio workout can help you lose weight. Well, beta blocker drugs do the opposite. They slow your heart rate down to lower your blood pressure.
Since a slowed heart rate puts the brakes on your metabolism too, this can lead to gaining weight. And obviously, those extra pounds end up putting even more strain on your heart. It’s a vicious circle.
Talk to your doctor about alternatives to beta blockers. And besides adopting a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise, consider lowering your blood pressure naturally with nutrients such as magnesium and potassium.
4. Insulin:
How’s this for a classic catch-22? Being overweight raises your risk for type 2 diabetes and the need to take insulin. But taking insulin can lead to gaining weight. And it can make losing it difficult.
It can feel like a no-win situation. But don’t give up. In the short term, talk with your doctor about switching medications.
Then explore some other drug-free options for controlling your blood sugar. Natural nutrients could help you gain more control over your glucose, reducing your need for medications.
And experts say losing even a small amount of weight could help you kick the diabetes drugs for good. So make sure to eat a healthy, lower carb diet (these 5 foods could help) and exercise at least three to five days a week.
5. Migraine drugs:
Let’s be honest, when you’re suffering through a bout of debilitating migraine pain the very last thing you’re worried about is gaining weight. You just want some relief.
But when you have a few pain free days in a row and you begin to notice how snug your pants are, that might change. And it turns out a number of migraine meds mess with your hormones and can trigger cravings and increase your appetite.
Migraine medications taken to prevent the headaches are to blame more often than those which relieve pain once it strikes. So if you suspect your headache prescription is behind your recent weight gain, talk to your doctor about other options. Switching your medication might help.
Supplements and identifying what triggers your headaches could help too.
6. Steroids:
Steroids can come with so many troubling side effects it’s no wonder gaining weight often gets overlooked.
Corticosteroids cause water retention, and they can trigger insomnia and increased appetite. In other words, a perfect storm for packing on the pounds.
Talk with your doctor about alternatives to steroids. And consider trying some natural anti-inflammatories as well such as turmeric, omega-3 fatty acids, ginger and serrapeptase.
If you’ve been gaining weight and don’t know why, it may be time to take a closer look at your meds. They could be to blame. And if you suspect a drug you’re taking has caused you to outgrow your wardrobe, go ahead and give your doctor a call.

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Boost brain health with these kitchen cures

The brain is a mysterious and complicated organ. But, it turns out protecting it couldn’t be easier.
Because better brain health can be as simple as whipping up your favorite meal. Really.
In fact, some common herbs you can pick up at the local grocery store today could help you shield your brain from damage for years to come.

Parsley and Thyme:

Parsley and thyme taste terrific together or apart. But these two herbs share more than just their palate-pleasing taste. They’re both brimming with a powerful bioflavonoid called apigenin.
Early research out of Brazil has found this potent compound could help transform your thinker into a super brain.
Researchers say apigenin leads to stronger, healthier neurological connections. The flavonoid encourages your brain to create new neurons, and increases the connections between existing brain cells as well.
Which means if you’ve found yourself feeling frustrated when you forgot someone’s name or exasperated when trying to master a new skill, apigenin-rich foods may help.
Research had already revealed compounds related to the nutrient have a positive effect on memory and learning. And the new study confirms the flavonoid supports cognitive function and brain health, too.
According to experts, the apigenin found in parsley and thyme even has to the potential to treat brain-linked diseases including…
• Alzheimer’s
• Parkinson’s
• schizophrenia
• depression
Chamomile and red pepper are good sources of the compound too. Try using more apigenin-rich herbs in your meals to boost your own brain health.

Sage:

If your Jeopardy skills aren’t quite what they used to be, try sage. A growing number of animal and human studies have found the fragrant spice may help improve memory.
For example, in one placebo controlled trial volunteers taking a sage extract did significantly better on word recall tests than folks who got a placebo.
Researchers believe the herb works its memory magic by helping to protect acetylcholine. This important neurotransmitter is essential for healthy cognitive function. Plus the herb’s natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions may be useful for fighting Alzheimer’s disease.
You can use sage to bump up the flavor of everything from omelets to pork chops. Or brew up some sage tea by steeping a couple of teaspoons of the dried herb in hot water for several minutes.
And before you know it, you could be acing those Jeopardy questions once again.

Rosemary:

Just a whiff of fragrant rosemary may be enough to boost your memory.
In one study when researchers had volunteers simply SMELL a rosemary extract before taking some cognitive tests, they completed the tests more quickly and accurately.
And it wasn’t a onetime fluke either. In a second study, the aroma of rosemary boosted memory, mental accuracy and speed.
The herb targets “prospective” or working memory, which is how you remember upcoming events. It’s common for working memory to fade a bit with age. But using more rosemary in your meals could head off that decline, boosting your brain health, as you get older.
And the rosemary benefits don’t end there, either. According to research conducted at the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland, the antioxidants in rosemary can also help protect against strokes, and age-related cell degeneration.
And according to Healthier Talk contributor Dr. Rothfeld, both rosemary and spearmint are proven brain boosters. In an animal experiment, extracts from the two fragrant herbs significantly improved memory and learning skills

Peppermint:

If you’re concerned about your brain health, and you’re a peppermint fan, you’re in luck. Because experts say, this fresh smelling herb could help roll back the years on your brain’s odometer, improving your memory.
According to research out of Northumbria University in England, sipping on peppermint tea sent people’s long-term and prospective memory soaring. Plus it boosted their overall alertness and mood at the same time.
And just like rosemary, peppermint’s powerful scent alone could help give you the sharp as a tack memory you desire. A study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience, found that just smelling peppermint improves memory and mood.
So the next time you find yourself misplacing your keys go ahead and brew up a batch of peppermint tea. Drinking it while you search may help you find them faster. And the minty smell can help keep you feeling upbeat while you look.
Fresh mint is also delicious mixed into plain Greek yogurt, blended into smoothies and sprinkled into salads.
It’s time to start taking your brain health seriously. Put these five brain-boosting herbs on your menu today for better memory tomorrow.

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