An Interview with Wade Stiller ND about Metabolic Syndrome

This week our topic is Metabolic Syndrome – this is an ever growing Syndrome that just over a decade ago we hadn’t really heard of. Now though, it seems to be a snowballing phenomenon here in Australia. Unfortunately, our guest practitioner could not be with us today so we have our back up practitioner Wade Stiller in the studio. Wade has a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy, is trained in both herbal and nutritional medicine and currently practices at the Northside Wellness Clinic. How are you today Wade?

Good thanks Jeff – thank you for having me back, it’s always a pleasure to be in here speaking to you and helping better inform our listeners.

Now Wade, just on that – we are living in the information age and subjects like Metabolic Syndrome seem to be fairly complicated, where do you stand with all the information out there? I mean, if I jump on the internet and type in pretty much any disease I can often find all sorts of conflicting information about the same condition and its treatment?

Yeah Jeff you’re right, this is the danger with the internet – there’s a lot of great info out there and also a lot of junk. As far as I’m concerned as a health professional my role is to ultimately educate people to the point where they take control of and responsibility for their own health using diet and lifestyle choices to support their wellbeing as well as getting a greater understanding of how their body works and understanding the signs it gives us when something is out of balance. So to start with I often discourage the crazy midnight surfing some people get caught up with in order to find the magic solution to their problem because literally anyone can go and post information on the internet and some of it may be helpful for one person and yet damaging for the next.

Metabolic Syndrome has a fairly broad umbrella of symptoms so although there is a plethora of symptomatic treatments available, this is one time I would encourage people who have never heard of it before to jump on the net and do a search because it is not a clearly defined, singular condition so it can get a little hairy trying to explain.

Ok, so what is metabolic syndrome then?

Ok, Metabolic Syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. is also known as metabolic syndrome X, syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, Reaven’s syndrome (named for Gerald Reaven), and in Australia it has also been given an abbreviated name “CHAOS” (Coronary artery disease, Hypertension, Atherosclerosis, Obesity, and Stroke). Current data suggests that it affects one in five people, and that prevalence increases with age.

So Wade this “syndrome” is actually a collection of conditions that increases a person’s risk of other diseases?

Yes. To break it down further, the International Diabetes Federation have listed the following definition, that is; Central Obesity (or a BMI >30) PLUS any 2 of the following (unless already treated/diagnosed):

Raised triglycerides: > 1.7 mmol/L. Reduced HDL cholesterol: < 1.03 mmol/L in males, < 1.29 mmol/L in females. MRaised blood pressure: systolic BP > 130 or diastolic BP >85 mm Hg. Raised fasting plasma glucose :(5.6 mmol/L), or previously diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

In 1999 the WHO came up with a different set of guidelines to this but at the end of the day we are really looking at people who have multiple chronic disease states including cardiovascular + glucose dysregulation + cholesterol imbalance all combined.

Could you just quickly remind us how to work out our BMI – that’s “Body Mass Index” right?

Sure, you simply multiply your height in meters by itself (ie 1.8 x 1.8 = 3.24) then you divide your weight in kg by that number. So a 180cm, 80kg male = 80/3.24 = 24.7 = within healthy weight range.

So its weight in kg divided by height in metres squared.

Spot on!

So in order to have Metabolic Syndrome a person would have to have what kind of tests first?

Well, the only signs that can be physically measured without blood tests is that BMI or waist:hip ratio which confirms what we call central adiposity or central obesity. Of course that waist:hip ratio is worked out by measuring around that waist (cm) which is the level where your belly button is and dividing that number by the measurement around the hips (cm). For men this sum should = <0.9 and women <0.85.

Ok, so lets give our listeners a couple minutes to quickly go and grab a tape measure and scales to see what their measurements are and after the break we might talk a little bit about just who is at risk and just what can be done to best guard ourselves against Metabolic Syndrome.

Ok, welcome back to Better Health, we are talking today to naturopath Wade Stiller about Metabolic Syndrome – Wade lets talk briefly about who this syndrome is most likely to affect.

Thanks Jeff, well Metabolic Syndrome is certainly becoming more common both in the US and here in Australia. Look science is still searching for a given cause for this and in my opinion they will never find one because it is a combination of bad lifestyle and eating habits – one risk factor that is related to every case is obesity. Now there can be a number of reasons for obesity but in the majority of cases the bottom line is either a lack of education relating to exercise and diet OR a choice to ignore what we have been taught about exercise and diet! So to me, the vast majority of Metabolic Syndrome cases should be easily avoided with some simple education and maybe a little accountability from those who know they get lazy with their eating and lifestyle.

Well that’s easy to say but for most of us life really does get in the way of going to the gym or going jogging everyday. Even finding the time to prepare a home cooked meal is sometime a big ask!

Oh look, don’t get me wrong Jeff I understand that completely, I mean when I got married I put on almost 2 stone in the first year because my social life slowed down and all of a sudden I was spending most nights at home eating a lovingly cooked meal with my new bride and it’s been an effort to let go of those kg’s but sometimes we have to ask ourselves which is more important, our lifestyle or our health? Missing that extra hour of TV a day, or walking part the way to work, even cutting back from 60 to 55hrs of work a week in order to look and feel better is nice, but to think that 10years down the track today’s choice will probably have major implications on your health, that’s worth the change!

So is Metabolic Syndrome something that people “grow into”?

Kind of, the risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome include – Aging, hormonal changes, lack of exercise and genes (as some people have genetic weaknesses in the areas of cholesterol production or high blood pressure etc). So the older we get, the higher the risk… and of course we all go through hormonal changes once we pass middle age, so identifying things like an unhealthy waist:hip ratio or high BMI and working toward changing any bad habits we have formed as soon as possible is a really easy and very effective way to lower that one risk factor that was common amounts all sufferers…

Obesity!

That’s it! Obesity…and probably the saddest part when looking at who is at risk, is the fact that the age of people being diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome is coming down. And there really is no excuse for this here in Australia – we have plenty of money to feed ourselves correctly, plenty of awesome weather to get out and be active and heaps of information available to us, yet we are seeing the numbers of obese children climb every year. You know there was a time when we called Type 1 diabetes “child-hood onset diabetes” but now days type 2 diabetes is becoming so common in children that it’s no longer “adult-onset diabetes”, now we just have type 1 and type 2! Jeff, these are chronic diseases that are affecting children here in a first world country! It just shouldn’t be… and I know some blame genetics but to me it’s all diet and lifestyle.

Right, and you mentioned changes in hormones being a risk factor – how can this make one more at risk of diabetes or high cholesterol etc?

Well, this is a complex issue. The body uses hormones to affect changes through all stages of life – the most obvious being adolescence and menopause or adropause but also for small day to day task – our wake/sleep cycle, our stress response, metabolism, bone density, growth and repair rates… the list goes on but the point I’m trying to make is that basically every thing that comes in contact with our body causes a hormone response in some way, shape or form – hormones aren’t just things us men complain about in women every month or the things that give us acne at high school – they are much more than that and they are influenced by everything around us. Things like plastics, medications, foods, parabens in skin care products even some food preservatives have an effect on oestrogen receptors alone within our bodies – both men and women. Our hormone production is something that we need to nurture and the balance needs supporting all the way through our lives as these hormones interact and mold both our growth and body maintenance.

Of course insulin is another of those hormones that most people these days have some knowledge of. Insulin helps sugar from our blood enter into our cells. We also need magnesium in our cells for this to happen. The more sugar we eat, whether it be because we need an energy burst or maybe we don’t realize what we are eating is high in sugar or heck, we just have a sweet tooth, our body doesn’t care – the reason behind the ‘why’ is irrelevant – when we eat sugar, our body pumps out some insulin to allow that sugar into the cells so the energy can be utilized. If this goes on long term, our cells eventually decrease their number of insulin receptors and we eventually become insulin resistant – so sugar can no longer get into our cells to power them. As a result, our blood sugar levels rise which means our blood pH levels drop (or we become more acidic) and this can play havoc around our body causing all sorts of damage to our kidneys, our eyes, our nerves and brain and our blood vessels.

So does this have an impact on the other factors associated with Metabolic Syndrome?

Absolutely! When our blood sugar and insulin levels rise we often then get a rise in triglyceride levels and our cholesterol levels also change.

Oh, in what way?

Well we have all heard about the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol right?

Yes.

Ok, so one of the jobs the ‘bad’ cholesterol does is patch up any damaged areas on our artery walls. Now I just mentioned that raised blood glucose levels can play a part in this, we also know that eating too much saturated fat can cause hardening of these artery walls too… well our ‘bad’ cholesterol or LDL starts off the healing process when our blood vessels get damaged – see it’s a very important compound in our body – when the healing process is underway, our ‘good’ cholesterol or HDL then comes along and mops up the LDL along with any damaged cell fragments and they get filtered out by the liver.

So the more damage our arteries have – the more LDL we make in order to repair and recover. It’s like a protective mechanism?

Spot on Jeff! That’s why our LDL:HDL ratio is so important – if there is not enough HDL to scavenge the LDL, our arteries clog up and we end up with a stroke or what not. What intrigues me though is that rather than this ratio being viewed as a marker of systemic health, it is sold to us as something that needs controlling. Why not just work out why the balance has occurred rather than block the production of LDL?

Now you are getting a little controversial! So Wade, what treatments are available?

Well, medically there are a few things you can do once you have the conditions we have already spoken about. Statins for lowering cholesterol, hypotensives to lower blood pressure and type 2 diabetes can be controlled a couple different ways but at this stage there are no drugs that can prevent Metabolic Syndrome, they can just control the symptoms once you have it. Now that may sound like I’m bashing the medical system but I’m not – in fact if it weren’t for the medical system I would only have 2 children rather than the 3 I have today but in all honesty the pharmaceutical treatments available today are excellent at treating acute, emergency type situations but not so hot when it comes to chronic disease. Complimentary medicine however is the opposite – because our focus is to allow the body to heal itself, that process can take some time. In an emergency there is no time and that where drugs are awesome at simply taking over and making the body to what it needed.

So does complimentary medicine have any complete formulations to treat something like Metabolic Syndrome?

No, Jeff there is no 1 tablet that can balance cholesterol, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, obesity and triglycerides in one hit. I know there had been a couple natural products lately that have research to back up claims like this but the fact is, not everyone has the same triggers for these symptoms.

As an example, I have spoken to many patients who have used a particular oil that is, well I saw an ad for it last night actually, and it’s being used for its “Cardio” effects and cholesterol lowering attributes. This product has research showing that it can lower total cholesterol by around 2 points in 3months. Some patients have experienced this even with only moderate diet changes but one guy I treated in particular was on a high dose of this oil for a good 6months and his cholesterol just would not budge! He increased his exercise, his diet was great, but his total cholesterol just lingered around 7. So I gave him some herbs to increase his bile output (which is a way the liver excretes cholesterol) and in a few months we saw a drop to 6 and then 5 shortly after. Now this patient couldn’t take statins due to the side effects and lack of energy so we had to sort him out and for him, that one product was not right.

So you would suggest a range of products to cover all bases?

Yes and no, I think you are better off spending some money and going to see a qualified practitioner so you can focus your treatment rather than just buying up a complete range of products but having said that there are a few things that can be done and taken to help prevent most of the imbalances that Metabolic Syndrome presents.

First and foremost – exercise! It only needs to be moderate and for around 30mins most days. This is something your GP will tell you but it is so obvious even your milkman knows we need it…and if you are a smoker, I don’t need to tell you – just stop it now because it increases your risk of almost every disease known, not all but most – as well as those around you.

Secondly, sleep! We haven’t even touched on this but 7-8hrs sleep a night is incredibly important in keeping our hormones in check as well as our liver, insulin and stress response healthy.

On 28 February 2011, Naturopath, Wade Stiller discussed Metabolic Syndrome with Jeff Croucher from Pure Health Direct on 99.7 fm local radio. Click on the video links to watch a video recording of the session or read the transcript of the discussion below.

Next is diet – you know, NONE of us need sugar. It is a treat and a substance that our body can get from whole foods that available from nature. Most of us do not eat enough good fat, all our hormones and cell membranes are made from fat so getting this balanced in our diets is crucial and cutting fat out of our diets is very dangerous indeed. Most Australians need a high quality fish oil supplement to balance out our diets. Of course we need plenty of protein as well.

A good multivitamin/mineral, plenty of magnesium and often high amounts of antioxidants are also typical products that would be used for people who are heading down the Metabolic Syndrome path but as we said earlier – prevention is the best treatment so if you are seeing some of those signs like a high waist:hip ratio or BMI >30, NOW is the time to do something about it. Not tomorrow, but now!

Hmmm, challenging words Wade. Unfortunately that is all we have time for this week. Once again, naturopath Wade Stiller thank you for speaking with us today.

That’s my pleasure – thanks Jeff.

An Interview with Wade Stiller about Men’s Sexual Health

On 21 February 2011, Naturopath, Wade Stiller discussed Men’s sexual health issues with Jeff Croucher from Pure Health Direct on 99.7 fm local radio. Click on the video links to watch a video recording of the session or read the transcript of the discussion below.

This week we are talking about men’s sexual health – an issue that over the past decade has received a huge amount of media and sales attention and impacts on the lives of millions of Australian men AND women. With us today is Wade Stiller. Wade has a Bachelor of Health Science in Naturopathy, is trained in both herbal and nutritional medicine and currently practices at the Northside Wellness Clinic.

Hi Jeff, thanks for having me.

So tell me, what exactly are we talking about when we say men’s “sexual health”?

Jeff, there are 3 main areas of complaints: 1) Prostate health, more specifically Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, 2) Functional disorders, such as impotence, and 3) libido insufficiency. Now although complimentary medicine can offer excellent support, cancers that fall under this male sexual health category are separate issues that need medical diagnosis and treatment so although they are a part of this subject we won’t really talk about that today.

So tell me a bit more about Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, how is that different to an enlarged prostate?

Haha, well it’s not! They are the same thing but let’s just call it BPH! So to explain a little more, benign = not reoccurant, or not malignant and in this case it basically means it is separated from the rest of the body, prostate = obviously the organ in question! Hyperplasia = hyper/over, above, larger and plasia = formation or growth so in simple words BPH is an enlargement of the prostate cells or rate of growth that does not pose a current threat of spreading to other parts of the body. So being confined, there is an enlargement of the prostate which is a small gland that sits just under the bladder; actually the urethra from the bladder goes through the middle of the prostate which is why one of the symptoms of BPH is a reduction of urine flow – so difficulty passing urine, a weak stream, feeling like you need to go just after you have been, waking up multiple times during the night to wee, burning during urination or urgency are all symptoms to be aware of. Of course, the prostate is also in close proximity to the colon so feeling as if your stools aren’t complete through to lower back pain can also be associated with BPH.

There really are a lot of symptoms, is there a specific test to confirm BPH?

Yes, medically there are a couple things that can be done but since the first diagnostic tool is the digital rectal exam most men shy away from having things looked at in the early stages. A P.S.A. can be performed which is a simple blood test that I would definitely recommend men ask their GP about if they are worried but too uncomfortable to have the digital exam, and usually once confirmed things like ultrasounds can be performed to see the rate of progression.

So where does BPH come from?

The science world is still searching – I’m sure there is a team of people somewhere out there looking for the “prostate Enlargement Gene” or something but what we do know is that testosterone increases the growth of the prostate is essential for healthy prostate function – of course testosterone is produced by the testes. We also know that testosterone in the body converts to dihydrotestosterone (or DHT) which is responsible for things like facial hair, receding hairline and baldness and acne during puberty. It is this DHT that also contributes to prostate enlargement. So the two things to look at are; 1. Is there too much testosterone? or 2. Is the testosterone converting to DHT at too high a rate? And for those of us that think a little more broadly, is there a problem with the body clearing and excreting DHT or testosterone.

What can be done about this?

To me, the first port of call is decreasing that conversion of test to DHT which is done by an enzyme called 5-α-reductase. This can be inhibited by things like zinc, quercetin, GLA and a few medicinal herbs. There are very few men that I have ever come across who are not zinc deficient so this is definitely a must. Of course excess testosterone is only going to drive the DHT rate up so assessing and regulating the production of excess androgens (which include testosterone) is also important. Symptomatically, there are also a lot of things we can do to help with urine flow and the associated anxiety. Other things to keep in mind are aggravators like beer and stress, if these can be decreases, especially when they are dietary, then any treatment is going to be more effective.

So should men just start taking supplements to fix the problem?

Look Jeff, I don’t want to ignore the advancements that have emerged in the surgical world over the past decade or so, I mean there are efficient operations available now that have a very high success rate and little side effects when performed correctly. Like a urethrotomy which opens up the restriction to the urethra, skin grafts and of course there is always the option to remove the prostate, although I see this as an absolute last resort.

So supplements?

Sorry – back to the question – Yes and No, going to your GP for confirmation and to test for progression is important if the symptoms are well pronounced. All men should supplement because we live in a world that is not hormone friendly and supporting these processes before imbalance occurs really is the best form of treatment but at the end of the day, practitioner supervision is a very good idea.

we’ve been talking about BPH or benign prostate hyperplasia, let’s talk now more about general dysfunction – What are some of the symptoms or causes of male sexual dysfunction?

Well Jeff, this is when we start to have some fun! This is a MASSIVE market that is filled with a lot of rubbish and is aimed at men or more so attacking men’s confidence and performance in the bedroom.

You know that’s true – it is a multi-million dollar industry with a lot of companies claiming to make things bigger and longer and harder…

Yeah it’s true – not to mention all the emails so many of us get!

To clarify quickly though, when we talk about general dysfunction we aren’t so much talking about infertility which of course Jan covered so well last week but one’s inability to achieve successful sexual intercourse. Now this could be plain old impotence which is the inability to either obtain or maintain an erection, or the inability to orgasm or prematurely orgasm, or it could be priapism which is a painful condition by which one stays erect!

I’ve never heard anyone complaining about that! So what can be done about this?

Again, there can be mechanical reasons that need to be treated medically and low testosterone levels play a part in out sex drive and energy but for a great deal of men out there, supplementing with vitamins and amino acids that increase blood flow to the area, relax the blood vessels, nourish and increase testicular function, improvements can be seen pretty quickly, especially where impotence is the main issue. Now please understand Jeff, I’m not talking about a quick fix nasal technology here – I’m talking about balancing the whole body. A lot of men have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, deal with high stress jobs and these things really do impact on our ability to function sexually because let’s face it, while sex is fun and can be very pleasurable, it’s primary roll is conception and that’s all our body is aware of… it doesn’t realize you want sex to last a certain time, or that you need to please your partner – it just knows that you are worried sick about snaring that big contract tomorrow or finishing a report for work! Expecting it to relax and perform sexually in the middle of all that worry just isn’t how your body works. If you want to live a lifestyle that is not suitable for conception then good sex really isn’t going to happen – but these days we expect to have that kind of control and that a tablet or spray can give it. So, presuming that you have no mechanical issues or nerve damage etc, the idea is to have a look at what the body needs to cope with your lifestyle, and what your diet is lacking in order to support these functions. You know, on a purely mechanical level we need to get blood to the area and keep it there in order to correct impotence! So relaxing the blood vessels with something like l-arginine and muscle relaxing herbs, increasing peripheral blood flow with cayenne pepper and decreasing clotting with omega-3s and vitamin E, even taking into consideration arterial plaque – all of these things contribute to the amount of blood getting into the penis and they also just so happen to treat the other health problems I mentioned before!

So you are saying that male sexual dysfunction can be treated by correcting deficiencies within the body?

That’s right – the vast majority of men who suffer with functional problems like impotence, premature ejaculation and even fertility issues like low sperm count or lowered sperm motility simply do not have the building blocks present within the body to allow those areas to function properly. Often there are also more systemic problems that contribute to the issue – you have to remember that cardiovascular problems like blood pressure/flow and muscle tension are probably the most common complaints of Australian men, but let’s not think this only encompasses the heart or neck and shoulders, the flow on effects of these issues can of course affect any part of our body.

Hmmm, that interesting… What are some of the symptoms or causes of lost libido?

Well the symptoms are easy! No libido! Hehe… The causes however are many. When we talk about a lack of libido in a sexual/strictly physical sense, it is simply a lack of desire to have sex. Most of us have heard of one’s MOJO which refers more towards the psychological definition of libido which speaks of that energy we all have that drives us to be individual, our true self that is uninhibited and content. To me, that is really what libido is all about – it’s not just the lack of desire but there is also a lack of personal contentment that goes along with it. Plus I just like saying mojo.

It sounds like a loss of libido is more of a job for a psychologist than a naturopath Wade, how can supplements help?

Look Jeff, you are partly right – there are often underlying emotional issues that need to be dealt with when libido is lost long term. Depending on what you believe about physics and biology you may even be inclined to believe that there is an absolute bond between emotional and physical health, the question really is can correcting one always correct the other? So in looking at the way we supplement a lost in libido I would happily recommend a product like “Men’s Libido Booster” that Pure Health Direct sell but why I would even consider that product is because it contains herbs like Ginkgo biloba and Damiana, you know these are nervous system herbs not specifically sexual performance herbs. Other products that support neuro-transmitter production and anxiety can be useful and a good quality B complex like the NatureDoc activated B Complex is essential. Supporting healthy emotional and mental wellbeing is really the key to founding a health libido.

I always thought that a loss of libido was just part of sexual dysfunction? The way you are talking now makes me think that it is more of a symptom from another issue.

This is certainly the way I view it – as a holistic practitioner, I am focused on working out the way ALL the body systems are functioning and the imbalances that are causing particular issues. The signs and symptoms our bodies display are just a way for the body to alert us of an imbalance or deficiency, this is how I see lowered libido – especially in men. I mean, we can’t ignore the probable decrease in testosterone that is associated with lowered libido and this is something that medically can be tested and supported by supplementing but you know things like depression, stress either at work or home or even performance anxiety, body image issues and of course abuse as a child both emotional and physical are often the real cause of lowered libido – when we start to support the body with the right building blocks, the response to stress changes.

In what ways?

Well, our autonomic nervous system is divided up into two parts, some of our listeners will be familiar with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When we are chronically stressed, that is when we are typically stuck in the ‘fight and flight’ response our body stimulates and continues to run via the sympathetic nervous system. Now, the sympathetic NS primes us for exertion – it increases things like more blood to muscle skeletal tissue so we can be strong, our pupils dilate so we can potentially see better, our sweat glands are stimulated, our heart rate and contractile strength goes up, our digestive activity decreases, the muscle in our bladder walls relaxes so we can hold more fluid and blood to our abdomen decreases – cause let’s face it, if we are frantically working and need to finish by a certain time the last thing we need to do is go to the toilet or bother digesting food! And for us blokes, the last thing we need is to have an erection whenever we are stressed! So our body simply shuts that response down. Now like I said earlier, if you live the same way all the time and you will effectively train your body to function a certain way… all the time, so when it’s time to get intimate , throwing the switch from sympathetic to parasympathetic NS can be very difficult. The PARAsympathetic NS on the other hand increases our digestive function, it directs blood flow to our gastro intestinal tract, contracts our bladder, stimulates gastric secretions etc and to no one’s surprise it increases blood flow to the sexual organs and also increases sexual arousal.

So the same part of our nervous system that helps us digest food also allows us to be sexually aroused?

You got it! And how important is it for us to digest our food!? Or should I say, how many of us have digestive issues!? My point is that this part of our nervous system should be getting stimulated and allowed to be dominant at least a couple times a day in a healthy person and in order for this to happen we need to nourished it and learn to let our sympathetic response switch off.

But Wade, I’m a busy man and I have a very stressful life – so why don’t I have libido issues?

Well Jeff, this is the reason why complimentary medicine is becoming so popular – we are all different! We all deal with stress differently and it is this ‘stress response’ that causes various symptoms to occur and these can be vastly different from two people who might be enduring the exact same stress in life.

Just because you are stressed, doesn’t mean you WILL have a loss of libido but when you DO loss it, I can guarantee you are dealing with, or NOT properly dealing with a stress of some kind!

Ok. Now Wade, from what I understand, the majority of our listeners are women – if they are suffering because their partner has no libido is there anything they can do to get things going? I mean, you have just been talking about stress and most Australian women already do so much for their men, is it a good idea for them to even get involved?

Oh, wow – good question! I guess there are two sides to the answer in that, just like women who have lowered libido the last thing a man needs is to have the subject constantly brought up – it’s just going to cause more stress but at the same time if there where no women on this planet why the heck would we even need a libido!!?? Look, getting a hold of the products I talked about before – the NatureDoc Activated B Complex, a good fish oil and a good quality zinc is important and really, these are NOT products that scream out “I’m helping your libido”, these will support the nervous system and mental function and will have him coping with life better… If he is open to products like Men’s Libido Booster or Testojack then get them into him too and the results will be more ‘bedroom’ focused!

Fantastic! Well Wade we will have to wrap it up there – thank you for your time today and we look forward to speaking to you again in the future.

Thank you for having me!

You have been listening to Better Health – brought to you by Pure Health Direct, my name is Jeff Croucher and we look forward to your company again next week.

An Interview with Janette Roberts about Reproductive Health

On 14 February 2011, Janette Roberts, pharmacist, nutritionist and best-selling author, discussed Natural Fertility Management with Jeff Croucher from Pure Health Direct on 99.7 fm local radio. Click on the video links to watch a video recording of the session or read the transcript of the discussion below.

Reproductive health is under threat, as well as being increasingly medically managed, with conception, pregnancy, birth and breast feeding, no longer unfolding naturally and easily. So what’s the answer? My guest today is Jan Roberts, pharmacist, clinical nutritionist and best-selling author. Jan, tell us a little bit more about yourself…

Well Jeff, I began my pharmacy career way back in 1967. I was fifteen years in community pharmacy, before frustration with band-aid medicine led me to a diploma in clinical nutrition. Along the way I heard of Foresight – the UK-based Association for the Promotion of Preconceptual Care (www.foresight-preconception.org.uk/). It was their work that prompted the preparation I did before my own pregnancies and it was the benefits that I saw that inspired my work for the last thirty years. That work has been promoting PRECONCEPTION HEALTHCARE as the way to improve fertility and to prevent miscarriage and other reproductive problems. But more importantly PRECONCEPTION HEALTHCARE is the logical, elegantly simple way to ensure a really beautiful bright happy healthy baby.

Well that sounds like something that’s vitally important today when we see so much infertility, so many miscarriages, premature births and so many kids with asthma and allergies, AD/HD and so on.

It’s never been more important than it is today Jeff! Infertility rates are on the rise, one woman in four will have a miscarriage, labours are frequently long and require medical intervention, breast feeding periods are much too short and we have an absolute epidemic of kids with subtle and not so subtle health issues. All of this represents a very inauspicious start to family life. For some, it represents a lifetime of heartache and hardship. Of course the cost to the community and to health care systems is impossible to quantify.

No doubt about the cost to the community Jan, but another concern is that with increasing rates of reproductive problems and so many kids with these various health issues, they come to be accepted as the norm. But you’re saying we can do something to reduce these statistics?

Absolutely Jeff, and the story starts before conception and it starts with both prospective parents. They’re in this quest for a really healthy baby together! I want to make that really clear! This approach is not about an IVF specialist, obstetrician, midwife, or hospital delivering your perfect baby. It’s not about ultrasounds or other pre-natal diagnostic screening ensuring the 100% product.

So you’re saying that the system can’t be held responsible for ensuring optimally healthy babies – the responsibility really lies with prospective parents:

That’s right! This is about two prospective parents committing to giving their family the very best possible start in life.

Well Jan that’s a really exciting opportunity for anyone who plans to become a Mum or a Dad at some stage!

I think so Jeff – and it’s not really as hard as it sounds, nor as ‘out there’ as some people think. Farmers and stock-breeders know all about preconception care. They would always ensure their breeding stock is in optimally nourished and non-stressed condition, and the human population would do well to keep that in mind.

Jan, you say optimally nourished and non-stressed condition for prospective parents – can you please elaborate on that for our listeners?

In a nutshell preconception healthcare means an abundance of all the basic building blocks – that means vitamins, trace elements, essential fatty and amino acids, purified water and complete absence of anything that may be potentially toxic!

Preconception healthcare must involve both partners equally! The program MUST BE COMPLETED and in place for at least 4 months before conception. THAT DOESN’T MEAN ‘Cutting down on cigarettes” or “reducing alcohol” during that critical 4 month period! They need to have QUIT already because sperm take up to 116 days to form and the egg is susceptible to damage for 100 days prior to ovulation. The bulk of what needs doing will involve the couple’s own actions, but sometimes they’ll need help from a practitioner.

Jan – let’s talk for moment about the basic building blocks. Obviously the primary source of those building blocks will be a wholefood, organic diet, but that’s often a tall order in today’s society so what are your thoughts about supplements?

Jeff, healthy food grown on healthy soil is my mantra for prospective parents, but you’re right that’s a tall order for many people, so while supplements can never take the place of a really healthy diet, they’re absolutely essential for both partners during that critical 4-month period. In fact, I say the longer you take a robust combination of all the vitamins and trace elements before conception the better. The reasoning behind it being – The needs during reproduction are so critical – a diet that may support adult life may be completely unable to support healthy reproduction _ Time is short (that’s particularly the case for older women) – You have to make up for multiple nutritional deficits caused by a refined Western diet, unhealthy lifestyle habits and and exposure to toxicity

That sounds to me like a prospective mum needs a lot more than folic acid and iron which seem to be the standard fare prescribed by GPs and obstetricians.

ABSOLUTELY right – in fact single nutrients are definitely not recommended. Folic acid for example is part of the B-Complex group – it never occurs alone in nature and shouldn’t be taken alone. In the case of iron, inorganic iron supplements can cause a deficiency in zinc, which is the antagonist mineral.

Zinc deficiency? Jan I read somewhere that zinc is the most important trace element for the woman about to become pregnant. Is that true?

That’s a pretty good assessment of the importance of zinc, but zinc deficiency is also considered to be the most widespread deficiency in the Western world! In fact a CSIRO study showed that 67% Australian men receive below RDA of zinc, 85% Australian women receive below RDA and a University of Queensland study showed that 2/3 of Australian children are zinc deficient.

Well they’re very chastening statistics Jan – why such widespread zinc deficiency?

Zinc deficiency is almost entirely attributable to modern diets and lifestyles. Zinc is lost or destroyed by: Non-organic farming and refining of grains. Alcohol, cigarettes, diuretics (that’s caffeine) – all deplete the body of zinc. The detoxification of heavy metals such as lead, requires zinc. Growth, pregnancy, breast feeding, stress and illness all put increased demands on zinc levels. Finally oral contraceptives and iron supplements seriously disturb zinc status!

OK, I understand that our 21st Century lifestyle can be held responsible, and that some of this deficiency could potentially affect the pregnant mum and her baby. But there’s no FRANK zinc deficiency state such as Vitamin C deficiency and scurvy, so what conditions would we expect when someone is deficient in zinc?

It’s a very long list Jeff…but it gives you an idea of what I mean when I say ZINC IS IMPORTANT!!

Zinc deficiency is implicated in…

Low libido (no sex drive)

Infertility

Stretch marks

Poor fetal growth

Premature birth

Congenital defects

Prolonged labor

Postnatal depression

Cracked nipples

Poor maternal instinct

Irritable, jittery baby

Compromised immunity

Learning/behavior problems and MUCH MORE.

That IS a very long list Jan, but I need you to explain how prolonged labour can be partly attributable to a deficiency of a trace element?

Well zinc is intimately involved in collagen formation. In a zinc deficient woman, collagen formation is compromised and gaps appear in her uterine membrane. Those gaps mean that the uterus then contracts inefficiently – hence a long labour.

I notice post natal depression and poor maternal instinct are on that list of possible symptoms, so Jan you’d better tell our listeners how to restore their zinc status?

Jeff, there’s a very simple, inexpensive taste test for zinc status and it can be one of the first steps in a preconception program. Take 5ml of a taste test solution into your mouth and swirl it around. Notice the sensation: Strong, unpleasant taste, dry mineral, sweet or furry taste or no taste (like water). I’m not going to tell you what’s adequate zinc status and what’s deficient. You can order the test to find out!

That’s easy enough – so when you’ve done the test, you then you supplement according to your zinc status?

Simply follow the directions on the label Jeff, using a liquid product if your status is very compromised, but remember you need all those other trace elements and vitamins. My co-author Francesca Naish and I have developed an “Essential Range” that comes as a handy 30-day supply. Everything for his and her preconception preparation and the range is based on 30 years clinical experience and all of Foresight’s research.

Something else I’d like you to explain Jan? You said that the oral contraceptive pill is apparently another zinc thief? How does that work?

The pill causes copper levels to rise (copper is a zinc antagonist) and zinc levels to fall. It’s often quite difficult to reverse the zinc deficiency in long-term pill users. So if you’re on the pill, make sure you have a really good break from it AND restore your zinc status well ahead of any attempt at baby-making. Women who take the oral contraceptive pill right up to the time of conception will begin their pregnancy in a zinc compromised state, with potential negative effects on every stage of their pregnancy and their baby.

Jan, I know that lots of women take the pill simply to regulate their cycles, but is there another way to do that?

I’m dismayed when doctors prescribe the pill for hormonal irregularities, because it only masks the problems and in fact leads to more disturbances. Fortunately there’s a fabulous natural product that works to balance levels of all hormones across the board and it has full double-blind clinical trials to support its use. Great product in the same range for older women wanting to avoid HRT by the way Jeff!

Going back to another of those building blocks you mention Jan – purified water

Water is a primary detoxification measure Again, implementation of this one simple step – at least 2 litres of purified water every day can make a big difference to how efficiently your body gets rid of toxic by-products. AND the best quality water filter will ensure the optimal environment for every step of reproduction… from conception through to breastfeeding!

So purified water promotes efficient detoxification. But apart from toxic metabolic waste that the body produces what exactly are you trying to get rid of, what toxicity are you trying to avoid?

Whew, Jeff, that’s the subject for another interview, but let’s summarise like this. WE ARE ALL exposed to an absolute COCKTAIL of chemicals – and there’s no doubt of the potential for harm to eggs, sperm and a developing baby. Now I don’t say that to frighten couples, but rather to alert them to the importance of avoiding whatever they can and to the importance of all of the protective measures that are available.

Let’s consider the food supply – 20,000 chemicals used in food production and manufacture, 4,000 chemicals added directly to the food supply (but only 10% listed on labels). That’s why I say, healthy food grown on healthy soil!

Then consider common lifestyle habits. Alcohol is a direct testicular toxin and of course there is NO KNOWN SAFE LEVEL of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. That’s why Foresight advocates total avoidance of alcohol in the preconception period.

Then what’s in your bathroom (skin care, cosmetics, shampoos etc)? The average woman using 12 products daily will expose herself to 175 chemicals! So you can reduce that exposure simply by switching to a range that is certified organic.

OK Jan, we’re running out of time, so let’s just back up a bit. The Foresight Association in the UK has carried out a huge amount of research, you’ve been promoting this approach to a healthier next generation for thirty years, but it’s not a new idea is it?

Certainly NOT, although it does come as a complete surprise to many couples. But do you know, even the Ancient Greeks and Romans knew that alcohol, drunk before and around the time of conception, was damaging to the fetus. They placed a ban on the drinking of alcohol by young women and newly-weds.

Many tribal societies fed special diets to their young women (and young men) of child-bearing age. In the 1930s, Dr Weston Price (a dentist) studied communities from around the world and clearly established the link between consumption of a refined Western diet and poor reproductive outcomes.

The Great Dutch Famine at the end of WWII showed that women exposed to the food shortages before and around the time of conception, had poorer reproductive outcomes than the women who suffered food shortages during their pregnancy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The next generation was shown to be prejudiced if the mother was in utero during the first trimester when her mother was exposed to food shortage.

This introduces us to the exciting emerging field of epi-genetics. Research in this field demonstrates that the effects of deleterious physical and emotional traumas are carried down through generations, but what’s really exciting is that the converse holds true, which is what makes this work so incredibly exciting and worthwhile!

What you’re saying is fascinating Jan. These days we’re reading so much about DNA tests and I saw something this week suggesting couples could now be tested for 448 diseases before they conceive. What you’re suggesting is an effect that goes beyond an individual’s actual DNA profile.

Exactly Jeff – in fact “epigenetics” literally means beyond genetics and it’s exciting research – about 20 years old now – and it has turned conventional genetic “wisdom” on its head. That means we can no longer hold our DNA entirely responsible for our weight issues or our heart disease or our diabetes or whatever. We might have a genetic tendency to these or other conditions, but there is additional imprinting that can be both negative or positive, and there are triggers that can switch a genetic variation off or on. For example, new evidence indicates that the current epidemic of childhood obesity, is in part linked to the high fat diet of the father-to-be.

So what preconception care endeavours to do is to remove any of those negative triggers and ensure that the positive ones only (and that includes positive mental and emotional effects) are the ones that will ensure the healthiest possible egg and sperm and the healthiest possible environment for the developing embryo and in that, the opportunity for the child to enjoy his full genetic potential.

Jan, I’d like to thank you for being with us today. Let’s give listeners the link to Pure Health Direct website where they can purchase The Natural Way to Better Babies and all your other books, they can order the NFM products, the zinc taste test, Femmenessence or Revolution for hormone balance, Carmaje toxicity-free skin care and Wellness LivingWater as well as other products that you recommend and of course they can contact us at www.purehealthdirect.com for product purchase or for a health care professional who can assist with this vitally important preparation for pregnancy!!

99.7 fm local Radio Better Health Sessions Schedule

Pure Health Direct host a 30 minute session Better Health on health topics presented by guest speakers at 99.7 fm Local Radio at 11 am on Mondays commencing Monday 14 February 2011. Through these sessions Pure Health Direct hopes you will gain valuable insights into health issues involving you or your loved ones.