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Health Questions & Answers #72 ~ [Issue 0206-4]  Wellness Weekly
 Feb 28, 2006 08:46 PST 

Q & A #1:
Are pasture-raised meats and dairy products really better for your health?

The answer is yes, according to a growing number of health experts. First, animals raised on pasture eat what they are designed to eat. Like humans, animals that eat the proper diet - one that is geared toward their unique digestive systems - and that are given room to roam, exercise and play, tend to be healthier than animals that are fed an improper diet, supplemented by antibiotics, and that live in crowded, stressful conditions. In fact, because of the attention paid to their diet and their living conditions, pasture-raised animals are better able to resist illness and disease, minimizing - and sometimes eliminating - the need to treat them with antibiotics. In addition, they are allowed to grow to a healthy weight, naturally, rather than being forced to gain weight at an unnatural rate with growth hormones. For more information and to download a free information pamphlet called "The Great News About Grass," see: http://www.eatingfresh.com/gnag.html

Q & A #2:
What are "heart flutters" and are they a cause for concern?

A "fluttering" heart is a condition that most people have experienced at some time or another. Usually called "palpitations," they are rapid, forceful, regular or irregular heartbeats that are quite noticeable to the individual. Some of the terms used to describe palpitations are "pounding," "fluttering," and "skipping." While they can be a cause of concern to people who experience them, palpitations are usually not a sign of an impending heart attack. For most people who are physically healthy and emotionally well-adjusted, they do not signify an underlying heart disorder but are most commonly caused by physical exertion, anxiety, fear, excessive smoking, too much caffeine, and ingredients in certain medications, including some cough and cold medications. Other causes are fever, anemia and hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland, which produces too much thyroid hormone). In rare cases, palpitations are a long-standing accompaniment to an underlying severe anxiety disorder. Palpitations can also be caused by actual heart disease. These forms are often distinguishable by their particular pattern. For instance, some palpitations may be very heavy and regular; others may feel as if the heart is "turning over." A Health Alliance cardiologist may be able to make a diagnosis based on the pattern, or may order an electrocardiogram for more precise information. As a rule, palpitations produce anxiety and fear out of proportion to their seriousness, although it is wise to consult a cardiologist if the condition develops, or if symptoms such as faintness, sweating, or chest pain occurs with the palpitations. When the cause has been accurately determined and its significance explained, most people are able to "live with" the condition and some no longer even notice it.

Q & A #3:
Are there any natural alternatives that can help overcome an active thyroid?

There are two members of the mint family that many herbalists swear by to effectively combat an overactive thyroid (a condition known as hyperthyroidism): Bugleweed (be sure to use an alcoholic extract rather than a water-based one) and Motherwort. Neither should ever be used during pregnancy, and others should use them only under the guidance of a physician knowledgeable in natural medicine. When your thyroid levels become normal, you should work with your physician to taper down your dosages, since continuing use may cause the gland to become underactive. But Bugleweed should never be stopped abruptly, since that can cause an increase of hyperthyroid symptoms. Side effects such as headaches, enlarged thyroid size, and increased hyperthyroidism symptoms have also been reported in some people while taking bugleweed. Motherwort has no reported side effects. A number of foods can also help balance an overactive thyroid, including cabbage, broccoli, Chinese greens, and other members of the Brassica family - soy foods, millet, and possibly garlic.

Q & A #4:
What exactly is "metabolism" and what affects its function?

Metabolism is the chemical process by which your body creates and uses energy. Your body needs this energy for: meeting its basic needs such as breathing, growing, repairing cells, circulating blood, etc.; digesting, absorbing, transporting, and storing the food you eat; and physical activity. If you eat more calories than your body needs for these functions, the excess is stored as fat. If you eat fewer calories, your body will get the energy it needs from the stored fat. It is basically simple math - calories in versus calories out. Other factors can increase your caloric needs, such as: body size - a bigger body mass needs more calories; body composition - muscle burns more calories than fat; age - metabolism slows with age, partly because muscle mass tends to decrease; and gender - men have more muscle mass and less fat than women. There are some things you can do to increase your body’s caloric needs and, in effect, speed up your metabolism. Because muscle plays such an important part in metabolic rate, it is not surprising that exercising and building muscle are at the top of this list: increase aerobic exercise, build more muscle mass through resistance training, eat at least 3 meals a day - skipping meals slows metabolism. Regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, biking, jogging, etc. for 30 minutes every day is a great way to burn calories. A weight-lifting routine, using light weights and lots of repetitions, is an easy way to build upper-body strength and muscle. Both of these activities will not take any more than 40 minutes a day and can help kick start that metabolism.
	
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