To Your Health – July 2008
Welcome to the summer issue of To Your Health. I have added a new topic to my list — nutritional myths — and am writing a book by the same name, so I will be sharing these myths with you from time to time. In this issue is an interview with Dr. Ray Peat on the iodine deficiency myth. Next is an updated article on coconut water with new information on how it is processed. Skin nutrition is a popular topic, and I have listed my favorite nutritional support enzymes, botanicals, and other suggestions. Baby Bits discusses research on the protective nature of breast milk in preventing diabetes (Type 2). Have a wonderful and joyful summer season.
To Your Health,
"The secret of happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does." — J. M. Barrie Scottish Author
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world. — Buddha
People don't grow old. When they stop growing, they become old." — Aldous Huxley English Writer
"No man is a failure who is enjoying life." — William Feather American Publisher and Author
The Myth of Iodine Deficiency: An Interview with Dr. Ray Peat
Is iodine supplementation safe and, if not, is there a safe amount of supplemental iodine?
Dr. Peat: “A dosage of 150 mcg (micrograms, not milligrams, e.g., ug not mg) is a safe amount of iodine. There are excellent references describing the effect of a moderate iodine excess (even below a milligram per day) on the thyroid. An iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism (rare now), but so can an excess. Iodine deficiency is an unusual cause of hypothyroidism, except in a few places, like the mountains of Mexico and China, and the Andes.
“Most goiters now are from estrogen-like effects, but they used to be from iodine deficiency. Chronic excess iodine tends to cause thyroiditis, regardless of the gland's size. The amounts used by Abraham and Flechas are much larger than this — very toxic doses, enough to cause severe thyroid problems.”
Is the Iodine Test Kit (from Dr. Abraham) valid and does it reveal thyroid deficiency?
“Guy Abraham and some of his followers claim that an iodine deficiency can be shown by the quick disappearance of a spot of iodine painted on the skin. The skin test of iodine deficiency is completely unscientific. Iodine is converted to colorless iodide by reductants, including vitamin C, glutathione, and thiosulphate.
“G. Abraham’s Iodine Test Kit contains iodine overdose pills. The test is completely irrational. It
implies that the body should be saturated with iodine.”
Is there a rational way to determine iodine deficiency or excess?
“It’s easy to recognize a chronic iodine deficiency, because it causes the thyroid gland to enlarge. Goiters can be caused in various ways, for example by being exposed to various goitrogens, including excess iodine, or by excessive estrogen and deficient progesterone, as well as by an iodine deficiency.
“However, a chronic excess of iodine is harder to recognize, because it can produce a variety of degenerative changes. Measurement of the average daily iodine intake or excretion in the urine would be needed to confirm an excess. High iodine intake can suppress TSH, and since high TSH is pro-inflammatory, the iodine can have some protective anti-inflammatory actions, but in the long run, the thyroid suppression becomes a problem.”
Note: I have a list of references on iodine toxicity that are too lengthy for this newsletter. If you are interested in these references, please email me, and I will send them to you.
Nutritional Benefits of Coconut Water
Dr. Bruce Fife, N.D., gave me permission to use this article for my newsletter. I have summarized his article as best I can.
Coconut water is the liquid you find inside a young green coconut. In the tropics it is not only considered a refreshing beverage but a health tonic. Hawaiians call coconut water noelani (no-way lah-nee), which means “dew from the heavens.” Coconut water has a long history of use as both a food and as a medicine. Although a variety of fruits grow in abundance in many tropical locations, coconut water is prized above all other juices. It not only satisfies thirst but invigorates the body and brings about a sense of well-being and renewed health. Women are encouraged to drink it when pregnant and nursing so their milk will provide all the nutrients necessary for a healthy baby. The first food an infant receives as it begins weaning is coconut water and coconut jelly (soft immature coconut meat).
Coconut water contains a variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, growth factors, and other nutrients. Coconut water is a good source of the major minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. It is particularly rich in potassium, an essential nutrient; one 8-ounce cup of coconut water has more potassium than a banana. It also contains a variety of trace elements such as zinc, selenium, iodine, sulfur, manganese, boron, molybdenum, and others. These are derived from volcanic soils and seawater from which the coconut palms are grown. All of these minerals are in the form of electrolytes, so they are easily absorbable by the human body. Many of the health benefits attributed to coconut water can be traced to its mineral content.
In the tropics where heatstroke and dehydration are common problems, coconut water is far more effective in relieving symptoms associated with these conditions than either plain water or fruit juice. Over the past two decades coconut water has been used extensively as a treatment for cholera, dysentery, influenza, and other infectious diseases that promote dehydration. Coconut water has saved thousands of lives, especially of children in underdeveloped countries. Ordinary water is not effective in treating severe dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea, but because of coconut water’s unique chemical composition, it is able to rehydrate the body and give it the strength and energy it needs to fight off the infection. Death rates from cholera are high, but with the use of coconut water, survival rates increase to 97 percent.
Coconut water has a therapeutic effect on the urinary and reproductive systems. It is reported to clear-up bladder infections, remove kidney stones, and improve sexual vitality. Medical research has shown that the consumption of coconut water can be very effective in dissolving kidney stones. Dr. Eugenio Macalalag, director of the urology department of the Chinese General Hospital in the Philippines, says that coconut water has demonstrated its effectiveness in patients suffering from kidney and urethral stones. He reports that consuming coconut water only 2 to 3 times a week results in a significant reduction in stone size and expulsion, eliminating the need for surgery.1
In Jamaica coconut water is known as a heart tonic and is used to strengthen the heart and improve circulation. Research bears this out. Animal studies show that coconut water consumption reduces plaque formation in arteries, thus reducing risk of heart attack and stroke.
High blood pressure is one of the primary risk factors associated with heart disease and stroke. The minerals potassium and magnesium are known to help reduce high blood pressure. Human studies show that coconut water, which is a good source of both of these minerals, is effective in reducing high blood pressure and increasing circulation.2 Studies also demonstrate that coconut water consumption reduces the risk of heart failure in heart disease patients.3 The evidence is so convincing that the FDA allows coconut water to carry the claim that it “may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.”
Because coconut water improves blood circulation, it is of benefit to diabetics. Coconut water helps dilate blood vessels, improves blood flow, and reduces plaque formation. Coconut water also contains certain forms of dietary fiber and amino acids that help moderate sugar absorption and improve insulin sensitivity.
Some of the most interesting components of coconut water are the plant growth hormones, particularly cytokinins. Cytokinins are a group of hormones that regulate growth, development, and aging. In some respects they are similar to human hormones with a similar name of cytokines. Cytokinins are also known as anti-aging hormones. Cytokinins regulate cell division and influence the rate at which plants age. Depending on the amount of cytokinins present, the aging process in plants can be either accelerated or retarded. One of the active sites of cytokinin production is in the roots. From here the hormone is carried by the sap throughout the plant — much like our bloodstream disperses hormones. Portions of plants that are deprived of cytokinins age faster than normal. Conversely, if additional cytokinins are added to a plant, normal aging is retarded.
Cytokinins also have an anti-aging effect on human cells and tissues. Normal human cells, as they age, go through a progressive and irreversible accumulation of changes until they reach a stage at which they finally die. Young cells are plump, round, and smooth. As they age they become irregular in shape, flatten out, enlarge, and fill up with debris; cell division slows down and eventually stops, which is ultimately followed by death.
When cytokinins are added to the culture medium, cells don’t act their age. The normal sequence of aging slows down considerably. Cells do not undergo the severe degenerative changes that ordinarily occur.4 Although the total lifespan of human cells is not increased much, the cells remain significantly more youthful and functional throughout their lifetime. For example, treated cells after they have reached the final stage of their lifespan and no longer divide, look and function like untreated cells half their age. Treated cells never undergo the severe degenerative changes experienced by untreated cells. In all respects, their youth is extended into old age.
Because of their effects on human cells, cytokinins have been tested for the possible treatment for age spots, wrinkles, sagging, and dry skin. One of the factors that cause wrinkles and sagging skin is the aging and breakdown of connective tissues in the skin. Connective tissues give the skin strength and elasticity. When cytokinins are applied to the skin, they stimulate cell division of connective tissue which replaces older, damaged tissue with functionally younger tissue. The result is that on the surface of the skin, wrinkles tend to flatten out. Dry, aging skin is replaced with smoother, softer skin. This has led some cosmetic manufacturers to add cytokinins to facial creams and lotions.
Coconut water is the richest natural dietary source of cytokinins. Researchers have suggested the possibility that consuming a rich source of cytokinins, such as coconut water, may produce an anti-aging effect on the body, reducing risk of developing degenerative and age-related diseases.
In regulating cell growth, cytokinins also prevent mistakes that may lead to the development of cancer. Normal cells are kept healthy while cancerous cells are programmed to die, preventing them from growing and spreading. Subsequently, the anti-cancer effects of cytokinins have been well documented.5-6
Summary of the Nutritional Benefits of Coconut Water
Coconut water contains a complex blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, carbohydrates, antioxidants, enzymes, health enhancing growth hormones, and other important nutrients.
Because its electrolyte (ionic mineral) content is similar to human plasma, it has gained international acclaim as a natural sports drink for oral rehydration. As such, it has proven superior to commercial sports drinks. Unlike other beverages, it is completely compatible with the human body, in so much that it can be infused directly into the bloodstream. In fact, doctors have used coconut water successfully as an intravenous fluid for over 60 years.
Published medical research and clinical observation have shown that coconut water:
Makes an excellent oral rehydration sports beverage — replaces electrolytes from exercise, heat stress, and illness
Aids in exercise performance
Natural isotonic beverage — contains the same level of electrolytes found in human blood
Has 15 times the amount of potassium as most sports and energy drinks (264 mg vs. 12.5 mg /100 ml)
Reduces problems for infants suffering from intestinal disturbances
Cardioprotective: helps regular blood pressure (due to high potassium), improves circulation
Reduces swelling in hands and feet
Prevents abnormal blood clotting
Aids in kidney function including those with kidney stones; nutritional support for those with urinary tract/bladder problems
Helps balance blood sugar in diabetics
Reported by some people to reverse cataracts
Contains nutrients that feed friendly gut bacteria
Helps relieve constipation or diarrhea
Possesses anti-aging properties
Nutritional support for healthy skin: restores strength and elasticity to skin, reduces age spots, reduces wrinkles and sagging
Regulates the functioning of the intestine which promotes smoother, more hydrated skin
Enhances healing of wounds and lesions
Supports good vision and provides nutritional support in those who have a tendency towards glaucoma
Contains potent antioxidants
Nutritionally supports immune function
Provides nutrients important in preventing osteoporosis
Where to Find Coconut Water
Young coconuts are available at many health food stores and at Asian markets. But they don’t look like the brown, hairy ones with which you may be familiar. Young coconuts have only a portion of the husk cut off, leaving about an inch covering the shell. The husk is white and often shaped like a large toy top, with a point on one end and flat on the other. They are perishable, so you will find them in the refrigerated section of the store.
You can now get coconut water in easy-to-carry bottles, cans, and tetra paks from many health food stores, Asian markets, and some grocery stores.
Dr. Bruce Fife is a certified nutritionist and naturopathic physician. He is the author of 20 books including Coconut Water for Health and Healing and serves as the director of the Coconut Research Center, www.coconutresearchcenter.org. This article has only touched the surface. For a more complete description along with summaries of medical studies, case histories, news and historical accounts, recipes, and references, I recommend Dr. Bruce Fife’s new book, Coconut Water for Health and Healing. For more information on coconut water from Dr. Fife’s newsletters, go to http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/hwnl_4-4.htm.
I am now stocking both this excellent book and coconut water for your online ordering convenience.
How Coconut Water is Processed
There are a variety of ways in which commercial coconut water is produced. Some are cold pasteurized. The equipment is sterilized by oxygen or heat before it comes into contact with the coconut water. A needle is punched into the eye of the coconut and siphoned out and sent directly to the container without any contact with the air and without the need of heat pasteurization. Others may be flash pasteurized. Some brands add things to the water such as flavors and even sugar, but to my knowledge, this information is always listed on the container. I would prefer the cold pasteurized product but am not opposed to drinking heat pasteurized coconut water. Obviously, the best coconut water is straight from a fresh coconut. Any juice is best fresh from the source rather than bottled. But we don’t always have fresh coconuts available, so we settle for second best.
Regarding fermentation of coconut water, fresh coconut water may ferment better than commercial coconut water because the coconuts are opened by hand and exposed to more bacteria (from the husk, hands, air, etc.) than the water in a sterilized container.
O.N.E. coconut water is flash pasteurized for less than one second at 212 ºF. This thermal treatment eliminates any microorganisms, leaving the coconut water totally sterile, pure, and delicious, just like at harvest time. It is important to have the product pasteurized for the consumption of children. The pasteurization process does not affect the electrolyte and nutrient profile of the coconut water. Also, there are no added sweeteners in our coconut water. (From the O.N.E. supplier.)
References: You will find these in the original Coconut Water article online.
Skin problems — acne, psoriasis, eczema, rashes/hives, etc. — are one of my most common complaints. Some skin problems self-heal without specific treatment just by taking the proper digestive enzymes, eating the prothyroid diet, and balancing the hormones. Others are more elusive and require skin nourishing supplements. Below are my favorite and most effective natural remedies.
- Thera-zyme Multiple Digestive Enzymes determined by the Looms 24-hour urinalysis: DGST (pediatric); HCL (fat, sugar, protein), Bil (fat, protein), Stm (gastric problems), PAN (sugar, grains), and VSCLR (severe fat intolerance). Improved digestion is essential for optimum nutrition.
- Thera-zyme DERM: DERM contains an enzymatic antihistamine enzyme (amylase) which helps relieve acute allergies and is used to nourish the skin in people who may have a tendency towards rashes, bug bites, or bee sting reactions or reactions to poison oak/ivy. It will also provide nourishment during episodes of herpes. It provides nutritional support during abscesses. Usage: 3-4 caps at onset and every two hours until relief is obtained. This enzyme may be taken every hour until relief is observed.
- • Thera-zyme SKN: Thera-zyme SKN is an excellent enzymatic formula for gentle detox and nourishment of the liver, kidneys, and intestines. SKN provides nutritional support of normal function and structure in people who may have blemishes, or any kind of skin problem including psoriasis, acne, frequent skin eruptions or rashes, many warts or moles, excessive perspiration, or a lack of perspiration.
- • Thera-zyme TRMA: This is for soft tissue trauma, edema, and many other conditions. I recommend TRMA for nutritional support of normal function and structure for the immune system and is a nutritional support formula for the skin, eyes, hair, and ears, for edema (water retention) anywhere including ear fluid, for soft tissue trauma (accidental or surgical) including gums, soreness or discomfort anywhere from injury, joint problems, and immune system problems such as frequent infections and more serious health conditions. Note: if gastric problems are present (gastritis, hiatal hernia, or ulcers), it is very important that TRMA be taken on an empty stomach with only water. If this still causes gastric exacerbation, nourish the stomach with Thera-zyme Stm before using TRMA.
- Turmeric, an Ayurvedic herb, is excellent for nourishment of the immune system, gallbladder, liver, colon, eyes, and skin. Turmeric is a mild curry spice used by millions of Asian people. It supports normal structure and function for healthy DNA, cardiovascular health, and for people who may have skin problems, including psoriasis, gallbladder problems, and weak vision. It is a COX inhibitor (inhibits free radicals, like aspirin), and provides a gentle liver and colon detox. Try 1 cap 3x/d with food. If you need more help, increase to 2 caps per dose. I recommend a potent herbal form of turmeric (New Chapter) from Costa Rica, 1-2 caps 3x/d. Available online and from my office. Start with one cap and increase if needed.
- New Zealand Colostrum (powder or caps) is very nourishing for the body and supports the immune system. Usage varies from one (or more) tsp 1-2 times daily of the powder and 1-2 caps 3x/d of the caps. People who are toxic (high indican from poor digestion and/or drug use) should take small amounts and increase slowly so as not to experience unpleasant detoxification effects (skin rashes, flu-like symptoms, etc.).
The many nutritional benefits of coconut water include excellent nourishment for the skin. Please see the article this newsletter on coconut water.
Coconut Moisture Cream
This is the best moisture cream I have found, and it has the anti-aging and rejuvenation properties of coconut oil Progesterone can be added to this cream. Progesterone is known for its anti-aging benefits and its skin nourishing properties.
- Thyroid glandular nutrition is always indicated in people with skin problems and many other health conditions.
- Progesterone in Vitamin E oil is excellent for nourishing the skin and preventing the thinning of skin that occurs during aging (whereas estrogen has the opposite effect).
Articles: Hypothyroidism; Estrogen, Progesterone And Female Problems; Skin Problems; Colostrum; Coconut Water
The whole "Go to your room" thing really needs to be reconsidered. That's the best place you could send your kid these days. It's not a punishment. "Go to your room" is a reward. They've got the Internet, guitars, Game Boy, and their cell phones. Now I say, "Go to the kitchen for the next three hours! I'm going to your room.” — Denis Leary on Being a Dad
Breast-feeding Appears to Curb Type 2 Diabetes from Diabetes Care, March 2008.
Breast-fed babies appear to be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes when they reach adolescence, according to findings published in the medical journal Diabetes Care. "Dramatic increases in childhood obesity and the emergence of type 2 diabetes in youth motivate research to identify lifestyle approaches to primary prevention of both conditions," writes Dr. Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and colleagues.
The breast-feeding rate was lower in subjects with type 2 diabetes compared with the control subjects, at 20 versus 27 percent in African Americans; 50 versus 84 percent for Hispanics; and 39 percent versus 78 percent for non-Hispanic whites (double the rate for breast-fed babies), respectively.
Regardless of ethnic group, further analysis indicated that the protective effect of breast feeding against type 2 diabetes was in large part attributable to its effect in moderating childhood weight. (What does that say about baby formulas?) Nonetheless, breast feeding in itself had a protective effect, Mayer-Davis and colleagues found.
"Given other well-established reasons for breast feeding," the researchers conclude, "renewed efforts to encourage breast feeding in populations at high risk for type 2 diabetes may be useful."