Sea Plants and Cerebrovascular Health

Did you know that nature’s gifts from the sea promote healthy blood pressure, along with diet, exercise and good stress management?

Astragalus and wakame are two key ingredients in Fucosea that help address healthy blood pressure and may thus protect against stroke.

A stroke is caused by reduced blood supply to the brain, which deprives it of nutrients and critically, oxygen. There are two types of strokes: ischemic (a blocked artery), and hemorrhagic (blood vessel burst). Elevated blood pressure – called hypertension – can increase your risk of stroke up to six times, and it also can lead to blockages in small blood vessels to the brain.

A stroke occurs in Americans every 40 seconds, and approximately 133,000 Americans die of stroke each year, making it the fifth leading cause of fatality.

Astragalus is a popular botanical remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it has been and continues to be used to protect the body against stress (stress elevates blood pressure). A review of studies appearing in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (June 2013) examined the benefits, effects and mechansism of action of Astragoloside IV (an active ingredient in astragalus). The authors concluded that Astragaeloside IV “has broad application prospects” notably in vascular conditions.

Wakame, an edible sea plant, is also neurovascular protective. The beauty of wakame is that you can enjoy eating it (it is quite delicious), and you can take it as part of Fucosea! According to the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention (2004), “Intake of seaweeds is advised not only for prevention of lifestyle-related diseases [such as cerebrovascular] but also iodine deficiency.”

A 1991 double-blind crossover study in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that sea plants supported healthy blood pressure levels by blocking sodium in the system. Wakame capsules were used in another study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry Nutrition (2001) where the results showed attractive drops in blood pressure. Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study, published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009) found that volunteers who took six grams of wakame daily showed a significant decrease in blood pressure in those whose levels were high.

We at Herbsea recommend that if you are concerned about blood pressure (have a family history, for example), definitely watch your salt/sodium intake by reading labels. On average, Americans ingest approximately 3,400 mg sodium every day; and according to experts at the American Heart Association, consuming no more than 1,500 mg sodium daily is very effective in promoting healthy blood pressure levels. (Remember: the sodium content on the labels is per serving, not for the entire product.)

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8 Healthy Summertime Habits

The official start of summer is next week, June 21, and we are very excited, as we are sure you are too! However, due to the depleted ozone layer and the rise of stress, summer can bring with it some dangers.

Here are eight healthy habits that will help you and your family enjoy summer, safely.

  1. Beat the heat and exercise by working out in water! Swimming, moving in water burns calories and primes muscles.
  2. Everything is ripening – so make farmers’ markets a regular trip and challenge yourself to create new recipes. By adding carotenoid-rich colors of the rainbow (fruits and vegetables), to your daily meals, you will keep your GI tract healthy as well as your immune system.
  3. In the “dog days” of summer – when it is truly too sizzling and humid to be outdoors, take the exercise indoors by walking through malls, museums, and other fun spots, or tune the TV to a fitness video and work out in the comfy AC.
  4. Hydrate with water, not sugar-laden drinks – and that includes fruit juices. When it is hot and humid, you sweat, losing water. Carry water bottles around and keep sipping; refill them constantly. Dehydration can become severe.
  5. Sunscreen – at all times. That depleted ozone layer no longer affords the protection against harmful UVA and UVB rays emanating from the sun, which hit the skin more potently than ever. We also love to use aloe from a freshly picked aloe leaf to massage into skin after a day in the sun. It soothes and it leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.
  6. Equally, wear those shades. Sunglasses help protect against development of cataracts, macular degeneration and even skin cancer on the eyelids.
  7. If you are lakeside or hiking in the woods or mountains, pest repellent is important. Nobody likes bites from hungry mosquitoes, and now that we know some of those “skeeters” carry their own diseases such as Zika that they inject into humans, using insect repellent is more critical.
  8. Perhaps most important – take nutrient- and antioxidant-rich Fucosea and related supplements from the Herbsea family of health products. Fucosea is a foremost supplement containing numerous nutrients found in sea plants, including omega-3 EFAs.

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New Research: Vitamin A is Necessary for Blood Stem Cells

Scientists who are experts in stem cell research revealed findings that a lack of vitamin A has a negative impact on blood stem cell health. According to ScienceDaily.com, research team at the German Cancer Research Center

Specialized cells, such as those in the blood, have a natural lifespan that is very short, a few days, and therefore, stores of the cells need to be continually replenished. This is done via adult stem cells that divide. In 2008, scientists found a group of specialized stem cells in the bone marrow that are only activated during times of infections (viral and bacterial), or other situations such as heavy loss of blood. Once these cells finish their activity, they go back into dormancy. Up until recently, the mechanisms that dictate the cells’ activity-and-dormancy cycles have not been clarified.

In a new study published in Cell, (10.1016/j.cell.2017.04.018), scientists have now identified the vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid as a crucial factor in this process. If the body lacks sufficient retinoic acid, those bone marrow stem cells that are active are unable to go back to dormancy, and then mature into specialized blood cells, according to the study. As this continues to occur, the body has less stores to use when needed. This was shown in a mouse study where the test subjects were fed a diet deficient in vitamin A. At the end of the study, the mice showed a loss of stem cells, as shown by dramatically fewer dormant stem cells that were fluoresced green.

Lead author Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid asserted, “we can prove for the first time that vitamin A has a direct impact on blood stem cells.” This new finding emphasizes previous studies showing that lack of vitamin A impairs immune function (the human body cannot produce its own vitamin A). “This shows how vitally important it is to have a sufficient intake of vitamin A from a balanced diet,” Cabezas-Wallscheid underscored.

These results may have influence on cancer research; as there is some scientific evidence that cancer cells also have a dormancy period, similar to stem cells. When in the dormant phase, cancer cell metabolism is slowed considerably, and this phase makes them resistant to chemotherapy.

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Healthy Ideas for 20-Somethings

It used to be that young adults in their 20s never really thought about their health, and just went about their lives eating junk foods as they scurried from work time to play time, and trying to get married.

But modern 20-somethings have been brought up to mind their diets, at the very least. This is a great place to start. If you are in your 20s, or are parents to 20-somethings, here’s what you need to know to get into outstanding shape – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Starting with diet, many in their 20s who graduated from college find that a few extra pounds have crept in. But eating a healthy diet reduces risk of developing heart disease and other chronic health issues such as diabetes type II later in life.

Eliminate those convenience processed foods (no more convenience store fare while your car is getting filled with gas), no more chain restaurant fare (processed, loaded with chemicals), and of course, no more junk food (middle aisles of the supermarket).

Instead, load up on a bounty of colorful fruits and vegetables (fiber and antioxidants), whole grains, spices and herbs (for flavor), lean proteins and low- or nonfat dairy products. Good news: there are hundreds of recipe sites and apps to teach you to make these delicious and interesting. In your 20s, you want to ensure you have optimal amounts of protein, potassium, omega 3 EFAs, and calcium and folic acid (especially for women).

Exercise without going crazy. You don’t need to spend two to three hours in the gym every day, pumping iron. Walk, lift weights moderately – move.

If you smoke, stop. Cold turkey, say doctors, is the most effective way of quitting for good. No props (nicotine patches) or substitutes (gum or food). Vaping is unacceptable, as it is only an expensive substitution that still supplies some nicotine.

Those 20-somethings who enjoy “partying” with excessive alcohol (leftover from college) should curtail dramatically. No more than two drinks per day.

Get on a regular sleep schedule and adhere to it. Studies show that regular, healthy sleep (six to eight hours) promotes good health, weight and mood. In tandem, learn good stress management techniques now: unbridled stress leads to a host of health issues, such as high blood pressure, overeating, anxiety, insomnia.

Use sun protection (SPF) moisturizers and wear good sunglasses. Blocking dangerous sun rays preserves healthy skin and eyesight (sun damage in eyes is a causative factor for development of cataracts).

Finally, do not be afraid of doctor visits, in fact, see specialists regularly to ensure sound health for your future decades, especially if you have a family history of early onset diseases such as cardiovascular, diabetes, stroke, and/or dementia. Get a checkup every two years, and regular eye exams. Men in their 20s should get testicular exams and women should get regular gynecological exams and develop solid pre-natal care habits.

In addition, all men and women in their 20s should supplement with products such as Herbsea’s Fucosea. This supplement is jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, omega 3 EFAs, protein, fiber and antioxidants. It is a wholesome daily support that provides you with an effective platform for all other health-promoting activities.

If you are in your 20s, we would love to know your favorite healthy habits for a future blog! Email us at info[at]herbsea.com today!

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Mediterranean Diet is Smart!

Aging to elderly years is characterized by the brain shrinking and the increased risk of developing dementia and other brain diseases or disorders, and stroke. If you are reading this, you are indeed following a healthy lifestyle and respect your health. Nutritious diet and exercise are likely keying your lifestyle.

You have likely heard for years that eating the so-called Mediterranean diet is a way to enjoy excellent health – and delicious food. A new study validates that the Mediterranean diet is indeed a health-promoter, and this study, published in Neurology, shows that it can enhance and maintain brain health.

Researchers analyzed the diets of about 400 Scottish adults aged 73 to 76 for three years; the scientists MRI scans of the participants to evaluate overall brain volume and brain cortex thickness. The volunteers who ate a Mediterranean-type diet were less likely to lose brain volume as they got older, compared to those who ate non-Mediterranean diet. (Luciano, et al. Neurology 2017, vol. 88 no. 5 449-455.)

An earlier study also published in Neurology also shows beneficial brain effects from following the Mediterranean diet; this study concluded that it can make your brain a few years younger. In this study of 674 elderly adults (average age of 80), researchers performed brain scans and showed that the those who regularly ate a Mediterranean diet had heavier brains with more white and gray matter than their peers who didn’t eat a Mediterranean diet. (Gu, et al. Neurology vol. 85 no. 20 1744-1751.)

This earlier study only measured brain volume at only one point in time where researchers in the new study took two measurements, one at the beginning of the three-year study and one at its conclusion.

Unlike many other diets, the Mediterranean diet is pretty easy to follow and is abundant in foods that are familiar and enjoyable. Most of the diet is plant-based – fruits, beans, cereal grains and vegetables; poultry and fish can be eaten at least twice a week. Carbs are encouraged as from whole grains and cruciferous vegetables (which also provide healthy fiber).

And this is the diet that also is characterized by enjoying sipping a glass of wine. The only limitations are red meats, dairy and sources of saturated fats. Olive oil – we encourage the healthiest type, which is EVOO, or extra virgin olive oil – is preferred to cook with instead of butter.

Fish as part of the Mediterranean diet also provides the goodness of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, but, there are many people who just can’t stand eating fish. So, a similar diet, called the MIND diet, allows you to eat less fish and fruit.

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Ladies: Dong Quai is Your Ginseng

First thing’s first: not all ginsengs are the same. And that’s a good thing, because each ginseng has specific actions and are suited for targeted issues. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is often known as the “women’s ginseng” because it helps nourish the feminine system for several benefits.

As with numerous botanicals you find in modern supplements, the roots of dong quai (DQ) have been used traditionally as a tonic and medicine in Asia, notably in China, where it’s also used as a spice. The ancient Chinese who practiced Traditional Chinese Medicine – and those millions of doctors today who follow these principles – still like to recommend dong quai to women for specific feminine issues, such as supporting reproductive health, and for painful menstruation, improving blood flow, as well as for several symptoms of PMS and perimenopause.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dong quai contains phytochemicals that allows blood vessels to relax and open more, help reduce discomfort, and relax the uterus (a smooth muscle). In so doing, it may help with amenorrhea (interruption of the menses cycle when pregnancy does not exist). It may also help regulate the female hormone, lowering when too much, raising when too little, which appears to benefit adult women of almost all ages.

Meanwhile, there are also some reports that DQ has other emotional benefits – such as acting as a libido booster (aphrodisiac), and can improve and/or regulate mood. Both of these actions are attractive for otherwise vibrant women going through peri-menopause. And speaking of that time in a woman’s life, dong quai has been reported by women to relieve hot flashes yet researchers are conflicted as to how that may work – if the herb blocks estrogen or is phytoestrogenic (acts like estrogen).

Also, as with many other botanicals, there are a couple of cautions. Women who are pregnant should not take dong quai – and if you are a woman who believes you may be pregnant, don’t take it until you know you aren’t. Also, consistent use may cause sensitivity to sunlight in some people.

TCM practitioners – then and now – dry the root to make tinctures, tonics and powders. Now you can see why DQ is mostly for women only!

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Let it Al-mond Hang Out!

If you love nuts, almonds are exceptionally beneficial and delicious.

Our friends at the Almond Board of California (visit www.almonds.com for info and scrumptious recipes) find and review scientific research about how almonds in various forms can affect diet and health.

A study published only last year showed that almonds in just about every form had fewer calories than what was listed on the package (Gebauer, et al, Food & Function, 2016). According to the Almond Board of California, which funded the research, performed by USDA food scientists, both roasted and unroasted almonds provide fewer calories than originally thought—and that the number of calories is largely dependent upon the form of almonds. Specifically, this study showed that 25% fewer calories are absorbed from whole unroasted almonds, while roasted almonds offer 17% to 19% fewer calories, compared to the number of calories listed on nutrition labels.

In this study, the research team expanded upon the traditional method used to determine calories by including measurement of the number of calories actually digested and absorbed from a food. Four years prior, this team conducted its first study using whole roasted almonds — they showed that the almonds contained fewer calories than thought (Novotny, et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012). This time, the research team broadened their investigation to examine the calorie availability of other almond forms, and also replicated the measurement of calories absorbed from whole roasted almonds.

What’s interesting is that just about all forms of almonds you can buy – with the sole exception of almond butter – provides fewer calories than what’s on the Nutrition Facts panels.

According to the food scientists at the Almond Board of California, the discrepancy in calories has a technical reason — mechanical processes, such as roasting, chopping and grinding disrupt the cell wall of almonds and affect particle size. Particle size is also affected when almonds are chewed and digested in the body. The larger the particle size, the less the almond is broken down by digestive enzymes and the more of the almond is excreted, so fewer calories are absorbed. The reverse is also true: the smaller the particle size, the more calories are absorbed.

Researcher David Baer, PhD, explained that, “Calories are created equal but their availability from foods is not equal. These new findings confirm that we actually get fewer calories than we thought from almonds¬¬, whether they are whole or chopped, roasted or unroasted, and the amount of calories absorbed is mostly dependent on the form of almonds consumed.”

This study on the calorie availability of almonds adds to a growing body of evidence showing that a simple snack of almonds can play an important role in healthy weight maintenance. In fact, one study published in the European Journal of Nutrition (2014) found that a mid-morning snack of almonds (1 to 1.5 oz) helped control appetite, resulting in lower calorie intake by the participants, 32 healthy women, during the rest of the day. The study suggests that almonds may be a smart snack option given they acutely enhanced satiety, the feeling of fullness, without increasing total daily calorie consumption.

One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber plus good fats and essential nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium. They are a satisfying snack that also serve as an effective weight-management tool.

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Bladderwrack … Briefly

Every now and then, we love to introduce you to what’s in our formula. This time, we take a brief look at Bladderwrack.

We admit it, the name of this sea plant is kind of funny, and its official name, Fucus vesiculosus, is a tongue twister, but no matter what it’s called, this variety of kelp has several health-promoting compounds. Bladderwrack is a sea plant that is hardy and commonly found in the eastern US coast as well as United Kingdom and northern European waters. It is so named because of the “bumps” on top of the leaf that resemble little bladders.

Bladderwrack contains high amounts of fucoidan, alginic acid and the mineral iodine, and also has mucilage, potassium and the carotenoids zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. It has been consumed traditionally to manage or lose weight by promoting more youthful metabolism, nourish the skin, and support healthy circulation throughout the body.

Iodine is necessary for healthy thyroid function. According to the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS), The RDA amount of iodine is needed to sustain normal thyroid function in adults; children don’t need as much. Thus, in people with insufficient iodine in their diet, bladderwrack may serve as a supplemental source of iodine, which may help restore more normalized thyroid function.

Bladderwrack is also an excellent herb for digestive health support. Alginic acid is a type of dietary fiber that may help alleviate occasional constipation. And interestingly, it may also combat diarrhea, so therefore, alginic acid found in bladderwrack can help balance lower GI function. Mucilage, meanwhile, helps lower GI function in that it can soothe irritation of the digestive tract mucus membranes. In addition, Bladderwrack’s alginic acid is part of a pharmaceutical, Gaviscon, which is prescribed for GERD or “heartburn.”

The UMHS suggests that for short-term use (a few days) to relieve constipation, take one teaspoon of powdered bladderwrack with an 8 -oz. glass of water for three times a day. If you have occasional reflux or gastritis, or feel your thyroid needs support, take 5 to 10 grams of dried bladderwrack in capsules three times per day.

As with numerous traditional herbs and foods (bladderwrack is an edible sea plant), bladderwrack may be consumed as food or made into a tea using 1 teaspoon per cup of hot water and steep for 10 minutes. Note: it is not recommended to consume more than 150 mcg of iodine per day.

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Study Shows that Stress Induces Weight Gain

Have some stubborn pounds that, like certain houseguests, won’t leave? You can blame it on chronic stress. Stress induces the body to release a steroid hormone called cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands using cholesterol as a resource. As with anything else, though, cortisol, when in healthy amounts, does a body good. And as the adage asserts, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Too much cortisol has been found to induce weight gain, and insulin resistance, among other issues.

One way in which weight is gained is as storage as visceral fat, which is located in the abdomen under the muscle. Cortisol, when it has nothing else to do, can relocate triglycerides into tummy fat cells, and it also speeds up the maturation of fat cells! By the way: there are more cortisol receptors in the visceral fat than in the fat under the skin (subcutaneous, or swimsuit-ruining).

And cortisol has yet another ugly side – studies have shown that there is a strong link between excessive cortisol and stronger appetite and cravings. The very idea of “comfort food” is likely based on this science-shown connection!

Researchers recently found that not only does chronic stress contribute to weight gain but makes it harder to lose. The team, which examined data collected from men and women aged 54 and older taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing that began in 2002, used hair samples of 2,537 men and women to measure cortisol levels. The team also took measurements such as waist circumference, BMI, and weight. They found that participants with more cortisol were also more likely to have excess fat around their abdomens.

They also found, when they analyzed the weight and body fat data from four years prior, that those with the highest cortisol levels tended to remain overweight or obese. This study was recently published in the medical journal, Obesity.

At Herbsea, we are big believers in attaining healthy balance, which lessens stress symptoms. Everyone has stress, but if you learn how to handle stress in a healthy manner, you can also manage other aspects of your physical health and overall well-being. We encourage you to assess your stress and learn how to manage it. Let our Fucosea family of supplements help!

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Say Can You See? It’s Healthy Vision Month

We are so affected by what we see, and impacted by what we read and do; vision is key for learning and pure enjoyment.

The National Eye Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health or NIH), encourages us to take care of our eyes and protect our vision. Now more than ever with increased blue-light gazing (the type of light given off by our personal devices such as phones, tablets, computers and some smart TVs), this advice is sound.

But more than that, protection – including quality sunglasses, diet and supplementation – will help if not prevent at least prolong the onset of eye diseases. Approximately 38 million of us (one in eight Americans) have common eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. Family history will determine to a large degree if you will also develop a specific eye condition.

The NEI recommends eating as much of the following foods as you want: fish such as salmon, spinach, dark, leafy greens, almonds and eggs. And of course, carrots. When we speak of color-eating for health, in this case, the yellows and oranges have the most to offer eyes – beta-carotene is the carotenoid (type of antioxidant that provides the color of the food containing it). Other carotenoids shown to help protect vision include zeaxanthin and lutein, and astaxanthin (a red carotenoid).

Astaxanthin is a prominent carotenoid in our Fucosea Family – a nourishing dietary supplement that promotes healthy aging. It is especially supportive for vision health, notably for an increasing problem plaguing almost all adults in our modern world. Asheniopia (eye fatigue) is caused frequently by too much work on a flat-screen device – computer, tablet, smartphone and TV, all which tend to emit a blue light. IN the work environment alone, the average employee spends more than 45 hours in front of a computer screen every week. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in the USA found that over 88% of office workers reported eyestrain. Young people who spend hours gaming are also not immune to this condition — another report from Europe showed that 23% of children suffer from eye fatigue due to heavy use of video games.

Some earlier studies have shown that astaxanthin supplementation lessens eye fatigue by neutralizing free radicals that generate inflammation often associated with chronic visual stress. One study gave individuals who worked in front of visual display monitors 5 mg astaxanthin per day for one month or placebo. After one month, slightly more than half (54%) of the astaxanthin group reported significantly diminished eye strain, compared to only 8% in the placebo group.

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