Posts filed under ‘Health Advice’

News on Preventing Brain Shrinkage

Colorado State University researchers*discovered that simultaneous low levels of insulin and proteins (called insulin growth factors) cause the brain to shrink.     Although the role of these two chemicals in dementia has been suspected, this is the first time research highlights that these two chemicals work together to actually prevent brain shrinkage when they are present in the brain in adequate amounts.   Additional research is planned to find ways to test and apply the most recent findings.    

It is the gradual loss of both the insulin and insulin-like growth factors brought on by aging and disease that are likely to increase the risk for brain shrinkage.   Insulin resistance, a condition in which the body becomes resistant to processing insulin is thought to be a key factor in the progressive drop of these two chemicals in the brain.

It is possible to have high levels of insulin in the blood, but abnormally low levels in the brain because of a blockage between the blood and the brain.    This Colorado State Study showed that everything from brain shrinkage, brain cell loss, protein loss and damage to neurons and glia cells, which are the cells that provide support and nutrition to the brain, were virtually halted in brain tissue when insulin-like growth factors were put directly into the brain tissue.

Insulin-like growth factors are proteins that support nerve cell survival, the regeneration of nerves and the formation of synapses (what connects the nerve cells).     This protein is often reduced in diabetic and Alzheimer’s patients.  Insulin is also typically low.  

* Information taken from Today at Colorado State University, Researchers Discover What Causes Brain to Shrink Providing Key to Mysteries of Dementia, October 2009.  Research conducted by Professor Douglas Ishi and student Dr. Pete Serbedija.


July 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm Leave a comment

Care for Caregivers


The Advance Wellness Center is increasingly seeing caregivers who are run aground, exhausted, at times depressed and suffering from related health issues.  When you’re caring for others, it is critical that you do not put off taking care of yourself.    It is harder to turn your health around when your body has been neglected, than it is to practice basic prevention and health maintenance.   Out of all the things you can do to help those you care for and yourself, the most important is to put your physical and spiritual needs first.   Then work on organizing your responsibilities.



Eat nutritious meals.  Resist junk foods, high carbs and sugar.   They will drive your immune system way down and make you susceptible to opportunistic viruses, bacteria and yeast.   Sugar here is not just your typical sweets, but includes sugary fruits except for the berries.   Also stay away from high glycemic starchy foods such as potatoes.  Eat simple balanced meals.  For the crunch times, have frozen organic foods which are quick to prepare.  Stay on a basic supplement protocol that includes anti-oxidants and adrenal support (for stress) and immune strengthening.

 Get Enough Sleep.   If you need to take even a short nap during the day, do it.  Lack of sleep affects your judgment and productivity.

 Schedule regular wellness checks.  Prevent health issues from getting out of hand.  You should see a health care professional at least every quarter.  It is worth coming in to see Dr. Bernstein for an evaluation to identify deficiencies and establish a basic nutritional support protocol.    

 Find time to Exercise.  Even if you have to ask someone else to provide care while you work out or go for a walk.

 Take a break. You must take time to relax and refresh yourself with friends!

Get Help.  Be smart.  Mobilize community help and search out a support group.  

 For a more extensive list of recommendations to caregivers go www. and read Stressed Out by Caregiving: 10 Smart Tips on How to Relax.   Check out their Caregiving Resource Center.

July 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm 2 comments

Summer Food Safety: Avoiding Food Borne Illness


Six to eight million cases of urinary tract infections (UTI’s) occur each year in the U.S., 80% of which are caused by E. coli bacteria ingested in food, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).   Once in the stomach, it passes into the intestinal tract where it multiplies and travels to the urinary tract.    While E. coli is a normal resident within the bowel, it is problematic when it migrates elsewhere.

CDC study findings* concluded that most of the E. coli bacteria causing urinary tract infections is primarily ingested through contaminated chicken and ready to eat products.   E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea, painful abdominal cramps and nausea.   It is also a common cause of acute kidney failure in children and infants.  

With all this in view, and outside summer eating in full swing, we need to think food safety when planning outdoor events.  See Partnership for Food Safety (  or CDC for general food safety practices.   Some are included below.


1.            COOK meat, poultry and eggs thoroughly and use a thermometer.  Cook roasts to 145ºF, poultry to 165ºF, ground meat to 160ºF, fish to 145ºF and heat leftovers to 165ºF.   Eggs should be cooked until the yoke is firm.  Bring sauces and soups to a boil.

2.            SEPARATE:  Avoid cross-contaminating foods.  Wash hands (soap for 20 seconds and rinse for 20 seconds) and utensils after they have been in contact with raw food.  Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat.   Never put cooked meat on a one that held raw meat.

3.            CHILL:  Refrigerate perishables as soon as you get home from the store.  Never let them sit out in room or outside temperatures for more than 2 hours, 1 hour if the temperature is over 90ºF. Refrigerate or ice leftovers if they are not going to be eaten within 2 hours.   Bacteria can grow quickly at room and outside temperatures.   Divide large volumes of food into shallow containers so they will cool more quickly. 

4.            CLEAN:  Wash produce in running water.  Discard the outermost leaves of lettuce and cabbage.               Bacteria can grow on cut surfaces of fruit and vegetable.   Be careful not to contaminate them while slicing them on cutting boards. Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces.  If you use cloth towels wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine. 

Antibiotic-free meats and poultry are better for your health and don’t promote the emergence of drug resistance bacterial strains – a concern of cited by CDC researchers.  (70% of the antibiotics produced in the U.S. are for “non-therapeutic use” on farm animals**).    Look for USDA organic labeled products or shop the internet (ex. ) for sources of antibiotic-free chicken.

*  Vincent C., Boerlin P., Daignault D., et. Al., Food Reservoir for Escheriichia Coli Dausing Urinary Tract Infections.  Emerb Infect Dis. 2010:16:88-95

** Scientific

July 9, 2010 at 5:51 pm 1 comment

What’s The Verdict on Soy?

 Would you knowingly consume a lot of a particular “food” if it blocked your absorption of essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, copper, zinc, iron and iodine?   This is what soy and all other legumes (beans, peanuts, etc.) do because of an ingredient called phytic acid.   Soy contains high quantities of phytic acid when it is not fermented.

Be safe and consume soy as follows:

  •   Eat  Only Organic, Fermented, Non-Genetically Modified Soy Products

in Small Amounts


Phytic acid gets neutralized in the process of fermentation.  Fermented soy foods include miso, tempeh, soy sauce, tamari and natto. If you soak all legumes 48-72 hours prior to cooking/eating them, they will also be fermented.  Asians eat no more than 10-90 grams of fermented soy per day.  Compare this to a cup of unfermented tofu, 250 grams or soy milk, 240 grams.

  • Avoid Unfermented and Genetically Modified Soy and Soy Products that contain Gluten 

This is the worse possible combination.  Unfermented soy includes tofu, bean curd, all soy milks, soy infant formulae, soy protein powders and soy meat alternatives.  Genetically modified foods are unhealthy for humans, animals and plants.  Gluten causes autoimmune diseases and inflammation.

We already have other reasons to watch the consumption of soy. Its phyto-estrogens (plant-based chemicals that mimic estrogen) have been linked to breast cancer, infertility and thyroid disorders.  They are also known to cause premature signs of puberty in infants and young girls.  Soy’s high levels of aluminum have been linked to kidney problems.  Plus there is concern that soy may interfere with growth and cause pancreatic disorders.

Well, how did soy get to be so widely accepted as a healthy alternative to dairy, beef and other animal proteins you ask?  Obviously this is far from the truth.

The soy industry is so lucrative they have millions to invest in advertising and lobbying of the FDA.  Actually 100 years ago, soy was not considered a food at all.  In 1913, the United States Department of Agriculture listed soy as an industrial product.  Originally, the soy industry planted soy to extract the oil, and soy oil became immensely popular.  Along with the oil production was an ample residue of soy protein.   The question then came up as to what to do with the soy protein.   Since they could feed it to the animals only in small quantities, they decided to market it for human consumption.   

Source:  The Truth About Unfermented Soy and It’s Harmful Effects, Natural News,2/08

July 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm Leave a comment

Is Your Skin Care Good Enough to Eat?

Eating the right foods and drinking the right amount of water goes a long way towards healthy looking skin. But did you know that the most effective skin care products are those made from live foods you can eat?  

There are an increasing number of companies, like Holistic Dermaceuticals who believe that if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your face.   Dr. Alkaitis’ “skin food” products, made by Holistic Dermaceuticals, are organic skin treatments that constitute therapeutic raw health food for your skin.  Synergistic blends of only pure live organic ingredients are used.   Whole plants, wild-crafted herbs and virgin cold- pressed essential oils promote progressive balance to the skin.

Contrast this with synthetically processed products. Synthetic chemicals are machine-made.   Man-made ingredients can negatively effect your overall health over time.  While our bodies have a great internal filter to process the foods we eat, whatever we apply topically is quickly absorbed directly into our blood stream and body tissues.   Long term exposure to synthetic ingredients in shampoos, lotions and creams can have adverse effects.

M. Ruvolo, author of Natural Skin Care Vs. Synthetic Skin Care – Which Ingredients to Use and Which to Avoid, says “many synthetic ingredients trick the consumer. The initial damage of skin and hair actually makes it feel softer and smoother to the touch, even improving their appearance. This is only temporary though, as the damaged under layers of skin will eventually surface.”

Some of the key additives to avoid:   Parabens, Ureas, 1,4-Dioxane, Petrochemicals, MEA, DEA, TEA, Sulfates Chemicals,  Quats, Synthetic Polymers and Synthetic Colors.

Note:  Dr. Alkaitis products are available at the Advanced Wellness Center.  Send your questions to: with subject heading “Skin Food”.

July 2, 2010 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Hidden Sources of Gluten

Avoiding gluten grains such as wheat, barley, kamut, rye and spelt can be a challenge. However, since the foods often made with these grains are obviously grain products (breads, pasta, etc.), it’s easy to know which products to check for gluten – at least one would think so.

You might think you’re okay with that chicken stir-fry, but what about that soy sauce? You might celebrate those gluten-free pancakes, but did you know the syrup may have “barley malt enzymes?”  Surely the canned organic soup is fine – but wait this one has “modified wheat starch!” As for that gluten-free pasta dish, did you see what’s in the marinara sauce?

Before you get discouraged, it’s helpful to know that most of the hidden sources of gluten, as well as their gluten-free alternatives are listed and available on-line. (See or for an exhaustive list of hidden sources of gluten and scroll to the end of this blog for sources of on-line gluten-free resources).

Basically, hidden sources of gluten include foods which utilize gluten to help thicken or prevent clumping in products. (Tip: use arrowroot instead as the thickening agent). They are also used as stabilizers and emulsifiers. Food labels may identify the gluten ingredient as follows:

Food starch, modified food starch, wheat gluten, vital gluten, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural flavoring, gelatin starch, vegetable gum, vegetable starch and wheat itself. Also malt, malt extract, malt syrup, malt vinegar and malt flavoring.

Some of the food groups which may include gluten are:
1. Some Marinades and gravy mixes
2. Some Marinara sauces and ketchup
3. Some Soy sauces (shoyu, miso, etc.) and soy products such seitan.
4. Some Salad dressings and vinegars
5. Some Dry seasonings and spice blends/rubs such as mustard, MSG., etc.
6. Some Dried/dehydrated foods – nuts, fruit
7. Some Instant Rice
8. Some Brown rice syrups
9. Rice milk may have been made with barley enzymes
10. Non-stick sprays
11. Some Canned beans
12. Some non-dairy creamers (shouldn’t be using)
13. Some teas and instant coffees
14. Some beers and hard ciders.
15. Bouillon cubes & powders.
16. Some Infant formula (this is especially insidious as exposure to wheat prior to 6 months of age is said to contribute to allergic reaction to gluten, as enzymatic activity is not fully developed).


 Thanks to the growing number of resources geared towards gluten-free diets, gluten free foods are easier to identify than ever.

GUIDEBOOKS: These list countless gluten-free food products and their companies. The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide by Triumph Dining and the best selling 2009/2010 Gluten-Free Grocery and Shopping Guide are examples.

ON-LINE GLUTEN-FREE SHOPPING SITES: Foods are listed by categories. Some of the sites are:;;;

 PRE-MADE, GLUTEN-FREE MIXES. These use brown rice, millet and other gluten-free grains and are increasingly found in health food stores if not your regular supermarket.   Some of the companies which specialize in gluten-free cooking and pre-made products include, Ener-G , Enjoy Life, Gluten Free Pantry, Glutino, Pamela’s Products and Tinkyada, to name just a few.

April 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Child Snacking Can Pack on 13-18 Pounds Per Year

Child Snacking Can Pack on 13-18 Pounds Per Year 

Children are moving towards “constant eating” with an average of 3 snacks a day as well as regular meals according to a long term study (1977- 2006) on snacking, presented in the journal of Health Affairs (March 2010, by Popkin & Piernas of the University of North Carolina).  It found that snacks now account for about 27% of the calories consumed by children.  Salty snacks and candy consumption are the largest category, with desserts and sweetened beverages remaining the major sources of calories from snacks.   The result is a total of 600 snacking calories per day – – an extra 168 calories from the 1970’s and the equivalent of a whopping 13-18 pounds per year.  The rise in childhood obesity, meanwhile, has put millions of children at risk of chronic conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

What do we do, especially if one of those children is ours and/or someone we love?  Tips for moving your child to healthy snacking below.

1.  Make it colorful & fun: Depending on the age/maturity of your child, involve them in the selection and making of healthier snacks and the dropping of selected junk food. 

            Gluten-free, trail mix (sliced almonds, gluten-free oatmeal, unsweetened      shredded coconut, small amount of dried berries, cinnamon, etc.)

            Celery stuffed with Almond Butter and dried berries.

            For special occasions:  Get the gluten-free & sugar free cake mixes.

2.  Keep junk foods out of the house  (ouch!) or at least limit them.  If it’s not there, no one can reach for them.

3.  Set an example (double ouch!) Your own daily choices will have a huge impact on theirs.

4. Restrict snacking to a designated area(s), like the kitchen so that it isn’t normal to eat in bedrooms, while working on the computer, etc. at anytime.

5.  Replace harmful super sweet beverages with juice-flavored water or fruit flavored iced teas (with stevia no sugar).  Use organic juice and be sure to water it way down.   Even organic, natural juice can overwhelm your child with sugar when taken in full strength.

March 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts Newer Posts