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lmu-227 Raising the Good Cholesterol (HDL) with Gum Guggul

LMU-227 Raising the Good Cholesterol (HDL) with Gum Guggul

Source: Cardiovascular Drug Reviews (2007)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (January 19, 2022)

In a recent Lifestyle Medicine Update, I explained that many people with high LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) and low HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol) can often lower their LDL-cholesterol into the safe range for cardiovascular disease by dietary and lifestyle changes, including reducing intake of foods high in saturated fats, trans-fats, cholesterol, deep-fried and breaded foods, and by increasing intake of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber foods like beans, peas, oats, and some low glycemic fibrous fruits and vegetables like non-sweet apples and the white rind of citrus fruits (high in pectin), as well as the consumption of ground flaxseeds and/or psyllium husk fiber.

Endurance exercise and weight loss are also helpful to lower the bad cholesterol – LDL-cholesterol However, strategies that lower the LDL don’t always raise the HDL. In fact, some of the strategies I already mentioned, like eating less saturated fat may, in some cases, further lower the HDL. This is important because studies like the Veterans Affairs High-Density-Lipoprotein Cholesterol Intervention Trial showed that the rate of coronary heart disease (rate of narrowing of your coronary arteries) is reduced by raising HDL, as an independent risk factor.  So, it’s vital to get your LDL into safe range, but it’s also important to raise your HDL level if it is low, as HDL helps to remove plaque from the artery wall.

In a recent update, I provided studies showing that you can usually raise your HDL to a mild to moderate degree, depending on the individual, (wide range of response from one person to the next probably due to genetic factors) by reducing waist circumference, quitting smoking, performing more aerobic exercise, and eating a handful of cashews, using extra virgin olive oil and consuming avocadoes frequently. But, in addition to this, there are two supplements that have also shown an ability to further elevate HDL levels in human clinical trials. These include the Indian-based herbal agent known as Gum Guggul and the more well-known Artichoke Leaf Extract. Today I want to focus on the Gum Guggul studies and next week we will look at Artichoke Leaf Extract more closely. Studies in Asia and India over many years have shown that Gum Guggul supplementation lowers LDL-cholesterol in 70-80% of individuals with high total cholesterol and LDL levels. On average, it appears to lower LDL cholesterol by about 30%, which is highly significant. About 20-30% of individuals fail to respond to Gum Guggul supplementation, likely due to strong genetic factors accounting for their high cholesterol problem. But, in the 70-80% of high cholesterol patients who respond to Gum Guggul, there is also an associated increase in HDL of 4%, on average, meaning that for many individuals Gum Guggul reduces their LDL-cholesterol while also raising their HDL-cholesterol.

That is very good news for people with stubbornly low HDL. How does it work? To the best of our knowledge the active ingredient in Gum Guggul, known as Guggulsterone, prompts the liver to clear more of the bad cholesterol (LDL) from the bloodstream. Once the LDL-cholesterol enters the liver cells, Gum Guggul also stimulates the conversion of that cholesterol into bile acids, which are then excreted through the bile duct into the intestine, allowing your body to expel it from the body with each bowel movement. So, the cholesterol floating around right now in your LDL particles in your blood, can be taken up your liver cells, converted into bile acids, flushed through the bile duct into your intestinal tract, and then excreted from your body when you have a bowel movement. This is how Gum Guggul is shown to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels. But it also appears to prompt liver cells to synthesize more HDL and send it out into the bloodstream, where it removes cholesterol from the artery wall and returns it back to the liver, where it can also be converted into bile acids and excreted from the body.

So, in some cases, Gum Guggul can be a great natural addition to an LDL-lowering and HDL-raising program. Very conveniently, it also provides some anti-inflammatory effects, which may also be helpful in cardiovascular health and may help to relieve some joint pain along the way. Gum Guggul is a resin derived from the Mukul myrrh tree in India. The most common side effect of Gum Guggul is that it causes in a skin rash in about 9% of users, which usually occurs in the first week to 10 days of use. There is no way to know in advance if you might be susceptible to this side effect, unfortunately. It’s really trial and error. If the rash occurs, you simply discontinue using it and the rash disappears. I like to provide patients with a supplement that contains both Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf Extract, as these two natural agents work synergistically to lower LDL and raise HDL in many cases.

 In the next Lifestyle Medicine Update, I will cite the evidence for the use of Artichoke Leaf Extract so you can better appreciate how these natural agents work together to improve cholesterol readings, both LDL and HDL – and even triglycerides for that matter. The effective therapeutic dosage of Gum Guggul is 3 gm per day with a supplement that is standardized to 2.5% guggulsterone content. It is one more natural and effective way to help lower LDL and raise HDL for many people.

I have included a key reference for this information in the text below.

Reference:

Deng R. Therapeutic effects of gum guggul and its constituent guggulsterone: cardiovascular benefits. Cardiovascular Drug Reviews.2007; 25(4): 375-390 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1527-3466.2007.00023.x

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Multivitamin Shown to Slow Brain Aging by 60%

LMU 226 - Multivitamin Shown to Slow Brain Aging by 60%

Source: COSMOS-Mind Study (Medscape January 2022)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (January 12, 2022)

For many years I have watched the media report the findings of studies suggesting that taking vitamin and mineral supplements have no positive effects on the health or the prevention and management of various health conditions. For some reason, they tend to ignore the many highly impressive studies that show the exact opposite, which can leave the impression that the supplement industry is some kind of giant scam.  But this simply is not the case. When you look at vitamin and mineral intake levels across the population it stands to reason that the just the use of daily multiple vitamin and mineral supplement is bound to be helpful for most people.

Consider the latest findings from the National Health and Examination Survey, which showed that most Adults do not ingest the recommended amounts of many various vitamins from the consumption of food and beverages alone. The survey showed that 94.3% of the US population do not meet the daily requirement for vitamin D, 88.5% for vitamin E, 52.2% for magnesium, 44.1% for calcium, 43.0% for vitamin A, and 38.9% for vitamin C. For the nutrients in which a requirement has not been firmly set, 100% of the population had intakes lower than the Adequate intake for potassium, 91.7% for choline, and 66.9% for vitamin K. The prevalence of inadequacies was also low for all the B vitamins (B1, 2, 3, 6, 12, pantothenic acid, folic acid, biotin) and several minerals, including copper, iron, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, and zinc. All these nutrients play critically important roles in the function of most tissues in the body, including the brain. Hence the findings from the COSMOS-Mind Study, published on Medscape on January 10, 2022, come as no surprise to me and other people in the world of nutritional medicine.

The study showed that taking a daily multivitamin for 3 years is associated with a 60% slowing of cognitive aging, with the effects especially pronounced in patients with cardiovascular (CVD) disease. The findings were presented at the 14th Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) conference. COSMOS-Mind Study included 2262 adults aged 65 and over, who did not have dementia at the beginning of the study and who underwent cognitive testing at the beginning of the study and annually for the next 3 years. The average age at the start of the study was 73 years old, and about 40 were men (60% women). The group given the multiple vitamin and mineral vs the placebo or 500 mg cocoa flavonoids, showed improved global cognitive function, executive function, and memory over the course of the three years, including subjects with a history of cardiovascular disease Dr. Laura Baker, a lead study researcher stated, “We see a positive effect of multivitamins for the active (vitamin and mineral supplement) group relative to placebo, peaking at 2 years and then remaining stable over time.”  She went on to add, “Daily multivitamin-mineral supplementation appears to slow cognitive aging by 60% or by 1.8 years. “She concluded by stating, “Our study provides new evidence that daily multivitamin supplementation may benefit cognitive function in older women and men, and the multivitamin effects may be more pronounced in participants with cardiovascular disease.” In my view, this study lends additional support to considering the use of full-spectrum multiple vitamin and mineral supplement for most adults. Slowing your brain aging by 60% is quite a remarkable outcome that we should all take quite seriously.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.


References:

1. Multivitamins, but not cocoa, tied to slowed brain aging. Medscape January 10, 2022 (Paula Anderson) https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/962772?uac=342474MN&faf=1&sso=true&impID=3926885&src=wnl_tp10n_220106_mscpedit#vp_1

2. COSMOS-Mind Study Design: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03035201

3. Micronutrient inadequacies in the US population: an overview Oregon State University https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/micronutrient-inadequacies/overview

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Recommended Supplements

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Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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How to Raise the Good Cholesterol: HDL

How to Raise the Good Cholesterol: HDL

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2018)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (January 5, 2022)

Over the years I have watched many patients and acquaintances make significant dietary and lifestyle changes that have significantly reduced their total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol blood levels. LDL-cholesterol is the bad cholesterol that deposits cholesterol in the artery wall leading to blockage. This, of course, greatly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, the need for bypass surgery, and other cardiovascular problems.

Eating less saturated fat, trans-fats, deep-fried foods, pan-fried foods, breaded foods, and high cholesterol-containing foods, and bringing your fasting blood sugar (glucose) down into a safe range, are all strategies shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. Endurance exercise and reducing body fat can also help. In some cases, drug therapy is required to get LDL-cholesterol into the safest possible range, which is a blood LDL-cholesterol below 1.5mmol/L (58 mg/dl). Consuming more soluble fiber and eating 30 gm of walnuts per day has also been shown to significantly reduce LDL-cholesterol levels. But, having a high HDL cholesterol is also very helpful, as HDL cholesterol acts like a vacuum cleaner to remove some of the cholesterol that has already been deposited into the artery wall. So, HDL helps to reverse clogged arteries to some degree. The ideal HDL blood level to shoot for is at or above 1.6 mmol/L (60 mg/dL).  Unfortunately, the same factors that lower LDL don’t always raise HDL. As I said, many people lower their LDL, which is great, but their HDL may remain low, which is not so great.

So, how can you raise your HDL? In 2018 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review of all relevant studies testing avocado consumption, as a means to raise HDL-cholesterol. The studies provided some good news for people trying to increase their HDL. In the 7 studies conducted to date that were deemed to be relevant, avocado intake significantly increased HDL cholesterol by 0 .07 mmol/L (or 2.84 mg/dL). That’s not a huge elevation, but it helps. Avocado consumption did not lower total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, or blood sugar levels, but simply raising HDL blood levels is an impressive finding.

There are other established ways to raise HDL, besides eating avocadoes more regularly.  These include:

  • Regular endurance exercise
  • Reducing your waist circumference if you are overweight
  • Quitting smoking if you are a smoker
  • Using extra virgin olive oils has been shown to improve the efficiency of HDL to remove cholesterol from the artery wall, even though it may not raise actual HDL blood levels.
  • Eating 30 gm (less than an ¼ cup) of cashews per day has been shown to slightly increase HDL levels as well as lowering systolic blood pressure in type 2 diabetics.
  • Coconut oil has been shown to raise HDL cholesterol levels, but it raises LDL cholesterol to an even greater degree, which results overall, in an increased risk for heart disease. So, I don’t recommend using coconut oil to raise your HDL levels or for any other reason.
  • There is also contradictory evidence regarding the ability of fatty fish or omega-3 fats to raise HDL levels. Some studies show they do, and other studies show that they don’t. If they do, it’s not by very much. But fatty fish and omega-3 fats have other properties that improve cardiovascular health, so they can be part of a healthy heart and cardiovascular program in most cases.

Raising HDL is not an easy task for some people, due likely to genetic factors. Reducing your waist circumference, getting regular endurance exercise and quitting smoking are the three big lifestyle factors that can raise HDL by the greatest margin. Consuming avocado, cashews, and extra virgin olive oil may also help. 

I have provided the references for this information in the text below.

References:

  1. Mahmassani HA et al. Avocado consumption and risk factors for heart disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2018; 107(4): 523-536 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29635493/
  2. WebMD: HDL Cholesterol: the Good Cholesterol (July 2020) https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/hdl-cholesterol-the-good-cholesterol
  3. Helal O et al. Extra-virgin olive oil consumption improves the capacity for HDL to mediate cholesterol efflux and increase ABCA1 and ABCG1 expression in human macrophages. Br J Nutr 2013; 109(10): 1844-1855 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23051557/
  4. Mohan V et al. Cashew nut consumption increases HDL cholesterol and reduces systolic blood pressure in Asian Indians with type 2 diabetes: A 12-week randomized controlled trial. 2018; 148(1): 63-69 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29378038/
  5. Neelakantan N et al. The effect of coconut oil consumption on cardiovascular risk factors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. J Circulation 2020; 141: 803-814 https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.043052
  6. Abdelhamid AS et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Library 2020 https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub5/full

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Hawthorn in the Adjunctive Management and Prevention of High Blood Pressure, Heart Failure and Arrhythmia: The 2017 Review

LMU224

Hawthorn in the Adjunctive Management and Prevention of High Blood Pressure, Heart Failure and Arrhythmia: The 2017 Review

Source: Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (2017)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (December 22, 2021)

I’m a big believer than individuals over the age of 45 would benefit from taking a supplement each day that contains the combination Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and the herb known as Hawthorn. The body makes CoQ10, which it uses to help convert food into energy within our cells, including our heart muscle cells.

But, by age 45 the body’s synthesis of CoQ10 has declined to the point where most tissues experience less than optimal amounts of CoQ10, and the result is a decreased ability to synthesize an optimal amount of energy.  When this happens in heart muscle fibers, the heart can no longer contract with optimal force, which contributes to the development of congestive heart failure – the number one cause of hospital admissions in people 65 and older.  Studies show that taking CoQ10 supplements can maintain and replenish more optimal tissue levels of CoQ10, enabling the heart muscle to continue to pump blood with more optimal force. This appears to be an important way to help prevent the development of congestive heart failure. Studies also show that Co10 administered to patients with congestive heart failure can often be very effective as an adjunctive therapy. CoQ10 also increases the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, thereby helping to reduce and even prevent high blood pressure as peoples age. So, taking some CoQ10 after age 45 makes sense in my view to help prevent these problems.

So where does Hawthorn come into the story? The unique flavonoids in hawthorn flowers and berries are also shown to help the heart muscle fibers increase their energy production such that the combination of CoQ10 with Hawthorn is especially beneficial to helping to maintain heart function as we age. In addition, the flavonoids in hawthorn are also shown to create a relaxation effect on blood vessels by increasing nitric oxide release, which helps reduce high blood pressure and improve blood circulation within the coronary blood vessels that provide the heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. These three effects of hawthorn; improving heart muscle pumping function, helping to lower and prevent high blood pressure, and improving blood circulation to the heart muscle, makes Hawthorn supplementation an invaluable part of a healthy heart program after the age of 45 in my view.  In 2017, a review paper on the cardiovascular benefits of Hawthorn was published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, which outlined the benefits of Hawthorn supplementation that have been documented in recent human clinical trials when provided to patients with high blood pressure, and early to moderate stage congestive heart failure. The results are very impressive indeed. Sometimes an ounce of prevention is often more advantageous than a pound of cure. In this regard, I feel it make sense to act pre-emptively by taking a supplement each day by age 45 that contains 30 mg of CoQ10 and 35-40 mg of Hawthorn (standardized to 5% flavonoid content). For individuals ages 45-55 one capsule per day is likely sufficient, by age 56, taking two capsules per day is likely prudent and by age 65, I would suggest 3 capsules per day.

It’s important not to take a hawthorn supplement if you are taking the drug digoxin or digitalis, and consulting with a health specialist is always a good idea before modifying your supplementation program, as individual circumstances can vary. But for most people 45 years of age and older, a combination supplement containing CoQ10, and Hawthorn should be a strong consideration in maintaining cardiovascular health. In the concluding remarks of the 2017 review paper the researchers state that data coming from experimental and clinical studies using a standardized grade of Hawthorn suggest that it can be successfully used as an addition to optimal treatment of chronic heart failure. It also has a range of vasoactive and cardio-active properties that could be possibly useful in treatment of other diseases of cardiovascular system like endothelial dysfunction, coronary disease, arrhythmias, or prevention of restenosis after endovascular treatment (e.g., by-pass surgery)

I have included a link to the 2017 Hawthorn Review article in the text below.

Reference:

Zorniak M, Szydlo B, Krzeminski T.F. Crategus special extract WS 1442: Up-to-date review of experimental and clinical experiences. Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2017, 68. 4: 521-526

http://www.jpp.krakow.pl/journal/archive/08_17/pdf/521_08_17_article.pdf

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Multiple Vitamin with Zinc and Extra Vitamin C Improves Immune Function

LMU223

Multiple Vitamin with Zinc and Extra Vitamin C Improves Immune Function in those over 55 and Reduces Severity and Duration of Common Infections.

Source: Journal Nutrients (August 2020)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (December 14, 2021)

Older adults who took a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement with zinc and high amounts of vitamin C in a 12-week study experienced sickness for shorter periods and had less severe symptoms than counterparts who took the placebo. These findings were reported by Oregon State University in their published paper appearing in the journal Nutrients in August of 2020. The study included 42 healthy people ages 55 to 75. The study was designed to measure immune system parameters, common cold-type symptoms, and blood levels of vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D in both the group that was administered the multiple vitamin and mineral supplement with additional vitamin C (1,000 mg) vs the placebo group.

The study showed that the group receiving the multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that included high dose vitamin C (1,000 mg) showed higher blood levels of vitamin C and zinc than the placebo group. Both vitamin C and zinc are crucial nutrients to support immune function. These higher blood levels translated into shorter duration of cold and flu-like symptoms over the course of the 3-month study (3 illness days per bout vs more than 6 days of illness in those taking the placebo). As well, illness symptoms were less severe and went away faster in the group given the multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. The researchers stated the following, “As people get older, the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies that contribute to age-related immune system deficiencies rises. Across the United States, Canada, and Europe, research suggests more than one-third of older adults are deficient in at least one micronutrient, often more than one.” “That likely contributes to a decline in the immune system, most often characterized by increased levels of inflammation, reduced innate immune function, and reduced T-cell function.”  “Since multiple nutrients support immune function, older adults often benefit from multivitamin and mineral supplements. One of the authors of the study commented, “This supports findings that stretch back decades, even to the days of Linus Pauling’s work with vitamin C.”

This research study lends additional support to many other studies in recent years showing that supplementation with key nutrients that support immune function, usually translates into improved protection against a multitude of infections. The vitamins and minerals of greatest importance to support immune function include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. In my view a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that provides the following daily dosages will best support immune system function in most adults:

Vitamin A – 2500 IU

Vitamin C – 1,000 mg

Vitamin D – 1,000 IU (achieve a blood level of 85-140 nmol/L or 35 – 56 ng/ml)

Vitamin E – 400 IU

Zinc -15 mg

Selenium -200 mcg

I have included the reference for this research study in the text below.

References:

1.Mary L. Fantacone, Malcolm B. Lowry, Sandra L. Uesugi, Alexander J. Michels, Jaewoo Choi, Scott W. Leonard, Sean K. Gombart, Jeffrey S. Gombart, Gerd Bobe, Adrian F. Gombart. The Effect of a Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement on Immune Function in Healthy Older Adults: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 2020; 12 (8): 2447   https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2447

2. Science Daily August 18, 2020: Multivitamin, mineral supplement linked to less-severe, shorter-lasting illness symptoms

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. James Meschino

Recommended Supplements

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Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Antioxidant Supplements Can Reverse Male Infertility Problems in Many Cases

Antioxidant Supplements Can Reverse Male Infertility Problems

Antioxidant Supplements Can Reverse Male Infertility Problems in Many Cases

Source: International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine (2016)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (December 8, 2021)

Infertility problems caused by defective aspects of sperm account for at least 50% of all infertility cases worldwide and recent studies show that providing these men with specific antioxidant supplements, at levels beyond what food alone can provide, can reverse male infertility problems in a significant number of cases.

This, according to a review of the available studies on this subject published in the International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine in December of 2016. Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant despite having frequent, unprotected sex for at least a year. More than 70 million couples suffer from infertility worldwide. As noted previously, male factors account for at least 50% of all infertility cases. Some factors such as radiation, smoking, varicocele, infection, urinary tract infection, environmental factors, nutritional deficiencies, and oxidative stress contribute to male infertility. Oxidative stress (or free radical damage) occurs when the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) exceeds the body’s natural antioxidant defenses, which is often the case in tissues that rely heavily on oxygen for energy production, such as in the testes and in sperm cells within the testes. As the researchers stated, “the increased level of ROS (free radicals) can result from environmental factors such as high temperature, electromagnetic waves, air pollution, insecticides, alcohol consumption, obesity, and poor nutrition.” There is evidence that sperm cells are very susceptible to free radical damage or oxidative stress because the outer skin or membrane of sperm cells consists of high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are very prone to free radical damage, and hence subsequent problems relating to decreased sperm motility, and DNA damage to sperm cells and their energy factories known as mitochondria. All of this adds up to damaged and compromised sperm implicated in infertility problems.

As a rule, semen contains some antioxidants to quench and stabilize these free radicals, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and thioredoxin. This means that if you are a male, some of the vitamin E and vitamin C you ingest from food and/or supplements get incorporated into the semen produced in the seminal vesicles. These antioxidants neutralize free radical activity and protect sperm from ROS. But evidence shows that there is a lower antioxidant capacity of semen in infertile men that explains the increased degree of damaged sperm and resulting infertility. The 2016 review paper on this subject highlights clinical studies where antioxidant supplements were shown to reverse male infertility. As an example, daily supplementation with vitamin C (200 mg) and vitamin E (200 IU) not only improved spontaneous pregnancy by over 10% in previously infertile men in one study but in this and other studies also were shown to improve sperm motility, decrease free radical end products in seminal fluid, decrease DNA damage in sperm cells, as well as producing other signs of improved sperm integrity. Other supplements shown to improve sperm counts, sperm motility, and sperm integrity include the minerals zinc and selenium, as well as taking a full spectrum multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. Supplementation with CoQ10, N-acetylcysteine, and L-Carnitine has also been shown to improve many parameters of sperm integrity as well as sperm motility and sperm count in various human studies.

There is one more element to this story that I think is also important for all males to be aware of, which involves the fact 1:250 men develop testicular cancer in their lifetime. This can be a very lethal cancer if not detected early. It is the most common cancer of males in their 30’s. There are a number of risk factors for testicular cancer, but one of the things we know about the testes is that, like the sperm cells they produce, they are also exposed to high levels of free radicals (ROS) and their outer membrane is also high in polyunsaturated fats content, which makes the testes highly susceptible to free radical damage. Some of these free radicals may damage the DNA of the testes and create genetic mutations that can lead to cancer. As of now, this is just a theory, but as stated in a 2017 review article in the Journal of Clinical Diagnosis and Research, “the body’s antioxidant system alone is not able to neutralize all free radicals and prevent harmful complications of oxidative stress. Therefore, the use of antioxidants (supplements) and the development of antioxidant therapy (supplements) can break down the oxidative chain reaction and play a very significant role in increasing the body’s capacity to fight free radical-induced oxidative stress, and therefore improve the process of spermatogenesis.” But the same antioxidants that protect sperm from DNA damage may also protect the testes themselves against damaging free radicals that can cause mutations leading to testicular cancer. At least that is biologically plausible and is one more reason why I suggest that all males over the age of 15 take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement each day, that is enriched with 500-1000 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 200 mcg selenium 15 mg zinc, a B-50 complex and everything else from vitamin A to zinc, at optimal doses. A supplement with these dosages is shown to improve sperm quality for men who are hoping to have children with their partner and may also protect the testes themselves against free radical damage that can produce undesirable health outcomes. For men who are diagnosed with fertility problems, they may want to consider adding other supplements to this program such as:

Coenzyme Q10 – 150 mg per day

L-Carnitine – 1,000 – 2,000 mg per day

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – 600 mg per day

I think this is very important information to be aware of, as most fertility clinics may counsel men on the damaging free radical effects of smoking and alcohol on sperm integrity, but they often neglect to address the studies showing that certain vitamin, mineral, and other supplements are shown to improve sperm quality and reverse male fertility in many cases.

I have included the references for this information in the text below.

References:

1. Ahmadi S et al. Antioxidant supplements and semen parameters: An evidence-based review. Int J Reprod Biomed. 2016, 14(12): 729-736 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5203687/

2. Asadi N et al. The impact of oxidative stress on testicular function and the role of antioxidants in improving it: A review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2017, 11(5): IE01 – IE05 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5483704/

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Physical Activity in Later Life Helps Guard Against Degenerative Disease and Promotes Longevity and Healthy Life Expectancy

Physical Activity

Physical Activity in Later Life Helps Guard Against Degenerative Disease and Promotes Longevity and Healthy Life Expectancy

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (December 2021)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (Dec 1, 2021)

In the December 2021 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of evolutionary biologists and biomedical researchers outline the evolutionary and scientific evidence showing that humans, who evolved to live many decades after they stopped reproducing, remained physically active in their later years. They contend that remaining physically active later in life significantly helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and even some cancers. The researchers say that physical activity later in life shifts energy away from processes that can compromise health and toward mechanisms in the body that extend it.

They conclude that humans evolved to remain physically active as they age — and in doing so to allocate energy toward repair and maintenance processes that slow the body’s gradual deterioration. More specifically, physical activity directs energy allocation to repair tears in muscle fibers, repair cartilage damage, and heal microfractures. It also causes the release of exercise-related antioxidants and some natural anti-inflammatory agents and enhances blood flow. All of this adds up to a lower risk of diabetes, obesity, some types of cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.

So, how much activity do we need? Well, evidence shows that contemporary hunter-gatherers, who lived about 40,000 years ago, averaged about 135 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. Those who survived childhood tended to live seven decades, approximately 20 years past the age at which humans generally stop having children. Fossil evidence indicates that these extended lifespans were common by 40,000 years ago, contrary to the belief that human lifespans until recently were short. What is jarring is the fact that these hunter-gathers burned six to ten times more energy each day than present-day average North American adults. According to the lead author of the paper Dr. Daniel Lieberman, “the key take-home point is that because we evolved to be active throughout our lives, our bodies need physical activity to age well. In the past, daily physical activity was necessary in order to survive, but today we have to choose to exercise, that is to do voluntary physical activity for the sake of health and fitness.” Dr. Lieberman goes on to explain that physical activity levels have been decreasing worldwide as machines and technology replace human labor. A recent study from Dr. Lieberman’s lab showed that Americans are engaging in less physical activity than they did 200 years ago.

So, what’s the solution? In many previous Lifestyle Medicine Updates, I have shared with you the latest research showing the importance of targeted dietary and supplementation strategies that slow aging, enhance longevity, decrease the risk of degenerative diseases, and improve the management of various common health conditions. But an underlying requirement of health promotion, longevity, and decreased risk of many degenerative diseases involves daily physical activity. Exercise is a unique and essential aspect of keeping your body and brain health that is required in addition to a prudent diet and possibly a personalized supplementation program. I personally endorse the combination of resistance training and endurance activity. Resistance training helps to preserve your muscle strength, balance, bone density, and blood flow to some degree, and endurance activity is of course good for your heart, your brain, your lungs, oxygen delivery to your tissues, and overall blood circulation.  There is simply no substitute for exercise when it comes to delivering these specific outcomes. Playing some sports can help provide endurance training benefits, which is a good solution for people who don’t like formal aerobic exercise equipment, aerobic classes or high-intensity dance classes, jogging, cycling, cross-country skiing, power walking, or snow showing. Everyone is different in terms of what activities they are drawn to or can tolerate. The important thing is to find something you can stick with and do it regularly, aiming for at least 60 minutes of moderate exercise intensity per day.

I have included the reference for this study in the text below.

References:

1. Daniel E. Lieberman, Timothy M. Kistner, Daniel Richard, I-Min Lee, Aaron L. Baggish. The active grandparent hypothesis: Physical activity and the evolution of extended human healthspans and lifespans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (50)  https://www.pnas.org/content/118/50/e2107621118

 

2. Taking it easy as you get older? Wrong. Science Daily November 22, 2021. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/11/211122172720.htm

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Vitamin B12 in Alzheimer’s Prevention

Vitamin B12 in Alzheimer’s Prevention

Source: J Cell Reports September 2021

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update (November 24, 2021)

In the words of researchers, who published a ground-breaking study about vitamin B12 and Alzheimer’s disease in the September issue of the journal Cell Reports, “Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder with no effective treatment. Diet, as a modifiable risk factor for AD, could potentially be targeted to slow disease onset and progression.” In this published paper these researchers went on to show that in an experimental model, vitamin B12 supplementation was able to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and interrupt key biological processes known to contribute to its development on a cellular level.

In this model, it was shown that vitamin B12’s ability to recycle homocysteine back to methionine was a key factor in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. In line with this finding, various studies have shown that higher blood levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease in human studies. Our bodies require vitamin B12 to recycle homocysteine back to methionine, which helps prevent homocysteine build-up.

This study builds on a report published on WebMD on October 18, 2010, which stated that Vitamin B12 may help to protect the brain against Alzheimer’s disease, according to recent studies. They go on to cite research from a 7-year Finnish study, which followed 271 individuals ages 65-79 who did not have any symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease at the beginning of the study. The study, published in the journal Neurology, showed that for every picomolar increase in blood vitamin B12 level there was an associated 2% reduction in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in this older population. At the same time, each one micromolar increase in blood homocysteine level increased the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 16% in the same population. In other words, the lower the blood vitamin B12 level and the higher the homocysteine level, the greater was the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Conversely, higher vitamin B12 levels and lower homocysteine blood levels translated into a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Because vitamin B12 is required to keep homocysteine levels lower and in a safer range (ideally below 7.2 umol/L) all of this makes sense from a standpoint of cell biology.

You should also know that vitamin B12 is also required to make neurotransmitters in the brain that are required for normal, healthy cognition. Many studies have shown that providing vitamin B12 supplementation to patients with depression or decreased cognition when their vitamin B12 levels are low, often helps to resolve these problems. But we are now seeing increasing evidence that adequate vitamin B12 levels are also required to block key steps in Alzheimer’s disease development. What is alarming is that vitamin B12 deficiency is very common as people get older, occurring in more than 20% of individuals over 65 years of age. This is due to various factors, such as decreased secretion of stomach acid as people age, which results in decreased vitamin B12 absorption. Another cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is the common use of antacid drugs, such as Tums, Rolaids, proton pump inhibitor drugs like Omeprazole (Losec), and histamine blockers such as Ranitidine. Many of these drugs are prescribed for indigestion problems, but they can easily lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency. As well, many people change their diet as they get older consume fewer vitamin B12-containing foods, which are mostly provided by meat and poultry, and fish in the human diet. It is noteworthy that other B-vitamins are also required to recycle homocysteine back to methionine or to another desirable amino acid known as cystathionine, from which the body can make cysteine and the all-important antioxidant and detoxifying peptide known as glutathione. The B-vitamins that work together to recycle homocysteine and thus, lower blood levels of this damaging agent, include vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6. This is one more reason why I think most people would benefit from taking a B-50 complex 5-7 times per week throughout all adult life. I get my B-50 complex as part of an all-in-one, high potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that also provides boosted levels of key antioxidants like vitamin C, and vitamin E, which help to reduce free radical damage to the body and to the brain – which may also help to slow age-related decline in brain function. Something for you to consider.

I have provided the references for this information in the text below.

References:

1. Andy B. Lam, Kirsten Kervin, Jessica E. Tanis. Vitamin B12 impacts amyloid beta-induced proteotoxicity by regulating the methionine/S-adenosylmethionine cycle. Cell Reports, 2021:  https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S22111247(21)012079?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS2211124721012079%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

2. WebMD: October 18, 2010: (Vitamin B12 and Alzheimer’s disease)

https://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/news/20101018/vitamin-b12-linked-to-lower-alzheimers-risk

3. Morris MC et al. Thoughts on B-vitamins and Dementia. J Alzheimer’s Disease. 2006, 9(4): 429-433 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3428233/

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great!

Dr. James Meschino

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Boswellia – A Natural Anti-inflammatory with Additional Anti-Cancer Properties

Boswellia

Boswellia – A Natural Anti-inflammatory with Additional Anti-Cancer Properties

Source: Integrative Cancer Therapy Journal (2017)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (November 16, 2021)

You may be aware that certain natural agents like curcumin, from the spice turmeric, and white willow extract, are often used as natural anti-inflammatory agents. In fact, recently published clinical trials have shown their value as an adjunct in reducing inflammation and pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis management. 

But very few people are aware of the natural herb known as Boswellia. Boswellia is a tree native to India, North Africa, and the Middle East. The tree gives rise to a resin, which is rich in boswellic acids, which have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Like Curcumin, White Willow Extract, and Ginger, recent clinical studies have shown that supplementation with Boswellia (standardized grade of 70% boswellic acids) can reduce pain and inflammation in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, two important human studies published in 2020 confirmed these findings. The other impressive finding is that Boswellia does not have any noteworthy side effects, and thus most patients with joint inflammation can take it safely. But what is also noteworthy are the experimental studies showing that boswellic acids are toxic to certain types of human cancer cells and can even prompt cancer cells to commit suicide (apoptosis).

These findings have prompted its use in several human cancer trials in recent years, where Boswellia supplementation was shown to reduce brain swelling in patients with an aggressive brain cancer known as glioblastoma. The same 2017 published paper also cited research showing that Boswellia supplementation reversed multiple brain metastases in a breast cancer patient. In another study involving forty-four patients with brain tumors, Boswellia supplementation reduced brain swelling after radiation treatment to a much greater degree than did the placebo. This is very promising as very few chemotherapy drugs can cross the blood-brain barrier. But boswellic acids are able to cross into the brain from the bloodstream and appear to exert some very impressive effects. In another case report published in the 2017 update, a patient using Boswellia supplementation showed a remarkable ability to prevent the recurrence of bladder cancer, after undergoing bladder cancer surgery. After his surgery the patient refused any follow-up chemotherapy and radiation treatment, which had been prescribed. This is not to say that the patient made the right decision. In my view, he should have had the follow-up conventional medical treatment in conjunction with adding Boswellia supplementation, as an adjunct to the treatment program. But using Boswellia supplementation he continued to be cancer-free during the first two years of follow-up. In a study published in 2015 involving 144 breast cancer patients who were undergoing radiation treatment, the group who applied Boswellia cream to their skin after each radiation treatment had less of a sun-burn-type reaction or intense redness and pain (erythema) from the radiation than did the group given the placebo cream.

So, what is the take-away message here? The bottom line is that ingesting a Boswellia supplement (standardized to 70% boswellic acids) is likely to be very helpful in the management of joint inflammation problems seen in osteoarthritis and in some autoimmune conditions that affect the joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The usual daily dosage is 250 mg per day if used as a single supplement. Many companies combine Boswellia with other proven anti-inflammatory herbs, such as curcumin, white willow extract and ginger to get a synergistic and more robust anti-inflammatory and pain-killing effect. Like Boswellia, some of these natural anti-inflammatory agents also show impressive anti-cancer properties. Thus, when these natural anti-inflammatories are combined, they may provide secondary health benefits, over and above their anti-inflammatory and pain-killing properties, that are very desirable. Finally, if a person is undergoing radiation treatment where a sun-burn, painful, skin reaction is likely to occur, they may want to ask their doctor about the value of using a Boswellia cream to reduce the redness, pain, and swelling that is typically caused by radiation treatment.

I have included the references for Boswellia in the text below.

Boswellia References:

Anti-Cancer:

Integr Cancer Ther 2017: Urothelial Cell Carcinoma (Bladder Cancer)
Cancer chemotherapeutic effects of Boswellia sacra gum resin hydrodistillates on invasive urothelial cell carcinoma: Report of a case.  Integr Cancer Ther 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5739138/

 

Khan MA et al. Pharmacological evidence for cytotoxic and antitumor properties of Boswellia acids from Boswellia serrata. Ethnopharmacol 2016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27346540/

 

Reduction of Brain Swelling in Patients Undergoing Radiation for Brain Tumor:

https://addon.life/2021/07/09/boswellia-cancer/

 

Reduction in Skin Erythema in Patients Undergoing Radiation for Breast Cancer:

https://addon.life/2021/07/09/boswellia-cancer/

 

Anti-inflammatory Studies in Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0944711396800195

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6681146/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175880/

https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12906-020-02985-6

https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/dmpt-2020-0104/html

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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Constituent of Cruciferous Vegetable (Indole-3-Carbinol) Supplementation Shown to Reverse Precancerous Condition of the Cervix (Cervical Dysplasia)

Cervical cancer

Constituent of Cruciferous Vegetable (Indole-3-Carbinol) Supplementation Shown to Reverse Precancerous Condition of the Cervix (Cervical Dysplasia)

Source: Oncology Time (2002)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (November 10, 2021)

Cancer of the cervix is the fourth most common cancer in women around the world, killing 300,000 women each year. The pap smear test for early detection cut the incidence of cervical cancer deaths by 75% and the HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer development has recently shown a nearly 90% success rate.

But a 100% success rate in the prevention of cervical cancer remains elusive and this is where nutrition and other lifestyle factors appear to play a significant role. In the previous Lifestyle Medicine Update, I reviewed the research showing that more optimal intake and/or nutritional status of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin B 12, lutein, and lycopene are associated with a reduced risk of developing cervical cancer. As well, small studies have found that folic acid supplementation can reverse cervical dysplasia (CIN I and II) in some women who take oral contraceptives.

Building on this theme, a report in the journal, Oncology Times in 2002, showed that supplementation with a key anti-cancer nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables was able to reverse cervical dysplasia in a high percentage of women diagnosed with this precancerous condition of the cervix.  Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Bok choy, and turnips. Many studies show that individuals who consume these foods on a regular basis have a lower risk of various cancers, including reproductive organ cancers. In this study, 27 women with stage 2 and stage 3 cervical dysplasia (CIN 1 and CIN 20) took part in the study at Louisiana State University in New Orleans. The patients were randomized to receive a placebo or a supplement containing indole-3-carbinol, an important anti-cancer nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables.  Women in the treatment group were given a dose of 200 or 400 mg/day of indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C) for four weeks. Assessment of the cervix was performed at the beginning of the study and then every four weeks, and each woman had a biopsy at baseline and 12 weeks. Interestingly, seven of 10 placebo patients were HPV positive, as were seven of eight patients in the 200-mg I-3-C group and eight of nine in the 400-mg group. At the 12-week biopsy, no patient randomized to placebo showed evidence of cervical dysplasia reversal, whereas four of eight patients in the low-dose 200 mg I-C-3 group, and four of nine in the high-dose 400 mg I-C-3 group exhibited complete regression or complete reversal of their cervical dysplasia condition. In fact, the higher the dose of I-3-C, the more complete the reversal of cervical dysplasia occurred in these women. As well, indole-3-carbinol supplementation improved the ratio of safe estrogens to more dangerous estrogens, in what is known as the 2/16-alpha hydroxy estrone ratio. No patient reported any treatment-related toxicity.

Further studies of this type are being undertaken, but the take-away message from this study, and the one I presented previously on this subject, is that the regular intake of key nutritional factors appears to be an important strategy in helping to prevent the development of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. Moreover, indole-3-carbinol supplementation has been shown to reverse stage 2 and stage 3 cervical dysplasia in the study reported here. These human studies provide compelling evidence that women should regularly consume cruciferous vegetables and possibly consider supplementation with an indole-3-carbinol-containing supplement that may also include other important anti-cancer and immune-modulating constituents, as well as a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral.

I have included the reference for this study in the text below.

 

References:

1. Oncology Times Sept 2002 (vol 24 – issue 9 – p8). Update on Chemoprevention of Cervical Cancer https://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/fulltext/2002/09000/update_on_chemoprevention_of_cervical_cancer.7.aspx

2. BBC News November 4, 2021: HPV vaccine cutting cervical cancer by nearly 90% https://www.bbc.com/news/health-59148620

 

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.