Bariatric Surgery Benefits Last for Years

One of the biggest problems with weight loss programs and diets is that even if they work the weight tends to come back on within a year or two. A recent study from the University of Utah of people who underwent bariatric surgery shows that not only do they lose weight quickly, after 6 years they continue to maintain their lower weight. After undergoing bariatric surgery the average weight drop was 35% of the original weight and after 6 years weight loss was still a very encouraging 28%. 75% of diabetics who had bariatric surgery were able to go off their diabetic medications, while improvements were generally seen in cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Although this study shows a very high success rate, in the real world medical practice I have seen many people who are able to eat their way out of weight loss success after bariatric surgery. Eating small amounts of very high calorie food is still possible and unfortunately is not all that uncommon. Not to say that bariatric surgery is not helpful, because when it works the results can be spectacular, but as always the degree of motivation of the patient is crucial to success.

Gary Pepper, M.D.

Nature’s Hydroxycut

another secret from nature

another secret from nature

Yes you read it right, hydroxycitric acid (HCA, or “hydroxycut” used in many diet formulas that are otherwise dangerous to the body, bad bad bad) has a natural safe original source:

the Hibiscus Flower!

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is effective in weightloss because it helps to stop the conversion of carbs in food to body fat. It fights appetite and encourages weight loss  not by increasing your energy, but by limiting how much we convert the carbs we eat. HCA is not a good idea on low carb dieting (which is a crap idea anyhow) but it does help weight loss when used with a healthy program of general calorie restriction reducing consumption of carbs, protein, and fats equally.

Hibiscus tea affects how we absorb fats and carbohydrates because it contains phaseolamin, a powerful enzyme inhibitor that blocks amylase, the enzyme responsible for breaking down fats and carbohydrates.  This enzyme inhibitor acts in the same way as the drugstore-pill versions, but remains in its natural, unadulterated form and is much safer and more beneficial for the body than laboratory-produced concoctions. (This can be said for almost all things, if it comes in nature, why make it in a lab?) By the way, the same form of amylase inhibitors is present in kidney beans and other hard-to-digest legumes, so eat your beans! 😉

In addition to blocking the absorption of sugars, this traditional tea has cleansing and anti-bloating properties, helping the body rid of excess fluids and therefore further contributing to weight loss, especially in premenstrual and menopausal women. It’s especially good for women as it balances our Yin (female) and Yang (male) energies when our hormones are changing.

Hibiscus tea is caffeine-free and has a high vitamin C content, it has a bright red color and a tart cranberry-like flavor, it’s like natures Kool-aide but way way better for you.  Hibiscus tea is also known to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In folk medicine, they are used to prevent and treat heart and liver diseases. I dare you to get those benefits out of a crappy diet pill or kiddie drink!

You can find dried loose flowers in most nature stores, and some brands even market hibiscus tea bags. It’s inexpensive (no more than $20 per pound here in NY, and a full pound will last eaons) and can also be added to loose green or black tea for an added flavor.


Steep 3-4 dried flowers  in about 16oz of freshly boiled water for 5 minutes. It’s so great in the summer as a refreshing afternoon drink, but to use it medicinally for cholesterol or weight loss management, I suggest you have 3 cups a day, 1 hour after each meal.

Kimberly, counselor since 1998 and founder of, holds a Masters in Health & Healing as a Certified Nutritional Counselor, a Masters in Education and is an internationally trained advanced  Yoga and Yoga Therapy instructor that has worked and studied in New York, Spain and in Southern India. Her practice is based in New York City. She believes in showing her clients how to combine time-tested ancient theories with modern knowledge to get the best benefits from both worlds.

Why yoga works to balance weight

We’ve all heard how doing yoga is one of the best practices to adopt when trying to balance your weight, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and also to reduce stress.

But we’ve also all wondered exactly HOW these 60 minute sessions of bends and twists can promise so much?

Here’s the key to the health benefits of yoga poses:

Like traditional exercize (running, walking, playing group sports etc), yoga can get your heart rate up and tone and strengthen your muscles. But the special qualities that yoga alone offers is the attention it gives to our internal organs. Here’s a quick fact about the major types of yoga postures:

All forward bending poses will help to massage the stomach, pancreas and intestines, bringing new blood to these organs and therefore helping them to work better.

All twisting poses massage and compress the different sections of the colon, helping to manually move food along it’s route from the stomach and onwards.

Also, all “chin to chest” simple poses will massage the thyroid and parathyroid glands which are responsible for our body’s ability to properly absorb calcium in addition to keeping our sleep and metabolism regular.

Like many things in life, it is the simple stuff that is often offering the most complex benefits. If you’re new to yoga, research the variety of DVD’s, classes in your neighborhood and of course, local practitioners that can help you learn more.

How To Reduce High Blood Pressure Naturally

We covered the basics of high blood pressure regulation and hypertension in the last issue of Health Bytes. Now we will explore some possible alternatives to treat this condition.

Prior to addressing what can reduce blood pressure, we should briefly address often over looked contributing factors to high blood pressure.

Other than a poor diet, obesity, certain diseases, sedentary lifestyle, and a genetic predisposition, there are several contributing factors to hypertension. Lifestyle factors, environmental factors, and stress management can all play their part. Adjusting and addressing each of these factors can play a strong part in the non-pharmacological treatment of high blood pressure.

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, depicted the hypertensive effect of chronic alcohol consumption. Studies from the New England Journal of Medicine correlate nicotine consumption from cigarettes and smokeless tobacco with an elevation in blood pressure. Even the daily consumption of coffee has been implicated in hypertension, as reported in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Researchers from the Lancet stated back in 1976, that cadmium toxicity has been shown to independently increase blood pressure. Other researchers reported similar effects from lead in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The best safe guard against lead and cadmium toxicity is to remain acutely aware of their sources and avoid them when possible. Lead can be found in municipal water supplies, household lead pipes, and shooting ranges. Cadmium sources include industrial paints, and cigarettes.

How an individual handles stress can be a strong factor in blood pressure regulation. Hans Selye, one of the first major researchers on stress, described what happens in the body during the fight or flight response. He found that any problem, imagined or real can initiate the fight or flight response, which results in an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension, and blood pressure. The journal Psychosomatic Medicine, and the Medical Journal of Australia, have clinically proven that stress reduction techniques from various disciplines of mind/body medicine such as biofeedback, meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises, have all shown success in reducing blood pressure.

Exercise, diet, supplements, and certain herbs can produce a hypotensive effect.

It has been known for quite some time that weight control reduces the risk of high blood pressure. Not only does physical activity help with weight control but moderate exercise, specifically aerobics, helps lower blood pressure directly. Back in 1990, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that those who engage in regular aerobic activity may not need medication for mild hypertension.

Diet can be a powerful strategy to combat hypertension. Consuming a diet as close to the diet utilized in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) clinical trial would be a great first defense. Such a diet is rich in fiber, high in potassium, calcium, and magnesium from vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, low fat dairy or dairy substitutes fortified to match the nutritional profile of dairy, low in sodium and saturated fat, with total fat from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated sources totaling 30% of calories, and conducive to weight loss. Reducing sodium may not just be limited for the treatment of high blood pressure. In the December 1, 1999 issue of the Journal of the American Medical association, researchers studied the relationship between dietary sodium and cardiovascular disease risk in overweight and non-overweight individuals. They concluded that high sodium intake is strongly and independently associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality in overweight individuals.

Coenzyme Q10, magnesium, calcium, potassium, L-taurine, garlic, hawthorn, Coleus Forskohlii, and maitake mushrooms have been found to produce hypotensive effects.

According to the research of Karl Folkers, a deficiency of coenzyme Q10 was found in 39% of patients with hypertension compared to 6% of those with normal blood pressure. Providing these patients with supplemental coenzyme Q10 for eight weeks resulted in a 10% or greater decrease in blood pressure in various double-blind studies from the text, Biomedical and Clinical Aspects of Coenzyme Q10. Vol. 5. Magnesium levels have been found to be consistently low in individuals with high blood pressure. In a study from the January 1983 British Medical Journal, supplemental magnesium lowered blood pressure in 19 out of 20 hypertensives.

Crossover clinical trials regarding the ability of magnesium to reduce blood pressure have been printed in the August and November 1998 Journal of Hypertension.

In 1994, in the American Journal of Hypertension, a study examined the possible hypotensive effects of calcium supplementation. After 14 weeks, the high calcium intake lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of 17 mmHg , and diastolic blood pressure by 11 mmHg.

The mineral potassium was also found to reduce blood pressure. Research in the British Medical Journal revealed that moderate oral potassium supplements are associated with a long term reduction in blood pressure in patients who have mild high blood pressure.

The non-essential amino acid L-Taurine may exhibit hypotensive properties. The Japan Heart Journal depicted research showing the correlation between supplemental taurine and reduced blood pressure levels.

Garlic has proven its ability to reduce blood pressure. One fine example in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial conducted by general practitioners, printed in the August British Journal of Clinical Practice, depicted a reduction in diastolic and systolic blood pressure values after 12 weeks of supplementation with a specific garlic product.

According to the July American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Hawthorn (crataegus oxycantha) may have a mild blood pressure lowering effect.

Forskolin, an extract from the herb Coleus Forskohlii, which has a long history of use in Ayurvedic systems of medicine, may yield hypotensive effects due to its stimulation of a specific cellular regulating chemical, which in turn may result in relaxation of the arteries, as was originally reported in the March Journal of Ethnopharmacology and the July Journal of Cyclic Nucleotide Research.

The November issue of Nutrition Review, discussed the functional properties of edible mushrooms. One mushroom in particular, maitake (Grifola frondosa), has shown great promise as a hypotensive in animal studies in Tokyo.

Alternatives to the pharmacological treatment of high blood pressure are currently available. However, it is important to note that all of the aforementioned substances should be discussed with your primary care physician prior to ingestion. Herbs for example, can potentate the action of antihypertensive medication, promoting complications.

Reducing Blood Pressure Naturally

High blood pressure, known as hypertension, is known as the ‘silent killer’ because most people can’t tell when their blood pressure is high. Elevated blood pressure can lead to a greatly increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious illnesses. Along with high cholesterol and smoking, hypertension is one of the most serious causes of atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

Keeping blood pressure under control is essential for long-term good cardiovascular health. Two studies involving natural therapies for reducing blood pressure were recently conducted. These studies revealed that nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, and antioxidants help lower blood pressure.

The Calcium/Vitamin D Connection

When we think of calcium, we automatically think of strong bones. One of the most important aspects of calcium is to prevent and treat osteoporosis. What many people don’t realize is that, according to a new German study, calcium and vitamin D supplementation is also effective in reducing high blood pressure.

In this study, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers found that calcium and vitamin D supplementation is effective in reducing blood pressure, including pregnancy-induced hypertension. In addition, they recognized that calcitropic (vitamin D-related) hormones are associated with blood pressure. Therefore, the researchers sought to determine if short-term supplementation with calcium and vitamin D might improve blood pressure.

Working with women over the age of 70, researchers found that when the women took calcium and vitamin D, they successfully reduced their systolic blood pressure and reduced levels of parathyroid hormone. (Parathyroid hormone regulates the body’s calcium levels. Too much of this hormone can result in calcium being withdrawn from bones.) The study reiterated the fact that calcium should always be taken with vitamin D because the body can’t absorb calcium without it. In addition, the study showed that inadequate calcium and vitamin D intake could play a contributory role in the progression of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in elderly women.

According to Dr. Helmut W. Minne and colleagues from the Institute of Clinical Osteology in Hamburg, Germany, ‘A short-term supplementation with vitamin D and calcium is more effective in reducing blood pressure than calcium alone.’


Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, have found that a diet rich in the antioxidant vitamins C and E can help lower high blood pressure. Vitamins C and E are powerful antioxidants that protect against damaging natural substances called free radicals. Vitamin C fights free radicals in water and is complemented by vitamin E, which fights free radical destruction in the fatty regions of the body.

Dr. Nostratola D. Vaziri, the study’s leading author, and his team tested the theory that antioxidants might help reduce high blood pressure by protecting the body’s supply of nitric oxide, a molecule that relaxes blood vessels. During the study, they found that supplementing the diet with vitamins C and E raised levels of nitric oxide in the body. The study, published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, showed that although hypertension is a highly complex medical problem that has many causes, nitric oxide and oxidative stress are major contributors to the disease.

‘Antioxidants are powerful regulators of blood pressure, and our studies show that multiple types of these chemicals, found in a diet heavy in fruit and vegetables, could help mitigate high blood pressure,’ Vaziri said.

Millions of men and women suffer from high blood pressure. The discovery of natural alternatives for treating this prevalent condition offers even more reasons for the importance of supplementing with these important nutrients every day.

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