The Best Time to Eat Protein

Health tips abound in the area of exercising and building muscle. What to eat, what to drink, what supplements to add to the regimen. Here is a story of health secrets regarding how to build strong, healthy muscles. It concerns when you should eat protein to maximize its effect.

When people exercise on a regular basis, their muscles experience a continuous cycle of muscle breakdown (during exercise) as well as remodeling and growth (especially with weightlifting). Athletes have long experimented with ways to enhance muscle growth. One trend of late is using high-protein beverages during and after exercise. Many studies show possible benefits with them.

Of specific interest is the effect of the essential amino acid “leucine” contained in these products. Two papers hone in on this in the latest “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.”

It is reasonable to think that eating foods with high-quality protein (e.g. milk) during and/or immediately following exercise would help muscles get stronger. Muscles need to be both encouraged and nourished on the path to growth.

In the first study, researchers investigated whether, after exercise, taking one large dose of whey protein (25 g) Continue reading

Improved Method for Capturing Proteins Holds Promise for Biomedical Research

Antibodies are the backbone of the immune system—capable of targeting proteins associated with infection and disease. They are also vital tools for biomedical research, the development of diagnostic tests and for new therapeutic remedies.

Producing antibodies suitable for research however, has often been a difficult, costly and laborious undertaking.

Now, John Chaput and his colleagues at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University have developed a new way of producing antibody-like binding agents and rapidly optimizing their affinity for their target proteins. Such capture reagents are vital for revealing the subtleties of protein function, and may pave the way for improved methods of detecting and treating a broad range of diseases. Continue reading

Eggs Are Healthy for You

It is well known that eggs contain a powerful amount of protein and essential lipids, but new research has found that they also contain antioxidant properties that are known to prevent cardiovascular disease as well as cancer. Researchers from the University of Alberta determined that egg yolks in their raw state contain almost twice as many antioxidant properties as an apple and about the same as half a serving of cranberries. When fried or boiled, however, antioxidant properties were reduced by about half. The reduction in antioxidant properties was even more severe when heated in a microwave, which destroys many of the nutrients in any given food.

Another important factor is that the egg yolk is consumed along with the egg white. Researchers at the U of A Department of Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science examined egg yolks  Continue reading

Alternative Medicine’s Great Hopes for the Present and Future

If you read the mainstream press for news on available medical therapies, you miss out on some exciting alternative techniques. Largely unreported are many of the remarkable alternative methods for improving your health.

Here are some medical innovations that are making invaluable contributions to progress in fighting chronic disease.

Antineoplastons and Dr. Burzynski

In 1967, Dr. Stanislaw R. Burzynski, who was originally from Poland, discovered naturally occurring peptides (amino acids) that repair the DNA of cancer genes to turn off cancer. Burzynski came to the United States in 1970 and further developed these peptide fractions at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston as an assistant professor. Continue reading

Kefir the Powerhouse of Probiotics

Foods that have an incredible array of health benefits that go well beyond just their nutrient value are considered ‘super-foods.’ Kefir is a fermented drink made from a kefir grain of symbiotic microorganisms wrapped up in a matrix of proteins, lipids and sugars. Kefir grains are white clumps that contain a wide variety of bacteria and yeast. Kefir is one of the best drinks for improving digestion and natural immunity.

Kefir is believed to have been first developed in the Caucasus Mountains of western Russia. The shepherds there used to carry milk in leather pouches. Sometimes the milk would sit for several days and ferment. The fermentation gave it an effervescent taste that was cool and refreshing. These cultures later found that kefir made a great natural medicine that was used to help digestive disorders, low energy, and compromised immune function. Continue reading

Natural Cures for Ear Aches, Allergies, and Sinus Infections

Natural Cure Strategies for Sinus Infections & Ear Aches

Years of research for Ear ache prevention, found that repeated allergies, sinus, and ear aches are the result of a “weakened immune system” mainly due to “antibiotic overuse.” Antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria in the colon resulting in poor digestion and impaired absorption of nutrients. In addition to impairing the absorption of nutrients, antibiotics impair the mucosa (the inner lining of the small intestines) so toxins that should normally exit the body, get absorbed into the blood stream instead. Toxins in the blood stream can cause various allergic reactions such as hives, body aches, sneezing, itching, and a runny nose. Runny noses and fluid buildup provide the breeding ground for bacterial sinus infections and ear aches / ear pain.

The first step toward long-term healing of earaches is to supplement with Lactobacillus Acidophilus (friendly flora), which is a  Continue reading

Boost your Brain Power Naturally

“Where are my keys?” “What was that person’s name again?” Memory glitches like these, though ordinary enough, can sometimes be an upsetting reminder that our memory may not serve us forever. If your brain function is not quite as sharp as it once was, here are 5 natural ways to protect your memory and boost your brain power, no matter what age you are!Where does your memory go?

Most people over the age of 40 experience some memory loss. Our memory is facilitated by chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters; these messengers transfer information from one neuron to the next. Find out more about neurotransmitters in The Natural Health Dictionary. As we age, our levels of these chemical neurotransmitters are lowered, and a mild slowing down of the memory and thought processes can occur.  Continue reading

Erectile Dysfunction and Diabetes type 1 Linked to Soy and Soy Products

Over the past few years, soy has been hailed as a miracle health food. Unfortunately, the complete opposite is true. Soy has been linked to a myriad of health conditions such as infantile leukemia, various forms of cancer, type-1 diabetes, malnutrition, thyroid dysfunction and even erectile dysfunction.

Research has shown that babies who have been fed soy-based formulas were at higher risk for developing type-1 diabetes and thyroid disease later in life. Soy-based formulas also contain up to 1000 times more aluminum than non soy-based formulas.

Soy contains a large amount of anti-nutrients (otherwise known as toxins). One of these is what is referred to as enzyme inhibitors. Enzyme inhibitors block the action of the enzymes which are required to digest proteins. Even cooking the soy at high temperatures does not break down these inhibitors. As a result, consuming soy and soy products can lead to conditions such as reduced protein digestion, excessive bloating, a deficiency of essential amino acids, abnormal thyroid functions, a higher risk of breast cancer in women who have had ovaries removed and abnormal blood  Continue reading

The Many Benefits of Spirulina and Weight Loss

Spirulina is the common name given to a family of blue-green algae produced by a class of cyano-bacteria called “Arthospira”. It is abundant in both fresh and sea water. Spirulina is mainly used as chicken and fish feed. Spirulina benefits come mostly nowadays as a type of dietary supplement that comes from a type of microscopic alga, which is shaped like a spiral coil. Spirulina is cultivated from all around the world and is used as a dietary supplement as well as a whole food available in tablet, flake and powder form.

One of the most important of all Spirulina benefits is that it has an unusually high amount of protein, which is an almost complete protein that contains 18 of the 22 amino acids  Continue reading

The Natural Biological Regulator Mumio (mumijo)

Since olden times MUMIO has been known to enhance regenerative processes in different organs and tissues and was used as an anti-inflammatory and antitoxic agent, as well as for general health improvement.

The word MUMIO (sometimes spelled “MUMIO”) comes from the Greek word “mumia”, meaning a preserved body. It is a natural substance found mainly in high virgin mountains (2,000 – 5,000 meters) of Asian parts of Russia and neighboring areas (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) as a resinous deposit in rock crevices.

MUMIO is a versatile, naturally occurring biological regulator, possessing a wide spectrum  Continue reading

Liver, Dietary Proteins Key In Fertility

When you think about organs with an important role in reproduction, the liver most likely doesn’t spring to mind. But a new report in the February issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, shows that estrogen receptors in the liver are critical for maintaining fertility. What’s more, the expression of those receptors is under the control of dietary amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

The findings in mice may have important implications for some forms of infertility and for metabolic changes that come with menopause, the researchers say.

“This is the first time it has been demonstrated how important the liver is in fertility,” said Adriana Maggi of The University of Milan in Italy. “The idea that diet may have an impact on fertility isn’t totally new of course, but this explains how diet, and especially a diet poor in protein, can have a direct influence.”

Scientists had known that the liver expressed estrogen receptors and that those receptors played some role in metabolism. But, Maggi says, those receptors had not garnered a lot of attention.

Her group got interested in the liver receptors quite by accident. In studies of mice, “we saw that the organ that always had the highest activation of estrogen receptor was the liver,” she said. Initially they thought it must be a mistake and disregarded it, but over time they began to think maybe the mice were telling them something.

They now report that the expression of those estrogen receptors depends on dietary amino acids. Mice on a calorie-restricted diet and those lacking estrogen receptors in their livers showed a decline in an important hormone known as IGF-1. Blood levels of the hormone dropped to levels inadequate for the correct growth of the lining of their uteruses and normal progression of the estrous cycle, they show.

When the calorie-restricted mice were given more protein, their reproductive cycles got back on track. Dietary fats and carbohydrates, on the other hand, had no effect on the estrogen receptors or fertility.

The researchers suggest that this connection between amino acids, estrogen receptor signaling in liver, and reproductive functions may have clinical implications. For instance, Maggi said, this may explain why people who are anorexic are generally infertile. It suggests that diets loaded with too many carbohydrates and too little protein may hamper fertility.

The results also provide new clues for understanding the increased risk of metabolic and inflammatory disease in menopausal women. Maggi says that those changes may be explained in part by the lack of estrogen action in their livers and its downstream consequences.

Today, given concerns about hormone replacement therapy, menopausal women are often treated with drugs that target one organ or another to protect against specific conditions, such as atherosclerosis or osteoporosis. Given the liver’s role as a central coordinator of metabolism and producer of many other important hormones, she says, drugs that “target only the liver may solve all the problems.”

What Are Amino Acids and Protein?

LOS ANGELES – Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. When proteins are digested, amino acids are left. The human body requires a number of amino acids to grow and breakdown food.

Amino acids are classified into two groups:

* Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by food. These include cysteine, lysine, and tryptophan. Sources of essential amino acids include milk, cheese, eggs, certain meats, vegetables, nuts, and grains.

* Nonessential amino acids are made by the body from the essential amino acids or normal breakdown of proteins. They include aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and glycine.

Proteins are organic molecules that are vital to the structure and function of living organisms. The underlying elements that make up all proteins include carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), nitrogen (N) and in some cases, sulfur (S). These elements combine to form amino acids, which are the building blocks that, when combined, make up the more complex protein compounds.

Amino acids are characterized by having a carboxyl group (—COOH) and an amino group (—NH2). In addition to the carboxyl group and the amino group, amino acids also have side chains (or ‘R groups’) that can be simple or extremely complex. It is these R groups that give each amino acid a unique chemistry (Source: Keeton).

The 20 Amino Acids

The twenty amino acids commonly found in proteins include:

* nonpolar amino acids: glycine (gly), alanine (ala), valine (val), leucine (leu), isoleucine (ile), methionine (met), phenylalanine (phe), tryptophan (trp), and proline (pro)

* polar amino acids: serine (ser), threonine (thr), cystein (cys), tyrosine (tyr), asparagine (asn), and glytamine (gln)

* charged amino acids: aspartic acid (asp), glutamic acid (glu), lysine (lys), arginine (arg), and histidine (his)

The Anatomy of a Protein

Amino acids combine into small chains via chemical reactions called ‘condensation reactions’ in which the carboxyl group and the amino group bond to one another. These small chains that contain a few amino acids linked together are called polypeptide chains (the individual amino acids are called petides). Polypetide chains, in turn, combine into the more complex structures know as proteins

Introducing – L-Carnosine

L-Carnosine is a dipeptide consisting of of ß-alanine linked at its carboxyl terminus to the amino group of L-histidine (ß-alanyl-L-histidine). It is synthesized by the enzyme carnosine synthetase, and broken down by carnosinase. It is widely distributed in tissues, and is present at particularly high concentrations in skeletal muscle and the olfactory lobe of the brain. Carnosine has a number of important properties, including antioxidant activity, ability to chelate divalent cations such as copper, neutralization of acids (such as lactic acid), and the inhibition of nonenzymic glycosylation of proteins. It is found in long-lived tissues in surprisingly high amounts (up to 20 mM in human muscle) and has been shown to delay aging in cultured cells. When added to cultures of human lung and foreskin fibroblasts, the dipeptide extended cell survival and increased maximal cell division potential while also inducing a more juvenile phenotype in senescent human and rodent cells. This suggests that other properties of the dipeptide are involved. There are suggestions that the concentration of tissue-associated L-carnosine declines with age. L-Carnosine and related dipeptides have been shown to prevent peroxidation of model membrane systems, suggesting that they represent water-soluble counterparts to lipid-soluble antioxidants such as a-tocopherol in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage. Other roles ascribed to this dipeptide include acting as a neurotransmitter in the modulation of enzyme activities.

L-Carnosine significantly reduces the formation of 8-hydroxy deoxyguanosine (8-OH dG) in cultured cells, thus demonstrating protection of DNA. The presumptive anti-senescent effect of L-carnosine may be related to this inhibition. L-Carnosine also inhibits protein carbonyl formation. A common molecular indication of cellular aging is the accumulation of aberrant proteins, especially polypeptides bearing carbonyl (CO) groups.

Amino Acid Key to Strong Teeth

Scientists have identified the way a simple amino acid makes human teeth strong and resilient.

Proline is repeated in the centre of proteins found in tooth enamel. When the repeats are long, such as in humans, they contract groups of molecules that help enamel crystals grow. When the repeats are short, such as in frogs, teeth don’t have the enamel prisms that provide strength, the researchers explained.

The research offers clues on how to engineer tooth enamel.

“We hope that one day, these findings will help people replace lost parts of the tooth with a healthy layer of new enamel,” lead researcher Tom Diekwisch, professor and head of oral biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, said in a news release.

Benefits go beyond teeth

“Proline repeats are amazing. They hold the key to understanding the structure and function of many natural proteins, including mucins, antifreeze proteins, Alzheimer’s amyloid and prion proteins,” Diekwisch said. “We hope that our findings will help many other important areas of scientific research, including the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.”

The findings are published in the journal PLoS Biology.

Is Marijuana a Medicine?

Charlene DeGidio never smoked marijuana in the 1960s, or afterward. But a year ago, after medications failed to relieve the pain in her legs and feet, a doctor suggested that the Adna, Wash., retiree try the drug.

Ms. DeGidio, 69 years old, bought candy with marijuana mixed in. It worked in easing her neuropathic pain, for which doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint a cause, she says. Now, Ms. DeGidio, who had previously tried without success other drugs including Neurontin and lidocaine patches, nibbles marijuana-laced peppermint bars before sleep, and keeps a bag in her refrigerator that she’s warned her grandchildren to avoid.

“It’s not like you’re out smoking pot for enjoyment or to get high,” says the former social worker, who won’t take the drug during the day because she doesn’t want to feel disoriented. “It’s a medicine.”

For many patients like Ms. DeGidio, it’s getting easier to access marijuana for medical use. The U.S. Department of Justice has said it will not generally prosecute ill people under doctors’ care whose use of the drug complies with state rules. New Jersey will become the 14th state to allow therapeutic use of marijuana, and the number is likely to grow. Illinois and New York, among others, are considering new laws.

As the legal landscape for patients clears somewhat, the medical one remains confusing, largely because of limited scientific studies. A recent American Medical Association review found fewer than 20 randomized, controlled clinical trials of smoked marijuana for all possible uses. These involved around 300 people in all—well short of the evidence typically required for a pharmaceutical to be marketed in the U.S.

Doctors say the studies that have been done suggest marijuana can benefit patients in the areas of managing neuropathic pain, which is caused by certain types of nerve injury, and in bolstering appetite and treating nausea, for instance in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. “The evidence is mounting” for those uses, says Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego.

But in a range of other conditions for which marijuana has been considered, such as epilepsy and immune diseases like lupus, there’s scant and inconclusive research to show the drug’s effectiveness. Marijuana also has been tied to side effects including a racing heart and short-term memory loss and, in at least a few cases, anxiety and psychotic experiences such as hallucinations. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate marijuana, so the quality and potency of the product available in medical-marijuana dispensaries can vary.

Though states have been legalizing medical use of marijuana since 1996, when California passed a ballot initiative, the idea remains controversial. Opponents say such laws can open a door to wider cultivation and use of the drug by people without serious medical conditions. That concern is heightened, they say, when broadly written statutes, such as California’s, allow wide leeway for doctors to decide when to write marijuana recommendations.

But advocates of medical-marijuana laws say certain seriously ill patients can benefit from the drug and should be able to access it with a doctor’s permission. They argue that some patients may get better results from marijuana than from available prescription drugs.

Glenn Osaki, 51, a technology consultant from Pleasanton, Calif., says he smokes marijuana to counter nausea and pain. Diagnosed in 2005 with advanced colon cancer, he has had his entire colon removed, creating digestive problems, and suffers neuropathic pain in his hands and feet from a chemotherapy drug. He says smoking marijuana was more effective and faster than prescription drugs he tried, including one that is a synthetic version of marijuana’s most active ingredient, known as THC.

The relatively limited research supporting medical marijuana poses practical challenges for doctors and patients who want to consider it as a therapeutic option. It’s often unclear when, or whether, it might work better than traditional drugs for particular people. Unlike prescription drugs it comes with no established dosing regimen.

“I don’t know what to recommend to patients about what to use, how much to use, where to get it,” says Scott Fishman, chief of pain medicine at the University of California, Davis medical school, who says he rarely writes marijuana recommendations, typically only at a patient’s request.

Researchers say it’s difficult to get funding and federal approval for marijuana research. In November, the AMA urged the federal government to review marijuana’s position in the most-restricted category of drugs, so it could be studied more easily.

Gregory T. Carter, a University of Washington professor of rehabilitation medicine, says he’s developed his own procedures for recommending marijuana, which he does for some patients with serious neuromuscular conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, to treat pain and other symptoms. He typically urges those who haven’t tried it before to start with a few puffs using a vaporizer, which heats the marijuana to release its active chemicals, then wait 10 minutes. He warns them to have family nearby and to avoid driving, and he checks back with them after a few days. Many are “surprised at how mild” the drug’s psychotropic effects are, he says.

States’ rules on growing and dispensing medical marijuana vary. Some states license specialized dispensaries. These can range from small storefronts to bigger operations that feel more like pharmacies. Typically, they have security procedures to limit walk-in visitors.

At least a few dispensaries say they inspect their suppliers and use labs to check the potency of their product, though states don’t generally require such measures. “It’s difficult to understand how we can call it medicine if we don’t know what’s in it,” says Stephen DeAngelo, executive director of the Harborside Health Center, a medical-marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif.

Some of the strongest research results support the idea of using marijuana to relieve neuropathic pain. For example, a trial of 50 AIDS patients published in the journal Neurology in 2007 found that 52% of those who smoked marijuana reported a 30% or greater reduction in pain. Just 24% of those who got placebo cigarettes reported the same lessening of pain.

Marijuana has also been shown to affect nausea and appetite. The AMA review said three controlled studies with 43 total participants showed a “modest” anti-nausea effect of smoked marijuana in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Studies of HIV-positive patients have suggested that smoked marijuana can improve appetite and trigger weight gain.

Donald Abrams, a doctor and professor at the University of California, San Francisco who has studied marijuana, says he recommends it to some cancer patients, including those who haven’t found standard anti-nausea drugs effective and some with loss of appetite.

Side effects can be a problem for some people. Thea Sagen, 62, an advanced neuroendocrine cancer patient in Seaside, Calif., says she expected something like a pharmacy when she went to a marijuana dispensary mentioned by her oncologist. She says she was disappointed to find that the staffers couldn’t say which of the products, with names like Pot ‘o Gold and Blockbuster, might boost her flagging appetite or soothe her anxiety. “They said, ‘it’s trial and error,’ “she says. “I was in there flying blind, looking at all this stuff.”

Ms. Sagen says she bought several items and tried one-eighth teaspoon of marijuana-infused honey. After a few hours, she was hallucinating , too dizzy and confused to dress herself for a doctor’s appointment. Then came vomiting far worse than her stomach upset before she took the drug. When she reported the side effects to her oncologist’s nurse and her primary-care physician, she got no guidance. She doesn’t take the drug now. But with advice from a nutritionist, her appetite and food intake have improved, she says.

Other marijuana users may experience the well-known reduction in ability to concentrate. At least a few users suffer troubling short-term psychiatric side effects, which can include anxiety and panic. More controversially, an analysis published in the journal Lancet in 2007 tied marijuana use to a higher rate of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia. But the analysis noted that such a link doesn’t necessarily show marijuana is a cause of the conditions.

Long-term marijuana use can lead to physical dependence, though it is not as addictive as nicotine or alcohol, says Margaret Haney, a professor at Columbia University’s medical school. Smoked marijuana may also risk lung irritation, but a large 2006 study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found no tie to lung cancer.

Some studies and reviews examining the possible medical uses, and side effects, of marijuana are being conducted by.

    * Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, University of California

    * American College of Physicians

    * Institute of Medicine

To read more on Marijuana and its effectiveness, the following periodicals have spent time reviewing certain aspects of medical marijuana.

To treat pain:

    * Neurology

    * Journal of Pain

    * Neuropsychopharmacology

To treat nausea:

    * Annals of Internal Medicine

    * Cancer

    * Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior

To restore appetite:

    * Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

    * Psychopharmacology

To treat spasticity:

    * Neurologist

Overviews of Potential Side Effects:

    * Canadian Medical Association Journal

    * Clinical Toxicology

Mental Effects:

    * Neuropsychology Review

    * Lancet

Withdrawal:

    * Current Psychiatry Reports

    * Current Opinion in Psychiatry

Effects on Lungs

    * Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention