My “Gut” feeling says you’re going to need some help with that…. A word on Probiotics

Kathryn Seelman Author

As a retail pharmacist I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen patients staring at the wall of probiotics trying to pick out the right one. You’ve heard from your neighbor or doctor, the internet or TV that probiotics are great for (Enter Laundry list of health complaints here). Humans need “good bacteria”. When we are introduced into this world as an infant bacterium is introduced into our gut. That Bacteria colonizes there and lives symbiotically helping to break down food, absorb nutrients, and control our immune system. Unfortunately, since the introduction of antibiotics in the early 1900’s we’ve been raging war on not only the bacteria that makes us sick and can be deadly but also the bacteria that is vital for human health. Even if you’ve been fortunate enough not to need an antibiotic for medical reasons, our food chain is bombarded with them and processed foods which do not promote “good” bacteria growth. For this reason, many healthcare practitioners would state their reputation on a Probiotic being the most important supplement you can take, yet when you arrive at the pharmacy to simply pick one up the choices seem to be endless. What’s the difference between the box that costs $5 vs $15 vs $25 or even $50? Even as you compare the ingredients they seem to make no sense. Why would the product with 5 billion CFU’s cost twice the price as one with 10 billion CFU’s and what the heck is a CFU? Why are some refrigerated and others not? What’s the differences in the bacteria listed? I’ve had patients plop a dozen boxes on my counter just to point out miniscule differences such as a change in the color of the box. Manufacturers aren’t always trying to make this difficult to the consumer but bacteria are a living organism: meaning it lives, dies, changes, and moves just like you! You can’t just weigh out a certain quantity, encapsulate it, and expect the same number of bacteria to be there a month later, especially when you have no idea how it was shipped and stored. You also can’t expect a person that was just bombarded with antibiotics during a hospital stay to need the same type of bacteria in their gut as an individual that might not be feeling great from the last trip to Cancun. Bacteria are as different as you and me and their use can be just as varied. Many manufacturers are not willing to spend the time and money on this logistical nightmare in order to ensure their product will live up to the hype of what probiotics can do. The result: a confusing wall of products, many of which may only contain placebo. If you want a good probiotic skip the hassle and confusion. Come talk to myself or any of the pharmacists here at Pine. We’ll pick a product specifically for your needs from a manufacturer that ensures quality. We’d be happy to help!

 

Save Your Vision

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March is Save Your Vision month, a good time to discuss the link between nutrition and eye health. There is a growing body of evidence showing key nutrients play a positive and protective effect on our eyes, helping to preserve vision. However, with so many different products and claims out there, it can be extremely confusing choosing the right supplements. To help simplify things, listed below are some of the most effective nutrients used to protect the eyes.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), have been shown to be important for proper visual development and retinal function. Several studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect adult eyes from age related macular degeneration (ARMD), diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and dry eye syndrome. They also stimulate vision development in infants and children, making this supplement a great choice for people of all ages concerned about their vision.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin:
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two carotenoids found in the macula, and they help to protect the retina.Many studies have shown that these antioxidants reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including ARMD and cataracts. They also have a positive effect on the retina, reducing disability and discomfort from glare, enhancing contrast and increasing visual range.

Zinc:
Zinc is highly concentrated in the eye, and plays an essential role in the production of melanin, a protective pigment in the eyes. Vision problems, such as poor night vision and cloudy cataracts, have been linked with zinc deficiencies.

Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the cells of the eyes from damage caused by metabolic by-products called free radicals, which break down healthy tissue. Studies suggest that Vitamin E helps to delay the formation of cataracts and slow the progression of ARMD.

Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant. Evidence suggests vitamin C lowers the risk of developing cataracts, along with slowing the progression of ARMD and vision loss.

To ensure that you are getting what you need to maintain the health of your eyes, try Pine Pharmacy’s Eye Health supplement, a simple and effective way to get the proper amounts of lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, C, E and many other key nutrients that protect the eyes. Also consider adding a high quality Fish Oil supplement, such as Metagenic’s EPA-DHA 720, for added benefit.

Pump up your heart health

 

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Your “ticker”, it’s the one muscle in the human body that none of us can afford to ignore. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for one in three deaths, and is the number one killer of American men and women. That’s why February is American Heart Health month, and is a great time to evaluate what you are doing to improve yours! Healthy diet and exercise are the best weapons available to fight cardiovascular disease. Exercise can serve to make your heart stronger and more efficient, lower your blood pressure, reduce high cholesterol, and decrease your weight.  Along those same lines, eating a well-rounded, healthy diet can control weight, and 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.  No matter how hard we try, issues like high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure can prove to be stubborn, and we need some outside help. While there are many prescription drug options for cardiovascular issues, many people may not be aware of some supplements which may help to support and improve the overall health of your heart:

High Cholesterol:

  • Mega-10: A combination omega supplement which provides both Omega 3 and Omega 7 essential fatty acids, which helps to support cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels

  • Cholesterol Complete: A specialized formula designed to manage and promote health cholesterol levels in the body, as well as healthy homocysteine levels, a marker of heart disease

High Blood Pressure:

  • Perfusia SR: a form of the amino acid, arginine, which has been shown to help relax the arteries,  leading to decrease in blood pressure and better overall heart health

Overall Heart Support:

  • H2Q: a specialized form a Coenzyme Q10, which is a powerful antioxidant and helps to support energy production in all muscle tissue, including the heart

  • Cardiogenics Intensive Care: a comprehensive blend of herbs, amino acids, and minerals that help to maintain healthy blood pressure and heart muscle function

So whether your “ticker” is in top notch shape, or could use a little extra “TLC”, February is a great time to keep heart health on the mind! 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.