Algae Can Alleviate Joint Issues



Algae may not sound appealing, but many species of this marine plant are wonderful for promoting human health. In fact, one study shows that a brown alga has an ingredient that can stop cartilage degeneration in joints. This is great news for the millions of adults worried about losing mobility to worsening joint discomfort and stiffness.


Approximately 90 percent of all people over 65 have some degree of joint degradation, primarily the cartilage, which serves to help lubricate the joints and cushion against the bones. This can be extremely painful for sufferers, because inflammatory reactions are associated with cartilage degeneration. In the later stages of arthritis, bones are no longer adequately protected and can directly rub against each other; it typically affects knees, hips and fingers.


Conventional anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers mainly address the symptoms. And some people opt to regain mobility through surgical knee or hip replacements.


In laboratory tests, researchers identified a compound — polysaccharide alginate extracted from the stems of cuvie (Laminaria hyperborean), a brown alga — similar to extracellular molecules in cartilage, and which has potential to cause cessation of cartilage degeneration in joints.


In the in vitro study, researchers modified the alginate with sulfate groups then added it in dissolved form to cell cultures to examine the reaction of various cell types to the modified polysaccharide. Alginate sulfate was shown to significantly reduce oxidative stress, a common cause of cell damage and cell death; further, the more sulfate groups that were attached to the alginate molecule, the greater this reduction was.


The study also showed that alginate sulfate was able to suppress the inflammatory reaction, likewise also depending on the number of sulfate groups, and was able to down-regulate the expression of genes that trigger an inflammatory reaction in both chondrocytes (cells specific to cartilage), and in macrophages, the “scavenger cells” of the immune system. The algal molecules should therefore slow down cartilage degeneration. “The hope is that they can even stop this degeneration,” stated researcher Markus Rottmar.


At Herbsea, we are very excited about this emerging research. We know earth’s waters offer a treasure trove of healthy gifts for us (and our companion animals, too). As such, we developed our distinctive Fucosea — a multi-marine-source dietary supplement containing health-promoting polysaccharides, and is perfect for vegans and vegetarians.


Anne Kerschenmeyer, et al. “Anti-oxidant and immune-modulatory properties of sulfated alginate derivatives on human chondrocytes and macrophages.” Biomater. Sci., 2017; 5 (9): 1756


Don’t Abandon Omega 6 EFAs


We all know by now that Omega 3 EFAs are very healthy and we don’t get enough. But new science shows that omega-6 EFAs, especially linoleic acid, can help keep the cardiovascular system healthy and, say researchers in a new study from Finland, can provide some protection against premature death.

“Linoleic acid is the most common polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. We discovered that the higher the blood linoleic acid level, the smaller the risk of premature death,” says study lead author Jyrki Virtanen, adjunct professor from the University of Eastern Finland, reporting the findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Although omega-6 essential fatty acids are known for their normalizing effect on cholesterol levels, they also have been implicated in the increased risk of several chronic diseases chiefly by promoting low-grade inflammation. In the human body, linoleic acid is converted into arachidonic acid (also an omega-6 fatty acid typically consumed in red meat). Arachidonic acid is metabolized into both inflammatory-causing and inflammatory-quelling eicosanoids during and after inflammatory response.

The study assessed data from ongoing at the University of Eastern Finland, the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD. In this published study, the researchers assessed the blood fatty acid levels of 2,480 men between 42 and 60 years of age at the onset of the study in 1984–1989.

When the researchers divided the study participants into five different groups based on their blood linoleic acid level, they discovered that the risk of premature death was 43% lower in the group with the highest level, when compared to the group with the lowest level. A more detailed analysis of the causes of death showed that a similar association exists for death due to cardiovascular diseases.

The study backs up findings from earlier population-based studies which have linked a higher dietary intake of linoleic acid and a higher blood linoleic acid level to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, The blood linoleic acid level is determined by a person’s diet, and the main sources of linoleic acid are vegetable oils, plant-based spreads, nuts and seeds.

This is important because it highlights and underscores the necessity to maintain the healthy ratio of omega 3 EFAS to omega 6 EFAS in balance. We need the perfect 1:1 balance to achieve homeostasis (good health and well-being). The more of both, the better, but we at Herbsea advise you to find the balance.

Virtanen, J., et al. Serum n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and risk of death: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, published online March 16, 2018 DOI:

Red Wine May Boost Oral Health

While many people now know that red wine (one glass daily) has been shown to be good for the cardiovascular system, a new study has suggested that the polyphenols in red wine may also be supportive of oral health. Polyphenols are antioxidants, which are beneficial in protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals. More recently, research has shown another way polyphenols contribute to health, by interacting with the gut microbiota.

In a new study, researchers wanted to reveal if and how polyphenols impacted gums and teeth; the research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry concluding that wine polyphenols might be viable for oral health.

In the in vitro study, the researchers investigated the effect of two red wine polyphenols, as well as commercially available grape seed and red wine extracts, on bacteria that tend to adhere to teeth and gums, causing the typical cascade of dental plaque, cavities and periodontal disease. On the substrate, cells that mimicked gum tissue, the researchers found that the two wine polyphenols in isolation — caffeic and p-coumaric acids — were generally better than the total wine extracts at cutting back on the bacteria’s cell-adhesion ability.

When combined with an oral probiotic, Streptococcus dentisani, the researchers found that the polyphenols were even more effective at vanquishing the pathogenic bacteria, thereby maintaining oral health. The researchers also showed, the metabolite created when polyphenol digestion begins in the oral cavity contributes to these desirable effects.

At Herbsea, we also recommend cutting down on sugary and starchy foods, as these will contribute to tooth decay and cavities, and take quality antioxidant and nutraceutical-containing supplements such as our Fucosea, which also contributes to overall health and well-being. And yes, one glass of red wine a day is still perfect for relaxing – and for good health.

Reference: Esteban-Fernándezet al. ”Inhibition of Oral Pathogens Adhesion to Human Gingival Fibroblasts by Wine Polyphenols Alone and in Combination with an Oral Probiotic.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2018; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b05466

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Low Carb vs. Low Fat: How About Both?

At Herbsea, we believe good health and good fortune as well as happiness lie in healthy diet and lifestyle. Today, we are, in general, very stressed and putting our bodies through toxic overload. The way we eat is a cornerstone to creating solid health as we age.

One of the most prevalent diets is the “low carb” diet, which in recent years has been favored over the once-popular “low fat” diet – this latter diet had been shown to be somewhat harmful as dutiful followers were also cutting out good/essential fats and ignoring carb intake.

A new study, however, shows that following tenets of both diets may be the answer, and that neither option is superior. New evidence from the study at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that either carbs or fats shaves off excess weight almost equally.

“We’ve all heard stories of a friend who went on one diet — it worked great — and then another friend tried the same diet, and it didn’t work at all,” said Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine and the lead author of the study. “It’s because we’re all very different, and we’re just starting to understand the reasons for this diversity. Maybe we shouldn’t be asking what’s the best diet, but what’s the best diet for whom?”

Past research has shown that a range of factors, including genetics, insulin levels (which helps regulate glucose in the body) and the microbiome, might tip the scales when it comes to weight loss. The new study, published Feb. 20 in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), focused on how genetics and insulin may encourage an individual’s body to favor a low-carbohydrate diet or a low-fat diet.

The team recruited 609 men and women between the ages of 18 and 50, randomized into either a low-carbohydrate or low-fat diet groups for 12 months.

Pre-study, participants got part of their genome sequenced, allowing scientists to look for specific gene patterns associated with producing proteins that modify carbohydrate or fat metabolism. Then, they took a baseline insulin test.

Over the 12-month period, researchers tracked the progress of participants, logging information about weight, body composition, baseline insulin levels and how many grams of fat or carbohydrate they consumed daily. By the end of the study, individuals in the two groups had lost, on average, 13 pounds. Contrary to the study hypotheses, Gardner found no associations between the genotype pattern or baseline insulin levels and a propensity to succeed on either diet.

According to the authors, the fundamental strategy for losing weight via either a low-fat or a low-carb approach is similar. Eat less sugar, less refined flour and as many vegetables as possible. Consume mostly whole foods, organic, free-range, grass-fed and non-GMO if possible.

Reference: Gardner, et al. “Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association with Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA, 2018; 319 (7): 667-679 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.0245

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Eating Curry Foods Can Help Preserve Brain Health

At Herbsea, we love to eat nutritious and delicious foods from Mother Nature. Many ethnic foods, such as Indian and Asian styles, are abundant with vegetables, fruits and spices that have specific health benefits, and can help keep you lean and fit in the process.

Curry (turmeric) is a spice most people associate with Indian food, but it is also widely used in other Asian nations. And now a new study from UCLA shows that daily consumption of this culinary spice can help actually improve memory and mood in people who have mild age-related memory loss.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study (published online January 19 in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry), examined the effects of a curcumin supplement on memory performance in people without dementia, and its potential impact on the microscopic plaques and tangles in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s.

Curcumin is the active ingredient with dozens of human clinical trials demonstrating its ability to positively influence inflammation response and in joint comfort and enhanced mobility. Interestingly, some studies have suggested that there is a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive performance impairments in India’s senior citizens. In the brain, “Exactly how curcumin exerts its effects is not certain, but it may be due to its ability to reduce brain inflammation, which has been linked to both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression,” said co-author Dr. Gary Small, director of geriatric psychiatry at UCLA’s Longevity Center and of the geriatric psychiatry division at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.

The new double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved 40 adults between 50 and 90 years old who had mild memory complaints who took either placebo or 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months. All 40 subjects received standardized cognitive assessments at the start of the study and at six-month intervals, and monitoring of curcumin levels in their blood at the start of the study and after 18 months. Thirty of the volunteers underwent positron emission tomography, or PET scans, to determine the levels of amyloid and tau in their brains at the start of the study and after 18 months.

According to the researchers, at the end of the study those who took curcumin experienced significant improvements in their memory and attention abilities; there were no improvements noted in the placebo group. In memory tests, the curcumin group improved by 28 percent over the 18 months, reported mild improvements in mood, and their brain PET scans showed significantly less amyloid and tau signals in the amygdala and hypothalamus than the placebo group. The amygdala and hypothalamus control several memory and emotional functions. “These results suggest that taking this relatively safe form of curcumin could provide meaningful cognitive benefits over the years,” said Small.

He added that he and his team plan to conduct a follow-up study with a larger number of people. That study will include some people with mild depression so the scientists can explore whether curcumin also has mood-support effects.
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Celebrate National Grapefruit Month

We admit it – we love national months, weeks and days that celebrate something from Mother Nature’s vast pantry – natural, whole foods. This month is National Grapefruit Month – this citrus is often overlooked as a nutrient-packed – and culinary – food. Its cousin, the orange, gets the spotlight for immune-boosting. But the mighty grapefruit is more than just a source of vitamin C.

Your farmers market and supermarket will likely carry the key types – ruby reds, pomelo, marsh and oroblanco. Their flesh is white, pink or red, and can taste tart or sweet when ripe.

vitamins C and A, grapefruits also pack in the potassium.  They contain no cholesterol or sodium and only 52 calories per serving. Pink and ruby red grapefruits also contain the carotenoid lycopene.

Did you know? The leaders in cranberry foods and beverages, Ocean Spray, also specializes in grapefruits; its website has great information as well as numerous recipes (including a grapefruit face mask). And, it notes the following facts about the “delish-nutrish” citrus juice: “Grapefruit juice is one of the lowest calorie and nutrient-dense juice choices; one glass of grapefruit juice is fat-free and cholesterol-free, part of a healthy diet; and each glass of 100% grapefruit juice gives your body a full serving of fruit – and no added sugar.”

Further, according to several sources, half a typical grapefruit provides approximately 60 to 80% daily value of vitamin C (depending on size).

According to several sources, grapefruits provide several key body benefits:

Metabolism boost: compounds in the grapefruit appear to increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of cells, which speeds up sluggish metabolism.

Blood sugar response-friendly: although grapefruits have a touch of sweetness, they are a low-glycemic index citrus; half a grapefruit contains approximately 8 grams of natural sugar and has low impact on blood sugar.

Cholesterol management: pectin found in grapefruit is a soluble fiber that has been shown in some studies to decelerate progression of atherosclerosis. A human study showed that individuals who drank red grapefruit juice daily for one month had lowered total cholesterol by 15.5%; those who drank white grapefruit juice had only 7.6% lower total cholesterol. Both juices lowered LDL cholesterol. Those in the red grapefruit juice group also had lowered LDL by 20.3%, while the white grapefruit juice group had 10.7% lowering; triglycerides dropped in the red grapefruit juice group by 17.2% while the white grapefruit juice group showed 5.6% lowered triglyceride level.

So, celebrate National Grapefruit Month by adding it to your daily diet – either as a food, or as a glass of refreshing juice. And don’t forget to take your potent plant multi – Fucosea – as your daily starter!

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Study: Diet Affects Mood and Mental Health

While it may seem a no-brainer, a research team at Binghamton University, State University of New York demonstrated that ingestion of certain foods can have an effect on mental wellness, and that those effects differ between younger and older adults.

The researchers conducted an anonymous internet survey asking respondents to complete the Food-Mood Questionnaire (FMQ), which includes questions on food groups that have been associated with neurochemistry and neurobiology.

Analyzing the data, Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University and Nasim Sabounchi, Assistant Professor of Systems Science and Industrial Engineering, found that mood in young adults (18-29) seems to be dependent on food (primarily meat) that increases availability of neurotransmitter precursors and concentrations in the brain. However, mood in mature adults (over 30 years) may be more reliant on food (fruits) that increases availability of antioxidants and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the sympathetic nervous system (coffee, high glycemic index and skipping breakfast).

“One of the major findings of this paper is that diet and dietary practices differentially affect mental health in young adults versus mature adults,” said Begdache. “Another noteworthy finding is that young adult mood appears to be sensitive to the buildup of brain chemicals. Regular consumption of meat leads to the buildup of two brain chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) known to promote mood. Regular exercise leads to buildup of these and other neurotransmitters as well. In other words, young adults who ate meat (red or white) less than three times a week and exercised less than three times week showed a significant mental distress.”

She continued, “Conversely, mature adult mood seems to be more sensitive to regular consumption of sources of antioxidants and abstinence of food that inappropriately activates the innate fight-or-flight response (commonly known as the stress response). With aging, there is an increase in free radical formation (oxidants), so our need for antioxidants increases. Free radicals cause disturbances in the brain, which increases the risk for mental distress. Also, our ability to regulate stress decreases, so if we consume food that activates the stress response (such as coffee and too many carbohydrates), we are more likely to experience mental distress.”

At Herbsea, we believe that a healthy diet creates healthy balance, no matter your age. This study shows that certain wholesome foods in certain life stages may have specific actions in supporting mood wellness. Taking a whole-foods supplement, such as Fucosea, also enhances overall feelings of vitality for an active lifestyle.

Begdache, et al. “Assessment of dietary factors, dietary practices and exercise on mental distress in young adults versus matured adults: A cross-sectional study” Nutritional Neuroscience. Published online December 11 2017 doi:10.1080/1028415X.2017.1411875

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Sleep for Better Heart Health

February is national Heart Health Awareness Month (also National Heart Health), and the top non-profit authority on heart health, American Heart Association (, suggests focusing on quality, healthy sleep to support your heart. Are you one of three adults who obtain less than the recommended hours – seven to nine — of sleep?

Burning the candle at both ends – living with a constantly overflowing plate of responsibilities and projects, can be detrimental to heart health. When you allow yourself to sleep for seven or so hours, you can be more productive during the day, and also prevent the groggy, foggy feeling that sleep deprivation brings.

Poor sleep, not enough sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart disease and stroke.

One newer factor that keeps many people from catching their healthy 40 winks – is technology. Many of us are too connected and afraid not to be – smartphones are now a part of us, attached by an unseen umbilical cord.

Changing tech habits can help lessen your dependence and also promote longer, healthier sleep. Charge your smartphone in another room, not next to your bed. It’s too easy to simply reach over and check it. This disrupts sleep, and every time you do this your body feels the need to “start over.” If you still feel the need to charge the phone in the bedroom, minimize disruption by setting the “do not disturb” function to block notifications, and, for the hardcore smartphone addicts, an app-blocking app. Yup; this app blocks your ability to use other apps after a time that you set it for.

In the evenings, dim the light, as the brighter the light the more your melatonin production – circadian rhythm – may be disrupted.

Set a time to go to bed and stick to it; just as you have a wake-up time, say, 6:00 am, your bed time should be 10:30 – add an extra half hour to unwind.

Of course, moderate exercise, healthy diet (full of antioxidants, fiber, protein, good fats and slow carbs), plus a dietary supplement, such as Fucosea that provides optimum nutrients daily, will also help you to obtain a healthy night’s sleep.

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Omega-3s: Nature’s Brain-Boosting Food

A new study in Scientific Reports (a sister journal to Nature) showed that eating fish regularly, each week, can support higher IQ and promote healthier sleep. Regular fish consumption has also been shown to improve cognitive function. This new study is the first to show all three benefits of a high-fish (omega 3) diet. This study found that children who eat fish at least once a week achieved better sleep, have IQ scores that are four points higher on average than those children who didn’t eat as much fish or no fish at all.

Previous studies showed a relationship between omega-3s, the fatty acids in many types of fish, and boosting of intelligence and sleep quality, independently, but not in one trial. This new research reveals sleep as a possible mediating pathway, the potentially previously unidentified connection between fish consumption and intelligence.

“This area of research is not well-developed. It’s emerging,” said Jianghong Liu, lead author on the paper and an associate professor of nursing and public health. “Here we look at omega-3s coming from our food instead of from supplements.”

For the work, a cohort of 541 children aged nine to 11 completed a questionnaire about how often they consumed fish in the past month, with options ranging from “never” to “at least once per week.” They also took an IQ test called the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised, which examines verbal and non-verbal skills such as vocabulary and coding.

The team discerned sleep quality using the standardized Children Sleep Habits Questionnaire, addresses sleep duration and frequency of night waking or daytime sleepiness.
The researchers found that children who ate fish weekly scored 4.8 points higher on the IQ exams than those who said they “seldom” or “never” consumed fish. In addition, increased fish consumption was associated with fewer disturbances of sleep, which the researchers say indicates better overall sleep quality.

“Lack of sleep is associated with antisocial behavior; poor cognition is associated with antisocial behavior,” said co-author Adrian Raine. “We have found that omega-3 supplements reduce antisocial behavior, so it’s not too surprising that fish is behind this.”

We at Herbsea always believe that a healthy diet is the cornerstone of good health, fitness and well-being. There is tremendous evidence that adding fish on a regular basis supports sound health. In tandem, taking supplements such as Fucosea (abundant in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 EFAs) boosts optimal nutrition the body appreciates.

Jianghong Liu, et al. ”The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study.” Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-17520-w

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Something to Smile About: Oral Health Means Overall Health

Brush and floss at least once a day – you hear this mantra from your dentist. Not many people follow this advice. In fact, according to 2014 survey results from Delta Dental (“Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey”) and cited by the American Dental Association (ADA), about seven out of 10 Americans brush their teeth at least twice a day, so more than 30 percent aren’t brushing enough. Additionally, only four out of 10 floss at least once a day while 20 percent never floss; the survey also showed that there was a positive relationship between daily flossing and good oral health.

But there’s another really strong reason to ensure you brush and floss daily, beyond sporting a winning smile: poor oral health leads to overgrowth of bacteria residing in the mouth and that have been linked to oral cancer, colorectal cancer and diabetes. It has been known for several years now that poor oral hygiene also leads to heart disease.

Now, new research published in Cancer Research has added another potentially fatal development from poor oral hygiene: bacteria may also increase risk of developing esophageal cancer.

In the study, researchers took samples of oral bacteria found in more than 120,000 people and ran a DNA analysis to identify all the species that were there. Then, over a 10-year period, they waited to see if anyone would get esophageal cancer; 106 people eventually did.

A few types of bacteria seemed to be more strongly linked with higher or lower risks of esophageal cancer, the authors found. People who had higher levels of Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis had a higher risk of cancer. Specifically, Tannerella was linked with a 21 percent increased risk; other researchers had previously found high levels of Porphyromonas in esophageal tumors. However, the study did not show a direct causative or mechanistic link between these bacteria and esophageal cancer. These bacteria can cause gum disease and although the findings seem indicative of their presence as a risk factor, that has yet to be determined, the researchers say.

Esophageal cancer is not that common; only about one percent of all cancers diagnosed each year is in the esophagus. And according to the American Cancer Society, those who do get it tend to have a grim outlook – less than one in five people with esophageal cancer survive more than five years after diagnosis.

We at Herbsea believe in promoting healthy habits, and these include not smoking, which is another risk factor for esophageal cancer. Taking supplements rich in antioxidants, such as Fucosea, is also a good habit – along with brushing and flossing daily!

Peters, et al. “Oral Microbiome Composition Reflects Prospective Risk for Esophageal Cancers” Cancer Research 2017 Dec. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-1296

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