Category Archives: Be Well health tips

Betsy’s Boosts for wellness

Happy Heart-Healthy Valentine’s Day

February 14th brings to mind our loved ones and our wish for them (and for ourselves) a long and healthy life. Yet many of us continue to live a Heart-Unhealthy lifestyle. If you missed my post, here’s a chance to take another look. As you untie that box of chocolates (dark, I hope) and tip back that rich Merlot, consider this a wake-up call.

Read (re-read) the health-tips and see for yourself where little habits might shift to induce better choices. It is not about giving up chocolate and red wine. It is about perspective, balance, finding joy and deliciousness in taking a walk, having more salad and good fats (avocado, salmon) in your everyday meals. Love yourself to better health and maybe even a longer, more robust life ahead.

Be well, Do Well, and Keep Moving. Betsy

Share this post with your loved one and I thank you.

Check out the Heart Healthy supplements by Shaklee Corporation at www.HiHoHealth.com, my personal shopping website.

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Do you want to live to 100?

Take care of your heart and you will have a fighting chance to see old age and be able to enjoy physical activity up to the end. People tell me they don’t want to live to be 100 if they are in and out of the doctor’s office and hospital for the last fifteen of those one-hundred years. They would rather die suddenly, in good health, from a heart attack. Sudden death from heart failure is rare. Fewer than a million of us Americans die of a heart attack each year, but heart disease claims 1 in 5 of us annually and has been the leading cause of death in the US for 100 years.

Doctors tell us what lifestyle changes we need to make. They are ready to “manage” heart disease with drugs. The problem is that most of us will not die suddenly. We will slowly sink toward death less and less able to live a physically active life.

February is Heart Health Month. Valentine’s Day brings our loved ones to mind. We want them to be part of our lives for years to come. The truth is that modern medicine can support us into very old age and many of us will reach 100. What will be the quality of those last twenty years? It is up to us. Not entirely. Many factors cause our health to deteriorate and not all of them are under our control, but we can do a lot to prevent heart disease.

Heart Disease Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, has long been recognized as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • High cholesterol. Extra cholesterol can build up on artery walls and reduce blood flow to the heart.
  • Diabetes. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease as people who don’t have it.
  • Depression. Adults with a depressive disorder or symptoms of depression have a 64% greater risk of developing coronary artery disease.
  • Obesity. Being overweight is linked to several factors that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

Heart Risk Behaviors

  • Smoking. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease & causes around 1in 4 heart disease deaths.
  • Eating a poor diet. A diet that’s high in fat, salt, sugar, and cholesterol can contribute to heart disease.
  • Not exercising. Even though exercise reduces the risk for heart disease and early death, only about half of Americans get the recommended amount of aerobic activity.
  • Drinking alcohol excessively. Heavy alcohol use can increase the risk for heart attack, heart failure, and death. Excess drinking can damage the heart before symptoms even appear.

Prevention

The good news is that heart disease is preventable. Controlling these risk factors can reduce a person’s risk for a heart attack and stroke by more than 80 percent.

Follow these six simple tips to keep your ticker ticking:

  • Have no more than one to two alcoholic drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. One drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer (a bottle), 5 ounces of wine (a proper glass), and 1.5 ounces of spirits.
  • Eat a diet that’s free of trans fats, low in saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, and sugar, and high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, omega-3 fatty acids, and dark chocolate.
  • Exercise at moderate intensity for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Limit stress. Try meditating, spending time with people you love, getting enough sleep, and seeking counseling if you need it.
  • Quit smoking today. Get help quitting here.
  • Work with your doctor to manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and weight.

The cost of caring for cardiovascular disease is more than $351 billion per year. Nearly $214 billion pays for the care of people with heart disease, while more than $137 billion goes to lost productivity.

Heart attack is one of the most expensive conditions treated in U.S. hospitals. Its care costs an estimated $11.5 billion a year.

By 2035, more than 45 percent of Americans are projected to have some form of cardiovascular disease. Total costs of cardiovascular disease are expected to reach $1.1 trillion in 2035, with direct medical costs expected to reach $748.7 billion and indirect costs estimated to reach $368 billion.

                    This information comes from www.healthline.com

Protect Your Heart Health with Shaklee Vitamins and Supplements

A healthy diet, exercise, and positive changes to your lifestyle can make a difference. And support from our dietary supplements may help take you one step closer to reclaiming your heart health.

Shop the Shaklee website for Heart Health Solutions.

Promote Blood Circulation and Healthy Blood Vessels and Arteries*

Your heart is the most crucial piece of your biological puzzle, but it has tons of support. The heart is the pump that pushes blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout your body. But it relies on your arteries and vessels to deliver them! Those pathways play an important role in your overall health.

One of the best ways to see improvements is to support that transportation system. By improving blood circulation, you’re putting less strain on your heart and allowing it to pump more efficiently*.

Our Blood Pressure supplement contains natural ingredients like beet powder, spinach powder, quercetin, and magnesium to retain your blood pressure and promote better blood flow. It’s a valuable source of dietary nitrates. The nitrates are vasodilators that dilate the vessels to allow more efficient blood flow.

We also offer CoQHeart® with Q-Trol®. CoQHeart prioritizes energy production and supports healthy arteries*. The main active ingredient is a blend of coenzyme and resveratrol. Coenzyme Q10 is the heart of the supplement.

But what is CoQ10? It is a powerful antioxidant. As is resveratrol. It plays a crucial part in cell energy production and overall maintenance. The coenzyme makes energy available to every cell, so it’s vital for supporting blood vessel health.

Unfortunately, CoQ10 levels decline with age. A supplement like CoQHeart replenishes your coenzyme supply, protecting your living cells and supporting your blood vessels.

Taking our supplements can make a noticeable difference. They help reduce how much work your heart has to do to pump blood throughout your body. You’re doing your heart a favor by supporting circulation.

May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease*

Think of your heart as the battery that sustains life. Your heart is responsible for delivering blood, oxygen, and essential nutrients to every part of the body, supporting crucial biological functions to keep you healthy!

A focus on healthy eating and living is combating old habits. But it’s more important than ever to take action and protect the organ that keeps your body ticking.

To support heart health, many people resort to using everything from omega-3 fatty acids to vitamin E or vitamin B6 to solve the problem. Fortunately, we have potent supplements. Both the Blood Pressure and CoQHeart® with Q-Trol® supplements may make a difference. However, our Cholesterol Reduction Complex* can support heart health moving forward.

This product helps reduce cholesterol levels.

The Cholesterol Reduction Complex supplement provides 2,000 mg of plant sterols and stanols when taken daily. Sterols and stanols are naturally occurring compounds in plant cell membranes. More than 80 studies found that these compounds lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

The sterols and stanols essentially compete for absorption in the intestines. They have a similar structure to LDL cholesterol.

Support Your Cardiovascular Function with Our Proven Ingredients

When you take our dietary supplements, you can rest easy knowing that you benefit from proven ingredients. It’s all heart-healthy ingredients backed by science. No one does it better than Mother Nature, and our nutritional supplements take full advantage of everything she has to offer.

Our products help you effectively support cardiovascular function in many ways. They’re easy to implement into your daily routine, and every supplement we offer is backed by trusted science. There’s no better time than now to take action and be proactive about keeping your body’s most important organ in good shape. Use these products as part of a healthy lifestyle, and you’re well on your way to achieving better heart health.

You can find the Heart Healthy products on my Personal Website, www.HiHoHealth.com.

Make the lifestyle changes and supplement with these products and I may see you around living it up for many years to come.

Be well, Do well, and Keep Moving! Betsy

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Yikes! Those Holiday goodies landed on my hips!

Is it time to go on a diet? Again? But what about last time? How did that go? Thanks to Dr. Steve Chaney, I have some ways to evaluate what might give you lasting success this time around.

4 mistakes to avoid when choosing weight loss diets,

6 tips for choosing the best weight loss diet, and

7 tips for keeping the weight off.

Which diet is best?

Like millions of Americans, you have probably set a goal to eat healthier, lose weight, or both. But which diet is best? Vegan, Paleo, Keto, 360, Intermittent Fasting, low-carb, low fat – the list is endless.

An image of a dieting strategy chart.

And then there are the commercial diets: Meal replacements, low calorie processed foods, prepared meals delivered to your door – just to name a few of the categories.

You can choose to count calories, focus on portion sizes, or keep a food journal.

And, if you really want to live dangerously, you can try the latest diet pills that claim to curb your appetite and rev up your metabolism.

The diet that works requires effort. And a change of mindset. There is no magic wand that will chase the extra pounds away forever.

Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing The Best Diet

1) Endorsements.

Avoid

Endorsements by your favorite athlete or public person are paid for.

Endorsements by Dr. Strangelove and his buddies can be equally misleading. They usually tell you that the medical establishment has been lying to you, and they have discovered the “secret” to permanent weight loss and the “Fountain of Youth”.

Recommendations of the medical and scientific communities usually represent a consensus statement by the top experts in their field. I would choose their advice over Dr. Strangelove’s opinion any day.

2)    Testimonials.

Most of the testimonials you see online or in print are either paid for or are fake.

Testimonials by your friends can be equally misleading. We are all different. What works for your friend or for your trainer may not work for you.

For example, some of us do better on low-carb diets, and others do better on low fat diets.

3)    Diets Based on “Magic” Or “Forbidden” Foods or Food Groups.

We have 5 food groups for a reason. Each food group provides a unique blend of nutrients and phytonutrients. And each plant food group provides a unique blend of fibers that support the growth of different types of friendly gut bacteria.

The bottom line is that each of us does better with some foods than others, but there are no “magic” or “forbidden” foods that apply to everyone.

4)    “Magic” Diets.

Magic

Dr. Chaney book, “Slaying The Food Myths”, doesn’t feature a “magic” diet that is going to make the pounds melt away and allow you to live to 100. Instead, he recommends a variety of healthy diets and suggests you choose the one that fits you best.

There is an allure of “magic” diets. Dr. Strangelove claims the diet will be effortless. He gives you some scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo to convince you the diet is scientifically sound. Then he cites some clinical studies showing the diet will cause you to lose weight and will improve your health parameters (things like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure). It sounds so convincing.

  • The studies are all short-term (usually 3 months or less). 
  • When you rely on short-term studies, the very low-fat Vegan diet and very low-carb Keto diet give you virtually identical weight loss and improvement in health parameters! 

Those two diets are as different as any two diets could be. That means we can forget all the scientific-sounding mumbo-jumbo as to why each of those diets work. Instead, we should ask what these two diets have in common.

The answer is simple:

#1: The clinical studies are comparing “magic” diets to the typical American diet. Anything is better than the typical American diet! It is high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and highly processed foods. No wonder the “magic” diets look so good.

#2: The diets are whole food diets. Anytime you eliminate sodas, fast foods, and highly processed foods, you will lose weight.

#3: The diets eliminate one or more food groups. Whenever you eliminate some of your favorite foods from your diet, you tend to lose weight without thinking about it. I call this the cream cheese and bagel phenomenon. Bagel & Cream Cheese

  • If you are following a low-fat diet, it sounds great to say you can eat all the bagels you want. But without cream cheese to go with the bagels, you tend to eat fewer bagels. 
  • If you are following a low-carb diet, it sounds great to say you can eat as much cream cheese as you want, but without bagels to go with your cream cheese, you tend to eat less cream cheese. 

#4: Because they eliminate many of your favorite foods, “magic” diets make you focus on what you eat. Whenever you focus on what you eat, you tend to lose weight. That is why food journals and calorie counters are effective.

#5: Finally, whenever you lose weight, your health parameters (cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure) improve.

Tips For Successful Weight Loss

Skeptic

What should you look for in choosing a healthy weight loss diet? Here are the top 6 tips.

1)    Choose whole food diets. Avoid sodas, fast foods, and highly processed foods.

2)    Choose primarily plant-based diets. These can range from Vegan through semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean, DASH, and Nordic. All are healthy diets.

When we look at long term (10-20 year) studies: 

  • Vegetarians weigh less and are healthier than people consuming the typical American diet. 
  • People consuming semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean, and DASH diets are healthier than people consuming the typical American diet. 

When we look at low-carb diets: 

  • People consuming plant-based low-carb diets weigh less and are healthier than people consuming the typical American diet. 
  • People consuming meat-based low-carb diets are just as fat and unhealthy as people consuming the typical American diet. 
  • The Atkins low-carb diet has been around for more than 50 years, and there is no evidence it is healthy long-term. 

3)    Choose diets that include a variety of foods from all 5 food groups. I have discussed the rationale for that recommendation above.

4)    Choose diets that consider meat as a garnish, not a main course.

5)    Choose diets that feature healthy carbs and healthy fats rather than low-carb or low-fat diets.

6)    Think lifestyle, not diet. If you choose a restrictive diet so you can achieve quick weight loss, you will probably be just as fat and unhealthy next December 31st as you are this year. Instead, choose diets that teach healthy eating and lifestyle changes that you can make a permanent part of your life.

Tips For Keeping The Weight Off

Yo-Yo

You know the brutal truth. Around 95% of dieters regain everything they lost and then some within a few years. You have probably gone through one or more cycles of weight loss and regain yourself – something called “yo-yo dieting”. You may even be asking yourself if it is worth bothering to try to lose weight this year.

Rather focusing on the negative statistics of weight loss, let’s look at the good news. There are people who lose the weight and keep it off. What do they do?

There is an organization called the National Weight Control Registry that has enrolled more than 10,000 people who have lost weight and kept it off. The people in this group lost weight on almost every diet imaginable. However, here is the important statistic: On average people in this group have lost 66 pounds and kept it off for at least 5 years.

The National Weight Control Registry has kept track of what they have done to keep the weight off. Here is what they do that you may not be doing:

1)    They consume a reduced calorie, whole food diet.

2)    They get lots of exercise (around 1 hour/day).

3)    They have internalized their eating patterns. In short, this is no longer a diet. It has become a permanent part of their lifestyle. This is the way they eat without even thinking about it.

4)    They monitor their weight regularly. When they gain a few pounds, they modify their diet until they are back at their target weight.

5)    They eat breakfast on a regular basis.

6)    They watch less than 10 hours of TV/week.

7)    They are consistent (no planned cheat days).

Which Diet Is Best?

Now it is time to get back to the question you are asking right now, “Which diet is best?” I have covered a lot of ground in this article. Let me summarize it for you.

If you are thinking about popular diets: 

  • Primarily plant-based diets ranging from Vegetarian to Mediterranean and Dash are associated with a healthier weight and better health long term. 
  • If want to lose weight quickly, you may want to start with the more restrictive plant-based diets, like Vegan, Ornish, or Pritikin. 
  • If you do better with a low-carb diet, my recommendation is the low-carb version of the Mediterranean diet called Med-Plus. It is a whole food version of the Mediterranean diet that minimizes added sugar and refined grains. 
  • If your primary goal is rapid weight loss, you could also start with one of the healthier of the restrictive low-carb diets, like the Paleo or the 360 diet. I do not recommend the Keto diet. 
  • No matter what diet you start with, plan to transition to the primarily plant-based diet that best fits your lifestyle and food preferences. This is the diet you will want to stick with to maintain your weight loss and achieve better health long term. 
  • Plan on permanent lifestyle change rather than a short-term diet. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time. 
  • Eat whole foods. Big Food keeps up with America’s favorite diets and is only too happy to sell you highly processed foods that match your favorite diet. Avoid those like the plague. 

If you are thinking about commercial diets featuring meal replacement products: 

  • Look for meal replacement products that: 
  • Do not contain artificial sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. 
  • Use non-GMO protein. A non-GMO certification for the other ingredients is not necessary.
  • Have stringent quality controls in place to assure purity. “Organic” and/or “non-GMO” on the label do not assure purity. 
  • Look for programs that can provide clinical studies showing their diet plan is effective for weight loss and for keeping the weight off. Many programs have short-term clinical studies showing they are effective for weight loss, but very few have longer-term studies showing the weight stays off. 
  • Finally, look for programs that teach permanent lifestyle change. This should include guidance on exercise and healthy eating. 

Dr. Chaney does not recommend most commercial diets that feature prepared low-calorie foods “shipped right to your door” as a major part of their program. The foods are highly processed. Plus, they include all your favorite unhealthy foods as part of the program. Even if they include lifestyle change as part of their program, they are undermining their message with the foods they are providing you.

He adds that Weight Watchers is highly recommended by most experts in the field. Weight Watchers emphasizes journaling and counting calories, which is a plus because it makes you focus on what you are eating. They also have a good lifestyle program and support that can help you transition to permanent lifestyle change if you are willing to put in the effort.

However, I don’t recommend their prepared low-calorie foods. They are no better than foods provided by the other commercial diet programs.

Get in touch with me if you are curious about what I have done to lose that 25 pounds and keep them off for years. Let me know how I can support you in your effort to claim a healthy life style for yourself.

Be well, Do well, and Keep Moving. Betsy

Betsy Bell Enterprises LLC, 206 409 5940, Betsy@hihohealth.com

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A Gift from Shaklee to you until 12/26

Click here to shop Betsy Bell’s personal Shaklee website.

Whether you are just making smoothies or trying to lose weight, these teas and meal replacements and snacks are sooooo yummy. Make them part of your health eating. At this reduced price, they are a bargain and rare from Shaklee. I you like chips they way I do, a product not pictured is Snack Crisps, a crunchy chip full of soy, fiber, and fat to take the edge off in a healthy way. A box comes with 10 bags for $23.85 member price. Take 20% off that. Offer good until 12/26.

Be well, Do well, and Keep Moving, Betsy

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Your Brain–Is it working?

How to keep your brain healthy.

My friend called leaving messages three time before I was able to get back to her. “You have to get me more MindWorks immediately,” she told me. “My brain can’t function without it.” She is nearly ninety and has always been sharp, so not thinking clearly panicked her. She has been taking Shaklee’s Mindworks since it was introduced in 2014, and it has made a big difference in her ability to reason.

What I noticed when I started taking MindWorks was that I no longer forgot why I went to the basement even though I had been distracted on the way. Does this happen to you? What if MindWorks helped to change that?

What keeps the brain going?

Food, oxygen flow (exercise), water (75% of brain matter is H2O), sleep, good fat, and mood (attitude) are all key factors for maintaining good brain health.

What hurts the brain?

  • Smoking,
  • alcohol (kills brain cells),
  • too much screen time,
  • lack of fresh air,
  • concussions,
  • migraines,
  • PTSD,
  • depression,
  • not talking to people,
  • hearing loss,
  • too much sugar

You can take steps to change some harmful habits. You know what they are.

  • Stop gaming/scrolling and go outside.
  • reduce or eliminate alcohol
  • reduce or eliminate sugar
  • get together with people
  • seek treatment for PTSD or migraines
  • get hearing aids if you are missing bits of conversation

How does nutrition affect brain health?

Glucose is the primary source of brain energy and metabolism, so eat foods that contain natural glucose: fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and nuts.

  • Glucose aids
  • in brain cell development and repair,
  • cognition
  • neural generation,
  • learning,
  • memory,
  • mood,
  • focus.

Keys to enrich brain health: antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals.

Brain food

10 brain-boosting foods

Nutrition impacts brain development, memory progression, focus, concentration capacity, and mood.

  • Be sure to include foods that can help improve cognition and boost brain cell health.
  • Fatty seafood,
  • dark leafy greens,
  • antioxidant-rich fruits,
  • nuts and seeds,
  • herbs and spices.

Fatty Seafood & Poultry

  • Fish

Fatty fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help the brain’s health. The brain is nearly 60% fat, and mostty of this fat is omega-3 fatty acids.

Help the brain build new cells and aid in learning, memory function, and anti-aging properties, by eating fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and sardines.

  • Eggs

Because eggs contain key nutrients, both macro and micro, which are often missing in large populations, they’re great for regulating brain health, improving mental function, and regulating mood.

Eggs contain vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and choline, all good for brain health. Eggs are also a rich source of protein.

Antioxidant-Rich Fruits

  • Blueberries

Blueberries boost memory. They contain flavinoids, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. Blueberries reduce stress and inflammation both of which age the brain.

  • Oranges

Vitamin C boosts the immune system. It may also prevent mental decline.

Dark Leafy Vegetables

  • Kale

Like other dark leafy greens–broccoli, spinach, and collards, kale is rich in vitamin K, beta-carotene, and folate, all good for the brain.

Broccoli

Broccoli boosts the brain because it promotes healthy fat in the brain. Broccoli contains Vitamin K which helps improve brain function in older adults.

Broccoli reduces oxidative stress and inflammatory stress.


Nuts and Seeds

  • Walnuts

Get your omega-3 healthy fats, complete proteins, and valuable vitamins and minerals from nuts. Walnuts are the best brain-boosting nuts.

  • Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a great antioxidant and help protect the brain and preserve cognition. Pumpkin seeds contain iron, copper, magnesium, and zinc.

Herbs and Spices

  • Turmeric

Turmeric helps with joint pain, And it also happens to be a great brain-boosting ingredient.

Turmeric boosts BDNF, a growth hormone that promotes the development of healthy brain cells and helps improve the aging process and mood.

  • Herbal Tea

Similar to coffee, herbal tea boosts performance, increases alertness, and improves cognitive memory. Drink herbal tea to get antioxidants and polyphenols, to your brain.

Don’t forget water, coffee, spinach, flaxseeds, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, avocados, and dark chocolate–all good for the brain. I love that chocolate is in this list and I don’t mean milk chocolate. Forget the Hershey Kisses.

Spotlight on MindWorks…

How would you like to take a supplement that would enhance short-term memory, sharpen focus, improve reaction time, protect against age-related cognitive decline, and support healthy circulation. Well now you can!

MindWorks contains key ingredients shown in laboratory studies to stimulate the formation of new neuronal connections and a key ingredient combination shown in a clinical study to slow brain shrinkage rate by 30% over 2 years.

Guarana extract has been shown in two clinical studies to significantly enhance short-term memory, sharpen focus, and improve reaction time, 3x better than the control group.

Healthy brain function requires healthy circulation. MindWorks contains an exclusive and double-patented chardonnay grape seed extract that has been shown in a pilot study to rapidly enhance circulation within 1 hour.

Wellness Tip: Pair with OmegaGuard to keep your mind healthy and sharp.

Your brain on Shaklee…

It’s a fact… food consumed regularly… whether healthy or unhealthy… has a significant, measurable effect on the brain. And since the brain operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fueling it with nutrient-rich food and supplements is a must.

Here are a few nutrients beneficial for brain health and cognition:

Omega-3 fatty acids

Acting as a natural anti-inflammatory and nitric oxide booster, optimal dosages of omega-3 fatty acids promote blood flow to the brain, improving overall brain function, such as memory, while also decreasing the risk of depression and cognitive conditions such as dementia. You’ll find the correct balance of omega-3’s in OmegaGuard.

Vitamin E

As an antioxidant, vitamin E is an excellent vitamin for brain health and cognition. In fact, it’s recently been proposed as an alternative treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. For optimum absorption and metabolism, choose Vita-E Complex.

L-theanine

Found in both Stress Relief Complex and Dream Serene, l-theanine acts as a mild tranquilizer and aids in the relaxation of the nervous system. Some studies suggest that l-theanine also has the ability to boost memory, mood and cognition.

L-carnitine

Studies suggest that l-carnitine plays several integral roles that promote brain health, including the release of free radicals, the reduction of oxidative stress, and the promotion of cognition and neuro-protection of the developing brain and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. L-carnitine is also found in Stress Relief Complex and Dream Serene.

Iron

Chronic iron deficiency can lead to anemia, affecting nearly 30% of the world’s population.

Iron’s role in the brain includes oxygen transportation, neurotransmitter metabolism, and DNA synthesis.

If you need an iron boost, rely on Iron plus Vitamin C or Liqui-Lea.

Vitamin B

The B vitamins… particularly B6, B9, and B12… are essential for a healthy functioning brain. In fact, research suggests that the B vitamins are the most important nutrient complex for the brain and it’s function.

Vitamin B12 is often recommended as a daily supplement for the aging population to help prevent early-onset memory loss and cognitive decline.

Shaklee B-Complex. insures cellular absorption and function.

Lecithin

Lecithin may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve circulation, keep the liver functioning at its peak, sharpen mental skills, provide more energy, and… can help with weight loss.

Each Shaklee Lecithin capsule provides 520 mg of lecithin as well as inositol, which plays a critical role in the regulation of cell metabolism.

Shaklee Lecithin contains no added preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.

Final Thoughts

No matter the health, fitness, or wellness goal, your best results come from a combination of foods. Brain health is no different.

Eat the helpful ones and avoid the harmful ones.

The right foods nurture the brain and brain performance and mental and physical well-being.

Be well, Do Well, and Keep Moving

Please pass this information along to anyone who might benefit. I welcome comments and questions.

Stay in touch: Betsy@hihohealth.com; 206-409-5940;

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Your Face in Dry Cold Weather

Skin cancer and dry winter weather

12 steps to avoid the damage and moisturize your skin

From the Heart……

I freaked out because of a spot on the side of my nose that seemed to blossom. Was this spot a return of the pre-cancerous actinic keratosis, a rough, bump on my skin that my dermatologist had zapped with liquid nitrogen just a few months ago? I was not due in his office for my 6 month check-up and body scan until February. What to do? I called and his office had a spot for me two days later. Amazing. He said the spot was benign. He did not criticize me for coming in. He took his canister of Liquid nitrogen which freezes and destroys superficial skin growths, such as warts and keratoses and zapped the spot again. I am vulnerable to melanoma. It runs in the family. I don’t take chances. I mentioned that I have been hiking regularly in this unseasonably dry, sunny, cold weather (I live in the Pacific Northwest and it is supposed to be dark, gloomy, and wet in October and November.)

I said, “my nose runs all the time and I’m wiping it with my handkerchief. I’m sure there is no sun screen left after the first hour in the wilderness.”

His reply, “sun screen is one of the 10 essentials.”

How your skin signals that cold dry weather is here…

Redness: One of the earliest indicators of fall-induced skin issues is redness, often accompanied by a sensation of tightness.

Flakiness: As the skin’s moisture balance is disrupted, it may respond by flaking and shedding its outer layers.

Itchiness: Dry and irritated skin can become intensely itchy, prompting scratching that further exacerbates the problem.

Cracking: In severe cases, the skin may develop cracks, making it susceptible to infection.

Fall skincare: How to combat dryness and irritation

Fall is accompanied by a decline in humidity levels. Dryer air siphons moisture from the skin, causing irritation.

Fall also means colder temperatures, which can constrict blood vessels in the skin, reducing blood flow and limiting the skin’s ability to retain moisture.

And… with increased exposure to colder winds, the skin is often stripped of natural oils, impairing its protective barrier.

The impact fall can have on your skin health is significant:

  • Compromised skin barrier. Prolonged dryness and irritation can damage the skin’s natural barrier, reducing its ability to fend off environmental aggressors and maintain hydration.
  • Increased susceptibility to infections. Cracked and irritated skin provides an entry point for bacteria and pathogens.
  • Accelerated aging. Chronic dryness and irritation can accelerate the aging process.

12 ways to combat dry skin that are effective if practiced consistently:

  • Use a humidifier in the winter. Set it to around 60%, a level that should be sufficient to replenish the top layer of the epidermis.
  • Limit yourself to one 5- to 10-minute bath or shower daily. If you bathe more than that, you may strip away much of the skin’s oily layer and cause it to lose moisture.
  • Use lukewarm water rather than hot water, which can wash away natural oils.
  • Minimize your use of soaps; choose to moisturize your skin with YOUTH products by Shaklee
  • Steer clear of deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps, and alcohol products, which can strip away natural oils.
  • Bath oils can be helpful, but use them with caution: they can make the tub slippery.
  • To reduce the risk of trauma to the skin, avoid bath sponges, scrub brushes, and washcloths. If you don’t want to give them up altogether, be sure to use a light touch. For the same reason, pat or blot (don’t rub) the skin when toweling dry.
  • Apply moisturizer immediately after bathing or after washing your hands. This helps plug the spaces between your skin cells and seal in moisture while your skin is still damp. Use Shaklee moisturizing skin products.
  • Never, ever scratch. Most of the time, a moisturizer can control the itch. You can also use a cold pack or compress to relieve itchy spots.
  • Use sunscreen in the winter as well as the summer to prevent photoaging.
  • When shaving, use a shaving cream or gel and leave it on to moisturize your skin for several minutes before starting.
  • Use fragrance-free laundry detergents and avoid fabric softeners.

Ultimate fall skin care

Shaklee YOUTH Skin Care Line to protect and nourish your skin.

Of course, it’s YOUTH! The YOUTH Skin Care Line will protect and moisturize your skin with:

  • Luminous Gel Oil Cleanser that removes impurities without stripping away moisture.
  • Perfecting Skin Toner, Purifying Clay Mask and Hydrating Gel Mask… gentle exfoliants that remove dead skin cells, allowing moisturizers to penetrate.
  • Age Defense Moisturizer, Moisture Lock Day Cream and Advanced Renewal Night Cream which all create a protective barrier, locking in moisture and preventing moisture loss, In short you will moisturize your skin.

The proven science of YOUTH…
A decade of aging erased


The YOUTH Advanced Anti-Aging Regimen is clinically proven to make skin look younger and shift skin to a younger decade on the Skin Age Index.


Developed by world-class skin experts, the Skin Age Index measures the appearance of key signs of aging: facial wrinkles, skin texture, pore size, hyper-pigmentation, even skin tone, radiance, firmness, and sagging.


In a clinical study of the Advanced Anti-Aging Regimen:


100% of women had younger-looking skin
2/3 shifted their skin age into a younger decade


Clinical results without compromise
You don’t have to sacrifice safety and purity for efficacy. YOUTH products are 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and free from 2,500+ harmful chemicals and questionable ingredients.


YOUTH products are also:
Ophthalmologist-tested
Dermatologist-tested
Hypoallergenic
Non-comedogenic (won’t block pores)

Don’t let skin worries keep you from enjoying the out-of-doors year round. Moisturize your skin.

Be well, Do well, and Keep Moving, Betsy

Betsy Bell Enterprises LLC, 4455 51 Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116 betsy@

#skin care in cold weather

#moisturize your skin

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The end of hiking

Gentle Reader,
Sciatica, sciatica, sciatica.  On every hand I hear people complaining about sciatic pain, drop foot, back difficulties and arthritis in general.  A vital member of my Wednesday hiking group is suffering terribly from sciatica these days so I decided to revisit a post I drafted several years ago when I was having the same problem. Thankfully, I have no sciatica pain at this time. When I first wrote this draft, I was suffering terrible and thought I might have to end my hiking. Here is what I wrote back then, before surgery and rehabilitation.

I have had more acute sciatic pain plus a long stretch of time at home ( so I decided to focus on discovering the cause.  What would a medically trained physician have to say about my condition?
I imagine most people begin in the doctor’s office.  You, who read my posts, may be among those who seek alternative care first.  I have done Feldenkrais, Deep tissue sports massage, private pilates, Myo Facial Release, Raiki, Alexander, Therapeutic Yoga, chiropractic, Physical Therapy—what am I forgetting?  Ah, yes, my wonderful team at the Xgym, half the time and twice the results.  Personal trainers who tailor my 25 minute workout to build upper body, leg and core strength while protecting my back.My first injury happened in 1989 with a major exacerbation in 1992.  Back then I did all the above and my doctor of choice was Stan Herring, a neurosurgeon who now limits his practice to the University of Washington Huskies and the Sea Hawks.  He’s the doctor who looked at my x-rays and a later MRI and asked if I’d come in a wheelchair.  “Get strong, Betsy.  Your bones are no good for surgery so get strong.”
If you know me and see me on Face book, you know that is exactly what I have been doing.  Weekly hiking, daily walking up and down the hills of West Seattle, long walks in exotic places in the off season, cross country skiing and snow shoeing when we have snow in our Cascades.
The sciatic has gotten progressively worse affecting my right leg and causing numbness and sometimes extreme pain.  I put myself under the care of Dr. Ren at the Polyclinic. She is a physical medicine doctor who specializes in keeping people moving who suffer from back related problems (among other things).  She confirmed that I have extreme spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis, two herniated disks at L4 and L5.  She sent me to physical therapy for eight session.  As has been true with previous visits to PT’s, I had fun with those young specialists and enjoyed their stretching, icing and exercises, but nothing beneficial came of it.  In fact, the gross motor activities prescribed may have made my condition worse.
Next step was to get the shot of cortisone in the L5 area where the narrowing is so small, it’s a wonder any nerve impulses get through at all.  I’ve been scheduled for this procedure three previous times and canceled each time.  I wasn’t ready.  Dr. Ren did a fabulous job.  Her needle found the spot producing an electric shock that sprung my leg all the way to my two middle toes to life with a jerk.  After I caught my breath, I congratulated her.
The first day I felt wonderful and so moved stuff around in the garage.  Stupid.  Without the pain, I realized my gait was completely cattywampus—right hip collapsing with each step, left leg struggling to hold me up.  Something whispered to me, “Go back to Becci Parsons and let her healing hands remind you how to stand and walk and sit and roll over.”  Becci is the Feldenkrais therapist who got me back on my feet after the herniation so many years ago.  She is a former dancer and has the same “keep moving” spirit I have.  She has suffered from a similar herniation and has ended up with surgery.  She can move fluidly with nearly equal strength on both sides (her right side has some weakness and lack of nerve response when her foot gets caught).
Becci, after three session, has me sitting on my sits bones with a natural curve in my lower spine, pressing one heal to the floor on the exhaling breath while lifting the right heal ever so slightly.  I am paying attention to the distance between my arm pit and my hips on both sides, keeping that distance equal.  I am paying attention to every muscle group that tries to help lift that right heal.  Tiny movements with laser focus to re-pattern the injured nerves and muscles.  She checked out my gait with the hiking sticks and said it was remarkable how my shoulders remained even, my right side did not collapse and my left hip didn’t swing out.  That decision on my part to walk everywhere with hiking sticks was the best self care for my condition.  It gets me a seat on a crowded bus, too.
I have further information from a new MRI although Dr. Ren’s assistant Diana and further narrowing has occurred since the pictures in 2014. I am now several weeks out from the cortisone shot and sadly report that the left leg is painful and weak as well as the right leg.

Monday morning I will have a surgery consultation with Becci’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Nora. I have some hope that he can help me.
The shot did lessen the pain, so much so that I stopped taking Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex which inhibits the pain path without any side effects.  Low and behold, other arthritis pain showed up in my hands.  I’m back on the Pain Relief and have a prescription for a pain reliever that I have not tried yet.

The most difficult aspect of this saga is that I cannot hike for longer than a half hour without sitting down.  I am in deep mourning for the loss of this activity with my pals.  I can’t hold them back.  What a struggle to let go of something so dear to my heart and body.  I have tried walking in the swimming pool to get my heart rate up and feel those endorphins that come from exercise, but it didn’t do much for me to be indoors.
There is something about spending a day in the wilderness every week that kept my spirit soaring and my sense of well being strong.  I’ll keep you posted on this transition to something that satisfies without excruciating pain.
I share my pain, suffering and healing stories in case they resonate with something you are going through, or someone you know.  If you have any interest in connecting with any of the practitioners I have used, please follow the hot links to them.  If you are interested in trying the supplements and dietary changes that have been so helpful to me, please check out this post in particular.  If you have questions or comments from your own experience, I and my readers would love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading. Share  your sciatica stories with me and my readers. Feel free to contact any of the healthcare providers I mentioned (Becci Parsons, Feldenkrais: Cedron Sterling, Myo Fascial Release) in this post. Happy hiking (and whatever you do to stay active.)

Be well, Do well, and Keep moving.

Betsy Bell

Betsy Bell Enterprises LLC, 206 409 5940

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A Spiritual Journey (AS WELL AS pHYSICAL)

My trainer and developer of a unique “Time under Tension” program for increasing life-skills strength and stamina, Xgym.com, PJ Glassey, interviewed me after I came home from walking the Camino de Santiago. I had mentioned to him that my workouts with him and his cadre of trainers had made my 85+ mile walk possible. Enjoy our nineteen minutes conversation. I’d love to hear your reactions, so leave a comment.

Be Well, Do Well, and Keep Moving!

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85 Miles on El Camino

Eighty-five miles of walking on sections of El Camino de Santiago, a spiritual pilgrimage across Spain. Seekers have been making this journey since the 9th century. I’ll turn 85 in a few days (August 2nd). I am full of gratitude for a body that functions, for family who joined and supported me, for the wherewithal to make such a trip, for my Ground of Being and how connected to the Universal Christ I felt as I put one foot in front of the other. 

And all this with the clothes I wore as I left Seattle plus a second set I bought to make the trip possible without my suitcase and all the carefully packed items in it, including my supplements.

 I believed I would die if I stopped taking my Shaklee. Turns out I didn’t.

I did go to a pharmacy for some immune support, some joint support, some energy support (ginseng), and some muscle support (magnesium). I also bought some pain relief. Apparently, it takes longer then three weeks to break down when you are at an optimal level of fitness!

What is the optimal level of fitness? It may come from supplementing your diet…

Most people today believe that taking supplements will fill nutritional gaps and optimize their health. The first step you should take in the quest to obtain an optimum nutritional level is to include a complete, high-quality multivitamin and multimineral product like Vita-Lea, Vitalizer or Life Strip in your daily regimen. Once you take steps to correct any nutritional shortfalls, you can expect these great results:

1) Improved body function. Your entire system will begin functioning more normally and you’ll feel better.

2) Your weight will start to normalize. Once your organs are functioning better, your metabolism will stabilize, you’ll feel more like exercising, and your weight will even out naturally.

3)  Stress will lessen. Good nutrition calms your nerve endings and enables you to handle stress more easily.

4) Your immunity will toughen. Your body will be able to ward off bacteria, viruses, parasites, and many diseases.

5) You’ll live longer. Especially if you take Vivix, damaged DNA will be repaired, slowing down aging.

6) And of course… you’ll look younger, healthier, and better because… your nutrition is showing!

Long days in the beating sun without Shaklee’s Sunblock SPF 30

I bought a tube of SPF 50 (and I wore a 36-inch span umbrella on my head!) Here I am with my daughter and son-in-law, the Atlantic Ocean behind us, Finesterre, Spain.

How did I decide the level of SPF protection I wanted? I knew these facts from Shaklee scientists.

Understanding SPF…

Florida dermatologist and American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) spokesman James M. Spencer, MD, says, “It is logical for someone to think that an SPF of 30 is twice as good as an SPF of 15, and so on, but that is not how it works.” According to Spencer, an SPF 15 product blocks about 94% of UVB rays, an SPF 30 product blocks 97%, and an SPF 45 product blocks about 98% of rays. “After that, it just gets silly,” he says.

A big problem with the sun care industry is that in their attempt to provide higher SPF levels, they have had to increase the chemical compounds in sunscreen to allow prolonged safe exposure to the sun’s rays.

By combining safe UVA and UVB sunscreen agents with the patented antioxidant protection of Vital Repair+, Shaklee SPF 30 for the Body provides unique, non-irritating, and extremely effective sun protection. Designed for all skin types, including the most sensitive skin, this patented, water-resistant, oil-free sunscreen smoothes easily into your skin and absorbs quickly, without leaving a sticky residue. Soothing and moisturizing, it does not irritate the skin. Triple-patented Vital-Repair+ Complex contains antioxidant vitamins and botanicals. The formula offers broad spectrum protection and adds an extra defense against premature skin aging.

For the first time in years, I came home from a sunny locale tanned. I’ll be seeing my dermatologist soon as he just removed a melanoma a couple of months ago.

Why not try the Shaklee version of sunblock? It is Water resistant (80 minutes), Designed not to clog pores, 100% fragrance and paraben free, Allergy tested, Clinically formulated, Dermatologist tested, Patented sensitive-skin formula, Not tested on animals. A little goes a long way. Worth the price!

Oh, my aching knees! And no Pain Relief Complex.

I found some liquid pain relief that worked pretty well. In fact, I only needed one or two servings a day to keep all the joints quiet and functional. Normally, I take a Pain Relief Complex every morning and every evening and occasionally during the day. I carry a couple of tablets with me when I hike. It was important to find something that would allow pain-free hiking, if possible, and not do too much stomach damage. I was glad to get home to my Pain Relief so I didn’t have to rely on medication. Here’s what I was missing:

When joint pain hits, crippling your ability to continue daily activities, try Shaklee Pain Relief Complex… a natural botanical solution that is effective, fast-acting, and works synergistically with Joint & Muscle Pain Cream. Pain Relief contains glucosamine, plant based, glucosamine hydrochloride, Boswellia, zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamin C.

Boswellia serrate tree provides a botanical extract that contains boswellic acids that inhibit chemicals produced by the body that attack joint tissue and contribute to joint discomfort. It relieves pain and discomfort in joints caused by overexertion and promotes flexibility and overall comfortable movement.

I didn’t take Pain Cream either.

I do like to use it when soreness is acute.

The pain we are talking about results from over-exertion. If I’d had some rub-in Pain Cream, I would have had the benefit of a fast-absorbing, menthol-rich formula that targets muscle and joint discomfort to provide quick, long-lasting relief. In addition to the natural anesthetic properties of menthol (derived from peppermint oil), Joint & Muscle Pain Cream contains a proprietary blend of clinically proven natural ingredients, including sweet almonds and aloe vera. Joint & Muscle Pain Cream utilizes a unique patented liposome delivery system that ensures that the ingredients penetrate the skin quickly for prolonged release action and optimum dosage. I would have used it for joint pain in my wrist, ankle, knee, elbow, and hip; my back, neck, and shoulders. This is not to say that I was having pain in all these places. But perhaps you have experienced pain in these joints.

Joint & Muscle Pain Cream | Daily Care | Beauty | Shaklee US site

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a tube of Muscle and Joint Pain Cream on hand? Order some today.

We made it to the End of the World.

The last day (July 12th), the full moon rose over the most western edge of Spain, once thought to be the end of the known world. Beyond the horizon, sea monsters pulled a wayward ship into the deep. What a thrill to complete this walk, not all 500 miles, but a goodly number.

Be well, Do well, and Keep Moving, Betsy

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Should Cancer Patients Take supplements?

Does Supplementation Interfere With Cancer Treatment?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

Supplementation for cancer patients is a controversial topic. 

  • Dr. Strangelove and his friends promote a variety of herbal ingredients, vitamins, and minerals as a cure for various kinds of cancer. 
  • Unscrupulous supplement companies hype their cancer “cures”. 
  • Doctors often tell their patients to avoid all supplements while they are being treated for cancer. 
  • Nutrition experts and some doctors tell us that a good diet and basic supplementation help normal cells recover from cancer treatment and improve patient outcomes. 

Where is the truth?

For this article I will break it down into three questions:

1)    Does supplementation improve outcomes for cancer patients? That is the topic of the study (AL Shaver et al, Cancers, 13: 6276, 2021) I will review today.

2)    Does supplementation interfere with cancer treatment? I will provide a perspective and practical advice on this question based on my 40 years of cancer research.

3)    Does supplementation prevent (reduce the risk of) cancer? I have covered this topic in previous issues of “Health Tips From the Professor”. Just put cancer or breast cancer in the search box to find the relevant articles.

But before I answer these questions, I should cover my favorite topic as a Biochemist, “Metabolism 101”. Specifically, “Does Stress Increase Our Need For Supplementation?”

Metabolism 101: Does Stress Increase Our Need For Supplementation?

Let me start out by saying that there are two kinds of stress. 

  • Psychological stress is our body’s response to a hectic day or a stressful work environment. 
  • Metabolic stress is our body’s response to trauma or a major disease. 

Dr. Strangelove and his buddies will tell you that psychological stress increases your nutritional needs. And they just happen to have the perfect blend of vitamins and minerals for you. However, this is a myth.

Psychological stress has relatively little effect on your nutritional needs. If you have a nutritional deficiency, supplementation can help you cope with psychological stress, but psychological stress doesn’t create nutritional deficiencies.

Metabolic stress, on the other hand, has a major effect on your nutritional needs. 

  • Trauma and major diseases put you in a catabolic state. Catabolism literally means “breaking down”. You are breaking down your body tissues at an alarming rate. This affects every aspect of your health, including your immune system. 
  • Trauma and major disease also increase your need for certain micronutrients. Plus, there are often loss of appetite and mobility issues that prevent you from getting the nutrients you need. 
  • Research in the 60s and 70s showed that providing hospitalized patients with protein, energy in the form of healthy fats and carbohydrates, and micronutrients significantly shortened hospital stays and improved outcomes. Today, nutritional support is the standard of care for severely ill hospital patients. 

Cancer is the poster child for metabolic stress. 

  • It forces the body into a catabolic state to provide nutrients the cancer needs to grow. 
  • That is why cancer patients often experience dramatic weight loss and weakness from muscle loss. 
  • Catabolism also weakens the immune system, which is one of the most important tools in our fight against cancer. 
  • To make matters worse: 
  • Cancer treatment destroys normal cells as well as tumor cells. Because of this cancer patients sometimes die from the treatment, not the cancer. 
  • Cancer treatment often causes nausea and/or suppresses appetite, which makes it even harder for cancer patients to get the nutrients they need from their diet. 

Because of this, you would think that nutritional support would be the standard of care for cancer patients, but it isn’t. Because of fears that nutritional support might “feed cancer cells” or interfere with chemotherapy, there have been very few studies of supplementation in cancer patients. That is what makes this study so important.

How Was This Study Done?

This study took advantage of the fact that supplementation is prevalent among cancer patients even though their doctors may not have recommended it.

This study drew on data from the 2011-2012 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a yearly survey that monitors the health and nutritional status of non-institutionalized adults in the US population.

NHANES participants were asked to respond to a medical condition questionnaire in their homes by a trained interviewer. In one portion of the interview, they were asked if they had ever been told they had cancer, arthritis, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or hypertension. The participants were also asked if they had been hospitalized with one of those diseases.

The study consisted of 14 million people who answered ‘yes’ to the question, “Have you ever been told you had a cancer or malignancy?” The participants were selected to give an equal number of supplement users and non-users who were closely matched for age, sex, race, and other demographics.

All NHANES participants were asked to fill in two 24-hour dietary recalls separated by 3-10 days. The dietary recalls included supplement use but did not identify the kind of supplements used.

Finally, participants in the NHANES survey were asked to rate their physical and mental health on a scale from 1 (excellent health) to 5 (poor health). Participants were also asked to indicate on how many days in the past 30 days their physical or mental health was not good. A quality-of-life score was calculated from these data.

Does Supplementation Improve Outcomes For Cancer Patients?

The study found that for cancer patients: 

  • Hospitalization rates were 12% for supplement users versus 21% for non-users. 
  • This is important because: 
  • Cancer patients who have been hospitalized have 6-fold higher odds of all-cause mortality than those who do not require hospitalization. 
  • Health care costs the first year after cancer diagnosis average $60,000 versus an estimated $350-$3,500 yearly cost of supplementation. 
  • The self-reported quality of life score was significantly higher for supplement users versus non-users. 

This study strongly supports the idea that supplementation significantly improves quality of life and health outcomes in cancer patients. 

  • This finding is consistent with previous studies showing that nutrition support significantly improves health outcomes for hospitalized patients admitted with trauma or other major diseases. 
  • A major strength of the study is the large sample size (> 14 million US adults). 
  • A major limitation of this study is that the NHANES survey does not record which supplements people were using. 

The authors concluded, “Adequate nutrition provides a cost-effective strategy to achieving potentially optimal health [for cancer patients]. Further studies are needed to determine the effects of specific nutrient doses and supplementation on long-term outcomes for different kinds of cancer…Given the overall cost-effectiveness of dietary supplementation, there is a need for better provider education about how to talk with cancer survivors about their nutrient status and filling nutrient gaps through both food and supplements. Immune-supportive supplementation may prove to be a clinically effective and important tool that is accessible via telemedicine.”

Does Supplementation Interfere With Cancer Treatment?

The reason that supplementation is not more widely recommended for cancer patients is two-fold.

1)    There is a fear among many doctors that improved nutrition will feed the cancer cells and promote tumor growth. 

  • This thinking is like the famous quote from a general during the Vietnamese war that, “It was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it [from the Viet Cong]”. 
  • We need healthy normal cells to fight the cancer and for good quality of life while we are fighting the cancer. We need to protect these cells while we are destroying the cancer cells. We cannot afford to destroy the whole “village”. 
  • For example, both cancer treatment and the catabolism associated with the cancer weaken the immune system, and a strong immune system is essential to successfully fight the cancer. 

2)    There is also a fear that supplementation will interfere with cancer treatment. This is a more legitimate fear and deserves a more in-depth analysis. 

  • There are some instances where supplementation can clearly interfere with treatment. For example, 
    • Radiation treatment relies on the production of free radicals. High-dose antioxidants have been shown to interfere with radiation treatment. 
    • Some drugs act by suppressing folate levels in cells. High-dose B complex or folic acid supplements would clearly interfere with these drugs. However, high-dose folic acid supplementation is often used before and after drug treatment to “rescue” normal cells. 
  • There are other cases where supplementation is likely to interfere with treatment. 
    • A few drugs depend in part on free radical formation. High-dose antioxidants have the potential to interfere with these drugs. 
    • Some herbal supplements activate enzymes involved in the metabolism of certain anti-cancer drugs. While these interactions are rare, they could interfere with the effectiveness of these drugs. [Note: This concern only applies to certain herbal supplements. It does not apply to vitamin-mineral supplements.] 
  • Most other fears about supplement-drug interactions are theoretical. There are neither potential mechanisms nor evidence to support those fears. 

However, there is a strategy for minimizing the potential for supplement-drug interactions based on the science of pharmacokinetics. Simply put: 

  • Most cases of supplement-drug interactions can be avoided by assuring that high doses of anti-cancer drugs and nutrients that might interfere with those drugs are not present in the bloodstream at the same time. 
  • Pharmocokinetic studies tell us that most anticancer drugs and nutrients are cleared from the bloodstream in 24-48 hours. 
  • So, my standard recommendation is to avoid supplementation for a day or two prior to cancer treatment and wait to resume supplementation for a day or two after cancer treatment. This recommendation does not apply to radiation treatment since it is done on a daily basis. 

However, there are a few drugs that are cleared from the bloodstream more slowly, so it is always best to check with your pharmacist or doctor before deciding on the appropriate window to avoid supplementation. The goal is always to protect normal cells without interfering with the drug’s ability to kill cancer cells.

Should Cancer Patients Take Supplements?

With the information I have shared above in mind, I am now ready to answer the question I posed at the beginning of this article, “Should cancer patients take supplements?” The answer is a qualified, “Yes”.

Let me start with the yes, and then talk about the qualifications. 

  • This study makes clear that cancer is like every other major disease that can land you in the hospital. Nutritional support, including protein supplements, vitamins, and minerals, can reduce your risk of hospitalization, get you out of the hospital quicker, and improve your quality of life. 
  • A strong immune system is important for fighting cancer, so immune-supporting supplements may also be important for cancer patients. 
  • Note I did not say that supplementation can cure cancer. There is little evidence to support that claim. 
  • The role of supplementation in preventing cancer is complex. I have covered this in previous issues of “Health Tips From the Professor”. Let me summarize by saying that supplementation can play a role in preventing cancer when nutrient levels are suboptimal. However, the evidence that megadoses of nutrients can prevent cancer is scant. 

The qualifications mostly revolve around taking supplements while undergoing cancer treatment. To summarize what I said above: 

  • There are a few cases in which supplements clearly interfere with cancer treatment. 
  • There are other cases in which supplements are likely to interfere with cancer treatment. 
  • However, in most cases supplement-treatment interactions are only theoretical. 
  • In most cases any interaction between supplements and anti-cancer drugs can be minimized by avoiding supplementation for a day or two prior to cancer treatment and waiting to resume supplementation for a day or two after cancer treatment. 
  • However, there are exceptions to this rule, so it is always best to consult your pharmacist or doctor if in doubt.

The Bottom Line

A recent study looked at the effect of supplementation for patients with cancer. The study found that for cancer patients: 

  • Hospitalization rates were 12% for supplement users versus 21% for non-users. 
  • This is important because: 
  • Cancer patients who have been hospitalized have 6-fold higher odds of all-cause mortality than those who do not require hospitalization. 
  • Health care costs the first year after cancer diagnosis average $60,000 versus an estimated $350-$3,500 yearly cost of supplementation. 
  • The self-reported quality of life was significantly higher for supplement users versus non-users. 

This study strongly supports the idea that supplementation significantly improves quality of life and health outcomes in cancer patients. 

  • This finding is consistent with previous studies showing that nutrition support significantly improves health outcomes for hospitalized patients admitted with trauma or other major diseases. 

The authors concluded, “Adequate nutrition provides a cost-effective strategy to achieving potentially optimal health [for cancer patients]. Further studies are needed to determine the effects of specific nutrient doses and supplementation on long-term outcomes for different kinds of cancer…Given the overall cost-effectiveness of dietary supplementation, there is a need for better provider education about how to talk with cancer survivors about their nutrient status and filling nutrient gaps through both food and supplements. Immune-supportive supplementation may prove to be a clinically effective and important tool that is accessible via telemedicine.”

For more details, a discussion on the effect of supplementation on cancer treatment, and a summary of what this study means for you, read the article above.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Dr. Steve Chaney
Health Tips From the Professor
steve@chaneyhealth.com
https://healthtipsfromtheprofessor.com

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