Friday, November 30, 2007

Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses

Silicone Hydrogel lenses are the latest development in soft contact lens materials. They are healthier than conventional soft lenses because they allow up to 6 times more oxygen to pass through them and increased oxygen transmission results in better overall eye health. Advantages of silicone hydrogel lenses over conventional soft lenses include: more resistance to protein deposits, less drying of the lenses, lower risk of eye infection, easier handling due to increased rigidity of material, and much lower incidence of complications with extended wear use (overnight wear).
The convenience of 30 days continuous wear (PureVision and Focus Night & Day), as well as the lowered incidence of eye health complications are quickly making silicone hydrogels the most popular lens of choice for both eye care practitioners as well as patients. Most eye doctors believe that within the next 5 years, more patients will be wearing silicone hydrogel lenses than any other lens material.

The current brands of spherical silicone hydrogel lenses available, in order of highest oxygen transmissibility to lowest, are:
  • Ciba Focus Night & Day which is approved for 30 day continuous wear
  • Vistakon’s Acuvue Oasys which is approved for 2 week daily wear use or 6 night extended wear and is designed to be more wettable than the others and is therefore beneficial for people who have dry eyes
  • Ciba’s O2 Optix which is approved for 6 days continuous wear or 2 weeks daily wear
  • Bausch & Lomb’s PureVision which is approved for 30 days continuous wear
  • Vistakon Acuvue Advance which is a 2 week disposable lens and has not yet been approved for extended wear.

There are also currently two toric (astigmatism correcting) silicone hydrogel lenses on the market:


Studies have indicated that some lens care cleaning systems are compatible with silicone hydrogels, while others may cause adverse reactions due to toxicity. Aquify, Optifree Express, and ClearCare multipurpose solutions have all been FDA approved to be used with silicone hydrogels.
AOSept has proven to be an acceptable hydrogen peroxide based system to use with these lenses. In some studies, Renu Multiplus has been shown to cause an adverse corneal reaction when used with some silicone hydrogel lenses (source Contact Lens Spectrum, August 2005). Additionally, UltraCare and SoloCare are not recommended for use with silicone hydrogel lenses.


Most people would benefit from wearing silicone hydrogel lenses as compared to conventional soft lenses due to the health advantages, however, these lenses are especially useful in the following types of patients: people with high prescriptions; those whose eyes show signs that they require more oxygen; wearers who experience end of day discomfort, dryness, or redness with their conventional soft lenses; people who wear their lenses for more than 12 to 14 hours a day (including overnight wear); and kids and teenagers who tend to routinely over wear their lenses. Additionally, since the Focus Night & Day as well as the PureVision lenses are approved for 30 days of continuous wear, they can be considered as a useful alternative for people contemplating refractive surgery.


Silicone hydrogels may not be the lens of choice for all patients. These lenses are generally more expensive than non-silicone lenses so a more price conscious consumer may not prefer this option. Also, in some wearers, the silicone material tends to attract more lipid deposits, which may cause blurred vision and discomfort. There are some cases where a patient is not able to adapt well to the more rigid silicone material, which may result in some minor defects to the corneal integrity.
These complications are rare and generally the health advantages and increased comfort that most wearers experience far outweigh the incidences of adverse reactions in those who do not adapt well to the material.

(c) 2006 AC Lens, Reproduction Prohibited without Express Permission


Focus Night & Day were the subject of a three year study by Ciba Vision. The company reported that the performance of this silicone hydrogel (SiHy) contact lens indicated that wearers enjoyed improved corneal health and reduced frequency and symptoms of contact lens related eye health symptoms.
In particular, the study of 317 patients showed that Focus Night & Day wearers had less problems with red eye, reduced dryness (22%) and neo-vascularization (the development of new blood vessels in the cornea) was reduced by 13%. During the first 8 months of 2005, Silicone Hydrogels represented 24% of all soft contact lens sales – more than double the figure for the same period of 2004. Ciba lenses represented almost 50% of silicone hydrogel sales during this time.

Bausch & Lomb (manufacturer of Purevision, Purevision Toric and Purevision Multifocal contact lenses) reported that 40% of new contact lens fits are now silicone hydrogel contacts. They claim that 94% of wearers of their sector leading Soflens 66 Toric contacts can be migrated to the Purevision Toric lens without a script change.

Vistakon, manufacturer of the Ultra-Comfort series of contact lenses which comprises the Acuvue Advance, Acuvue Advance for Astigmatism and the Acuvue Oasys says their silicone hydrogels are all addressing the
issue of end-of-day comfort for contact lens wearers. Prescription parameter ranges are being expanded for each of these lenses (most recently, plus powers for Oasys were made available). Acuvue Oasys
was also recently given FDA approval for up to 7 days of continuous wear. Vistakon claims to have the number one silicone hydrogel with their Acuvue Advance and the number one new-wearer toric in the Advance
for Astigmatism.
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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Computer Vision Syndrome


Anybody who spends 2 or more hours a day using a computer may potentially suffer from Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). The symptoms can be quite varied but generally include some or all of the following:
  • Headache – due to eye-strain
  • Aches & Pains – especially of the shoulders and neck due to poor posture at the computer because the wearer is sitting at an unnatural position/angle in order to obtain good vision
  • Dry Eyes – due to reduced blinking
  • Tired Eyes –due to strain focusing on the screen
  • Blurred Vision – due to decreased tears and focusing difficulties

Some or all of these symptoms should send you to your eye-doctor. He/She will likely confirm the diagnosis with or without the aid of a specialized computer vision screening test. They will then most likely prescribe a pair of computer glasses. In the simplest cases, these may comprise single-vision glasses with a low “plus” power addition that provides slight magnification, a light tint (possibly rose or gray) to
make reading more relaxing on the eyes, and a UV coat to reduce harmful radiation from the screen. These computer glasses may alleviate many of the above symptoms. In addition, to alleviate your symptoms you should always follow these basic steps:
  • Ensure you have adequate and appropriate lighting – eyestrain occurs when the light coming from outside or inside is excessively bright. You should reduce exterior light by drawing shades/blinds – this will make the monitor easier to read. Reduce interior light where possible also.
  • Adjust the screen brightness & contrast on your monitor – make sure the contrast is optimized for readability of text and the brightness is adjusted for maximum comfort
  • Minimize glare – keep obvious light sources away from areas where reflection will be a problem. Use an anti-glare filter on the screen, or consider an anti-reflective coating on your glasses

Finally, the problem of dry scratchy eyes will often require treatment with eye drops, supplements, or in extreme cases treatment with punctual occlusion (a procedure in which the tear-duct drainage points in the eye are partially blocked to allow tears to remain for longer periods in and around the eyes).
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dry Eyes & Contact Lens Wear

Dry eye is a very common disorder of the tear film that is due to a deficiency of tear volume or excessive tear evaporation. This condition causes damage to the surface of the eye leading to discomfort and irritation. Dry eyes can be associated with systemic diseases, chemicals, drugs, inflammation, allergic reactions, and contact lens wear.
The symptoms of dry eye typically include burning, stinging, redness, foreign body sensation, excess tearing, and intermittent blurred vision.
The estimated number of people affected ranges from 10 to 14 million in the United States.

Contact lens intolerance is often a consequence of dry eye.
Studies show that up to 50% of soft contact lens wearers complain of dryness. A person with mild dry eye may not experience symptoms until they attempt to wear contacts. Contacts can disrupt the delicate balance of tear film production and can bring about dry eye symptoms.
Some dry eye patients can only wear lenses comfortably for short periods of time and others are unable to tolerate contacts at all. Dryness is the primary reason why people permanently discontinue contact lens wear.

Some clinical studies have indicated that preservatives used in multipurpose solutions can contribute to discomfort and dryness in contact lens wearers. One study specifically evaluated dry eye contact lens wearers who compared AOSept, which has no added preservatives, to OptiFree, Renu, Solocare, and Complete. It was found that the majority of the subjects experienced increased comfort and reduced symptoms of dryness with the AOSept as compared to the multipurpose solutions.
There are ways for contact lens wearers to combat dry eyes and feel comfortable in their lenses for longer periods of wearing time. Possible remedies of contact lens related dryness include:


  • Contact lens rewetting drops: This is usually a temporary solution but does offer some relief.
    Some examples are Refresh Contacts, Clerz Plus, or Clear Eyes Contact Lens Relief. For those with sensitive eyes, it is best to use a preservative-free drop.
  • Re-soak lenses during the day: People who have dryness symptoms after a few hours of wearing time often experience much relief by removing and soaking their lenses for a few minutes. Upon reinsertion, most are able to wear their lenses comfortably for many more hours.
  • Take good care of lenses: Inserting fresh new lenses as often as prescribed, as well as cleaning lenses properly, greatly contributes to contact lens comfort. Protein deposits and other types of buildup on the lens surface contribute to increased lens dryness. Sometimes switching to a more disposable lens or switching to a different or stronger lens cleaning system also helps.
  • More complete and frequent blinking: Blinking completely and often is necessary to rewet the lenses and maintain comfort. It is often the case that when a person is concentrating, they do not blink as often as they should. This is why computer users often complain of lens dryness. It is important to consciously be aware of blinking frequently and completely under these circumstances.
  • Switching to a different lens material: There are lens brands designed specifically to provide
    more comfort for those who have problems with dryness. Some examples are Proclear Compatibles and Acuvue Oasys. The newer, more oxygen permeable silicone hydrogel materials such as Focus Night & Day, Ciba O2 Optix, and Acuvue Advance have proven to be more comfortable for patients with moderate dry eye issues.
  • Prescription eye drops: Restasis is an anti-inflammatory eye drop prescribed for moderate to severe dry eyes and has proven to be very effective in cases where inflammation is the underlying cause of the dryness symptoms. Contact lenses should be removed before using these drops.


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Focus Night & Day
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O2-Optix
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Purevision
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Healthiest Diet In The World

Making the Top 100

You probably assume you're a product of your genes. You have your father's I eyes, your mother's freckles, and your grandmother's diabetes. I, too, am a product of my genes. Every male on my father's side has died at an early death after suffering a premature heart attack. My father died in 1972 at the age of 54, and I was sure that I was genetically destined for this same fate.

Although I knew I couldn't change my genes, I didn't want to be a slave to them either. I was determined to alter my genetic destiny and live a normal, healthy lifespan. I didn't buy into the notion that some new medication would come along to save me. I had to take charge of my own health directly by changing my eating habits. So I decided to devote my work as a researcher to discovering what, if any, dietary habits could reverse my impending collision course with my genetic fate. Through 20 years of research, I've learned that food can indirectly turn certain genes on and off by altering the levels of hormones, the chemical messengers that control our lives. These hormones can alter our genetic fate by increasing or decreasing our natural lifespan.

One of the most powerful hormones controlled by the foods we eat is insulin. My research found that if you could keep insulin levels within a certain zone -- not too high and not too low -- you could, in fact, bypass your genetic glitches and avoid certain chronic diseases. The result? A longer and healthier life.

I called my program the Zone Diet. Although it was developed for treating cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, it is also the most effective way to lose excess body fat without feelingdeprived or hungry. It is not a short-term diet, but a life-long dietary strategy that can keep you at a healthy weight for the rest of your life. All you need to do is eat the right combination of foods at every meal. This means eating a balanced amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fat at every meal and snack -- and eating all these foods in moderation. Follow this simple rule at every meal, and you will achieve the hormonal responses that will get you into the Zone.

What does it mean to be in the Zone? Picture yourself going through your days feeling energized, happy, and satisfied. That's the feeling you get in the Zone. Now picture yourself feeling exhausted, hungry, and down in the dumps. That's what you feel like when you're out of the Zone. If you follow my Zone prescription, within a week you will be thinking better, performing better, and looking better. In the long run, you'll receive some rather remarkable health benefits like the permanent loss of excess body fat and a dramatically lowered risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The Zone has been incorrectly dubbed a high-protein diet by the popular press. The Zone is not a high-protein, high-carbohydrate, or high-anything diet. These diets are faddish quick fixes and run contrary to what Nature intended. The Zone is a balanced diet in the truest sense of the word. To stay healthy, you need to keep all of your body's systems in balance, and that's what the Zone Diet will do for you.
The Healthiest Diet In The World

I firmly believe that the Zone Diet is the healthiest diet in the world. Like any piece of technology, the Zone keeps evolving. When I first created the Zone, I came up with a system called Zone Food Blocks and divided all foods into various blocks of protein, carbohydrate, and fat so that you could mix and match them to get the best hormonal output. As long as you have the right combination of protein, carbohydrate, and fat blocks, you can achieve the hormonal effects of the Zone. You do, however, still need to be selective about the quality of foods you eat. I also told you to avoid certain carbohydrates that cause dangerous rises in insulin (like bagels and potatoes). Dining on low-fat protein, heart-healthy fats, and tons of fruits and vegetables makes the Zone Diet the hands-down most nutritious eating plan you can follow.

The Zone Diet has continued to evolve into increasingly healthier versions; such as replacing low-fat animal protein with increasing amounts of soy protein. I wrote The Soy Zone based on the diet eaten by the longest-living population in the world, the Okinawans. Their basic diet is the Zone Diet, containing primarily vegetables, some fish and animal protein, but with most of their protein from soy. That's why you'll find numerous soy protein products on my Top 100 list.

For this book I took a little journey down memory lane. I went back through all my years of research and searched through studies conducted by other scientists to determine which particular foods are the absolute best for your health. New information is coming along every day, but all the foods on my Top 100 list have been found to have significant health benefits in study after study.

Of course, I'm not telling you that you need to eat only these foods. I want you to experience the hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables whose shimmering colors catch your eye on produce stands. (As you will find out later, more color means more free-radical-fighting abilities.) I do, however, think it's important to make certain foods staples in your diet. For instance, you can follow the Zone Diet and never eat a single cruciferous vegetable, yet you'd be missing out on the cancer-and aging-fighting chemicals that make broccoli, spinach, and kale so potent in lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer.

If you aren't using the highest-quality foods in your Zone meals, then you aren't reaping the maximum health benefits of the Zone. It's as simple as that. Maybe you're not quite sure how to fit your favorite fruits and vegetables into the plan. Perhaps you're reluctant to try something new if you don't have a recipe to use it in. Chapter 4, "The Top 100 Zone Foods," will give you easy and delicious recipes containing all of these foods.



Excerpted from

Top 100 Zone Foods: The Zone Food Science Ranking System
Buy this book at Barnes & Noble

-------------------

Interested in the Zone Diet? Visit the Official site of The Zone Diet

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

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Longer Life Or Better Life?

From the beginning of written history, man's quest for a longer life, if not immortality, has been a constant theme. In fact a longer life might have seemed like immortality for early man since the average life span through Roman times was about 22 years of age.

Some of the earliest recorded anti-aging literature came from the Egyptian papyrus, "Book for Transforming an Old Man into a Youth of Twenty." Written nearly 2,600 years ago, it promised to reverse the aging process, not to achieve longer life. Throughout Greek and Roman literature there are continued references to magic elixirs for living longer and, often equally important, improved sexual potency. The idea of immortality was something only to be found among the pantheon of the Greek and Roman gods.

While ancient Western thought viewed death as an inevitable process to make way for the next generation, ancient Eastern philosophy embraced the balance of opposing forces as the road to immortality. Yet both ancient Western and Eastern literature suggest that if one could only eat the food of the gods, immortality might be ensured. As we approach the new millennium, we now realize that the ancients had the essence of truth in their quest. While no one can ever become immortal, we can use food to balance powerful forces within our bodies to slow, if not reverse, the process we call aging. This food is not the property of the gods. It is in your own kitchen.

Anti-aging is not just a matter of simply living longer, but also living better. I personally don't want to reach the age of 120 if I am enfeebled and need constant assistance to take careof myself. I'd much rather live to a more modest age and enjoy a better quality of life. In essence, you want to maintain functionality (being able to take care of yourself) as long as possible before death. Although life expectancy was much shorter in the past, functionality was usually maintained until death. Today we have a greater life expectancy than at any time in history, but much of our extended time on earth includes a greater number of years of declining function before death. The concept of a slow death in a nursing home surrounded by nonfunctional people is a frightening picture. The baby boomers have seen this new face of aging and, frankly, they are scared. It is not a fear of death but a fear of declining physical and mental function.

A good way of describing anti-aging is that it is the process of dissociating biological age from chronological age. Chronological age is easy. Just count your birthdays. Biological age is a little more complex. Determining the biological changes (and therefore your functionality) that take place during aging has been one of the primary research areas of gerontology (the study of aging) over the past 30 years. During this time period, a number of biological markers of aging have been identified for humans. A true biological marker of aging must be universal. You can't call cancer a marker of aging since not everyone who ages gets cancer. On the other hand, loss of muscle mass in both males and females seems to be a universal marker. Reversing the biological markers of aging is the true goal of any successful anti-aging program.

By reversing these biological markers, your body can once more appear years younger even though it's not. Furthermore, you will maintain physical and mental performance at levels that you were accustomed to at an earlier stage in life. These biological markers provide you with a scientific starting point that can indicate whether or not your anti-aging program is actually working. After all, anti-aging is a science, not an art form. These biological markers of aging are ultimately governed by hormonal changes that take place as you age. Therefore the key to reversing aging is our ability to alter our hormones.

The first scientific evidence that the aging process could be reversed by hormonal modulation appeared in the latter part of the nineteenth century. The beginning of this new age began when Charles-Edouard Brown-Séquard, a member of the French Academy, reported that self-injections of ground-up animal testicles reversed the aging process with a corresponding increase in his sexual potency. Needless to say, his discovery was greeted with great enthusiasm. Nor could he be accused of being a snake-oil salesman because he gave his new youth elixir to other physicians at no charge with the provision that they not charge their patients. Unfortunately, Brown-Séquard's research was also met with great derision throughout Europe because his results couldn't be replicated by others. Yet a century later we now understand that he had indeed crossed the barrier and discovered that anti-aging was possible through hormonal modulation. In fact, aging revolves around hormones. The right balance of hormones will slow the aging process; the wrong balance will accelerate it. It's not necessarily the lack of certain hormones that is the fundamental cause of aging, but really how hormones lose their ability to communicate with each other to maintain equilibrium. The goal of this book is to present a new anti-aging manifesto: how to use your diet to improve hormonal communication and therefore reverse aging.

And more importantly for you is the fact that many of these biological markers can be reversed by the most powerful anti-aging drug readily available to everyone. What's the name of this drug? It's food, assuming you are willing to treat food with the same respect that you would treat any prescription drug. Food is a powerful "drug" because it alters hormonal responses. Used properly, food can improve hormonal communication. If you can achieve that goal, you will begin to reverse the aging process. On the other hand, the improper use of food can speed the aging process. Essentially, after each meal you want to ask yourself the question: "Did I reverse the aging process or did I accelerate it?"

Excerpted from

The Age-Free Zone
Buy this book at Barnes & Noble



-------------------

Interested in the Zone Diet? Visit the Official site of The Zone Diet

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

How to Read Your Contact Lens Prescription

Here is a typical contact lens prescription:


EyePower
(sphere)
BCDiaBrand
OD (Right)-2.258.814.0Acuvue
OS (Left)-3.008.814.0Acuvue


Here are the definitions of the symbols used:
  • OD - Right Eye
  • OS - Left Eye
  • OU - Both Eyes
  • BC - Base Curve
  • Dia - Diameter

Toric (Astigmatism correcting) lenses will also contain two
additional numbers:
  • Cyl - Cylinder
  • Axis 

Bifocal contact lenses generally contain one additional number which is the add power. A special field will be given for this number.

Notes
  1. A contact lens prescription is not the same as an eyeglass prescription. In addition to the lens power, your contact lens prescription contains several other pieces of information related to the size of the lens. 
  2. Your prescription will also contain an expiration date. This is typically two years from the date that the contact lenses were fitted.
  3. BC values range from about 8.0 to 9.5. The doctor fits the lens with the curvature most appropriate for your eye. Most lenses come in several different BC values. If your prescription does not contain a BC value, this is likely because your brand of lens only comes in one base curve.
  4. BC values are a bit like clothes sizes - just because you are a BC 8.6 in one brand doesn't mean you will be in another.
  5. If you are in a toric lens your prescription will contain two additional columns entitled cylinder and axis. These numbers related to the correction of your astigmatism.
  6. Even the power of the lenses is generally not the same as in your eyeglass prescription. This is because:
    1. The contact lens sits on the surface of your eye, while your eyeglasses sit about 12 mm in front of your eye
    2. Regular soft contacts do not correct for your astigmatism, but your eye doctor will typically try to partially correct for it by changing the power of the lens.


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Friday, November 23, 2007

Contact Lens Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together a list of the most common questions received by doctors and staff.

  1. Can I wear soft contact lenses if I have astigmatism?
    Yes, you can wear a special type of soft contact lens called a toric lens which will correct your astigmatism. However, these lenses are typically more expensive and there are fewer types and colors available than there are with regular (spherical) lenses. Recently, Wesley-Jessen introduced a 2-week disposable toric lens, the Freshlook Toric. Several manufacturers including Ciba (Focus) and Coopervision (Preference) produce 1-3 month frequent replacement toric lenses.

  2. Is a contact lens prescription different than a glasses prescription?
    Yes. When you order contact lenses, you must have a current contact lens prescription which specifies the power of the lenses, the size of the lens, the type and brand of lens.

  3. If my 2 week disposable lenses are still comfortable and in good condition beyond 2 weeks, can I continue to wear the same pair?
    In order to maintain optimal eye health and comfort, it is important to adhere to the wearing schedule prescribed by your doctor. The main advantage of wearing disposable lenses is that you are putting a fresh new pair of lenses in your eyes every 2 weeks. Also, the convenient cleaning
    regimen of a disposable lens is only adequate for a 2 week wearing schedule.

  4. If I only wear my 2 week disposable contacts part time, do I still have to replace them every 2 weeks?
    No, the 2 weeks refers to the actual amount of wearing time so they can last longer than 2 weeks if you are not wearing them full time.

  5. What's the difference between rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses and soft lenses?
    RGPs are smaller and made out of a harder, less pliable material than soft lenses which makes them less comfortable initially. RGPs correct astigmatism whereas soft spherical lenses do not.

  6. Can I swim with my contact lenses in?
    It is best if you don't because there are bacteria in the water that can adhere to your lenses and cause infections. If you do swim in your lenses, you should wear goggles over them and you should disinfect them immediately afterwards.

  7. Why is it necessary for contact lens wearers to have regular eye exams even if their prescription hasn't changed?
    Regular eye exams are important not only to check your prescription but also to evaluate the health of your eyes. This is especially important for contact lens wearers because the contacts could be causing damage to your eyes without necessarily causing any obvious symptoms.

  8. I wear contact lenses and in order for me to read, I have to wear reading glasses over them. Are there any other alternatives whereby I don't have to wear glasses at all?
    Yes, the most common option is called monovision where one eye is corrected for viewing distant objects and the other eye is corrected for reading and close work. Monovision is a good solution for some people, but not everbody can successfully adapt to the arrangement. Another alternative
    is bifocal contact lenses which are available in both rigid gas permeable or soft lens designs. However, these are typically very expensive. Recently, however, Johnson and Johnson released the Acuvue
    Bifocal which is a two-week disposable lens and is more reasonably priced.

  9. Do colored contact lenses work on dark eyes?
    Yes, they are called opaque contacts as opposed to enhancer tints which work only on light colored eyes. Year-long (daily wear and extended wear) opaque contacts are available in many different colors and shades but there is currently only one brand that offers a 2 week disposable opaque lens. These are Freshlook Opaques by Wesley-Jessen.

  10. Do I still need a prescription if I just want contacts to change my eye color?
    Yes, you still need to be fitted for the lenses even if you don't need vision correction. This is because contact lenses are medical devices and wearing them can affect the health of your eyes.

  11. How does the Federal Law "Fairness To Contact Lens Consumers" Act affect me?
    On February 4th, 2004, a Federal Law called the “Fairness To Contact Lens Consumers” act went into effect. This law made it much easier for you toenjoy the savings and convenience of ordering on-line.


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Power of Positive Feelings

You feel powerful and strong. You feel an energy inside you that says "I am here to do something great!" You feel yourself walk into any situation, confident and at peace. You feel successful.

Ah, how good it feels!

Have you ever noticed that we ask each other, "How are you feeling today?" I have never met anyone who asked me, "How are you thinking today John?"

Why is this?

Perhaps it is because how we feel is how we live. If I feel miserable, my life reflects that misery. If I feel confident, then I act confident and I attract into my life that which I desire because I feel I deserve it.

In every moment, you and I feel something. And these feelings we have shape our destiny. Notice I write "these feelings we have". Feelings do not have us; we have feelings.

Most personal development focuses on thinking. Change your thinking and you change your life. I agree, but thinking arises from feeling. If I am holding tension in my body, if I feel tense, then my thinking is shaped by tension. And I react accordingly.

That tension is the result of accumulated thoughts and feelings. And the more thoughts that accumulate, the greater the tension (also known as stress) until ultimately I make myself ill; both physically and mentally.

Positive thinking is a great idea, but it has limitations, does it not? Can you tell me what your next thought will be? Not without thinking about it! And by the time you have come up with an answer your mind has already moved on to something else.

Plus all thoughts are found in the past. One cannot think in this moment. One can only experience this moment and it is this moment and the succession of this moment that make your life. Right now, plus right now, plus right now, equal your life and the results you create.

To make a change in how you experience and what you do with "right now" you must act on the feeling level to make true changes. And by changing how you feel right now, you change your destiny.

We all know of this power. It is a power we are born with that becomes discarded when we are told to stop feeling and start thinking. All limitations exist only in our thinking, yet that is exactly what everyone is telling us to do! Get an education and learn your limits!

If you have ever watched a young child develop, you will notice how they do not accept "no" for an answer. Failure does not stop us until we learn that failure means something bad. We then spend the rest of our life trying to reprogram our mind with clichés about how failure is the foundation of success,
but do we really believe it? As children we fall, we hurt, we let the feeling go and we take off running again. As adults we fall, we hurt, and we tell stories about it for the rest of our life to anyone who will listen!

If you want to achieve a breakthrough in any area of your life, stop trying to reprogram your mind and notice how you feel. When you set a goal, notice the feelings that arise for you. Fear? Anxiety? Doubt? They are nothing more than feelings; electro-chemical impulses.

The good news? You can learn to let these feelings go and when you do, your potential has new life and it expands beyond the limits of thought. You feel a new energy when you realize all that prevents you from having all that you desire are these feelings which you have chosen to hold on to because you think,
yes you think, they serve you in some way.

No analyzing is necessary, nor programming or re-programming, nor words; just feelings. Powerful feelings.

To re-learn how to access your natural ability to let go of any unwanted feeling discover the Sedona Method Course. Click here to order your free tape and subscription.



The Truth About Fats

What right has the federal government to propose that the American people conduct a vast nutritional experiment, with themselves as subjects, on the strength of so very little evidence that it will do them any good?

-- Phil Handler, President of the National Academy of Sciences, testifying about the low-fat dietary guidelines before Congress in 1980

To begin, let's consider some basic nutritionally correct "facts," the ones we know so well we could repeat them in our sleep:

* Fat makes you fat.

* A big juicy steak is like a heart attack on a plate.

* Canola oil is the healthiest cooking oil.

* Coconut is a deadly fat that promotes heart disease.

* Eat less fat, and you'll live longer.

* Bacon and eggs is an artery-clogging, killer breakfast.

* The most important thing you can do for your health is to keep your cholesterol level as low as possible.

Actually, none of these widely accepted "truths" is true. Not only are they false, but making food choices based on them will lead to some dire health consequences, despite what the U.S. government prescribes. In fact, almost everything you think you know about fat isn't true, unless you're an especially astute reader of cutting-edge science on the subject. Or unless you happened to read Gary Taubes's New York Times Magazine cover story on fat that questioned the conventional wisdom on the subject (July 7, 2002). What most of us have believed to be true -- and that includes doctors and other health professionals -- about fats and health is actually the result of a complexsynergy of food industry lobbying, medical celebrity self-promotion, governmental intervention based on no sound science, advertising, a hyperactive health police with media visibility, and our own eager Puritanical desires to deprive ourselves in order to purge our sins of excess and earn the salvation of a healthy old age.

Now that we've had thirty years of margarine, fat-free milk, cheese-free cheese, inedible lean pork, Egg Beaters, dreadful dry chicken breasts, SnackWell's, and approximately fifteen thousand other new low-fat products (high-ticket items that are actually cheaper to produce than "real food" and have a longer shelf life), we should be much healthier. The president of the American Heart Association predicted in 1984 that if everyone ate low-fat, we'd eradicate atherosclerosis, the clogged-artery disease that leads to heart attacks and strokes, by the year 2000. Actually, we were moderately compliant; we did reduce our fat consumption from more than 40 percent of our total diet to 34 percent. Yet only the food industry has gotten healthier.

The incidence of heart disease has not declined, and obesity and diabetes have skyrocketed. We jettisoned our beloved eggs, bacon, cream, cheese, and red meat, and yet we haven't thrived. That's partly because, as we now know, or some of us have noted, dietary cholesterol affects blood cholesterol only by a factor of about 10 percent at most, and blood serum cholesterol is a very different thing from cholesterol laid down in the body's tissues.

High cholesterol levels themselves have come into question as a sure sign of impending cardiovascular disease. In 1991, an American College of Physicians analysis of nineteen cholesterol studies from around the world revealed that for women, the higher the cholesterol, the longer the life. Recent research has shown that high triglyceride levels (over 100), combined with low HDL -- the "good" cholesterol -- levels (under 35) are much more predictive of heart disease, even if the "bad" LDL cholesterol level is low. (One way to pile on more of those bad triglycerides, as Surgeon General Koop has noted, is to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet.) It's possible to simultaneously lower blood cholesterol and increase the plaque that cholesterol lays down in the arteries -- that can be done by consuming polyunsaturated oils, the very ones we've been urged to use for our health's sake. Only one kind of cholesterol actually clogs arteries, and that's oxidized cholesterol. Oxidation is a process a bit like rust. When you expose a cut avocado to the air, it quickly darkens: that's oxidation. You can stop this process quickly by applying an antioxidant -- lemon or lime juice in the case of the avocado, just as in the body you can stop the free-radical damage of oxidation by consuming enough antioxidants to disable them. Oxidation has a huge amount to do with your state of wellness, and I'll be discussing it in great detail later.

Why didn't eating less fat make us healthier? In his widely ignored first article on the subject, "The Soft Science of Dietary Fat," published in the prestigious journal Science (March 30, 2001), Gary Taubes explains that the science proving a connection between dietary fat and heart disease simply was never there in the first place. Hundreds of millions of dollars of research later, there's no proof whatsoever that eating low-fat will improve your health in any way at all. A study commissioned by the Surgeon General's office showed that a woman who died at the age of sixty-five and who had eaten a very low-fat instead of a regular diet all her life might possibly live as much as an extra two weeks -- though other studies suggest the number may be more like three days. It's hard to imagine that anyone who likes good food would jump for that devil's bargain: give up a lifetime of delicious food for two more weeks in your mid-sixties! On the contrary, the fourteen-year-long Harvard School of Public Health Nurses' Health Study and its two sequel studies indicate that total fat consumption has no correlation with heart disease risk and that saturated fats are little worse, if at all, than the carbohydrates the government's Food Guide Pyramid recommends as the basis of our "healthy" diet (and fat doesn't prompt the addictive response carbs do). And in the Nurses' Health Study, women who ate low-fat had the highest risk for breast cancer.

The Nurses' Health Studies were supported (at a cost of more than $100 million) by the National Institutes of Health, and yet no new dietary guidelines and no new food pyramid have emerged as a result of their findings (for one, that monounsaturated fats like olive oil reduce the risk of heart disease). It is, as Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard, the spokesperson for the studies, says, "scandalous." Perhaps equally scandalous is the fact that Taubes's piece never registered at all in the media, though it was mirrored by a similar investigative piece in the prestigious British journal Nature later that year that came to the same conclusions -- also completely ignored.

Although some separate elements of the low-fat theory are true (for instance, saturated fats of animal origin do have an elevating effect on blood cholesterol) the overall indictment of fat in general was never more than a theory based on connecting dots and claiming cause and effect -- a phenomenon that cholesterol researcher Utte Ravenskov calls false correlation. A benign explanation is that this theory is the result of a very human trait that's almost impossible to overcome. Dr. Dorothy Dinnerstein conducted gestalt laboratory studies at Rutgers University in the 1980s. Over and over again, subjects shown random elements on a field and asked what they saw inevitably connected them into a pattern and often assigned it a meaning as well. The chaos of unrelated elements seems too overwhelming to handle, so we mentally rearrange them. When powerful forces such as industry, the population's urgent wishes, and politics collide on such subjects -- the studies on synthetic hormones are a good example -- a momentum is established that overwhelms any objections about lack of scientific proof until the proof is undeniable. In the case of the antifat prescription, the motive was a bit dark; although the participants knew, says Dr. Willett, that there were good fats and bad fats, they thought the population wasn't capable of making such distinctions and would be much better served by a more simplistic message, even if it wasn't true -- as, indeed, it is not.

In the case of dietary fat, politicians and health officials eager to "do something" about our national health simply plunged ahead and made recommendations, connecting the isolated dots on their own authority with no scientific backup, even though some scientists warned them at the time that this was dangerous. Pete Ahrens at Rockefeller University testified to Congress that everyone responds differently to low-fat diets, so it's a crapshoot (his words were "a betting matter") who may benefit and who might be harmed. But the momentum was already established and the word went forth that fat was bad, very, very bad. Since this new paradigm was hugely to the benefit of agribusiness, relentless marketing did the rest. Spokespeople for various institutions, the ones you always see on television scolding the population for its unhealthy diet, backed up the message, doctors and nutritionists fell right in step, and millions of dollars' worth of advertising did not go for naught. We were hooked.

That's the benign story. To see the nexus of scientists, politicians, and food manufacturers working together to vilify natural fats and convince us that fake fats are healthy -- despite plenty of resistance from people like Dr. Paul Dudley White, the famous cardiologist -- read "The Oiling of America," by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon (www.westonaprice.org/know_your_fats/oiling.html). I guarantee a rise in blood pressure. (This article also explains how we got "imitation" foods approved by the FDA that don't require that word on the label.)

The sad-but-true fact is that there are no simple answers -- such as, cut saturated fat and you won't have any heart attacks -- because no one really knows what causes heart disease. There are at least a dozen credible theories, citing, among them, high homocysteine levels, high insulin levels, excess fibrin, inadequate thyroid levels, low magnesium, inflammation, copper deficiency and iron overload in the tissues. A low-fat diet is suspect for many researchers, as are trans fats (fats gone bad, altered by hydrogen bombardment or high heat and chemical processing). All or some of the theories may work together, or one of them may turn out to be the answer, or the culprit may be something else altogether -- we just don't know yet. We do know, however, that eating low-fat resolves no health problems, so there's no credible reason to continue doing it -- and plenty of reasons not to.

Still, the low-fat dogma seems to have seeped into our very bones and become an article of faith impervious to reason. One simple explanation is that a number of famous careers have been made on low-fat and the investment of these media stars in the perpetuation of low-fat religion is huge. They include fat-phobe Dr. Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who refers to fat in general as "a greasy killer." At least Jacobson, who was a major instigator of the tidal wave of dangerous trans fats (especially those used in fast-food frying) in American food, has had the courage to reverse himself a bit and lobby the FDA for trans-fat labeling. As a result of the imposition of "healthy" fats on fast food, trans fats -- the dangerous ones -- climbed from 2.4 grams in a typical fast-food meal to 19.2 grams in 1992 -- not too much in the public interest. New York Times columnist Jane Brody has taken on low-fat as a personal crusade, though even she has recently introduced avocados and nuts into her diet and will no doubt write more favorably about fats as the pendulum swings back. Other high-visibility low-fat talking heads include Dr. Kenneth Cooper, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. John Macdougall.

Another reason we haven't heard the truth about low-fat is that most researchers themselves have vested interests in the outcome of their work; usually they know what the results will be before they even get the grant, and there are very few completely openminded people in the health world who are willing to be proved wrong. One brilliant exception is Dr. Mary Enig, a former lipid researcher at the University of Maryland, perhaps the leading fats authority in the country, who has courageously insisted that the data don't support the low-fat assumptions and, worse, that the low-fat diet has had severe consequences for our health because it's deprived us of healthy natural fats and replaced them with dangerous trans fats. Researchers talk about these issues among themselves, and sometimes even publish books about them, but the message isn't heard over the din of the mainstream message.

The emperor has no clothes -- but pick up any mainstream newspaper or magazine and you'll read endless articles about the necessity of cutting fat, new strategies for squeezing more fat out of our diets, and admonitions to shape up our fat consumption, or die young. Meanwhile, the population gets fatter and fatter, there's an epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes, and we all continue to deprive ourselves of delicious food in the hope that we're saving our lives.

One result of our obsession with fat as the major health villain has been a cornucopia of reduced-fat, highly processed food that gives us a huge dose of trans fats, the damaged fats that become, in effect, poisonous, toxic to the cell membranes they're attached to. Studies have shown them to be key factors in heart disease (because among other things they raise LDL -- the bad cholesterol -- and lower HDL -- the good). They also inhibit insulin from binding to the cells, which creates blood sugar problems that lead to diabetes and obesity. About 90 percent of the American food dollar is now spent on processed food, virtually all of it contaminated with trans fats (look for the words "partially hydrogenated" or "hydrogenated," which appear on the labels of everything from peanut butter to cookies and crackers). In 2006 trans fats will have their own line on food labels. In the meantime, there's a list of trans fat-free foods on my website, www.franmccullough.com.

A huge source of dietary trouble is the so-called "healthy" oils that have replaced the good natural saturated fats. That's because these vegetable and seed oil sources of polyunsaturated fats -- such as soy oil, corn oil, and canola -- are not only full of omega-6, they're very fragile and easily break down if they're not highly processed (and, if they are, they've acquired some trans fats and have lost most of their nutrients). When cold-pressed oils (which have no trans) start to break down (usually in the bottle before they even get to the store), they develop, through oxidative damage, some alarming components called free radicals. These are the body's terrorists, ranging around at will and damaging the chemical structure of cells to produce vascular problems, a vulnerability to cancer, and general havoc. These little monsters are molecules that have lost an electron and are scrambling around to steal one from a molecule on a healthy cell, which then turns into a free radical itself. Free radicals can multiply exponentially this way, and they're capable of altering a healthy cell's DNA, or even killing it. Tobacco smoke and pollutants are major sources of free radicals (breathing itself is a minor source), but the trans fats in food -- and especially rancid fats, which we unknowingly consume all the time -- can be even more dangerous, both in their own bad effects and in generating free radicals. Trans fats are formed in manufacturing (not at home) when an oil hits 320 degrees in the presence of a catalyst, and most processing takes place at much higher heat levels, 400 to 500 degrees. But oils can also be cold-pressed or expeller-pressed, which means the heat generated is only about 180 degrees. The high-heat processing preserves the oils and keeps them from going rancid while removing most of their natural nutrients; cold-pressing preserves the nutrients but keeps the oil in an extremely fragile state, in which it can easily turn rancid and develop free radicals. These oils may or may not be deodorized.

When McDonald's responded to pressure from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (a name born of marketing genius), among other groups, to dump the very tasty beef tallow they originally used in making french fries (because it was "dangerous" saturated fat), in 1990 they substituted a highly processed fat, trading a neutral natural fat that was relatively resistant to oxidation for a toxic one. Almost none of the beef tallow was absorbed by the fries (because saturated oils aren't absorbed), but a huge amount of the bad oil, up to 50 percent, is absorbed. As with all other polyunsaturated fats, soy and canola oil contain linoleic acid, which is known to promote cancer and heart disease, as well as high levels of trans fats if they're hydrogenated, as they usually are. The latest fat at McDonald's, corn plus soy, will increase the amount of fat in the food itself by up to 50 percent over saturated fat -- which in any case protects against trans fat. Is this in the public interest? The same thing has happened to the popcorn at the movie theater: no more butter or coconut oil, both quite healthy natural fats; instead we have a chemical soup of nasty-tasting denatured fats. Processed foods also contain a lot of sugar, especially high-fructose corn syrup, which increases triglycerides (a serious marker for heart disease), as well as small amounts of antibiotics we don't need.

But there's an even more scandalous story. In the late 1980s, the soy industry orchestrated a highly successful scare campaign to eliminate tropical fats (coconut and palm oil) from American food products (and replace them with soy, which now dominates 80 percent of the market) on the grounds that they're "dangerous" saturated fats. The panic they created was so successful that it actually provoked a congressional hearing on the subject. Despite testimony from Harvard's Dr. George Blackburn that there was no evidence whatsoever that tropical oils were dangerous, and Surgeon General Koop's comment -- "foolishness" -- these hearings sealed the fate of tropical oils. Coconut and palm oils had replaced lard as the fat of choice in commercial baked products because they provided a stable tasty fat with crisping and flaking qualities almost as good as lard's. (The original Oreos were made with lard, which was responsible for their characteristic snap.) As lard went the way of all saturated fats, so did coconut and palm oil, the vegetable saturated fats -- which happened to be a three-billion-dollar industry based on healthy fats with no known negative effects. Irony of ironies, coconut fat turns out to be perhaps the healthiest fat in the world. Although it is indeed a saturated fat, like animal fat, it contains a remarkable protective fat called lauric acid, found otherwise only in mother's milk (and in small amounts in butter). It's also known as the low-fat fat, and it has fewer calories (about 2.9 per gram fewer) than all other fats. (See page 57 for the amazing story of what's good about coconut.)

What happened to coconut is not unlike what happened to snake oil about a hundred years earlier. Fats researcher Udo Erasmus (Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill) tells a wonderful story about a California doctor, Dr. Richard Kunin, who on a whim decided to see if he could find any snake oil for sale in San Francisco's Chinatown. No problem. When he took it to a lab to be analyzed, he made an amazing discovery: the snake oil really did contain the oil of the Chinese water snake, which has a very high omega-3 content (anti-inflammatory), as well as some other beneficial elements, such as camphor. When the Chinese railroad gangs were building our national rail system, they used snake oil for their aches and pains, and shared it with their Caucasian fellow workers. There was so much excitement about the efficacy of snake oil that word spread quickly, and the patent medicine manufacturers equally quickly started a smear campaign that was so successful, the very idea of using snake oil became laughable.

What we have deprived ourselves of -- the delicious, satisfying good fats of traditional diets all around the world -- are also startlingly health-protective and offer many other desirable benefits, such as good skin, great hair, a good sex life, fertility, a vital immune system, enough vitamin E for your heart, optimum hormone production, and antiaging properties. Your hormones, which control every cell in your body, don't work properly without adequate fat, and neither does your immune system. Every one of the 60 trillion cells in your body relies on fat -- they're actually made mainly of fat -- to keep its membranes flexible so that nutrients can enter and toxins can exit, and so it can communicate with the other cells in the body. Fat covers the cell's exterior; if you think of the cell as a house, it's fat that makes the membrane "walls" to separate the "rooms" of different cell functions. Fats, says David King of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Berkeley, are essential for cell integrity and survival: "membranes are as important as bones or blood."

According to Dr. Ron Rosedale of the Colorado Center for Metabolic Medicine, fat is the body's preferred fuel, not sugar (in all carbohydrates). He points out that when the body stores excess sugar, it's stored as fat, in a good usable form. Fats not only don't make you fat (unless you eat them to huge excess -- and even then, only if you also ingest enough sugars and starches to stimulate your fat-storage system), they're good weapons against obesity.

As the low-fat publicity machine grinds on and on, the actual science of fats has revealed some remarkable new information that should radically change the way we eat, turning the low-fat nonsense on its head. This book explores that research, which includes fatty-acid profiling, and highlights the good foods that give us our best shot at optimal health on the cellular level -- the good fats enhanced by good protein sources and a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables jammed with antioxidants (to fight free-radical damage from bad fats) and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) to act as supernutrients. This prescription is for a whole new definition of wellness that affects every organ in our bodies, from our brains to our skin. It's based on health at its most basic: the cellular level.

Best of all, we can drop the food anxiety and once again take pleasure in eating our favorite whole foods (natural foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, in the state in which they grew), with the confidence that taste is a reliable standard for health. When it comes to fats, if it tastes good, it's good for you -- or at least not bad for you. Traditional diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the Asian Pacific diet, all contain excellent sources of the good fats. Only our new "healthy" SAD (Standard American Diet -- sad indeed), recommended by the American Heart Association and other health groups, with its heavily processed and fake foods and overemphasis on sugar, is unhealthy. Canola oil (which actually comes from rapeseed -- there's no such thing as a canola, nor does anyone eat rapeseed -- that's been through selective breeding to remove most of its highly toxic erucic acid) started out as furniture polish, not food. Soy oil was unknown until the 1930s, when it was developed for paint and varnishes because it hardened so nicely on the surface. Linseed (flax) oil had a similar job. Both soy and canola oil, like margarine and "improved" margarines, not only don't taste very good, they're very highly processed fake foods and have lost whatever claim they originally had to healthful properties. There are cold-pressed versions of these fats, but they're so unstable that they're likely to be rancid. They still contain the malevolent omega-6 oil we need to curtail. And even rapeseed oil (canola) has a little very heart-toxic erucic acid -- less than 1 percent as allowed by law, but why ingest any? Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and good old butter are not only much tastier, they're also far better health-promoting choices.

Do you now have a license to go hog wild with fats, eating endless amounts of ice cream and homemade fries and other indulgences? No, because calories still count, and there are still a few caveats about the animal-source saturated fats. Saturated fats of animal origin tend to store more easily in the fat cells than other fats. They tend to stiffen blood vessels. And saturated fats and sugars are a particularly diabolical combination that leads to higher triglyceride levels, which we want to avoid at all costs. They also set off a process called glycation, in which sugars bond to proteins and cells lose their flexibility and age prematurely, giving us wrinkles and age spots and general sagginess. For occasional treats, though, these foods are fine, as long as the fats used are natural ones.

If, like me, you tend to gain weight easily and have a family history of cardiovascular problems, you probably have a metabolic disorder called insulin resistance, or Syndrome X, which causes your body to overproduce insulin, the fat-storage hormone. At least 25 percent of the population is estimated to be in this category, so you're not alone. Men who eat high-carb diets shift their cholesterol profiles from normal to Syndrome X. If it goes unchecked, Syndrome X can lead to diabetes and cardiovascular problems. The most effective (indeed, the only) way to deal with Syndrome X is diet, a low-carb diet. (If you have Syndrome X, you need to read Burt Berkson, Jack Challem, and Melissa Diane Smith's book, Syndrome X, published by Wiley.) Because I eat that way myself, most of the recipes in this book are low-carb. But here again there's new research; Barry Sears, in The Omega Rx Zone, claims that eating enough omega-3 fat (an essential fat found in fish oil and some plants) will cancel out the carbohydrate in, say, a bagel -- and there are many other benefits to be had from the omega-3 oil as well.

In this book, we'll explore the "lost" good fats, everything from butter to nuts and avocados and coconut, and show you why -- and how -- you should integrate them back into your everyday eating. We'll be focusing on whole foods, preferably organic (grown without pesticides), that taste great and offer great pleasure along with their health-promoting elements. And although you should avoid fried foods when you're eating out, even at fine restaurants, because reused oils break down and are full of free radicals and trans fats, you'll learn how to make great fried food at home that's both delicious and safe. Armed with the right information and a willingness to cook some simple, tasty recipes, you can take enormous pleasure at the table and know that you're eating very well in every sense of the word.


Copyright © 2003 by Fran McCullough
Excerpted from

Good Fat
Buy this book at Barnes & Noble



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Hormone Solution

WHAT HORMONES MEAN TO YOU

Your body contains more than one hundred different types of hormones, and they pour into your bloodstream at the rate of thousands of billions of units per day. Hormones regulate your heartbeat and your breathing. Hormones make men men and women women. Hormones put you to sleep at night and wake you up in the morning. They control your blood pressure. They build bone, maintain muscle tone, and lubricate joints. Hormones govern growth. They make the body produce energy and heat. Hormones burn fat. Hormones govern the menstrual cycle and allow pregnancy (and birth) to occur. They fight stress, prevent fatigue, calm anxiety, and relieve depression. Hormones make and keep memories. Hormones maintain the correct level of sugar in the blood and tissues. They resist allergic reactions and infections. They soothe pain. Hormones control your sex drive, virility, and fertility. They stimulate your brain and your immune system.

It is by no means an exaggeration to say that hormones are crucial to every single function of the human body. You can't live without them.

But in the environment we live in at the opening of this new millennium--and particularly as we ourselves age--rarely do our bodies have the optimum levels of hormones. So we don't enjoy optimum health, whether that means arthritis or heart disease or flagging sex drive or gray hair and wrinkles or out-of-control weight gain. The program in this book, a combination of nutrition and hormone balance, can bring anyone into optimal health. The Hormone Solution is not a miracle cure or an empty promise. It is a reality. It is for anyone who feels tired all the time.Or forgets things. Or isn't sleeping well. Or feels more depressed and anxious than he used to. Or who is at risk for osteoporosis or cancer--among many, many other things. We've accepted these things as inevitable, especially as we age. We didn't like it, but we thought we had to live with it. But we've been wrong.

You probably know that some hormone levels decline with age. What's less well known is that almost all hormone levels drop, across the board, in men as well as women. Your endocrine glands cannot maintain the same production of hormones they did in your younger days. And that loss is the most crucial--and eminently correctable--underlying process that causes the signs and symptoms of aging as well as a host of other health concerns. With the proper physiological doses of natural hormones in combination with a hormonally supportive diet and vitamin and mineral supplements, you can retain your health--and your youth--more fully and for a longer time. I am not recommending the massive pharmaceutical quantities of the standard hormone prescriptions, like menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but rather the finely tuned individualized substances doses that are identical in structure and quantity to what young, healthy bodies produce.

When all our hormones are at optimal levels, our bodies are healthy, efficient, resilient, flexible, and strong. Through our twenties, that's what most of us experience. But even a small drop-off or slight imbalance, as happens to most of us by our thirties and forties, can create havoc. And not just for women! I was hit with the effects in my mid-thirties. I was gaining weight and overeating, and I often felt sleepy during the day. I had trouble concentrating, little energy, and stiffness in my joints. I was often cranky and supersensitive to stress. It got to the point where it was interfering with my work and my relationships and family life. And even though I was experienced in nutrition, hormones, and longevity, I felt indignant: I was much too young to be old!

Fortunately for me, with my medical training--and the wisdom passed down to me through three previous generations of hormone specialists in my family--I knew what to do. I understood that my hormones were shifting, and while growing older might be unavoidable, the negative consequences were strictly optional. With this book I intend to share with you the holistic health program I developed for myself and my patients of natural hormone therapy combined with specific diet and supplement regimens.

WHAT TO EXPECT

This chapter gives an overview of how hormones work in the body and when and why they don't do their jobs. I'll tell you a little about how I came to practice in this field and how my philosophy of practice developed. We'll look at a few examples of how my patients have benefited from a program like the one in this book--and how I myself have responded to it. We'll talk about how hormone levels inevitably decrease with age, how that affects us, and what can be done about it. Finally, I'll discuss (and debunk) the fears a lot of people have about using hormones, before going on to give you a road map to the rest of the book.

TUNING UP YOUR HORMONES

Each of the many hormones in the human body has its own job to do, but they all work together in an elaborately interwoven system. You can liken this exquisite synergy to an orchestra: Each instrument has its own melody or rhythm, but all are necessary to play a symphony.

Similarly, without balanced nutrition the body cannot make all the hormones it needs in the proportions it needs them in. The first thing you need to do is to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to take care of itself. Much of our food is so refined and processed, we can run into problems even when we think we're eating healthfully. My eating plan and suggested supplements offer a delicious and nutrient-dense program, with surprising modifications for particular problems.

But no matter how healthfully we eat, our bodies produce less and less of all hormones as we age. Our hormonal balance becomes mistimed, disproportionate, or slightly off-key. In isolated cases, we recognize this and try to compensate--with HRT at menopause, for example. But we're missing the forest for the trees. Rarely are the problem and solution found in one hormone alone. In fact, taking just one hormone can make the problem worse or cause new problems. Furthermore, most hormone prescriptions written today are for doses that are far too large, and they overwhelm rather than rebalance the system. Most are also synthetic versions that differ by a molecule or two from the chemicals the body makes and uses on its own. This might not sound so bad until you consider that the difference between testosterone and estrogen--some would say, the difference between a man and a woman--is also a matter of just a couple of molecules.

But with natural hormones in amounts as close as possible to what your younger body made for itself, you can re-create the same state of health and well-being you once enjoyed. I'll teach you the methods that have worked for me and for my thousands of patients. You'll find that when your hormones are balanced, perfectly in tune, and backed with strong nutritional support, you can look and feel vibrantly healthy at any age.

HORMONES IN MY BLOOD

That's just the kind of happy ending that lured me into medicine. But as for my chosen area of specialization, I've got the hormones in my blood to thank. As a fourth-generation physician experienced with hormone treatments whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather talked about hormones, health, and aging at the dinner table, I learned the secrets of good health and longer life well before I even hit adulthood.

Still, I wasn't entirely sold on the idea of being a doctor and started medical school without much enthusiasm. I found the studies interesting enough but not inspiring. As I began working in the hospital--in my chosen field, psychiatry--I could not escape the feeling I was working with the wrong medicine. In many of the psychiatric patients, all I could see was signs of hormonal deficiencies. They were as clear as day to me but obviously had been overlooked by many medical professionals as the patient wound his way through the system before ending up with me.

Endocrinologists, the doctors "officially" in charge of hormones, seemed mostly to specialize in diabetes, only occasionally venturing into other therapies. Most of them were very traditional and spent their time on disease treatment rather than prevention. The specialization and subspecialization of medicine today has left a lot of doctors with so narrow a focus that they miss even big flashing neon signs if they are outside of their area of expertise. I prefer to follow my grandfathers' footsteps. The medicine I knew from my father and grandfathers was more holistic (not alternative, but truly holistic, meaning concerned with the whole person), more complete, and aimed primarily at achieving and maintaining total health.

I saw more of this kind of potential in family-practice medicine. There was room there, at least among some of my colleagues, for considering not just powerful drugs, but also nutrition (food, vitamins, and trace elements), environmental health, lifestyle choices, and even psychology when thinking about how to treat a patient.

So I finally switched over to general medicine, and the success I had with a surprising number of endocrinological cases finally lit a fire under me. Like Nicole, who was forty-nine and losing her hair. She'd also gotten flabby muscles and dry skin, felt tired and stress-sensitive all the time, and had bouts of nervousness, depression, and upset stomach--none of which had bothered her until she was closing in on fifty. We got her hormones balanced with natural estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), and a diet to support them, and she felt and looked better within two months. Her hair even stopped falling out--and grew back.

Or like Ken, about the same age as Nicole, who was losing his memory. He had poor concentration and muddled thinking. On top of that, he complained he was getting old--thinning hair, small wrinkles all over his face, a growing potbelly, loss of strength, back pain, and decreased sex drive and potency. But with growth hormone, testosterone (like half of men over fifty, though he had "normal" levels, much of the testosterone in his body was bound to excessively high levels of proteins in the blood that made it unavailable for regular use), thyroid hormone, DHEA, and cortisol--in natural forms and proper balance--along with vitamin and mineral supplements, Ken was soon bragging he felt like he'd gone back in time about fifteen years.

And like Wally, who I don't think would be alive today--or at least not leading a full, active life--if not for the thyroid hormone, growth hormone, testosterone, and cortisol he started taking. He had already survived two heart attacks and one triple bypass surgery by the time I met him. But his cholesterol remained stubbornly high no matter what he did, and depression and constant exhaustion were draining the life out of him. His body was prematurely old, with weakened muscles, low sex drive, thickening skin, weight gain around his belly, and a noticeable layer of fat under his skin. His surgeon and cardiologist were worried that even the surgery wouldn't protect his stressed heart for long. But once we got the full complement of hormones in him, with carefully adjusted small doses, he felt stronger and better than he had in years. And ten years later Wally was still alive and well and no longer convinced he'd meet his father's fate: death by heart attack before his son graduated from college.

Through cases like these, I discovered that I could help people understand what their bodies were telling them in order to zero in on the most appropriate treatment, and that gave me the sense of mission I'd been missing. I realized it was a gift, not a burden, handed down to me through four generations.

The gift my great-grandfather, grandfather, and father gave to me was a truly holistic approach--treating the whole patient--and an understanding of the paramount importance of clinical symptoms. Every hormonal deficiency has a telltale group of physical and mental effects, and a careful history and physical will give you all the clues you need, if you know how to read them.

The final key came directly from my father, who recognized that particularly difficult cases were simply cases of deficiencies in not one but many hormones--what he called multiple deficiency syndrome. He discovered that filling in all the lacking hormones (as well as the nutrients that support them) could resolve seemingly intractable problems and even reverse the "inevitable" signs of age. There is no one miracle hormone for everyone. Each person needs different hormones, and always in combination, usually three to six at a time--rarely solo. Most of us could benefit from natural low-dose hormones, individually adapted and judiciously balanced, by the time we are thirty-five.

As my own practice developed, I saw that men's as well as women's hormones shift with age and that women's hormonal shifts started well before menopause (potentially accounting for many poorly understood clusters of symptoms). Furthermore, since women's bodies make small amounts of "male" hormones, they can have deficiencies of them, just as men can. All the rest of the many hormones in the body could become deficient as well and be equally problematic--and equally correctable.

To answer my many questions, I sought out the top experts in each hormone and pressed them on both the scientific mechanisms of action and practical applications. I learned at least as much by looking back at the way things were done in my grandfathers' time, when medicine was, by necessity, focused on clinical symptoms rather than lab values. Often all doctors had to go on at that time was what they could observe clinically, so they were extremely careful observers. I still believe that the interaction between doctor and patient is what is most useful in revealing the truly necessary information, and that while cold statistical values can be helpful confirmation of a clinically based hypothesis, they are limited in what they actually show. I'm glad to be practicing with all the resources of high-tech medicine available to me, but we can't afford to let the wisdom of the old school--a sort of high-touch medicine--get lost.

No matter how the problem gets diagnosed, however, the solution always follows the same pattern: the right hormones, in the right combination, at the right doses, with the right nutrients.

Copyright 2002 by Thierry Hertoghe, M.D., with Jules-Jacques Nabet, M.D.

Excerpted from

The Hormone Solution: Stay Younger Longer with Natural Hormone and Nutrition Therapies
Buy this book at Barnes & Noble



Anti-aging

The aging process begins when we enter the world and the effects of aging are evident in our bodies through out our lives. Beginning in our 20's, the signs of aging start to become noticeable. Genetically programmed chronologic aging causes changes in collagen and elastin, the connective tissues that supply firmness and elasticity to the skin. The genetic program of individuals is different, so the loss of skin firmness and elasticity occurs at different rates and different times in one individual as compared to another. As skin becomes less elastic, it also becomes drier and underlying fat padding begins to disappear. With the loss of underlying support by fat padding and connective tissues, the skin begins to sag; it appears less supple and wrinkles form.

Although wrinkles, lines and age spots are formed by the natural effects of getting older, one way to prevent them from appearing early on in life is to avoid direct sunlight and use sunscreens with SPFs 15 or higher. And, although most of us have some form of sun-damaged skin, there are ways to regain healthy, smooth skin. After many years of research, scientists, dermatologists and plastic surgeons have discovered that a variety of natural ingredients and vitamin extracts significantly help slow down and even reverse the signs of aging skin. These ingredients are now found in many physician developed and physician recommended anti-aging skin care products, which are specified below.

Vitamin A (Retinol) - Topical Vitamin A has been suggested to help build collagen fibers within the skin in addition to its more superficial exfoliating property. This is the basis for its use in minimizing the appearance of fine wrinkle lines. Vitamin A or Retinol is the main ingredient found in TYK Young Again, M.D. Forte, DDF and SkinScience products.

Vitamin C - Vitamin C or ascorbic acid acts as an antioxidant and is considered vital in wound healing because it aids in stabilizing collagen. When applied topically, vitamin C can reduce fine lines and wrinkles and may lessen the severity of sunburns. This healing ingredient is found in SkinCeuticals, Cellex C and Obagi Cffectives skin care products.

Vitamin E - Vitamin E is another antioxidant that shows to have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. When applied topically, vitamin E has been shown to improve moisturization, softness and smoothness and also provides modest photo protection. Vitamin E is found in Cellex C, Exuviance and MD Forte products.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) - AHAs are designed to smooth fine lines and surface wrinkles, to improve skin texture and tone, to unblock and cleanse pores, to improve oily skin or acne, and to improve skin condition in general. AHAs are the main ingredients found in MD Forte, TYK Young Again, Super Skin and SkinScience products.

Glycolic Acid - Glycolic acid is the most active and beneficial of the Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids (AHAs) in skin care. Once inside the cells, the acid triggers new formations of collagen to plump cells and the ground substances in the skin to reduce wrinkles on the skin's surface. Glycolic acid is proven to be very effective in the treatment of acne as well as in cosmetic uses. Glycolic acid is found in products by Gly Derm, MD Forte, Z. Bigatti and Super Skin.

N-6 furfuryladenine (kinetin) - The nature-identical plant growth factor, furfuryladenine, retards the aging of plant cells as well as in vitro human skin fibroblasts. This natural, anti-aging ingredient has been proven to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and is exclusively found in Kinerase creams and lotions. This is a proven alternative for people with sensitive skin or people who are sensitive to products containing Retinol and Vitamin C.
Copper Peptides are the latest scientific breakthrough in skin rejuvenation. Copper has been found to naturally firm the skin, enhance elasticity, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Copper is the main ingredient in products by Neova and Osmotics.

Pal-KTTKS - Pal-KTTKS is an effective ingredient for reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It's found to promote a smoother, younger complexion quickly, without with out expensive and painful chemical peels, surgery or injections. This patented peptide solution is found in StriVectin-SD.

Green Tea Extract - Green tea's anti-inflammatory and anti-growth qualities are found in many skin care products designed to reduce the appearance of puffiness, wrinkles, fine lines and large pores. Green Tea is found in the Dr. Brandt skin care line, Z. Bigatti and Gly Derm products.

TNS - The biotechnology of the skin's natural healing process has arrived with the first tissue repairing complex containing growth factors found in normal, healthy skin. Unlike anything else currently on the market, TNS is the next level of skin rejuvenation that delivers dramatic results, for smoother, softer, younger looking skin. TNS is found in SkinMedica's TNS Recovery Complex.

Many customers ask which anti-aging product is best and we always respond by saying that there is no best product. Since every individuals skin is different, the results of using anti-aging products will be different as well. We recommend that you consult with a skin care professional prior to use of any new skin care product to determine your skin type, skin condition and possible sensitivities to active ingredients. Your skin care professional may recommend specific products, or you can try a few on your own based on your consultation. If you are not happy with the first product you try, try another one. It's important that you choose a product and skin care regimen that makes you feel 100% comfortable with the look and feel of your skin.

Customers also inquire about when they should expect to see results from using anti-aging products. Again, we respond by saying that results will be different for each individual, generally due to the condition of ones skin prior to use. However, across the board, we say not to expect a miracle, as there is no anti-aging product on the market that provides overnight results. Whether you are trying to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark circles, puffiness or age spots, the process is gradual and takes anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks depending on the severity of your problem areas. After allowing the products time to take effect as well as following product directions, you can be sure to notice significant improvement in the appearance of your skin.

To see the quickest results, you will have to undergo professional cosmetics procedures. While procedures such as laser treatments, injections and dermabrasion produce the fastest, most noticeable improvements, they are all are somewhat painful or uncomfortable and very costly. In addition, pre and post treatment plans are required to achieve maximum results, which consist of using skin care products, that are also proven to be safe, effective, painless and less expensive alternatives to professional cosmetic procedures.

Please note that with the use of any new skin care product, it is highly possible that your skin will react to the ingredients. You may experience irritation, redness, dryness or a mild breakout, which should only last for the first 3-5 days of use. If you experience any of these reactions for a longer period of time, please discontinue use and consult a skin care professional. It is also recommended that prior to using any new skin care product to consult with a skin care professional.