Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Advances in Support for Joint Pain

Arthritis effects 43 million Americans.  It is estimated that by the time the average person reaches age 70 nearly 100% will have developed some form of arthritis.  

For years the nutritional industry has touted the use of glucosamine and chondroition for joint support.  And while many do indeed experience some relief from these two compounds, the results are inconsistent.  Some people do very well with glucosamine and chondroiton, and some experience no appreciable results.  Others cannot use glucosamine-based products at all because of sulfur and shellfish allergies.  Since glucosamine has a sulfur component and is derived from shellfish, allergies to glucosamine are a significant concern for some.

With the above in mind, alternatives to glucosamine and chondroiton are being explored in the scientific literature with some promising results.  

Enter, then, undenatured type-II collagen (UC-II).  

UC-II is not sulfur based and is not derived from shellfish, so the potential for allergies are significantly lower.  UC-II is derived from chicken collagen, and actually seems to work better than glucosamine and chondroiton for joint pain by nourishing and supporting chondrocytes (cartilage cells).

In a trial comparing the results of UC-II against a glucosamine/chondroiton (G/C) mix, UC-II outperformed G/C by more than double in terms of pain relief at 90 days (see figure 1 below).  While the G/C produced some pain relief in the first 30 days, the progress leveled off at that point and did not continue to improve past 30 days, whereas the UC-II continued to produce pain relief that progressed to 90 days and beyond.

UC-II also improved joint flexibility and enabled the test subjects to undergo strenuous exercise for longer periods of time compared to placebo.  

Most subjects in these trials began experiencing relief in as little as two weeks, with the most significant pain relief and joint function improvement being seen at 90 days.  No liver, kidney, GI, or cardiovascular toxicity was observed.  

Furthermore, all but three of the test subject were able to discontinue pain medications after 90 days, and the three who remained on the medications were able to reduce the dosage.  Since nearly all pain relief medications carry significant side effects, including GI bleeding and risk of death due to heart attacks, discontinuing or reducing these medications is an important health benefit. 

Some studies have shown that UC-II is also effective support for those suffering from autoimmune-related rheumatoid arthritis.   

Since there is more than one type of supplemental collagen on the market, it must be emphasized that the Undenatured Type-II collagen is the kind used in these studies.  Denatured collagen or Type-I collagen would likely not produce the same results.

Also of note in the battle against joint pain is a natural anti-inflammatory compound from hops called, tetra-hydro iso-alpha acids (THIAA).  THIAA may also improve joint function and provide a different mechanism of pain relief by reducing inflammatory chemicals, thereby possibly accelerating the pain relief process when combined with UC-II.     

Friday, January 24, 2014

Soy and Fructose: Spawns of Satan?

Because, in part, of a well-known doctor who makes his living selling products from his internet site, two questions still come up that I find myself addressing from time to time.  In the mind of this well-known internet marketer, Satan has two spawns: soy and fructose.  

The concerns regarding soy and fructose are common because of some of the widespread misunderstanding about these natural compounds.  But let's examine these two compounds from a different perspective.

Spawn #1: Soy

The misunderstanding here stems from compounds in soy known as phytoestrogens, which is an unfortunate name because soy contains no estrogen.  These compounds are estrogen mimics, yes, but unlike xenoestrogens (toxic chemicals that mimic estrogen), phytoestrogens are weak estrogen mimics, whereas xenoestrogens are strong estrogen mimics.  The result is that xenoestrogens increase the estrogen pool, whereas phytoestrogens lower the estrogen pool and have beneficial effects on the endocrine system.  Granted, there are allergies to soy, just like there are allergies to strawberries, eggs, and everything else under the sun, but allergies do not necessarily equate to an unhealthy food.  It is unfortunate that soy has been so misunderstood, and it should interest the reader that some of the "research" pertaining to the "dangers" in soy was funded by…..guess who….the DAIRY industry!  Hmmm.  

Anyway, if the concerns around soy are referring to GMOs, then that's different.  GMOs should be avoided.  

Spawn #2:  Fructose

Regarding fructose, that again is a very misunderstood ingredient.  It is not the same as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  They are not the same at all.  HFCS does indeed lead to metabolic syndrome and many other maladies.  But fructose in its purest form is simply a fruit sugar and the body responds to it completely differently than HFCS.   Fructose is simply a carbohydrate, and a beneficial one at that.   You cannot eat fruit without getting fructose.  

Having said that, anything in excess is not good.  One can die from drinking too much water, as an example.  So fructose in excess added to an already carbohydrate saturated diet can be problematic.  But again, to lump fructose into the category of a man-made sweetener is categorically wrong.  Sucrose (white table sugar) and High Fructose Corn Syrup are both ultra-refined carboydrates that the body reacts to in a strongly negative way.  Fruit sugar (fructose) cannot be categorized like that, because it is not ultra-refined and the body responds to it as an energy source.  Fructose does not spike insulin and effect blood sugar like sucrose and HFCS.  In fact, following is a list of common foods and their glycemic index.  Note where fructose is on the list.

Glucose..............................100 glycemic index score
White bread........................ 100
Baked potatoe.......................95
sucrose (table sugar)...............75
Baked beans..........................60
Brown rice............................55
Apple .................................40
Ultra Meal medical food..........36
Fructose (from any source).......20

Research Supports the use of Soy and Fructose in Nutriceuticals

Taken together, soy and fructose can provide very beneficial effects on human health when administered in the form of nutriceuticals.  Study after study  on the Metagenics medical food, Ultra Meal, for example, consistently demonstrates profound benefits in metabolic syndrome patients.    Numerous studies also show that soy isoflavones (isolated compounds from soy) improve symptoms related to female hormone balance and cardiovascular disease.

Here are some additional resources to help you better understand the truth about soy and fructose:
  1. Link to my blog article highlighting research showing soy improves breast cancer risk:
  2. Dr. David Dahlman's article on soy, perhaps the single best and most definitive article on the subject I have ever seen.
  3. A paper on the benefits of fructose over other sweeteners:
The Bottom Line

I hear this phrase a lot among holistic naturalists: "If God made it, it's good.  If man made it, be cautious."  

Generally I agree with this statement.  I believe this is a good rule to live by for the most part.  Of course, I believe this can also be taken to an unreasonable extreme, such as suggesting that you shouldn't take vitamins because they are "man made."  

Why, then, is fructose -- one of God's ingenious creations added to foods from the vine -- so vilified among some of the same people who say that if God made something it is good?  Why then is soy -- a staple in societies all over the world for centuries and one that has been scientifically validated as having many health promoting properties -- gotten a bad rap?  

The negativity surrounding fructose and soy is not in keeping with the if-God-made-it-it's-good philosophy.