About Shabir Daya

Shabir Daya is the in-house pharmacist at Victoria Health

Posts by Shabir Daya

The Incredible Benefits Of Broccoli Sprouts

Fresh Broccoli Stems

We all know that eating vegetables is a healthy choice and provide profound benefits to the body. Unfortunately, numerous studies indicate that only one in ten of us actually achieves the recommended daily intake of approximately 800 grams a day of a mixture of fruits and vegetables.

Whilst all types of vegetables are going to be beneficial, there is one group that scientists believe contribute significantly to overall health due to their unique nutrition content – the Brassica family; commonly known as cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, radish and turnips.

Aside from their nutritional content, scientists have found a compound that makes these vegetables so important called Sulforaphane (also called SFN). Read More…

Sluggish Brain: Trinny and Shabir

shabir-and-trinny

Between work, home life, social life and just about everything that we pack into our schedules, it is not surprising that our brains are literally burnt out often resulting in brain fog or mental fatigue. Memory loss is one of the most common fears that people have as they get older, so together with Trinny, I am going to look at steps to boost brain power and hopefully protect your memory from fading.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s

We tend to use the terms interchangeably however they are different. It is normal to have some memory lapses however in the case of dementia, this affects one’s ability to carry out everyday tasks such as driving, cooking, shopping and so on.

A normal person may forget where they put their keys sometimes however someone with dementia may forget where they put their keys frequently and may even forget what keys are used for.

Dementia is defined as a clinical syndrome that may result from a number of diseases including Alzheimer’s. It is diagnosed as impairment of at least two functions carried out by the brain, for example an inability to comprehend or verbalise language and form short term memories.

In Alzheimer’s, nerve cells are lost in the hippocampus which is the learning and memory centre. So the reasons for Alzheimer’s are very specific which include some of the reasons mentioned below. Aside from Alzheimer’s, dementia may also be caused by damage to the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the nerve cells in the brain and this is termed vascular dementia.

It is important to realise in most cases, dementia is not genetic.

There are many reasons for memory loss which include stress, ageing, head injuries, too much information in one go and a hormonal connection, due to high cortisol levels.

It is theorised that as we get older, plaques develop in between nerve cells that disturb the signals of nerve impulses. Another thing that occurs is that the nerves get tangled so that sometimes signals are transmitted to the wrong set of nerves causing confusion. This is all linked to one thing – inflammation.

So what can we do about this?

First and foremost is the fact that what you eat matters. A UCLA study found that the Mediterranean diet is one of the main lifestyle factors that could help to prevent the brain from developing toxic plaques and tangles that are associated with age related decline in memory. (plaque is composed of a toxic protein called beta-amyloid in between nerve cells that prevents transmission of nerve impulses)

The Mediterranean diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds, consuming fish, especially oily fish, and eating meat ideally only once a week. You could equally call it the anti-inflammatory diet since inflammation is a known culprit for many things within our bodies.

Equally, this diet provides sustained energy from medium chain triglycerides found in oily fish, olive oils and also from complex carbs that sustain physical and mental energy.

The same study at UCLA also found that those who were undertaking exercise on a regular basis had the lowest levels of plaque and tangles. More studies need to be performed to find out if one type of exercise is better than another, however the important thing is to undertake some form of exercise regularly.

Further tips to enhance memory and concentration

Feeding the brain – we have already talked about the Mediterranean diet and adding some of the foods we mentioned such as avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds should be of benefit in improving blood flow to the brain, will help form structural components of brain cells and may protect your brain from ageing and damage.

Dehydration – it is absolutely imperative that we hydrate our bodies. The brain tissues contain 73% water so that the type and quantity of fluid that we consume can be just an important. Studies indicate that a 2% decrease in hydration levels can greatly affect memory and attention.

Resting your brain – it is absolutely important that you get adequate sleep. During sleep, your brain consolidates memories, removes toxic debris and repairs itself. A lack of sleep will affect attention, memory and concentration. Try to aim for between seven and nine hours; if you have difficulty sleeping then try using a supplement such as Cherry Night powder or the new Herbal Sleep PM.

Exercise – as mentioned earlier, physical exercise raises the levels of a protein that stimulates the production of new brain cells and nerve connections. We know the virtues of walking, for example, which often increases vitality and enthusiasm whilst lowering tension and fatigue.

Brain exercises – just as the body benefits from exercise, so does the brain. Brain training programs, acronyms, mnemonics (patterns of letters, words, shapes etc) are all useful as is meditation.

Focusing your brain – this might be the most overlooked way of improving your memory. It is rare for someone to focus on one task only – people are often distracted by telephones, computers and are often multi-tasking.

Cleansing your brain – if you smoke, think about a cessation program because the toxins from this can damage your brain cells.

Consider Vitamin B12 supplements

A surprising common reason for mental fog and memory problems is vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is required for healthy brain function and to repair the sheaths surrounding the nerves. As we age, we lose the protein in the stomach called intrinsic factor which transports vitamin b12 from the intestines into the bloodstream resulting in deficiencies.

It is recommended that you get your B12 levels checked especially if you are over the age of 50. A supplement with sublingual forms such as Methyl B12 lozenges or B12 Boost Spray may help. These forms by-pass the GI tract delivering B12 straight into the bloodstream.

Consider a nootropic

Nootropics are a buzzword for a range of drugs, nutrients and herbs that can help improve our attention, memory, recall and other brain functions.

Theoretically there are many things that could be termed nootropics such as caffeine (helps concentration temporarily but after that you often get a slump). This has led to the creation of a definition of a nootropic.

Definition of a Nootropic

The idea that a drug or a herb may improve your intelligence, or improve your memory, may seem like science fiction, but scientists are working on new compounds that can help enhance various functions carried out by the brain.

When you look at nootropics, you will note that there are actually many herbs and nutrients ( as many as 80 synthetic compounds and natural ones) that may work in different ways to either help protect the brain or help provide fuel for the cells in the brain to work efficiently or have an effect on the production of neurotransmitters by the brain.

Typical examples include Ginkgo biloba, Turmeric and Sage Leaf which all work in varying ways and so many manufacturers tend to use a combination of vitamins and herbs together as a brain boosting supplement – one such supplement is Neubria’s Spark for Memory.

Many people refer to nootropics as smart drugs, which is wrong. Smart drugs are basically stimulants that are prescribed usually for ADHD or sleeping disorders such as Ritalin, amphetamines and other classes of drugs. In a healthy individual they will provide intense short-term focus without providing any other benefits to the brain and used regularly they are not without side effects because they can increase blood pressure, cause a fast heart rate and so on.

Synthetic nootropics belong to a class of compounds called the racetams such as piracetam. There is still debate over whether these compounds actually help to provide any long-term benefits and they are not without side effects, which can include headaches, dizziness, nausea and so on.

The nootropic that I favour is called Limitless Plus – this contains:

A very specific extract derived from the non-GMO tomato fruit called Noomato. We know that the tomato fruit is rich in vitamins such as C and A as well as containing a broad range of antioxidants most notably lycopene. Lycopene is a potent anti-inflammatory so this helps to ensure healthy processing of information at the synapses. The anti-inflammatory properties also help to protect our nerve cells from degradation.

Neumentix is included in the formulation and is a specific extract from non-GMO spearmint. Spearmint contains over 50 different types of antioxidants including rosmarinic acid which protect the cells from oxidative damage. It is also thought that it may enhance acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. It is understood that this chemical is deficient in those with dementia.

Limitless Plus fits the definition of a true nootropic and provides both short-term and long-term benefits. It is ideal for anyone that needs short term concentration for exams and also for anyone who is worried about brain function and does not wish to take pharmaceuticals.

Supplements To Take In Your 40s

40 made from voxels on black background

If you are reaching your 40s or are already in your 40s, your health should be a high priority. Eating a healthy and balanced diet and taking exercise regularly are a must, however you can further help your body by taking certain key supplements.

There are some supplements which I consider essential in your 40s and there are others which may be important to build a foundation for optimal health.

Should I take a multivitamin in my 40s?

I have always recommended a quality multivitamin as I consider this to be important because we often tend to eat food groups that may not necessarily provide an abundance of nutrients. Equally, our digestive system ages with us and so we may not be able to absorb these nutrients efficiently. A quality food state multivitamin will bridge the gap and act like an insurance policy to ensure that our bodies are nourished in order to work at their optimal level.

Alive Once Daily Multivitamin is a comprehensive one-a-day food-state multivitamin and mineral supplement which also contains fruit and vegetable extracts known for their antioxidant properties as well as digestive enzymes to help digestion and mushroom extracts to enhance your immune system. Alive Multivitamin supplement however is not suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Vegans and vegetarians should opt for Terra Nova’s Living Multinutrient Complex which is also food-based and provides nutrients in a base of green foods which contain digestive enzymes to help enhance absorption.

If you cannot swallow tablets or capsules, then Source of Life Gold Liquid is one of a few food-state liquids providing vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids as well as fruit and vegetable extracts.

What about probiotics and omega 3?

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in your gut. The older you are, the more vulnerable your system is to unhealthy bacteria. If your gut is not in a healthy state, your body will simply not absorb nutrients, you may experience constipation and perhaps even some gas or bloating. Probiotics enhance your immune system, manufacture energising B vitamins, break down food in the colon and help remove acids and toxins from the intestines.

Mega Probiotic ND is free from gluten, dairy, wheat, soya, yeast and other common allergens that can affect our digestive system and provides eight strains of bacteria that are able to pass through the harsh acid environment of the stomach reaching our gut where they are able to perform their myriad of roles.

Omega 3’s fatty acids are the good fats which your body uses to manufacture hormones, calm down inflammation in the body and have a positive impact on heart and brain function. Deficiencies of omega 3 are common in people who consume large amounts of processed foods, hydrogenated oils and those on a vegetarian or vegan diet. The primary animal sources of omega 3’s are fish oil or krill oil supplements and Lion Heart Pure Omega 3 Fish Oil and Neubria Krill Oil are two of the best omega 3 supplements on the market.

Should I take anything else?

A multivitamin, omega 3 and a probiotic are three key supplements to take during your 40s, however you may also wish to consider the use of Sage Complex. From roughly the age of 35, the production of female hormones by the ovaries begins to decline and this can have subtle effects on the body since oestrogen protects our skin, heart, bones and provides numerous other protective benefits. These subtle changes can also include low mood and often an inability to concentrate. Sage Complex contains herbs that are called phytoestrogens which mimic the female hormones and therefore help to offer protection against many of these concerns, especially as this phase is often termed the perimenopause. Those with much lower levels of female hormones may experience some hot flushes, tender breasts, low sex drive, mood swings and irregular periods, all of which may be greatly alleviated with the introduction of Sage Complex.

If you have a history of osteoporosis in the family or have a dairy-free diet, it would be prudent to consider the use of a calcium supplement. Calcium is needed for our heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly as well as for blood to clot. According to the National Institute of Health, several surveys show that people are simply not getting sufficient calcium on a daily basis to maintain healthy bones. There are many other factors that may lend to calcium deficiencies such as a high protein diet which encourages calcium excretion, lactose intolerance and a lack of vitamin D3 which is widespread in the adult population.

If you decide to take a calcium supplement then please consider Bone Restore with Vitamin K2 by Life Extension which provides three types of highly absorbable calcium alongside magnesium, vitamin D3, silica and other bone building nutrients. The magnesium in Bone Restore will also hopefully help to relax the body, enhance energy levels and may help with better quality sleep.

I always advocate that supplements should be taken alongside a healthy and balanced diet. Always read the labels of all supplements you purchase to see if there are any warnings that would make them inappropriate for you.

How To Heal Your Liver

Human Head bust made of aalcohol bottles

At this time of the year one of the biggest concerns spoken about are the elevated amounts of alcohol that people may indulge in. Many people will try to justify excess alcohol consumption by stating that they do not drink excessively throughout the year.  But is this argument justified?  Regardless of seasonal festivities, many of us indulge in an excessive consumption of food and alcohol, both of which can have an impact on the liver.

It is estimated that there are over 100 types of liver diseases which may be caused by genetics or by factors such as viruses and excess alcohol consumption. The most common signs and symptoms of liver disease may include:

– Lower abdominal pain
– Fatigue
– Irritated itchy skin
– Loss of appetite
– Nausea
– Swelling of the legs
– A yellow tinge of the skin and the eyes

Tips on how to heal liver damage

One of the most important facts about the liver is that it is self-healing, just like our skin. A good example is if you cut yourself, the wound eventually scabs over as you heal and sometimes a scar is left behind. The same process occurs in the liver; as cells die scar tissue develops. If the aggressors, such as alcohol, remain constant then the scar tissue continues to build up until the liver cannot function properly.

Eating the right foods

Eating the right foods can have a great impact on the healing of damaged liver cells. Eat plenty of antioxidant and fibre rich foods. Some of the best foods for the liver include blueberries, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, sprouts and cauliflower, oily fish, olive oil, grapes, grapefruit as well as nuts. Reduce the consumption of saturated fats, processed foods and sugar laden foods. Incidentally, coffee appears to be good for the liver. It is thought that coffee provides protective antioxidants as well as encouraging the production of liver enzymes which help to rid the body of toxins.

Avoid weight gain

Try to maintain your Body Mass Index within the normal range, between 18 and 25, by eating healthily and by exercising regularly. This may help decrease your chances of liver concerns. If you are overweight and drink regularly then cutting back on your alcohol intake will not only safeguard your health, but will also help you to lose weight.

Quit smoking and avoid chemical toxins wherever possible

Smoking can cause liver scarring and damage. Cigarettes contain hundreds of chemicals that have to be processed by the liver increasing the risk of liver damage. Abstaining from smoking will therefore encourage the healing process.

It is difficult to avoid environmental toxins, but you can definitely reduce the exposure to chemical toxins from aerosols and chemically laden body care products.

Cut down on your alcohol intake

When the liver attempts to break down alcohol, the chemical reactions that occur can cause inflammation leading to damage to the liver cells, which causes scarring and often a build-up of fats. Moderate consumption of alcohol is generally considered as safe and routinely men should not consume more than three drinks a day and women no more than two to prevent alcohol-induced liver disease.

Prevent and Protect

Hepatitis is one of the leading causes of liver damage and can be transmitted from blood or sexual fluids. If you get manicures or pedicures, then please ensure that this is from a reputable shop or person.

Consider Supplements

According to WebMD, “antioxidant vitamins such as C, E, and beta-carotene, minerals such as zinc and selenium, B-vitamins that aid alcohol metabolism and herbs said to cleanse the liver such as milk thistle, dandelion root, and schizandra, might help protect liver cells while ridding our body of poisons.”

A supplement that I would recommend is HealthAid’s Milk Thistle Complex. This supplement contains a trio of liver cleansing herbs including Milk thistle, Artichoke and Dandelion as well as nutrients such as beta carotene and B vitamins for their varying roles in helping to heal damage to the liver.

A Nootropic For 2020

Tomoatoe selection of various colours

Nootropics is the buzzword for a range of supplements that can dramatically improve functions carried out by the brain such as attention, focus, memory, ability to recall information and general brain health.

Nootropics are becoming a popular way to provide your brain with an extra boost it may need and are therefore often referred to as smart drugs. The idea that a drug or herb may enhance your intelligence, improve your memory and help the ability to recall information may seem like science fiction, but scientists and drug manufacturers are increasingly working on new compounds that enhance various aspects of the functions carried out by our brain.

What are memory enhancing pills?

There are many traditional herbs and nutrients that are reported to improve memory, help cognitive function, focus and recall. Herbs such as Turmeric, Ginkgo Biloba and Bacopa Monieri are three herbs that have shown great promise for numerous years and may help memory and attention. Supplements such as Neubria’s Spark – For Memory contains all the herbs mentioned above, alongside Sage, CoQ10 and specific vitamins and minerals to help protect your brain. This supplement could be classified as a nootropic, but to benefit from these traditional herbal extracts you do need to take them on an ongoing basis.

What are Nootropic foods?

Many foods or food derived ingredients such as fish oils, dark chocolate and coffee are often referred to as nootropics. We know that omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oils and caffeine in coffee appear to be good for the brain, but these foods, especially fish oils, would need to have been ingested for long periods of time in order to obtain benefits to the brain. And let’s not forget exercise. There is strong evidence that regular exercise improves memory and fends off age-related cognitive decline. 

So, what is a true nootropic?

By definition, a true nootropic must be able to:

  • Enhance one’s memory and the ability to assimilate and process information.
  • Protect the brain tissues from chemicals and toxins.
  • Help brain function, even at times of extreme stress such as exams and work deadlines.
  • Display no side effects.

It is easier to categorise nootropics in terms of synthetic versions and natural ones. There are over 80 synthetic and natural nootropic substances on the market. For the sake of clarity, smart drugs are not nootropics. Smart drugs are prescription only medicines that are used to treat ADHD, sleep disorders and other concerns. In a healthy individual they will provide intense short term focus without conferring any other benefits to the brain. Invariably they are not without severe long-term side effects and so I do not recommend them.

Synthetic nootropics are synthesised in a laboratory and lack long-term studies and their safety may be questionable such as the racetam group of nootropics including piracetam. Natural nootropics on the other hand consist of compounds and herbs which have been proven to be safe and effective. Most of them support memory, brain function, focus and mental alertness often by boosting neurotransmitters in the brain.

Limitless Plus is a nootropic supplement combining two of the safest herbal extracts, Noomato™ and Neumentix™.

Noomato™ is an extract derived from the non-GMO tomato plant. The tomato fruit is loaded with a broad range of vitamins including vitamins C and A as well as potent antioxidants including the extensively studied antioxidant called lycopene. In studies, Noomato™ has been found to promote the function of the synapses – these are complex junctions between nerve cells used to transmit signals of information to process, store and recall information. Noomato™, with its high antioxidant properties, works to quench inflammation which disturbs the way in which we process information and of course may be responsible for the degradation of the nerve cells.

Neumentix™ is a unique extract derived from non-GMO spearmint which contains over 50 different types of polyphenols including rosmarinic acid which helps improve brain function by:

  • Protecting the nerve cells from damaging free radicals.
  • Enhancing the amount of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in learning and memory.
  • Promoting new nerve cells.

Limitless Plus fits the definition of a true nootropic and it provides both short and long-term benefits for the brain; its effects are cumulative, so the longer you take this supplement, the more effective the benefits. This innovative botanical supplement is aimed at students and seniors most interested in a safe, non-pharmaceutical solution to keep their mind clear and focused. It is also equally suitable for gamers and those with brain-fog that often accompanies pressure of work. 

Supplements To Take In Your 30s

Blue background with pills an dleave smakign an image of a plant

For a lot of women, the 30s are a turning point when it comes to health. The days of staying out late or all night and indulgences in food and drink are usually lower down in priority.

A healthy, varied and balanced diet is nevertheless a good starting point to provide the body with all the essential vitamins, however we are all prone to eating food groups that we like and so often we may miss out on some of the nutrients which are required by the body on an ongoing basis. This is where supplements in your 30s can bridge the gap, particularly a quality food-state multivitamin such as Alive Once Daily Multivitamin Ultra Potency. Read More…