Digestive Wellness

The road to optimal health begins with a strong, healthy digestive system and your body’s ability to detoxify itself from harmful substances. There is truth in the old saying, “You are what you eat,” but it is more accurately said that you are what you digest, absorb, and assimilate. If you are ready to take charge of your health, Begin by taking care of your digestive system and detoxifying your body.

Digestion in a Nutshell

Once you understand the basic, important functions of the digestive system, you will see how important it is to begin here in the quest for better health. The digestive tract is about 30 feet long, beginning with the mouth and ending with the anus, and is commonly referred to as the “gut.” Most people believe digestion begins in the mouth. Actually, it begins in the brain. To illustrate this, take a moment and imagine a lemon that is juicy and ripe. In your mind, take the lemon and squeeze the juice into a glass. Then close your eyes and imagine what the juice will smell and taste like when you put it in your mouth. You may notice a “puckering” sensation or an increase of saliva, even though we only imagined the lemon juice. The thought of food sends a message to the salivary glands, which secrete saliva into the mouth.

In response, USANA scientists created the new and updated line of Digestion and Detox products, made to work together to support your digestive health.

Digestive Enzyme – A powerful supplement that encourages more complete digestion and absorption of nutrients and supports the body’s natural detoxification processes.

One of the first steps toward vibrant health is balancing gut function. High quality probiotics are some of our main tools to bring back homeostasis in the gut. USANA has achieved a new level of nutritional excellence with the incorporation of the USANA Probiotic in the product line.

Supplementing with digestive enzymes can make a difference in your digestive health. Mild indigestion, occasional heartburn, gas and bloating, occasional constipation, etc. are often a direct result of inadequate enzyme production. USANA’s Digestive Enzyme is the highest quality pH-stable digestive enzyme available on the market today.

USANA® Probiotic A probiotic food supplement containing the two most important probiotic bacteria for digestive and immune health.

Hepasil DTX™ A comprehensive liver support formula to help promote and balance detoxification processes within the body, made using USANA’s innovative Nutritional Hybrid Technology. Hepasil DTX is what many doctors have been waiting for. This is a safe and reachable way to keep your toxin load under control. Its exclusive combination of ingredients will help you clean your system!

USANA Fibergy® Plus A nutritious fiber blend that is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, low in sodium, and can be mixed with juice or water to provide 12 grams of fiber in each serving.I love that the formula of Fibergy Plus is hypoallergenic. And with such a simple and clean ingredient list, it is perfect for sensitive individuals.

About Conn’s disease

Conn’s disease, also known as Primary Aldosteronism (PA), is an illness of the adrenal glands. It occurs when one or both glands produce too much of the hormone aldosterone, which causes patients to retain sodium, and in that process, lose potassium in the urine. The excess sodium holds onto water, which can cause dangerously high blood pressure. PA can result from a tumor (that is almost always noncancerous) on one or both adrenal glands or when both glands are enlarged and overactive. Medical students are taught that they’ll probably never see this disease, yet at least 10 percent of patients with hard-to-treat hypertension may have Conn’s.

To test for Conn’s, doctors begin by measuring the levels of aldosterone and rennin, which is an enzyme produced by the kidneys that helps regulate blood pressure. Conn’s is suspected if the test shows you have low rennin and high aldosterone. You may be asked to follow a high-sodium diet for three days so your doctor can measure the aldosterone and sodium in your urine. A CT scan can help identify a bump (which might be a tumor) or other irregularity on one or both of your adrenal glands. Adrenal vein sampling, in which a radiologists draws blood from the right and left adrenal veins and compares the two samples, can detect whether one or both of the glands is affected. Treatment can involve removing the gland, or taking medications to block aldosterone, and lowering the dietary intake of sodium, while raising intake of potassium.

If your symptoms suggest Conn’s disease, you need an endocrinologist who has experience with treating the disease. If you’re between 30 and 50 and have been diagnosed with hypertension for no apparent reason, the American Medical Association says to suspect Conn’s. Having low potassium levels in addition to the high blood pressure is another red flag. And women are more likely than men to develop the condition.

Caring for someone with diabetes

My partner has diabetes. How will this affect our relationship?

Your partner may want you to be closely involved with his or her diabetes care, or may want to manage it alone. Discuss with your partner the type of support he or she needs and wants. On a practical level, it is useful to know what to do if your partner has a hypoglycemic attack (if insulin-stimulating pills or insulin are sued) or what to do if he or she becomes very ill.

My parents live in an assisted living facility. Although they are well, I worry about them having hypoglycemic attacks. How can I make sure they are safe?

Checking what your parents know about hypoglycemic attacks and how to treat themselves and each other will help reassure you. If they are unsure of what to do in the event of a hypoglycemic attack, get information for them that might help. Your parents may find that eating regularly is sufficient to prevent hypoglycemic attacks most of the time. Having remedies readily available and checking their blood glucose levels regularly will prepare them if a hypoglycemic attack does happen. If your parents start to have hypoglycemic attacks regularly, they may need a change of medication.

I care full-time for my husband who has diabetes and heart disease. Can I get any help?

Caring for someone fulltime can be physically and emotionally demanding – help might be available from friends, family, health professionals, volunteer organizations, and social workers. There might also be a caregivers’ support group in your area that you may find helpful to contact.

Our 18-year-old son has diabetes and learning difficulties. How can we help him look after his diabetes?

You may find that your son is more anxious to do some things than others, and he may behave responsibly on one day but not on the next. Forcing him to look after his diabetes when he isn’t ready might cause a lot of unnecessary stress for all the family. On the other hand, doing everything for him might feel like a lot of hard work. You might strike a balance by encouraging your son to do the things that he is willing and able to do (and always giving him plenty of praise when he does something well) and taking over his diabetes care when he is struggling.

My husband and son both have diabetes. My son is also obese. I’m fed up with making three different meals a day. What can I do?

The guidelines for eating healthily are the same for all three of you, but you may have different tastes in food. Rather than letting diabetes be the reason to prepare different foods, it might help you to discuss as a family the foods each of you like and how to include these. If your son needs to lose weight but your husband does not, you may be able to adjust the portion sizes of meals so that your son eats fewer calories than your husband.

My teenage daughter has just been diagnosed with diabetes, but doesn’t seem to accept it. What can I do?

Your daughter might have strong feelings about her diagnosis, ranging from denial to anger, resentment, and depression. She may also be feeling very self-conscious about her body if she is overweight. You might help your daughter by giving as much emotional support as you can, while also being firm and consistent in your approach to her diabetes care. If you are finding it difficult to communicate with her, your daughter might talk more easily with another member of the family, a friend, or a counselor.

Solving the Calcium Conundrum

Every once in a while, new research findings seem to fly in the face of conventional nutrition wisdom, leaving health-conscious consumers scratching their heads or throwing up their hands. One of the most recent examples was a study published last July in the British Medical Journal that linked calcium supplementation with increased heart-attack risk.

Researchers analyzed 14 research trials in which subjects took either a placebo or at least 500 mg per day of supplemental calcium in studies lasting longer than a year, with a mean participant age greater than 40 years old. At follow-up a few years later, significantly more participants taking calcium supplements have had heart attacks than those taking placebo. The study authors concluded that calcium supplements (not taken with vitamin D) are associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

In light of the findings, consumers who’ve made a habit of taking supplemental calcium – around 43 percent of the U.S. population and nearly 70 percent of older women, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition – have been left to wonder: Do the potential risks of supplementation outweigh the mineral’s bone-supportive benefits?

The real key is that the calcium was taken without the needed vitamin D. there is research suggesting that when calcium is paired with vitamin D, there’s a reduction in the risk of heart disease.

In addition to potentially counteracting increased risk associated with supplemental calcium alone, vitamin D plays a vital role in bone and overall health. It aids in calcium absorption, helps form and maintain strong bones and may protect against osteoporosis. This vitamin has also shown promise in staving off high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic diseases. And, there’s solid evidence that calcium and vitamin D taken together help prevent bone fractures. Recent research has even shown that improving calcium and vitamin D status substantially reduces all cancer risk in post-menopausal women – yet another motivation to aim for adequate amounts of both nutrients.

The recommendation is to use nutrient-rich and balanced food, such as skim milk and yogurt, as your natural sources of calcium and vitamin D. Other calcium-rich foods include leafy greens, sardines in oil, tofu made with calcium sulfate and enriched forms of orange juice, soy milk and cereals. Substantial sources of vitamin D include some types of fish, cod liver oil and fortified foods such as milk, cereals and juices. (Adequate intake is especially important for people with limited sun exposure, as UV-B rays stimulate the body’s own synthesis of vitamin D).

If you don’t like these foods, try a supplement intended for bone health that is a combination of calcium and vitamin D, along with vitamin K to provide the balance of nutrients needed for bone health. Look for citrate or malate forms of calcium, as those are the best-absorbed forms, and seek out the D3 form of vitamin D.

Before you head to the health-food store, read labels to take stock of how much calcium and vitamin D you’re already getting through food and drink. According to a report released last November (“Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D”), you may not be lacking as much as you think, if at all. (A simple blood test can help determine levels of vitamin D in the body, including that produced in response to sunlight). Above all, keep in mind that maintaining bone health isn’t as simple as just a pair of nutrients.

It’s like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle with two pieces. Consider the lifestyle approach and include calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K and magnesium. Avoid excessive amounts of protein, and follow a sound exercise program. Think overall nutrition and not just nutrients.

(by Liz Robins)

For Your Health – What is anemia

IT’S A COLD, dreary winter’s morning after the holidays, and it takes all your strength just to get out of bed, but it’s not just today— you’ve been feeling tired and run-down for more than a month. Unfortunately, fatigue is a nonspecific symptom that can occur for any number of reasons. One common cause is anemia. Here are a few things you should know about it.

What is anemia exactly, and how does it affect the body?

Anemia is a general term that refers to various conditions that affect red blood cells in a way that prevents the body from getting all the oxygen it needs, resulting in fatigue. This occurs any time there aren’t enough red blood cells with enough hemoglobin, a protein-based component of red blood cells that can properly hold on to oxygen. Symptoms of the common forms of anemia include tiredness, pale skin, trouble sleeping, dizziness, shortness of breath and fast heartbeat.

What are some common causes of the different types of anemia?

Red blood cells can be lost when a person has bleeding due to an undetected stomach ulcer, hemorrhoids, childbirth, heavy menstruation or some surgical procedures. One type of anemia is iron-deficiency anemia, where the body doesn’t have enough iron to make hemoglobin. The body also needs folic acid and vitamin B12 to make hemoglobin. Those who do not get enough meat or vegetables in their diet can sometimes be low in one or more of these three things.

If my doctor advises me to take iron supplements, what should I know about them?

The first thing to know is that iron is a metal and can be toxic at doses higher than recommended. Iron supplements come in different salt forms that each contain a different amount of elemental (actual) iron and are most easily taken orally as tablets. It is important that your doctor tell you how much elemental iron is being recommended so that when you go to the pharmacy counter your pharmacist can help you choose the right one for you.

Often, a doctor may recommend taking iron at a higher dose for three to six months to get the total body levels corrected, and then at a much lower regular dose or discontinued altogether based on blood-test results.

Iron supplements are absorbed into the body best on an empty stomach accompanied by some acidic juice, such as orange juice. Most stomach upset can be reduced by increasing the dose slowly to the prescribed dose and constipation can be managed by drinking plenty of water.

Where can I learn more?

In addition to whatever information your doctor, primary physican or pharmacist can provide, there are a number of valuable sources on the Internet. Two good ones are:
• National Anemia Action Council, www.anemia.org
• Keep Kids Healthy, www.keepkidshealthy.com

For Your Health – Magnesium

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES of Health compiled results from multiple studies that conclude that higher intake of magnesium is associated not only with decreased risk of coronary heart disease, but with decreased risk of stroke and abnormal heart rhythms as well.

Many foods are a good source of magnesium, including whole grains, nuts, legumes, dark leafy green vegetables and shellfish. Spinach and Swiss chard are the best sources, with just one cup providing more than a third of the daily requirement. Magnesium can also be taken in a dietary supplement, such as Nature Made.

About 50 percent of Americans get adequate amounts of magnesium in their diets, but some people need supplements, including those with health problems that may affect magnesium absorption.

• Some medicines may result in magnesium deficiency, including certain diuretics, antibiotics and medications used to treat cancer.
• Individuals with poorly controlled diabetes may benefit from magnesium supplements.
• Magnesium supplementation may be indicated for persons with alcoholism.
• Individuals with chronic malabsorption problems such as Crohn’s disease may need may need supplemental magnesium.
• Individuals with chronically low blood levels of potassium and calcium may have an underlying problem with magnesium deficiency.
• Older adults are at increased risk for magnesium deficiency.

Before using supplemental magnesium, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure there are no conflicts with your other medications or treatments.