Digestive Enzymes: What They Are, What They Do, and How They Affect Stomach Health

Do you often experience abdominal pain or other stomach-related problems such as constipation, diarrhea, reflux (heartburn) and so on? Have you gained excessive weight and/ or have difficulty losing weight despite keeping a strict check on your diet? Or worse still, are you losing weight without making any conscious efforts on your behalf?

If even one of the above conditions seems to fit your case, then beware! It might be indicative of a problem with your digestive system.

Most people treat such stomach issues very lightly until they become too severe to be ignored. Unfortunately, at least 1 in every 5 American suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and most of them are unaware of how it can be treated. Based on diagnosis, doctors normally suggest lifestyle changes (exercising, healthy eating, reducing stress etc) as the most non-invasive form of treatment. Despite this, many patients doubt the effectiveness of these changes and prefer going on heavy medications instead.  This is usually because they are oblivious of digestive enzymes present naturally in the body and the beneficial effects that they have on stomach health.

Digestive Enzymes and their Purpose in the Human Body

You might already know that enzymes are biological catalysts that support various functions in our body. Digestive enzymes are those that specifically aid digestion and therefore, support gut health.

Various organs in our body produce digestive enzymes including the pancreas, liver, small intestine, and stomach as well as the salivary glands located underneath the tongue. The main purpose of these enzymes is to break down the large food molecules into much smaller ones so that they can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream and transported to the required cells within the body.

Types of Digestive Enzymes

Digestive enzymes are of different types – each type helps break down different food molecules to deliver the nutrients to the body. The three main classes are as follows.

  1. Proteolytic Enzymes – needed to digest protein
  2. Amylases – required to break down carbohydrates
  3. Lipases – needed to break down large fat molecules

Proteolytic enzymes like pepsin are found in gastric juices and produce polypeptides from protein molecules. Amylases are found in the saliva and pancreatic juices and their primary aim is to break down large starch molecules into a smaller compound called maltose. Similarly, lipases are produced in the pancreas and helps in digesting fatty acids.

Together, these digestive enzymes turn the complex food particles into useful substances like amino acids, glucose, nucleic acids, good cholesterol, and fatty acids that are either stored up by the body or use in other biological reactions to keep the organs healthy and strong.

Digestive Enzymes and Stomach Health

By enabling complete and proper breakdown of the food we eat, digestive enzymes do not just alleviate stomach discomfort and prevent constipation, but also improve nutrient absorption and prevent deficiencies. Although further research is still needed to say this for sure, but clinical trials show promising results for the use of supplemental digestive enzymes in  treating IBS.

Nicotinamide Riboside to Help Slow Aging – What It Is, How It Works, and Potential Benefits

Everyone wants healthy and glowing skin – skin that is free of wrinkles and radiates beauty from deep within. Every year, the cosmetic industry earns billions of dollars just from the sale of skin care products alone. This is because when it comes to looking young, most people don’t hesitate to spend on anti-aging products regardless of how much they may cost.

Whether you are looking for the best anti-aging solutions or are someone who’s involved in the cosmetic industry in any other way, it goes without saying that you must be aware of the buzz created by nicotinamide riboside in today’s market.

Are you wondering what the hype is all about? If you are looking for the answer to questions such as what nicotinamide riboside is, how it works, what are its benefits and so on, then keep reading to find out.

What is Nicotinamide Riboside?

Nicotinamide riboside (NR), sometimes also referred to as niagen, is basically a type of vitamin B3 that was discovered quite a few years ago. It was found in trace amounts in milk but wasn’t given much importance until recently when studies suggested that this compound can help slow down aging.

What contributes to its high popularity is the fact that while most anti-aging products normally try improving skin elasticity or use similar techniques to reduce wrinkles from the outside, nicotinamide riboside targets your skin cells from the inside. In other words, NR aims to reverse the entire aging process in the real sense.

Nicotinamide Riboside and Skin Aging – How Does it Work?

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a substance that is naturally present in our bodies since birth. The amount of NAD+ gradually decreases with the passage of time and is one of the main reasons why skin gets wrinkled as we grow older.

Low NAD+ levels are also a leading cause of other old age problems such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and loss of vision.  

NR works by converting in the coenzyme, NAR+ upon entering your body. Supplements containing nicotinamide riboside help raise the NAR+ level which further helps speed up key biological processes. For instance, NR-based supplements can repair damaged DNA, boost immunity, set the circadian rhythm and improve muscle strength and quality which in turn help you stay active in addition to giving you naturally glowing and wrinkle-free skin.

Benefits of Nicotinamide Riboside

Potential skin-related health benefits of supplements rich in NR include the following.

Easily Converted Into NAD+

Compared to other types of vitamins, NR is not only converted into NAD+ easily but also accepted readily by the body. Appropriate intake of NR raised the blood NAD+ by almost three times in animal trials.

Supports Healthy Aging

By raising the NAR+ level, nicotinamide riboside activates enzymes like sirtuins. These biological molecules are known to reduce skin inflammation, strengthen DNA, and also enhance mood by making you more stress-resistant.

In other words, nicotinamide riboside can slow down aging by lessening its harmful effects and supporting an overall healthy aging process. However, it must be noted that the effectiveness of nicotinamide for slow aging is not yet well-established because NR-supplements have mainly been tested only on animals so far.

Further clinical trials are yet to be performed to determine the benefits it offers to humans.

What Every Man Needs to Know About Prostate Health

According to research, one in every nine men in the U.S is diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during his life. Approximately 8 out of 10 males in America develop an enlarged prostate, whereas 90% of all men suffer from a condition called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) once they cross the age of 85. [Source: webmd.com]

A major reason why these statistics are so alarmingly high is a lack of awareness about prostate health. As a matter of fact, most men aren’t even aware of what this organ does and therefore, don’t realize that they might have a problem until it becomes too severe to be ignored.

Having proper information plays a vital role in dealing with this aspect of men’s health. Take a look at the following article to learn the essentials of prostate health that every man ought to know.  

Enlarged Gland and Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is treatable if detected in its early stages. The most common sign of prostate cancer is an excessively increased urge to urinate frequently, especially during the night. Not only does it become difficult to control and pass urine, but you might also experience pain when doing so. If you notice blood when urinating, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Other signs of prostate cancer in the more advanced stages include severe pain in the pelvis, spine, legs, or even ribs.   

Problems in urinating can also signify an enlarged prostate gland because the symptoms of enlarged prostate overlap with those of prostate cancer in its initial stages. Get your PSA blood level checked and consult doctors for further screening, if required.

Tips for Prostate Health

There has been quite a debate about whether eating habits and lifestyle are linked with prostate cancer or not. However, there’s no denying that taking a proper diet and exercising regularly help you stay healthy and can delay – if not completely eliminate – your chances of having a prostate problem.

Change Your Eating Habits

Researchers believe that eating a nutritious diet that comprises of more fresh fruits and vegetables protect the prostate. Specific food items that must be incorporated in your diet include the following.

  • Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes
  • Green vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy contain a chemical called sulforaphane that targets cancer cells and can help prevent prostate cancer
  • Nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds. These are rich in zinc which balances testosterone levels and promotes prostate health.

On the other hand, you must avoid the following food items that can lead to an enlarged prostate.

  • Red meat
  • Excessive consumption of dairy products including butter, cheese, and milk
  • Caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and especially sodas. Caffeine acts as a diuretic which means it directly affect your urinary system and can affect prostate health.

Health comes first. If you notice any of the symptoms discussed above or feel that there might be something wrong with your prostate, don’t hesitate or delay consulting an expert physician.

Sleep Restoration with melatonin and noboletin

Other than nutrition and exercise, sleep is generally considered one of the most components to a healthy life. It’s an essential function that our body needs to facilitate memory, learning, immune health, metabolism, mood regulation, muscle repair, and so much more.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans experience insufficient or poor quality sleep (and often both). According to the American Sleep Association, about 40% of adults between the ages of 20 and 59 experience sleep deprivation (the typical person needs an average of 8 hours of sleep per night), and upwards of 70 million Americans have a diagnosable sleep disorder, such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea.

With so many people struggling to get a decent night’s rest—and so many serious health problems associated with poor sleep—it’s no wonder that researchers are frequently looking for ways to help people catch those Zzz’s. 

One promising solution is the addition of two natural supplements—melatonin and noboletin. 

What the Research Says: Improving Sleep with Melatonin and Noboletin

Both melatonin and noboletin are natural compounds that have been shown to help you fall and stay asleep. Unlike prescription sleep aids, these compounds are considered relatively safe, aren’t addictive, and are free from issues dependency and withdrawal. 

First things first: melatonin. Your body actually produces this compound naturally. In your body, this hormone helps you enter the relaxed state that is conducive to sleep. People often prefer supplementing melatonin to help combat insomnia or jet lag.

Meanwhile, noboletin—which is a flavanoid derived from citrus peels—has been studied extensively. In addition to helping regulate circadian rhythm (the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle) and ease jet lag, this compound has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Human and animal models have shown that noboletin supplementation can even improve glucose tolerance, cholesterol, cardiovascular health—all of which can be negatively impacted by long-term sleep deprivation!

Other Ways to Enhance Sleep Naturally

In addition to trying a natural supplement such as melatonin or noboletin (with input from your doctor), you can improve your sleep through a variety of other natural methods which don’t involve dependency on potentially addictive and harmful sleep medications. 

Consider the following science-backed methods:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Yup—weekends, too.
  • Sleep in a pitch dark room with an ambient temperature of around 63 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Avoid eating within 3 hours of bed time. Digesting food as you sleep can disrupt blood sugar and hormone levels.
  • Keep lights low near bedtime, and turn off phones and other electronic devices at least an hour before hitting the sack. This minimizes your exposure to blue light emissions (which can throw off your body’s biological rhythm) as well as stimulating media.

Conclusion

The potential health consequences of long-term sleep deprivation are dire. Research suggests that poor sleep has been associated with an increased risk of chronic health problems ranging from diabetes and obesity to heart disease and immune compromise.

Wondering if noboletin or melatonin can enhance your sleep quality? Consult with your doctor and be sure to start with high quality supplements.

Resources:

https://endpoints.elysiumhealth.com/the-complete-guide-to-the-science-of-circadian-rhythms-7b78581cbffa

Sleep and Sleep Disorder Statistics

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy-sleep/sleep-science/melatonin-for-sleep-does-it-work

https://www.drugs.com/npp/nobiletin.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289493/

Parkinson’s Disease shows promise with Nicotinamide Riboside

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a type of neurodegenerative disorder that affects an estimated 10 million around the world. According to Parkinson’s Foundation, as many as 1 million people will be living with PD in the United States alone by 2020. 

Doctors and scientists have been learning more about this condition for decades. Those affected by it have been advocating for it for years (actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed at age 29, has been a prominent figure). Still to this day, many questions about PD exist. 

One area of research that is meriting closer attention? The possibility that a simple vitamin compound known as nicotinamide riboside could actually play a helpful role in the management of the disease.

Parkinson’s Disease 101

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease that causes nerve cells in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra to weaken and die over time. The nerve cells which end up degenerating and dying produce a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical messenger that contributes to a variety of functions in the body, including movement.

This loss of dopamine producing nerve cells ultimately explains the primary symptoms of PD—changes with movement. In the earliest stages of the disease, a person may begin to notice issues such as tremor, slower movement, and muscle or limb twitches. Symptoms worsen gradually over time, and eventually can cause a person to have extreme difficulty with basic functional tasks. They may become extremely rigid, have trouble writing or speaking, and experience marked difficulty with things like posture, balance, walking, and blinking. 

PD affects men at about 1.5 times as often as women, and while advancing age is a common risk factor, estimates indicate that around 4% of people living with PD were diagnosed before age 50. Other risk factors include genes and exposure to certain environmental toxins such as herbicides.

Currently, there isn’t a cure for PD, however symptoms can generally be well-managed through medications. These medications can be expensive, however, and may come with unpleasant side effects. 

In an effort to explore different options, some researchers are finding that a simple enzyme precursor may make a huge difference.

Promising News: How This Alternative Form of Vitamin B3 Can Help People with PD

A study was recently published in the June 2018 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Cell Reports. Researchers tested neural stem cell lines from people with PD with a substance called nicotinamide riboside, better known as niacin, an alternate form of Vitamin B3. The researchers also tested nicotinamide riboside in fruit flies who had the same genetic defect seen in people with PD.

Why test with this compound? As it turns out,once inside the body nictonamide riboside gives rise to an enzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ plays several roles in the body, including regulating the biological clock (circadian rhythm), converting food into energy, strengthening cellular defense systems, enhancing cellular metabolism, and repairing damaged mitochondria (which produce cellular energy) and DNA.

This last point is what interested the researchers most. After all, mitochondrial damage is known to occur in nerve cells damaged in the development and progression of PD. If, the researchers hypothesized, nicotinamide riboside could repair damaged mitochondria, could supplementing with this vitamin B compound help manage the underlying neurodegenerative disease?

Their findings were promising. Not only did nicotinaimide riboside boost NAD+ production and subsequent mitochondrial repair in diseased cells, but it actually prevented nerve cell loss in the PD flies and preserved mobility. 

The researchers also noted that nicotinaimide riboside is generally well-tolerated, and—because it increases NAD+ production—also offers other health benefits, including protection of cardiovascular health, vision, and diabetes.

Conclusion

The results of this study on nicotinamide riboside are promising for people living with Parkinson’s disease, as well as for people at risk for developing it. As an added benefit, supplementing with this anti-aging compound is relatively affordable, well tolerated, and safe. 

To learn more, speak with your doctor. 

Resources:

Nicotinamide riboside shows promise for treatment of Parkinson’s disease

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6182092/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/parkinsons-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20376055

https://parkinson.org/Understanding-Parkinsons/Statistics

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nicotinamide-riboside

Colorectal Cancer protection with Vitamin D

As many as 40% of Americans are estimated to be deficient in Vitamin D. This important nutrient is famously linked with bone health—and for good reason. Research shows that Vitamin D helps the body absorb and utilize calcium, which is an essential mineral for bone health.

But the benefits of this vitamin don’t stop there. In fact, new research reveals a surprising link between Vitamin D insufficiency and a leading type of cancer.

Deficiency in Vitamin D Associated with an Increased Risk for Colorectal Cancer

In the June 2018 edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a team of researchers determined that people with higher levels of Vitamin D in their blood had a lower risk of colorectal cancer. 

According to the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death for men and women. It’s also the third most commonly diagnosed cancer, affecting an estimated 1 out of every 20 people. 

The study in question, titled “Circulating Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer Risk: An International Pooling Project of 17 Cohorts,” provided strong evidence for the cancer-protective effect of Vitamin D. They also found that people with the lowest levels of Vitamin D were 31% more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

In addition to colorectal cancer, low levels of Vitamin D have also been associated with an increased risk of many other chronic health conditions, including multiple sclerosis, depression, and diabetes.

It’s Not Just About The Bones—More Surprising Benefits of Vitamin D

Cancer prevention? Sign us up! But this isn’t the only benefits of Vitamin D. The “sunshine vitamin” has also been shown to:

  • Strengthen the immune system, which can help you fight off illness, injury, and disease
  • Improves fetal development during pregnancy
  • Optimizes healthy lung and heart function
  • Helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels

As mentioned, Vitamin D also strengthens your bones, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis and other skeletal health issues.

Final Thoughts: How Much and How to Get?

Whether you’re at risk for colorectal cancer, your health likely stands to benefit from adding more Vitamin D into your diet. 

Perhaps the best way to get adequate Vitamin D is from healthy sun exposure—about 10-15 minutes around midday prior to donning sunscreen (this varies depending on factors such as time of year, geography, and skin color). You can also source Vitamin D from foods such as whole eggs, beef liver, cod liver oil, salmon, trout, and (if tolerable) dairy products such as fortified milk.

Vitamin D is also easy and affordable to take in a supplement. Indeed, supplementation is advised in many cases, since most adults don’t get enough levels of Vitamin D through their diet alone. Vitamin D supplementation is especially important for older people and people who live in Northern climates, where they have less sun exposure throughout the year. 

How much do you need? The current recommended daily intake for Vitamin D is around 400–800 IU/day. However, many studies show that consuming higher amounts of Vitamin D—upwards of 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day or more—may not only be safe but optimal for certain health protective benefits, including that of colorectal cancer.

As always, it’s recommended to chat with your physician before starting or stopping any new medication or supplement. Even Vitamin D, which is largely recognized as safe and essential, can become dangerous if consumed at high levels.

But if you’re not currently taking Vitamin D, it may be time to consider adding it to your daily health routine—especially if you have risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Resources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-d-from-sun#overview

https://www.dietitians.ca/getattachment/464f3006-0bb2-4f1a-a338-0b21d148bacb/Factsheet-Food-Sources-of-Vitamin-D.pdf.aspx

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/161618.php

https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/jnci/djy087

https://5xlhc2qz20k3jc6dy3g31xb4-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2019_OMS_FactSheet-2.pdf

Autism protection with Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids—found abundantly in foods such as flaxseed fatty fish as well as in supplement form—have long been heralded as an important part of a healthy diet. Research shows that adding more omega-3 fatty acid to your diet can help with everything from easing symptoms of depression to reducing the risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and inflammation.

Pregnant women are explicitly advised to consume omega-3 fatty acid supplements (namely high quality fish oil) because of the supplement’s positive effect on fetal neural development.

Given this compound’s health-boosting benefits for both mind and body, many researchers have initiated studies with the goal of answering an important question:

Can omega-3 fatty acid help adults, teens, and children living with autism?

Understanding Autism

Autism constitutes a range of neurodevelopmental conditions which impact the way a person communicates, interacts with others, and perceives their environment. With diagnoses typically beginning in the toddler years, common symptoms include decreased eye contact, lack of “make believe” play, difficulty expressing needs and feelings, repetitive language or movement, and difficulty interacting with or showing interest in others.

In the United States alone, approximately 1% of the population is affected by autism or a similar condition on the spectrum, and around 1 in 59 children—and the prevalence is growing. Autism is the fastest growing neurodevelopmental condition—and growing with it are the individual, familial, social, and economic costs of helping people with this condition.

While doctors and researchers don’t yet know the exact cause of autism—which at its core is believed to be related to atypical brain structure and function—biological, genetic, and environmental risk factors have been identified.

Lastly, while autism has no cure, it can be managed through services such as pharmacology and therapy. Many health-conscious parents (and doctors) also choose to seek holistic ways to help their children manage their symptoms more appropriately.

One leading area of holistic interest? Nutrition—particularly the addition of omega-3 fatty acids.

What’s the Link? Potential Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for People With Autism

Research has already shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help manage and improve symptoms of ADHD and mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Promisingly, systematic reviews of the literature (which include several small randomized controlled trials) have also revealed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be able to manage symptoms of autism, as well.

For instance, small randomized controlled trials have found that giving omega-3 fatty acids to children with autism may improve social interaction, social responsiveness, mood stabilization, and functional communication.

A leading hypothesis for these potential beneficial effects? Omega-3 fatty acid’s powerful anti-inflammatory effects—also the driving factor behind the popular compound’s other noted health benefits.

By and large, the medical and scientific communities agree that more research needs to be done to further explain if and how omega-3 fatty acids help people with autism. But given how safe omega-3 fatty acid is and how many other known health benefits it can offer, the consensus is that supplementation can be an effective complement to behavioral therapy and other traditional care approaches.

Conclusion

Do you have a child living with autism spectrum disorder? Curious about omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and how it could help? Consult with your pediatrician for more information. You know your loved one best, and you may be surprised by the results.

Resources:
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5108126/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710498/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5751211/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28256376

What is Autism?