Thursday, September 30, 2010

What You Need to Know About Basic Breast Health

By RoseMarie Pierce, BSc (Pharm)

A plant-based diet, exercise, antioxidant supplements and staying lean are all necessary for healthy breasts.

Breast cancer is, by far, the most common cancer among North American women. There seems to be a link between this high incidence of breast cancer and the affluent lifestyle of Western countries. Diet is a big factor in this equation.

The development of fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer may be connected to an increased estrogen to progesterone ratio. During each menstrual cycle there is a recurring hormonal stimulation of the breast. In some women a significant inflammatory process occurs. The increasing amount of estrogen instructs the breast cells to work fast, multiplying the chances of mutation.

Tufts Diet Nutrition Letter, 1996, reports, "relatively heavy 50-some-thing women who have gained more than five kilograms since they were in their 40s have about triple the risk of breast cancer." Fat is thought to influence the metabolism and secretion of hormones, notably estrogen.

Cancer-causing pesticides, industrial chemicals from the environment and chemicals on (and in) food tend to accumulate in fatty tissue. These chemicals (called xenoestrogens) have estrogen-like properties and mimic the action of estrogen in the breast.

The incidence of breast cancer among vegetarian North American women is 20 to 40 per cent lower than among women in general. Vegetarian women have a lower concentration of estrogen in their blood and have more estrogen excreted in the feces than non-vegetarian women. Vegetarian women typically consume less fat and more fibre than non-vegetarians do. Fibre is a nutritional adhesive that carries estrogen along through the intestines and facilitates the fecal excretion of estrogen.

What You Can Do

Maintaining or recovering breast health can involve many lifestyle modifications and even a dietary program.  Four hours of exercise a week can reduce estrogen levels in the blood and cut breast cancer by 36 to 72 percent says J. Glaspy, MD of the UCLA Oncology Center. Both benign breast symptoms (breast pain, lumps or cysts) and breast cancer would benefit from the following supplements.
  • Take a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement containing high levels of natural vitamin E or add vitamin E (400 to 800 international units) to your daily health program.
  • Studies have shown that many women benefit by taking the antioxidants vitamin E and A and selenium. Antioxidant nutrients are very important. They combat dangerous free radicals and help to maintain a strong immune system. Take 25,000 IU of a carotene complex and add extra lycopene (a carotenoid found in tomatoes that protects against cancer of the reproductive system). Another valuable antioxidant is alpha-lipoic acid, which acts synergistically with other antioxidants such as vitamin E, co-enzyme Q10 and vitamin C. Lipoic acid exhibits favorable test results in studies of breast cancer treatment.
  • Our bodies do not make essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). We must get these oils from our diet in the form of fish oils, nut and seed oils, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil or in a capsule supplement. When these essential fatty acids are low in our diet or not ingested in the right proportions, it causes the production of troublesome prostaglandins (a hormone-like complex fatty acid) which can promote tumor growth. Essential fatty acids reduce breast inflammation and swelling during PMS. Two to four teaspoonsful daily of the oil blends or three to six capsules of essential oils can provide the right proportions of the essential fatty acids for breast protection against cancer.
  • In recent studies, co-enzyme Q10 has been shown to cause regression of breast tumors and prevent metastasis (spread of cancer) in some women. The dosage used in the studies was between 90 and 340 milligrams daily.
  • Soy isoflavones help to metabolize estrogen and have anticancer properties. Isoflavones exhibit weak estrogenic activity and bind to estrogen receptor sites (in breast and other tissues), reducing the effects of the much more potent estrogens and xenoestrogens. The best sources are organic dried beans, soy products, red clover, sage, garlic, fennel and licorice root. Isoflavones can also be taken in a supplement of 50 to 200 mg daily. Red clover is also a blood cleanser. There are many commercially available herbal remedies containing red clover and other blood cleansers that strengthen the immune system. Herbs, such as vitex (chasteberry) or red raspberry leaves, have hormonal balancing properties that can restore the estrogen-progesterone ratio.

Source: alive #210, April 2000 (

Monday, September 27, 2010

Timing is everything when it comes to supplementation

By Phil Wagner, M.D.

Despite a variety of training and nutritional philosophies, most experts agree on one need; the provision of protein and carbohydrates around or after a workout. Among several benefits, this supplementation can allow the body to increase strength, muscle size, restore energy sources like sugar, and promote greater fat loss. Most of the brands available are in liquid form, allowing a quicker consumption when you may not feel the most need for solid food. However, what is more important than the brand you use is the actual timing of this supplementation.

The majority of research and recommendations have centered on taking a protein/carbohydrate supplement after a workout to replenish and recover. However, you can adjust your supplement timing several ways to maximize this opportunity, specifically taking advantage of the pre-workout window. A 2001 study out of the University of Texas Medical Branch compared subjects consuming protein/carbohydrate supplements in random order, either immediately before or after exercise. The results indicated that muscle protein synthesis was significantly greater in the PRE supplement group, primarily because of an increased delivery of amino acids, the building blocks for the protein found in muscles.

So by providing a supplement with protein (made up of amino acids), you can increase the levels of these building blocks in the blood, countering the normal muscle breakdown that occurs during exercise. The carbohydrate in the supplement will stimulate insulin release, which is another stimulant for muscle protein synthesis, further increasing muscle growth and recovery.

In a controlled environment like this study, it is best to consume a protein/carbohydrate supplement immediately before and after, but you can tailor this protocol to your situation, as it is rarely controlled. For example, you can consume the majority of the supplement before your workout if you have had limited time in the day for meals due to sport practices, classes or other activities. This quick liquid form doesn't require as much metabolic energy to digest and won't sit in your stomach to cause discomfort during your workout. However, some of our athletes train early in the morning and have just eaten a big breakfast before their workout. Therefore, the focus can be shifted to more of a postworkout supplement.

The best ratio is to consume 15 grams of whey protein isolate or hydrosylate for every 50 pounds of body weight, making sure to include carbohydrates anywhere from the same amount to 4x depending on the form of exercise and your weight gain/loss goals. Our balanced athletes usually consume twice as much carbohydrate as protein in their recovery shakes.

So go ahead; start tailoring your recovery shake timing before you start looking for the next new supplement.

Dr. Wagner is the director of SPARTA Performance Science in Menlo Park. For more info, visit


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Study shows you can pair protein with psyllium fibre and reduce hunger

A recently published paper by Dr. Leila J. Karhunen, and colleagues at the Food and Health Research Centre, Department of Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland found that a diet which is high in both soy protein and soluble fiber from psyllium helped reduce glucose and insulin spikes after consumption.

Though this research was performed using soy protein, we speculate that similar or better results would be had with whey protein as well, since it is a nutritionally valuable protein source. This reduction in the spikes after the consumption of the meal would be useful in maintaining a relative energy balance after eating rather than the typical intense energy spike followed by the sudden drop. The data from this study showed a much less dramatic rise and fall in insulin post consumption vs a high glycaemic food such as white wheat bread or the low fiber diets, regardless of the protein levels consumed.

Get your psyllium fibre and whey protein today at


Karhunen et al., 2010. A Psyllium Fiber-Enriched Meal Strongly Attenuates Postprandial Gastrointestinal Peptide Release in Healthy Young Adults. J. Nutr. 140: 737-744.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Cut Through the Hype: Creatine Monohydrate

You know the drill: You open a muscle or fitness magazine and it’s the same old thing: Pages and pages of expensive advertising all flogging the latest supplement with claims about “hyper-compound diffusion” or some “psychoneuro” complex. Every single one of these ads claims to be the latest scientific breakthrough. Almost of the time though, it is the work of marketers, not scientists.

At iWinDirect, we aim to cut through the hype. Why pay for expensive products that are designed to maximize profit rather than maximize your results? And besides, who do you think pays for all of those fancy ads? That’s right: The consumer.

So we’ll start cutting through the hype, first with a look at Creatine Monohydrate. Few would deny that creatine is one of the most effective performance-enhancing supplements that you can buy, so why muddle everything with a bunch of add-ons that are either scientifically questionable or ineffective at the low levels many companies decide to toss in there?

What is Creatine Monohydrate?

Creatine is a nutrient found naturally in the human body, where it is crucial to muscular contraction. It is formed in the liver by a metabolic pathway that requires the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. It can also be obtained from foods such as red meat, fish, and chicken. In the human body, almost all creatine is found in muscle cells.

When taken as an oral supplement, creatine increases the amount of energy available to working muscles, meaning that muscles can work harder and longer. If you’re a recreational or competitive athlete, or if you use your muscles at work, then you can benefit from creatine supplementation.

To understand how creatine functions as a performance-enhancing supplement, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of the energetics of muscle contraction. Each individual muscle fibre contains two types of filaments: thick filaments and thin filaments. The contraction of muscle is due to the shortening of individual muscle fibres as these filaments slide together. Energy is required to slide the filaments together and cause muscle contraction, and this energy must come in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the ‘energy currency’ of the muscle cell. Its unique chemical structure allows it to store a great deal of energy, and to transfer this energy to other molecules, which provides the energy that drives many metabolic processes of the body. Muscle contraction occurs as ATP provides the energy needed to pull together the filaments of the contracting muscle. The energy stored in ATP is transferred to myosin, resulting in energized myosin and ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate), as outlined below.

ATP + muscle ==> ADP + energized muscle

The energizing of muscle must occur many times, using up a number of ATP molecules, in order to fully contract a muscle. The pool of available ATP in the muscle cell is very rapidly depleted, however, and new ATP must be produced for muscular contraction to continue (the ATP pool contains only enough energy for about 1-2 seconds). A deficit of ATP in contracting muscle results in fatigue and decreased strength, power, and endurance. The fastest way in which ATP is regenerated in the muscle cell is through the high-energy molecule creatine phosphate (CrP). This molecule, which comprises about two thirds of the creatine found in muscle cells, rapidly regenerates ATP from ADP, as outlined below. The ATP produced is then available to fuel further muscle contraction.

Creatine phosphate + ADP ==> Creatine + ATP

Published reports estimate that the pool of creatine phosphate will be depleted within approximately 10 seconds during high intensity muscular contraction. Increasing the amount of available creatine phosphate increases the rate at which ATP is made available to contracting muscle cells.

Oral supplementation with Creatine Monohydrate has been proven in scientific trials and studies to increase the amount of creatine and phosphocreatine in muscle cells. This increase in PCr allows the muscles to work harder and longer, making Creatine Monohydrate an effective ergogenic supplement.

If you have any doubt about the science behind the use of creatine monohydrate, note that the extremely strict Canadian Natural Health Products Directorate has even reviewed the research and concluded that the following claims can be made on this amazing compound:
• Increases fat-free/body/muscle/lean mass/size when used in conjunction with a resistance training regimen
• Improves strength/power/performance in repetitive bouts of brief, highly-intense physical activity (e.g. sprints, jumping, resistance training)

Let’s see the latest “scientifically engineered” or “concentrated” creatine try that.

Visit for your creatine requirements. Available in powder and capsule form.

  1. Balsom, et al., 1994. Creatine in Humans with Special Reference to Creatine Supplementation. Sports Med 18:268-280.
  2. Balsom, et al., 1995. Skeletal muscle metabolism during short duration high-intensity exercise: influence of creatine supplementation. Acta Physiol Scand 154:303-310.
  3. Bemben MG, Bemben DA, Loftiss DD, Knehans AW. 2001. Creatine supplementation during resistance training in college football athletes. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 33(10):1667-1673.
  4. Brannon, et al., 1997. Effects of creatine loading and training on running performance and biochemical properties of rat skeletal muscle. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29:489-495.
  5. Brose A, Parise G, Tarnopolsky MA. 2003. Creatine supplementation enhances isometric strength and body composition improvements following strength exercise training in older adults. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Science and Medical Science 58(1):11-19.
  6. Casey, et al., 1996. Creatine ingestion favorably affects performance and muscle metabolism during maximal exercise in humans. Am J Physiol 271:E31-E37.
  7. Clark, 1998. Creatine: a review of its nutritional applications in sport. Nutrition 14:322-324.
  8. Dash AK, Sawhney A. 2002. A simple LC method with UV detection for the analysis of creatine and creatinine and its application to several creatine formulations. Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis 29(5):939-945.
  9. Earnest, et al., 1995. The effect of creatine monohydrate ingestion on anaerobic power indices, muscular strength and body composition. Acta Physiol Scand 153:207-209.
  10. Earnest, et al., 1997. Effects of Creatine Monohydrate Ingestion on Intermediate Duration Anaerobic Treadmill Running to Exhaustion. J Strength and Cond Res 11:234-238.
  11. Ekblom, 1996. Effects of Creatine Supplementation on Performance. Am J Sports Med 24:S38-S39.
  12. Engelhardt, et al., 1998. Creatine supplementation in endurance sports. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30:1123-1129.
  13. Feldman, 1999. Creatine: A dietary supplement and ergogenic aid. Nutr Rev 57:45-50.
  14. Green, et al., 1996. Carbohydrate ingestion augments skeletal muscle creatine accumulation during creatine supplementation in humans. Am J Physiol 271:E821-E826.
  15. Greenhaff, et al., 1993. The influence of oral creatine supplementation on muscle phosphocreatine synthesis following intense contraction in man. J Physiol 467:75P.
  16. Greenhaff, et al., 1994. Effect of oral creatine supplementation on skeletal muscle phosphocreatine resynthesis. Am J Physiol 266:E725-E730.
  17. Hespel P, Eijnde BO, van Leemputte M. 2002. Opposite actions of caffeine and creatine on muscle relaxation time in humans. Journal of Applied Physiology 92(2):513-518.
  18. Kelly and Jenkins, 1998. Effect of Oral Creatine Supplementation on Near-Maximal Strength and Repeated Sets of High-Intensity Bench Press Exercise. J Strength and Cond Res 12:109-115.
  19. Mathews and van Holde, 1991. Biochemistry. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc. New York.
  20. Maughan, 1995. Creatine Supplementation and Exercise Performance. Int J Sports Nutr 5:94-101.
  21. Noonan, et al., 1998. Effects of Varying Dosages of Oral Creatine Relative to Fat Free Body Mass on Strength and Body Composition. J Strength and Cond Res 12:104-108.
  22. Okudan N, Gökbel H. 2005. The effects of creatine supplementation on performance during the repeated bouts of supramaximal exercise. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 45(4):507-512.
  23. Steenge, et al., 1998. Stimulatory effect of insulin on creatine accumulation in human skeletal muscle. Am J Physiol 275:E974-E979.
  24. Vandenberghe, et al., 1997. Long-term creatine intake is beneficial to muscle performance during resistance training. J Appl Physiol 83:2055-2063.
  25. Van Leemputte, et al., 1999. Shortening of muscle relaxation time after creatine loading. J Appl Physiol 86:840-844.
  26. Volek, et al., 1997. Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise. J Am Diet Assoc 97:765-770.