Abdominal Brain – Introduction

Get acquainted:

The digestive system is endowed with its own, local nervous system referred to as the enteric or intrinsic nervous system. The magnitude and complexity of the enteric nervous system is immense – it contains as many neurons as the spinal cord.

A Scientific Overview:

Brain in the Belly

Conventional medical treatment for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, migraine, and autism focuses on the brain. Although standard medical treatment is often helpful, the underlying causes of these disorders are not well understood. Furthermore, some individuals respond poorly, or not all to regular medicine. Evidence is accumulating in the medical literature that the enteric nervous system (ENS) – that part of the nervous system associated with the alimentary canal – also plays a role in these disorders. Historically, the concept of an autonomous abdominal nervous system was advocated by Byron Robinson, Johannis Langley, and Edgar Cayce. The work of these three prominent historical figures is considered along with modern viewpoints on the abdominal nervous system. Complementary therapies that address the nervous system of the abdomen hold potential as useful adjuncts to conventional treatment for certain neurological disorders.

Now let’s see why this is important:

As light is shed on the circuitry between the two brains, researchers are beginning to understand why people act and feel the way they do. When the central brain encounters a frightening situation, it releases stress hormones that prepare the body to fight or flee. The stomach contains many sensory nerves that are stimulated by this chemical surge – hence the “butterflies”. On the battlefield, the higher brain tells the gut brain to shut down. A frightened running animal does not stop to defecate, according to Dr. Gershon.

Fear also causes the vagus nerve to “turn up the volume” on serotonin circuits in the gut. Thus over stimulated, the gut goes into higher gear and diarrhea results. Similarly, people sometimes “choke” with emotion. When nerves in the esophagus are highly stimulated, people have trouble swallowing.

Beyond RDA

Ein Hod StatueWe are all familiar with the RDA column on the side of our food packages. RDA means “Recommended Daily Allowance” and it is the daily amount of each nutritional element that the FDA recommends us to consume each and every day. Nowadays, RDA has changed its name to RDI (Reference Daily Intake).

But in recent years new research has dicovered that the RDI figures represent the very minimal amount of nutrients our body needs — if it is completely healty. However, almost no one is constantly in optimal health, and as we grow older, our body’s ability to absorb nutrients from within the digestive system decreases.

The outcome of these outdated RDI figures is that most of us don’t consume enough vitamins and minerals to keep our body fit and healthy. To be able to meet these minimal requirements, most of us would have to take supplements.

Therefore it is important to undertake regular blood checks to see if we have a good balance of nutrients in our bodies. Remember, having too much can also be dangerous, as especially is the case with minerals and certain vitamins (such as Vitamin A).

Last but not least, when we add vitamin supplements to our diet, it is important to pick those with a high bio-availability — i.e, those formulas that have been proven to be more easily digested and absorbed within the body.

Stay well and have a splendid weekend!

Somebody Stop that Cow!

As if auto and industrial emissions aren’t enough to pollute our air, it is now being found that cattle also makes its “contributions” to causing environmental pollution. In fact, one European country, Lithuania, has now passed a law that dairy farmers in that country are liable to pay fines for undue “emissions” of methane gas for both belching and flatulence of cattle. It appears that large numbers of dairy cattle, confined to feed lots on dairy farms, one of Lithuania’s most important agricultural industries, has reached the point that unacceptable levels of methane gas is being produced as a “by-product” of these dairy herds.

Nuclear Explosion poisons the atmosphereCattle, like other hoofed mammals including deer and antelope, are ruminants and have a four chambered stomach. After eating grass, grains and other cattle food, they must belch up the food and chew it thoroughly before finally swallowing it again. This process, know as “chewing the cud” enables the food to be finally digested. Doing so, it results in both the belching and the release of large quantities of gas due to the high fiber content of the cow’s feces.

So, far, Lithuania is the only country in Europe to have passed such a law, and its implications are being carefully monitored by dairy and beef farmers in other E. U. countries who also have large dairy herds, including Denmark, Germany, Holland, and Belgium.

Methane gas is also produced in large quantities at sewage disposal and recycling facilities, also as a by-product of decaying waste material. Although methane gas is being considered as a possible alternative fuel source since there appears to be plentiful supply, it has a very high global warming potential and contributes to what is now known as the “greenhouse effect”. The amount of methane gas present in the earth’s atmosphere is now more than 1,800 parts per billion, as compared to an estimated 750 parts per billion in the beginning of the 19th Century. Of course, the Earth’s population has grown considerably since then, resulting in much more garbage, sewage, and other decaying material that causes this gas to be formed. There is also considerably much more cattle in the world, which adds to the amount of methane gas eventually reaching the Earth’s atmosphere.

How dairy farmers in countries such as Lithuania plan to solve this problem is now under speculation, as trying to plug up the rear source of the gas obviously won’t work, as well as trying to put some kind of bib-like device on the cow’s mouth. It’ll be interesting to follow the development of this story in Europe. After all, the issue is much more than just “hot air”.

Hyperthyroidism is a glandular condition that can kill

Hyperthyroidism is an over activity of the thyroid gland that can result in a number of unpleasant symptoms and can even result in death. The condition is present in at least 13 million Americans and probably in at least that many others living in Europe. The condition is caused by the thyroid gland overproducing certain “free thyroid” hormones known as thyroxin (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) which result in an over stimulus of certain body functions, including heartbeat and the digestive and bowl functions. The result can be fast heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, vomiting and diarrhea. If left untreated, hyperthyroidism can eventually result in heart attacks and strokes with fatal results.

Thyroid GlandIn addition to the previously mentioned symptoms, there are also several rather ambiguous indications for hyperthyroidism, such as sudden weight gain and difficulty in losing body fat, severe constipation, fatigue and depression, hair loss, menstrual period irregularities with severe bleeding, and dry itchy skin. While many of these symptoms can be attributed to a number of conditions, if you or someone you know suffers from three or more of these concurrently, it’s a good chance the cause is an overactive thyroid gland.

There are a number of ways to treat hyperthyroidism, ranging from drugs known as thyrostatics (drugs which inhibit the production of thyroid hormones) beta blockers (drugs which reduce symptoms such as heart palpitations and accelerated pulse rates); to more permanent treatments such as surgery to remove the entire thyroid gland, or treatments such as radioiodine or iodine 131 therapy. Removal of the entire thyroid gland will require the patient to take medications which substitute the effects of hormones secreted by the thyroid gland. Radioisotope therapy (involving iodine 131) may not be advisable to some people, especially those allergic to iodine.

It is therefore advisable for people suffering from the above mentioned symptoms to be examined by a qualified endocrinologist who can afterwards determine what treatments are best suited for dealing with a hyperactive thyroid. An under-active thyroid gland, hypothyroidism, is also a cause for concern as it often results in heart attacks – especially in women over age 50.

In any event, it is recommended to consult with a qualified physician if you have any concerns in the matter, since attempting self-diagnosis is never a good idea.

Picture by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Microwave ovens are a major health hazard

Microwave ovens are an important cooking and food heating tool in many modern homes. Many people may not be aware, however, just how dangerous these gadgets are to human health. For those who are not aware, microwave produce similar electronic frequencies as those who are found in cellular phone relay towers which are now being found to be very dangerous to human health and the cause of a number of types of cancer. It’s not only the type of utensil that holds the food (such as those made from polymer plastics) but the actual appliance itself that is so dangerous that some countries, including Russia, have banned its sale for health reasons.

An example of how dangerous microwaves really are can be seen in a very simple test of placing water in a glass bowl inside a microwave and heating it to boiling (like many people do when heating soup or warming their favorite hot beverage in the morning. When the water cools, place some seeds in two pots and water one pot with the micro-waved water along with similar amount of water straight from the kitchen sink in the second pot. What is really startling is that the seeds in the pot with the “micro-waved” water will not sprout!

Radiation Warning SignThere is apparently some chemical reaction occurring in the micro-waved water that will not allow the seeds to grow. This kind of example is also evident when warming up food in a microwave oven as well as heating milk (including human milk) to feed to infants and babies The heating of the milk in a microwave actually destroys much of the milk’ s nutritional value; and in human milk in particular, the milk’s natural immunity and disease fighting attributes. Heating food items, especially on high heat, also severely alters the bio-chemistry composition of the food, which can have a negative affect on humans, including changes in the body’s blood chemistry.

Other negative effects from microwave ovens include brain damage by causing electrical impulses in the brain to simply “short out”, reducing or altering the nutritional content of ingested food. Eating micro-waved foods also have been found to cause heart attacks and cancers, and can result in memory loss, lack of concentration, and even lower intelligence.

The connection to microwaving foods in plastic containers has been known for some time, and even though many plastic containers are noted to cause cancers, using a microwave has now been found to cause cancer cells to increase in the human blood.

So, taking all of the above into account, there are many reasons for “retiring” your microwave oven before it is too late!

Source: Natural News

Diabetes sufferers seek a “natural” relief

Insulin InjectorDiabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a condition in which the body produces too much blood sugar and not enough of the hormone insulin which prevents blood sugars from going too high. Many diabetes sufferers must inject themselves daily with synthetic insulin to enable them to live a near-normal life. Recent research, however, is finding that diabetes can be controlled by a number of natural remedies, in addition to the standard remedies of insulin and special diets.

There are presently more than 20 million Americans suffering from either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and an estimated 6 million more who are not even aware that they may have the condition. The most common symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and urine extraction, blurred vision and lethargy, and sudden and unexplained weight loss. If not treated properly, diabetes can lead to blindness and kidney failure, loss of limbs due to gangrene, and eventually death.

Although moderate exercise and sugarless diets are recommended to diabetes sufferers, especially those afflicted with what is known as Type 2 diabetes, or the one involving increased blood glucose levels accompanied with lack of natural insulin, the use of a number of natural remedies is now being found to cause improvement to diabetes sufferers. Some of these remedies include fenugreek seed; kelp reduces blood sugar levels; pycnogenol: a powerful antioxidant that is derived from a species of pine tree in France and other European countries. Pycnogenol has been shown to help repair the damage to the eye’s retina caused by too much blood sugar. Other herbal remedies include mulluca root: used to treat diabetes as well as other physical ailments such as high blood pressure and skin diseases; bitter melon: reduces blood sugar levels in a manner similar to insulin; alpha lipoic acid: reduces blood glucose levels by increasing insulin function, and a soup-like preparation from the leaves of the oleander plant which is also said to be good against some forms of cancer.

In addition to herbs such as the ones mentioned here, foods such as apples and almonds, and those containing Omega 3 fatty acids are also said to be beneficial.

It must be advised though to never rely on natural remedies alone without advice from a physician who is familiar with natural herbal remedies. Along with using these remedies, it is important to adhere to a strict diet that avoids fatty foods and foods high in sugar content. By augmenting these natural herbal remedies to a regime of exercise and strict diet, diabetes sufferers may be able to rely less on insulin injections in order to maintain a normal life.

Sources: Natural News, Wikipedia ; Picture by Islets of Hope

Broccoli – a natural immunity plant

Broccoli PowerBroccoli is a plant that is more than just a good source of vitamins, minerals and as a defense against various forms of cancer. This green, fibrous vegetable is now being regarded as a way to acquire immunity against a number of debilitating factors that effect people in old age.

Already an excellent provider of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E, and K, research studies are discovering that frequent eating of broccoli, especially raw, protects people from the effects of oxidants known as free radicals. Broccoli contains a chemical known as sulforaphane which assists the body to activate certain genes and enzymes in the body’s system to create antioxidants which can fight free radicals and reduce the dame they cause to the body which helps to hasten the effects of old age. For those who are not familiar with the term “free radicals” they are found in a large number of environmental surroundings including pollution, sunlight, unhealthy diets (especially ‘fast foods’) and many other elements that surround people every day of their lives. Too many free radicals in the body can result in injury to body cells and cause cells to die prematurely, hastening the ageing process; as well as bringing on a number of diseases, including cancers.

Studies made by researchers at UCLA involved treatment of old mice with sulforaphane that came from broccoli resulted in the mice regaining their immune system to the level it had been when they were much younger. The conclusion was that the same result could also be had in humans, with older people regaining the immune system they once had against disease when young adults. The researchers have gone one step further by concluding that if older people can regain at least some of their former immunity against disease, children can make their immune system even stronger by eating broccoli and other green vegetable on a regular basis. The only problem now is how to get them to do it, since children usually prefer sweets and ice cream to vegetables.

Like all vegetables, broccoli should be eaten when it is fresh; either raw or cooked in a manner that keeps from it losing it’s vitamins and other beneficial components. We can all suppose that a broccoli based ice cream-like desert bar is now being worked on somewhere.

Sources: Natural News; Healing Daily
Picture by: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Astaxanthin – a new miracle nutrient, or “miracle hype”?

Recent communicated articles and press releases concerning a newly discovered phytonutrient, derived from a species of micro-algae has been showing up on various media and internet networks that deal in health and nutrition products. The nutrient, known as astaxanthin is being touted as being high in antioxidants (as much as10 times higher than other carotenoids) and is said to be excellent for a number of physical health problems, including prostate glands in men and pre-cancerous conditions in female breasts.

Astaxanthin is said to be derived from a micro-algae called Haematocuccus, and is red in color. The red color in this algae and phytonutrient is said to be what causes certain species of Salmon to have that appealing pink color. Astaxanthin is a concentrated anti-oxidant that is claimed to prevent damage to body cells caused by free radicals – the byproduct of energy created by oxygen reaching cells each time we breathe.

Astaxanthin Chemical MakeUpWhile astaxanthin is found naturally in smaller quantities, when synthesized into a concentrate, it is said to do wonders for improve egg production in animal species like chickens and fish – especially salmon. It is claimed that salmon which are fed food containing this phytonutrient were able leap far higher and further than those who were given the supplement. And chickens given astaxanthin are said to live longer and produce better quality eggs.

So why might there be problem with this kind of nutrient; especially after all the claims to it’s health qualities? Like many other health supplements, this product is currently being promoted on on-line marking websites and is not yet available in health food and health supplement stores. This usually adds a lot of money onto the price of the product due the way it is marketed, i.e. by direct or multi-level marketing campaigns where the price of the product is made more expensive due to many people being involved in the “pyramid” sales structure.

From a health standpoint, it must be determined that the product has been tested and certified to be acceptable by organizations such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (it has been approved by the FDA as a food coloring), especially in light of a number of health supplements and vitamins coming from countries such as China being found to be unsafe for human consumption.

There are a lot of tested and certified health supplement products currently on the market, and many of them are available at large chain stores such as GNC, and even ones like Costco and Wall Mart. If astaxanthin turns out to live up to all that is being said about it, then it should eventually be available at well known retail and discount establishments; and not just via online marketing.

Source: Natural News ; Picture by: Wikipedia

Plastic nursing bottles may be health hazards

Plastic nursing bottles are now being seen to have similar health hazards to infants and young children as plastic drinking water bottles are to older persons. Studies made by U.S. and other laboratories are linking chemicals found in the plastic material in nursing bottles to be instrumental in causing various forms of cancer later in life, including breast and prostate cancer. In addition, these chemicals, including some known as BPA or Bisphenol-A may also affect a child’s reproduction capabilities later in life.

Baby bottleBPA is defined as an organic compound containing two phenol functioning groups which have a semblance to estrogen hormone. BPA is an important ingredient in the polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins used to make the strong, shatter-proof plastic bottles that people rely on to heat up baby formula. The plastic material in itself is relatively safe when only water or juices at room temperature are poured inside. The problem arises when the formula is heated to a high temperature prior to being given to a baby; as well as when the bottle is washed at a high temperature, as in an automatic dishwasher. The heating process causes the chemicals in the plastic to be released into the fluid inside the bottle which then enter the child’s body and bloodstream. The chemical reactions are similar to what occurs to water inside plastic water bottles which are exposed to high temperatures (when left in a car, etc.)

Warnings of the possible dangers of BPA chemical reactions in infant feeding bottles are now being issued by U.S. government agencies such as the National Toxicology Program. Their findings indicate that these chemical reactions may cause harm to humans, especially children, and result in problems such as early puberty, reproductive problems and even neurological problems.

BPA is found in a number of plastic containers as well as in the coatings often used in a number of soft drink products. Although tests are still being conducted, the main concern is that continuous exposure to BPA could result in a chronic toxicity which will result in the aforementioned health problems.

Plastic infant feeding bottles have been in use for decades, and mothers rely on them to nourish their babies. The dangers of chemical toxicity are now becoming more publicized, and some countries, including Canada, are planning to declare that Bisphenol-A is a toxic substance. Some American states, including California, are also considering the banning of products containing BPA.

As for an alternative to BPA, perhaps the old adage that “breast is best” is in the end the best and safest infant feeding method.

Ridding yourself of excess stomach fat

Many people living in Western countries, especially North America and the U.K., have problems with excess fat around the midriff or stomach. While this common problem is often referred to humorously as having a “love hold” or a “spare tire”, too much body fat pushing on your heart can be dangerous and even fatal in the long run. Some people go the extreme to solve this problem by expensive (and dangerous) surgical procedures, such as “tummy tucks” and liposuction. There are much easier and safer ways to lose excess belly fat; and a proper, healthy diet is one of the best. As many people consume too much food high in unhealthy ingredients, try changing your daily diet by following these simple eating tips:

A. Eat a daily diet of whole grains and fresh vegetables, such as broccoli, lettuce and cabbage, carrots, whole wheat and rice, and tomatoes. It is preferable to eat organic vegetables, if available, but non-organic ones are all right if washed thoroughly to remove impurities and pesticides.

B. Avoid excess carbohydrates, which add plenty of pounds and are often found in “junk foods” like potato chips or fries, pizza, etc. Avoid commercial “white” breads which are high in additives and gluten. Eat only whole grain breads in limited quantities.

C. Eat fish (which is high in proteins and low in cholesterol) and poultry instead of beef and other “red” meats. When eating poultry, choose naturally grown “free-running” poultry over commercial cage raised ones, as natural poultry have little or no added vitamins and growth stimulants, or antibiotics.

D. Exercise is the best weight loss method, as simply changing one’s diet won’t help if a conscientious exercise program is not done. You don’t have to join an expensive gym or health club as exercising can be done at home and in your neighborhood. A brisk 30 minute walk every day will do wonders to remove belly fat; and exercise burns off body fat and calories. Don’t eat a meal loaded with carbohydrates after a workout, as this will negate any benefits gained by the workout.

All of the above tips will help considerably in removing unwanted belly and other body fats and will make a big difference to your figure in the long run.