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Category Archives: Articles

Taking Care of Your Skin

 

 

Skin is the largest and fastest growing organ in the human body and, since it is the most visible portion of our bodies, we all strive to make ours as presentable as possible. Unfortunately though, while we concentrate greatly on the attractiveness of our skin, we can sometimes forget to concentrate on improving the health of our skin, and that the two are not always one in the same.  Given the summer months are just around the corner, it’s a great time to look at just what we can do to make our skin as healthy as possible.

To understand the importance of skin health, it’s important to remember that skin is not merely an aesthetic feature.  Human skin plays a number of vital functions in the body such as temperature regulation, protection of internal organs, temperature and pressure sensation, and even Vitamin D production.  The importance of it is exemplified by the sheer volume of it, as it accounts for roughly 15% of our body weight.

When it comes to maintaining and caring for your skin, there are many intensive and specialized treatments that target different areas and conditions of the skin with a great deal of effectiveness.  However, for those who do not have the time or resources, there are also many simple and easy practices we can use to prevent skin conditions as well as delay the natural aging process.

First and foremost is protecting your skin from sun exposure.  While many think a good tan looks great, long term UV ray exposure can cause wrinkles, dark spots, and increase the risk of skin cancer. Wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, reapplying the sunscreen after swimming, staying away from the tanning booths, and covering the skin at peak sunlight hours can help to protect and preserve the vitality of your skin.

Much like all other aspects of our health, what we put into our bodies also greatly affects the overall health and appearance of our skin.  A balanced diet low in refined carbohydrates and high in healthy fats as well as fruits and vegetables can provide the skin with vital nutrients needed to maintain overall health and vibrancy.  Nutritional supplementation can also be beneficial, as supplements such as omega-3’s, probiotics, and vitamin D3 can not only improve skin health, but also may help to alleviate symptoms associated with some common conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.  In addition, smoking can deplete the skin of oxygen and nutrients as well as destroy collagen and elastin which give the skin its elasticity and strength.

And of course how we treat the skin itself is important.  Performing regular skin checks for irregular growths can be vital in detecting potential concerns.  Avoiding harsh soaps and detergents, shaving carefully with clean sharp razors and proper lubricants, and limiting excessive bathing times to avoid removing healthy oils can help to improve skin health. Regular use of moisturizers and cleansers can also lead to significant benefits, but it’s important to note that not all cleansers and moisturizers are equal, and those made by quality companies such as Caudalie, Hauschka, and Jack Black, are designed to be effective yet gentle on the skin.

Despite our best efforts, various skin conditions may pop up from time to time and require treatment.  Acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, melasma, and even the common wart can present unwanted changes in the skin’s appearance.  When these occur, there are many tools at our disposal to treat these types of conditions and improve the look and feel of our skin.

Because of the scope and depth of treatment options for each of these conditions, it is impossible to describe them each in detail.  In general though, there are many effective manufactured prescription products to treat each of these conditions.  Acne is often treated with topical or oral antibiotic therapy, or with agents such as benzoyl peroxide or tretinoin.  Eczema and psoriasis are often treated with a variety of topical corticosteroids which help to reduce the flare up of inflammation on the skin.  Melasma is often treated with skin lightening creams that contain several ingredients such as corticosteroids and bleaching agents.  And the common wart is often treated with over the counter products such as salicylic acid, which help to “burn” the wart off the skin.

While these prescription options often work well, sometimes conditions of the skin can be stubborn and may not respond to traditional therapies.  In these instances, specialty compounding pharmacies, such as Pine Pharmacy in Williamsville, are often enlisted to prepare specialty combinations of various ingredients that help to improve outcomes.  Compounded medications can help in these types of situations in a variety of manners.  First, various ingredients can be combined into single dosage forms which potentially provides a better effect, such as stronger topical treatments for warts than what is typically available over the counter.  Additionally, non-traditional medications that are not readily available commercially can be specially compounded.  For example, in the treatment of acne, for those patients who like to take a more natural approach, compounded topical vitamin treatment with niacinamide, a form of vitamin B, may provide a better option than more traditional medications.  Compounded medications can also be mixed in specialized bases that are specifically designed to have internal properties that improve certain conditions, thus potentially increasing the success of the overall therapy.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits to compounded medications comes at the cash register.  The cost of skin care medications can be a point of concern for many patients, and understandably so.  Unfortunately, recent trends in the medication market have seen prescription costs skyrocket, and dermatological products are often some of the biggest culprits, especially if the medication is not covered by insurance, or a patient has a high deductible to meet.  In many instances, compounded medications are covered by insurance, and when they are not, they present patients with options that are a fraction of the cost of their commercially available alternatives.  For just one example, traditional commercially available skin lightening options can cost upwards of $200, whereas compounded options may cost $75 to $100.

Given your skin’s vital role in maintaining your health and appearance, the importance of maintaining its health cannot be understated.  Take extra time this summer to improve your skin health practices, and to look into treating any current issues.  Keep in mind, beautiful skin isn’t always healthy, but healthy skin is always beautiful.

April is Autism Awareness Month

Over 3.5 million Americans live with autism spectrum disorder. However, within the general public, there is only a limited recognition of the disorder.  The specifics of autism, including the impact that it can have on individuals, as well as their families and caregivers, is often not well understood, except by those who deal with it on a daily basis.

Autism is a complex disorder of brain development.  Each person affected by autism will experience differing types and severities of symptoms, and therefore, to reflect the varying degree it can affect an individual, the disorder is referred to as a spectrum. The overarching theme of the spectrum generally involves impaired communication skills, as well as a difficulty interacting socially.  While for some individuals this can result in complete lack of language, in others it may only involve difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation.  Still, others may have motor coordination delays, difficulty reasoning and planning, repetitive behaviors, or physical health disturbances such as sleep and gastrointestinal issues.

Symptoms of autism generally present early in childhood, around the ages of two to three.  Lack of, or delay in language development, trouble developing peer relationships, and repetitive mannerisms are only a few of the early warning signs.  Some red flags may be spotted even earlier at the infant stage, such as lack of smiling or joyful expressions, and absence of gestures such as pointing or waving as the child approaches twelve months of age.

Not long ago, the cause of autism was a mystery.  Even today, science has yet to grasp a complete understanding of the disorder’s roots despite ongoing research. The most recent research suggests the disorder results from a combination of genetic mutations and differing environmental factors.  For instance, if a developing child already has a genetic mutation, environmental factors such as advanced parental age or complications during childbirth may possibly increase the child’s risk of developing the disorder.  More recent research has begun to examine the body’s own immune system and how it may play a role in brain development and maintenance.

Given that it is thought autism is largely a result of genetic mutations, it is not possible to prevent autism, per say.  However, steps can be taken to limit exposure to the environmental factors that are thought to possibly increase the risk of the disorder’s development. For instance, women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant would be wise to avoid toxins such as air pollution, pesticides, some cosmetics, and others.  Additionally, some research shows proper prenatal diet, as well as adequate folic acid intake of at least 600mcg to 800mcg per day during pregnancy may lower the risk of autism development.

The demands of living with the disorder, and the burden of caring for someone afflicted by it, can be a major source of stress.  For individuals with milder forms of autism, the stigma of living with the disorder, and the lack of social competency associated with it, can be difficult.  For those on the spectrum with more significant disabilities, the lack of being able to live independently can weigh greatly on a family.  Parents must try to manage behavioral complications, plan for the future, and cope with a large financial burden, while siblings may feel a lack of attention or embarrassment.

No single treatment protocol is applicable to all individuals on the spectrum.  Because the disorder presents so uniquely in each individual, the treatment of that individual should be just as unique.  Treatment interventions can involve behavioral therapy, conventional medication to control behavior and underlying medical conditions associated with autism, or a combination of both.  Additionally, outside the arm of conventional medication, there exist some complementary and alternative treatments, often termed integrative medicine, that have begun to show promise in the field of autism.

One such alternative therapy approach targets methylation, the body’s process of altering proteins and genes, which thus leads to changing their behavior and expression. Essentially, methylation is required to build and repair all of the cells in our bodies.  Individuals on the spectrum often have faulty methylation pathways, thus leading to abnormal gene expression, as well as decreased production of powerful antioxidants like glutathione, which help to detoxify the body and prevent cellular damage.  Treatments with methylcobalamin, a form of vitamin B-12, and folinic acid are often given to improve this methylation process, as well as glutathione metabolism.  Additionally, glutathione itself may be given as well.  Treating methylation pathways and glutathione metabolism has shown promise in improving communication, language, and social skills, as well as cognition and responsiveness.

Oxytocin is another tool used in integrative medicine to potentially improve social bonding.  This hormone has been linked to social ties such as parent-child bonding.  Some research has shown that when administered as a nasal spray, oxytocin can potentially improve social, emotional, and behavioral problems.

Also in the alternative realm, research has begun to examine the roles certain proteins play in autism, such as gluten (found in wheat and other grains) casein (found in dairy products) and soy (derived from the soybean). It has been postulated that these proteins can lead to increased inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, which may stimulate autoimmune responses and exacerbate the symptoms of the spectrum.  An elimination diet is sometimes initiated to completely eliminate the intake of these proteins from both foods and medications, with the hope this inflammatory response is reduced.

Finally, many supplements can be used to support the management of the spectrum. Omega-3 fatty acids can be used to support the development and function of the brain, possibly improving cognition and reasoning.  Melatonin may be used to help regulate sleep cycles, and probiotics may help to resolve gastrointestinal issues that are often present in individuals on the spectrum.

Alternative therapies such as methylcobalamin, glutathione, and oxytocin are not available through traditional pharmacies and instead must be custom compounded by speciality pharmacies such as Pine Pharmacy in Williamsville. Likewise, these pharmacies are also able to prepare medications to exclude gluten casein and soy, thereby easing adherence to elimination diets.  Generally, they will also specialize in supplements geared towards the spectrum disorder as well.

Clearly, autism spectrum is a unique disorder and modern medicine still has yet to fully grasp all of the intricacies of the disorder. However, the recognition of the disorder is expanding, and there is hope that advances continue to be made in the management of it.

Facing High Drug Costs? Use Pine as a Resource!

You might have experienced it recently. You go to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription that once cost you ten dollars and it now costs you hundreds. This alarming scenario is unfortunately becoming a common trend in the medication marketplace. For reasons that are not always immediately clear to the consumer, generic drugs that are relatively inexpensive for manufacturers to make spike dramatically in price over very short time periods, leading patients to pay an arm and a leg at the cash register. This can be especially problematic for patients without insurance, or with high deductibles. Why is this happening, and more importantly what can you do to limit the impact on your wallet?

The why is not always an easy question to answer.  Each instance is different.  While one drug may spike in price due to a shortage of raw ingredients, another may rise because of increased FDA regulatory requirements. However, more often than not, the rise in price is simply due to consolidation of generic drug manufacturers.  As manufacturers merge, the competition in the marketplace dwindles. Unfortunately, as a result of this, many manufacturers know they are the only “players in the game” when it comes to supplying certain drugs, and therefore raise prices knowing the demand will still be there. Given that the United States is one of the only developed nations to not have regulatory oversight over drug pricing, there is nothing to prevent this price gouging from running rampant.

While drugs such as EpiPen have received widespread media coverage for their price increases, and rightfully so, there are countless others. Steroid creams for eczema, antibiotic creams for acne and rosacea, antidepressants, oral antibiotics, steroid suppositories, gallstone medications, pain relievers, and hundreds of others for many other indications have all seen their prices skyrocket.

Even if you haven’t noticed this yet, you may soon. These price increases are driving healthcare costs through the roof, causing insurers to implement higher deductibles on their plans.  These high dollar deductibles introduce a certain amount of money a patient must pay before the insurance kicks in their coverage, thus often putting the patient in a difficult situation of choosing to pay for their $300 medication, or put food on the table.

So how can this be combatted? Unfortunately, from the consumer standpoint, not much can be done. Ideally, regulatory pressure will force manufacturers to rethink their pricing strategies. Until that time though, you are left to fight for yourself and search for alternative medication options.

However, affordable manufactured alternatives are not always readily available. One avenue to explore when facing high prescription costs is custom compounding.  Compounding pharmacies like Pine Pharmacy are able to access raw ingredients and custom prepare medications to your doctor’s specifications. While a compounding pharmacy cannot mimic a manufactured medication, many times, there are very comparable alternatives that can be prepared at a fraction of the cost of the commercially available options.

A prime example is a drug such as vancomycin which is an antibiotic often used orally to treat clostridium difficile infections. Manufactured oral capsules can cost nearly $1000, but when compounded as a liquid, it can be made for as little as $100.

Unfortunately, rising drug costs do not look to be going away anytime soon. As a patient, it is important to stay educated on your options, and regularly research your alternatives. If you are facing high drug prices, use Pine Pharmacy as a resource. As your partner in health and wellness, we are happy to examine your options for you and will do our best to try and find you and your family a more affordable option.

 

Taking Care of Your Heart

 

The “ticker” is the one muscle in the human body that none of us can afford to ignore. More so than any other organ human’s possess, the heart and its health are the most closely monitored, and for good reason. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one in every four deaths, and is the number one killer of American men and women. So it is easily understandable why February is declared American Heart Month.

While it may seem obvious, it is important to understand just how crucial the heart is to our overall health. The heart itself is a muscular organ which, when stimulated by electrical impulses, expands and contracts to pump blood to the entire body.  This muscular activity is the “heartbeat” we so commonly refer to.  When beating, the heart first pumps blood to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen.  It then pumps this oxygenated blood out to all of the tissues in the body.  If the heart is malfunctioning, all the systems and tissues of the body become depleted of oxygen and become impaired.

Heart disease tends to be a fairly encompassing term with many different issues falling under its umbrella. Most of the complications caused by heart disease are a result of atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the blood vessels caused by plaque buildup.  This narrowing restricts blood flow through the vessel and can lead to issues such as stroke or heart attack.  In addition, heart disease can refer to heart failure (a decrease in the heart’s pumping efficiency), arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat), or heart valve malfunctions.

While many factors can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), and smoking are, by far, the main culprits. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one of these three factors, and a large percentage are afflicted with two or more.  Also contributing are diabetes, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption.

The good news is, there are many steps that can be taken to prevent heart disease, as well as correct and improve existing conditions. As is the case with nearly all disease states, the best weapons available to fight cardiovascular disease are healthy diet and exercise.  Exercise can serve to make your heart stronger and more efficient, lower your blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, and decrease your weight.  Likewise, eating a well-rounded, healthy diet can control weight as well as provide your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your heart at its peak operating efficiency.

Sometimes though, diet and exercise are not enough. For a variety of reasons such as genetic predispositions, issues like high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure can prove to be stubborn, and we need some outside help.

This is where both prescription drugs, and over the counter supplements can provide support. On the prescription front, there are many different options to choose from.  Generally, prescription drugs help to manage the risk factors associated with heart disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  Doctors may prescribe from an army of agents in these areas, each working in different manners and mechanisms with the goal of reducing your risk of complications such as stroke and heart attack.  Additionally, your doctor may prescribe drugs that help to control and improve the efficiency of the heart’s pumping functions.

Many people however, choose to avoid prescription medication, if possible, and attempt to tackle cardiovascular issues with a more natural approach through nutritional supplementation. Individual circumstance and severity of disease state varies from person to person. However, in many cases, when paired with a healthy diet and exercise, this “natural” approach may prove to be an effective one. Much like prescription drugs, there exist a large number of nutritional options, each addressing different complications of heart disease.

When aiming to target high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, heart healthy omega supplements, as well as those containing red yeast rice are common. Today’s popular statin drugs were actually modeled from red yeast rice, and it, like statins, works to lower your body’s production of LDL. Omega supplements serve a dual purpose in both lowering triglyceride levels, as well as potentially reducing inflammation caused by plaque buildup in the arteries.

Being some of the most commonly used over the counter supplements, it is essential to note that not all omega products are equal in quality or effectiveness. Often derived from seafood sources, thus giving them the common name “fish oil”, each individual omega product contains different levels of the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which give the fish oil its beneficial effect.  Consumers must be vigilant in reading the label of the product closely, as many omega supplements may list a larger dosage of “fish oil” on the label, but in fact, the active omega-3’s (EPA and DHA) are minimal, and the bulk of the listed dosage consists of inactive omega-3’s poorly utilized by the body.  The typical target dosage for EPA and DHA combined, in those patients with high cholesterol, is 1,500mg to 3,000mg.

Beyond the cholesterol arena, other supplements exist to help support a healthy blood pressure level. For instance, arginine is an amino acid, that when taken as a supplement, can help promote relaxation of the blood vessels.  This relaxation, or vasodilation, helps to ease the flow of blood through the vessels and thus lower the pressure exerted on them.

Finally, other supplements serve to promote overall health of the heart. Coenzyme-Q10 is a powerful antioxidant in the body that plays a role in energy production. This may help to enhance the function and health of the heart muscle.  Additionally, Co-Q10 is commonly given to patients on statin therapy, as these drugs deplete our body’s natural stores of Co-Q10.  This depletion may lead to complications, such as muscle pain and fatigue, regularly associated with this family of drugs.  Supplementing with Co-Q10 while taking a statin may help to limit these complications.

It is important to remember when buying any supplement to consult a health care professional well trained and familiar in their usage. Stores such as Pine Pharmacy in Williamsville specialize in providing these products, and ensuring their quality and safety.

Proper heart health is as essential to your overall well-being as any other aspect of your life. Be sure to take the time this month to pay attention to your “ticker”, it might just save your life.

 

 

 

Clear Change Metabolic Detox Program!

The Clear Change 10-day Program is designed to enhance the body’s natural metabolic detoxification process while providing energy and support for overall well-being.  Many people benefit from completing a 10-day metabolic detoxification program such as the Clear Change 10-day Program 2-3 times a year.*

$114.50 @ our Williamsville store!

Included in the 10-day Program:

Free shaker cup – convenient way to mix a nutritional powder

Program Guide – easy-to-follow instructions, menu plans, and recipes

Program Diary – for patients to track their experience

 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Holiday Hours by Location!

Holiday Hours by Location

Williamsville:

Saturday December 24th:  10a-1p

Monday December 26th:  10a-3p

Saturday December 31st: 10a-1p

 

Niagara Falls:

Saturday December 24th:  9a-1p

Monday December 26th:  9a-3p

Saturday December 31st: 9a-1p

 

Rochester:

Saturday December 24th:  9a-12p

Monday December 26th:  9a-2p

Saturday December 31st: 9a-1p

The Thyroid Gland And Your Health

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Few glands in the human body affect overall health the way the thyroid gland does. This hard working organ secretes hormones that can affect energy levels, proper metabolism, weight control, proper digestion, mood, and sleep, among others.

Despite this large impact, few people give this small but powerful gland a second thought until problems arise. When your thyroid malfunctions, it can lead to an imbalance in the body of the hormones it secretes under normal healthy conditions.  A decrease in secretion, known as hypothyroidism, can lead to complications such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, and depression.  An increase in secretion, known as hyperthyroidism, can lead to complications such as jitteriness, weight loss, diarrhea, and manic episodes.

Whether you currently have a thyroid imbalance, or you are an otherwise healthy individual, proactive steps can be taken to promote overall thyroid health. One of the most important steps that can be taken is to de-stress your life.  Stress can play major havoc on many body organs, one of which is the adrenal gland.  This disruption leads to fluctuations in cortisol production which can suppress the stimulation of your thyroid, thus lowering your thyroid hormone levels.  While de-stressing in today’s busy world can be easier said than done, activities such as yoga, meditation, exercise, or maintaining proper sleep cycles can go a long way to improving your thyroid health.

Of course, like any other health condition, a healthy diet and exercise are also essential to overall thyroid health. Regular aerobic exercise can stimulate healthy thyroid hormone production.  Likewise, many nutrients play an essential role in thyroid hormone production.  A healthy balanced diet, including a sufficient amount of Vitamin A, C, D, and E as well as selenium and iodine help to ensure your thyroid gland has the tools it needs to function properly.  For those with gluten sensitivities or intolerances, a gluten reduced or free diet can help to reduce inflammation within the thyroid gland.

Unfortunately, proactive measures are not always sufficient to maintain healthy thyroid function throughout one’s lifespan and medical intervention is required. Prescription drugs such as methimazole can be used to reduce elevated thyroid hormone levels and treat conditions of hyperthyroidism. In some cases surgery or radioiodine therapy may be used.

More commonly, prescription thyroid hormone supplementation is used to treat the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Two types of thyroid hormone are commonly prescribed. The most common is levothyroxine, also known as T4. T4 is what is known as a prohormone, meaning its destination is to be converted in the body into another hormone called liothyronine, or T3.  T3 is prescribed in cases where a patient does not respond to T4 therapy alone, and is the active thyroid hormone.

Prescription treatment with thyroid hormone is highly individualized. Oftentimes, your prescriber will evaluate your blood work and make a dosing determination based upon your levels and results.  Once started on thyroid hormone replacement, it is not uncommon for your dosage to be adjusted during the initial starting months until the proper dosage for you is found. Additionally, once stabilized, your dose may need to be adjusted over the long term, as thyroid gland function fluctuates, or dietary and lifestyle changes affect hormone levels. For instance, major stress episodes, introduction of other disease states, and changes in activity levels can lead to fluctuations.

It is important to note when taking prescription thyroid replacement that these hormones are best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach, generally 30 to 60 minutes before breakfast. This often leads to questions on how to take other medications and supplements when on a thyroid hormone.  While the proper procedure can vary depending on your medication regimen, it is generally recommended to take the thyroid hormone prior to any other medication, then take your other medications with breakfast 30 to 60 minutes later.  Likewise, supplements can lead to variances in thyroid absorption.  For instance, when taken too close to thyroid hormones, calcium, magnesium, and iron supplements can bind to the hormones in the gastrointestinal tract leading to a decrease in absorption and thereby a decrease in effectiveness.  Conversely, iodine supplementation can increase thyroid functioning, leading to a rise in thyroid hormone. It is always essential to consult your doctor or pharmacist when starting any new supplement or medication to understand the best way to take it in conjunction with your thyroid medication so as to limit any effect on your overall thyroid level.

Because of the highly individualized nature of achieving normal thyroid hormone levels, there is no “one size fits all” approach. While proper levels can often be achieved through commercially available prescription options, sometimes patients require further customization.  In such instances, a compounding pharmacy can produce a custom mixture of T4, T3, or a combination of the two which further helps the prescriber and patient to find the right level.  These compounding pharmacies specialize in taking pure drug sources and mixing them to meet an individual patient’s needs.  This ability allows a prescriber to prescribe precise doses down to the microgram, as well as to combine the prohormone T4 with the active T3 into one dosage form, at a customized ratio, to further enhance the patient’s outcomes.  Additionally, many patients may have sensitivities to ingredients such as gluten, casein, or dyes.  Compounding the thyroid hormones to exclude many of the excipients found in commercially manufactured versions may help to enhance absorption and subsequently patient response.

Finally, over the counter supplements can sometimes be used to enhance thyroid function in cases of hypothyroidism. Taking supplements such as Thyroid Synergy by Designs for Health, or Iodoral by Optimox, can provide the body with essential nutrients and beneficial herbal ingredients for thyroid hormone production such as iodine, selenium, chromium, vitamin A, D, and E, and ginseng.  These types of products can be found at pharmacies which specialize in nutrition, such as Pine Pharmacy in Williamsville.

Proper thyroid functioning is essential to your overall health, from both a physical and mental aspect. If you suspect issues with your thyroid, talk to your doctor or pharmacist today.

 

 

 

It May Not Just Be Food Causing Tummy Troubles…

Your body may not be producing enough digestive enzymes. Specialized cells in the salivary glands and pancreas produce digestive enzymes. The stomach also secretes hydrochloric acid (HCl) that activates enzyme production. Over 20 identified enzymes in the body, plus enzymes in uncooked live foods like fruits and vegetables, facilitate the breakdown of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates so the body can absorb important nutrients and produce energy for vital functions. How well we digest any particular food is dependent on the quantities and types of enzymes the body produces. Within the body, HCl and enzyme secretion generally decline with age. And genetics can negatively influence digestive enzyme production as well.

Certain foods can add discomfort. Some people may not produce enough enzymes to comfortably digest lactose in dairy foods, gluten in grain products, or certain acidic foods (citrus, tomatoes). Raw nuts and seeds also contain enzyme inhibitors that may make them harder for some people to digest. And humans don’t produce the enzyme cellulase that helps break down cellulose fibers in plant foods, which slows digestion and may cause discomfort with higher fiber consumption. Plus, when enzyme-rich foods are cooked at 118° F or above, naturally occurring enzymes are destroyed.

Do you notice

·  Trouble digesting meals or post-meal discomfort that negatively impact living quality (especially as you age)

·  Known or suspected sensitivity to lactose or gluten

·  Occasional indigestion or a feeling of fullness that lasts 2-4 hours after eating

·  Occasional bloating or abdominal cramping

·  Undigested food in the stool
Stop in today if any of the above feels familiar so we can discuss nutritional strategies for digestive health, including supplementing with digestive enzymes and simple dietary and lifestyle changes.

 

 

Blood Sugar Concerns Start Long Before Diabetes….

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Do you know if you have elevated blood sugar levels? According to the American Diabetes Association, over 160 million American adults may have elevated blood glucose, putting them at increased risk to serious health concerns. Blood sugar is the basic fuel that all cells in the body use to make energy. In an optimal state, the body maintains the blood sugar level in a fairly narrow range: not too low (hypoglycemia) and not too high (hyperglycemia). Stability is important because imbalances, particularly hyperglycemia, can cause serious health problems, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Even short spikes or dips in blood sugar levels can cause symptoms that can impact daily living.

Control what you eat to control blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that responds directly to what you eat. Among its many roles, insulin regulates fat metabolism and controls blood sugar levels. A leading diabetes research center and other recent guidelines recommend a daily macronutient ratio of approximately 40% carbohydrates, 30% proteins, and 30% fat to help manage blood sugar levels. Just as important: the proteins should be high quality; the fats should be primarily “healthy” monounsaturated fats; and the carbohydrates should optimally be slower to digest (like fiber-rich fruits and vegetables). Calorie count is also important, because shedding excess weight can help bring your blood sugar levels back in a healthy range.

Exercise and nutritional support can help. Exercise helps your cells take glucose out of your blood, so it’s helpful in controlling blood sugar levels. Plus, it supports muscle growth and retention to burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight. Medical foods and targeted nutraceuticals may provide nutrients like key vitamins and minerals that support insulin and blood sugar control. They may also provide ingredients like slow-digesting carbohydrates, fiber, and branched-chain amino acids (found in proteins) to provide enhanced support.

Stop in today to discuss nutritional and lifestyle therapies to help you manage blood sugar levels and promote overall health.

Ask us about Metagenics MetaGlycemX!

Managing Your Psoriasis

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As a pharmacist, I frequently get questions from patients suffering from psoriasis about what they can do to improve their condition. Since August is National Psoriasis Awareness Month, I thought it would be a great time to share some of these tips.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation leading to the formation of red, scaly patches on the body that bleed and itch. It is the most common autoimmune disease in the United States, affecting as many as 7.5 million people. Approximately 30% of people with psoriasis will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

While there is no cure for psoriasis, a number of nutritional supplements and dietary changes can help reduce the severity of the symptoms, greatly improving overall quality of life. These include:

Fish Oil: Omega 3 Fatty Acids, such as those found in fish, have many anti-inflammatory effects in the body, and also have a positive impact on the body’s immune system. To get these anti-inflammatory benefits, it is recommended to get around 3000mg a day of EPA and DHA, the two active components. This equals about 4 capsules of Metagenic’s OmegaGenics EPA:DHA 720 Capsules.

Vitamin D: Psoriasis increases the rate at which skin cells grow, and Vitamin D has been shown to slow this growth. Vitamin D may also help counteract the body’s response to inflammation associated psoriasis. Try increasing your blood levels of Vitamin D in the range of 30-60ng/ml. For most people, this may require 2000-4000IU daily. Since D3 is as much as 3 times more potent than D2, be sure to take a supplement containing this form, such as Protocol For Life’s High Potency Vitamin D3.

Probiotics: Probiotics are the good bacteria found throughout the body. While most think of their health benefits being localized to the gut, they have effects against non-gut inflammation and have a positive impact on the immune system as well. Studies have shown decreased inflammatory markers in psoriasis patients taking probiotics. Be sure to get a high potency probiotic containing several strains of bacteria, such as Metagenics UltraFlora Spectrum.

Anti-inflammatory Diet: Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, many individuals have benefitted from following an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce their symptoms. Avoid foods such as fatty red meats, dairy products, processed foods and refined sugars, and instead focus on foods that reduce inflammation, such as fish, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Gluten Free Diet: Research shows that up to 25 percent of psoriasis sufferers have a sensitivity to the wheat protein gluten, and that celiac disease (a condition caused by intolerance to gluten) and psoriasis share many common genetic and inflammatory pathways. While there are not conclusive studies showing a gluten free diet helps psoriasis sufferers, many patients have experienced an improvement in symptoms.

In addition to the above, our pharmacists frequently compound many different prescription combinations for psoriasis, including steroids, zinc pyrithione, Vitamin B12, Salicylic Acid and Tacrolimus, among others. Give us a call and see if we can help you.