The muscadine grape, or more specifically, an extract of the muscadine grape of a nutrient that may soon become as household a name as resveratrol, called ellagic acid (also called EA), was part of an intriguing study that had multiple implications when it comes to the metabolism and usage of fat in the human body. The study was done on mice, as most studies are before they are tested on humans, since they have similar metabolic processes to us.

These studies are so far demonstrating that EA may benefit not only your overall cell health due its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but it may also have exciting implications for fat loss, weight maintenance and the overall metabolism and regulation of fat accumulation.

How does ellagic acid affect fat cells and their excess production and storage?

In the study with mice, they received the equivalent of about one and a half cups of muscadine grapes, which are high in ellagic acid, and another group of mice were not. It is important to note that muscadine grapes are the only type of grape with this nutrient, however some oak aged wines also generate this nutrient, and several other foods as listed below, are also rich in EA. Both groups of mice in the study were fed a high fat diet.

However, the mice who consumed the ellagic acid rich food in conjunction with a high fat diet, showed not only less fat cell formation and a marked decrease in liver storage (this often results in what’s termed as a “fatty liver” which can be a dangerous condition over time), but also showed much better control over their insulin levels. This seemed to indicate the EA helped in controlling the release and metabolism of simple sugars (all carbs are broken down into these simple sugars).

The logical conclusion of this study is that ellagic acid seemed to have not only an effect on how the mice stored and metabolized the excess fat in their diet, but also on another important component of overall health and weight maintenance, which is the efficient control of blood glucose levels. Further adding to the effect EA has on fat cells and fat storage, another study, based on human biological models translated from the findings in mice, provided evidence that ellagic acid actually suppresses the formation and growth of fat cells.

Since EA seems to have a huge benefit for expedient carbohydrate and fat metabolism, the implications for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance are promising. While those that released the study were careful to avoid coming out and saying EA is a weight loss aid, they did acknowledge that it may help support healthy blood sugar levels, metabolize fat, and prevent it from storing in the liver, as well as provide important antioxidant support to healthy cells.

Ellagic acid protects the skin from photo aging by protecting against UV damage

EA has another interesting effect that may have anti-aging benefits for those concerned with photo aging (damage caused to the skin by UV exposure). One study showed that daily doses of EA helped protect against UV damage, which is one of the biggest factors in making the skin appear older. The supposed mechanism for this protective quality is that it works by blocking the production of enzymes that break down collagen in damaged skin cells.

This may be due also to its effects on blood glucose control, since sugars in the blood are one of the biggest causative agents in the breakdown of collagen. Excess sugars actually make the walls of collagen rigid, instead of soft and pliable, which lends to the creasing, wrinkling and generally crepey appearance of skin as it ages.

It also reduced the effect of inflammation on skin cells by suppressing the effects of a molecule that is involved in inflammatory reactions. The anti-inflammatory effects of EA could have a very positive effect on preventing sun damage since the skin breaks down over time due to constant exposure to free radicals, whether it be from environmental and UV causes, diet or chemicals.

This anti-inflammatory and cell-protective quality also has numerous benefits when it comes to cancer prevention for a number of different types of cancer, including both male and female dominant types of cancers.

Where can you get the highest concentrations of EA?

The top food choice is probably going to be strawberries. Fresh, wild strawberries have the highest levels, followed by raspberries and blackberries. So fire up that smoothie blender! And remember that frozen organic berries may hold even more antioxidants than fresh since they are immediately frozen after being harvested.

Pomegranates also contain EA, but they are not as high in the actual bioavailable form of EA as the berries are. One of my favorite nuts, the walnut, contains some EA as well, and as you most certainly know by now walnuts also contain a whole host of other beneficial nutrients. Red wine made with muscadine grapes, or aged in oak barrels also contains ellagic acid.

By Natural Advocate | February 28, 2014 - 6:30 pm - Posted in Foods

breakfastHere is the breakfast I made this morning. Not only is it healthy and contains a ton of healthy fats and proteins, but it also happens to taste fantastic – even a little indulgent because of the generous use of avocado.  I used about a half an avocado sliced up on top of the omelette.

It’s a three egg omelette, using only one and a half of the yolks to cut down on the fat and cholesterol.  A tiny bit of shredded sharp cheddar folded inside add a nice sharp, cheesy flavor. A bit of Real Salt on top and pepper help to season the eggs and add more flavor as well.

I used about 5 grape tomatoes on top, cut in half.  It was so good and it filled me up til lunch time, which is unusual for me.

Healthy fats (omega 3’s) do that though. They promote a feeling of fullness when you eat them, and they tend to tide you over a lot longer than a meal without any of them in it.

It’s super easy and you may even half at least half the ingredients lying around your house already.

By Natural Advocate | February 20, 2014 - 8:18 pm - Posted in General Health Updates

The road through alcohol and drug rehabilitation has many highs and lows for the individual in recovery as well as for their supporting friends and family. From one moment to the next, an individual coping with addiction may experience mood swings, bouts of depression, and even rage.

As a bystander observing from the sidelines, it can appear to be a never ending spiral of chaos. In contrast, those who are going through treatment are constantly faced with the potential for relapse.

Usually, this temptation is brought on by what’s known as “triggers.” These could be prompted by a number of things ranging from certain environments, to memories or social groups. The key to seizing control of your addiction and avoiding an unwelcome relapse is to manage these triggers in the appropriate manner.

Identify Triggers

If you’re serious about getting your triggers under control the first step is to identify exactly what they are. Put pen to paper and make an actual list of the environment, individuals, and words that evoke a desire to binge.

Some examples include driving past a liquor store, being in a bar, or around others who are engaging in the addiction you’re battling. Triggers also vary from person to person so just because one person is set off by something doesn’t mean it’ll have the same effect on you.

Create a Coping Strategy

After you have a solid understanding of your specific triggers, it’s critical to develop a strategy for overcoming them. Think of them as hurdles on the track to recovery. Your primary job is to learn the proper technique necessary to jump over them.

The Relapse Prevention Approach is a highly used psychotherapy method for executing this very thing. Based on the theories of G. Alan Marlatt and others in the field, the RP approach borrows concepts of self-organization, context effects, and feedback loops to understand the science behind addiction.

Address Your Needs

If you’ve gone through in-patient or addiction treatment then you’re probably already familiar with the 12-step model. In times of trouble, reverting back to the skills learned in this model can be very helpful for combating powerful urges.

Another exercise hailed for its efficacy is known as H.A.L.T (hungry, angry, lonely, and tired). These four components can help you quickly identify your conditioned responses to certain stimuli. From there you can retrain your mind to respond in a more appropriate manner. If you’re having difficulty identifying these needs, consider one of the drug addiction treatment programs at Ambrosia Treatment Center.

Monitor Your Progress

The last component of managing triggers is to monitor and track your results. Some individuals find it helpful to create a trigger chart with their ongoing progress.

On the chart, divide the trigger or situation into different categories (feelings, behavior, consequences) and document how each event triggers a different reaction. Over time, you should see a dramatic improvement in the way you handle certain scenarios and situations.

If you’re still not noticing the type of growth you’d like after employing these four strategies, seek professional help through an outpatient treatment facility or addiction specialist.


I wanted to share this with my readers since every time a dangerous anti-supplement bill is introduced I want my readers to have the tools to fight it with all they have. This means writing your representatives and telling them how you feel, and that you want them to vote down this dangerous proposal so you can enjoy any supplement you want, unencumbered with high costs and limited availability that surely would occur if supplements were limited by senseless acts of bureaucracy. 

Senator Durbin has just reintroduced S. 1425, the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act. As your constituent, I ask you to oppose this very dangerous legislation.

The bill requires that the FDA, together with the Institute of Medicine, compile a list of dietary ingredients ( supplements) that could possibly lead to adverse events or are otherwise deemed risky in some way — based on completely arbitrary or nonexistent standards. Moreover, once an ingredient or supplement is on the list, there is no clear process to challenge the FDA and IOM determination, not even if new or contradictory evidence comes to light.

Sen. Durbin has said his bill is designed to stop “mislabeling products and making health claims that have no scientific basis” and “marketing supplements with impure or incorrectly identified ingredients.” If that’s the case, the senator should be pleased to know that each of those things is already against the law! In fact, almost all of the bill’s provisions are already covered by existing law, and the few that aren’t covered are so vague that they could mean whatever the FDA wants them to mean.

DSHEA, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, GMP standards, and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act all ensure the safety of nutritional supplements and provide guidelines for clear and comprehensive labeling. This bill uses vague language to create extraneous red tape, paperwork, and burdensome labeling requirements, when everything the bill mandates other than its new and entirely arbitrary disapproval process is already being accomplished under current law! What is needed is enforcement, not new legislation.

This bill may also have far-reaching consequences. For example, if the FDA and IOM draw up their arbitrary list of “safe” supplements and amounts — such as no vitamin D in amounts greater than 4000 IU — as provided for in this bill, more therapeutic supplement doses or preparations would never meet the new hurdle set by the FDA’s guidance on New Dietary Ingredients, if that is allowed to go forward.

The Dietary Supplement Labeling Act gives government agencies the right to say no to  safe and healthful nutritional supplements on unknown and  completely arbitrary grounds. It’s a naked FDA power grab, an attempt to move us one step closer to a full FDA pre-approval system for supplements. This could all have a profoundly negative impact on our nation’s health and our healthcare costs.

For one thing, it would make supplements insanely expensive, like drugs — if you could get them at all. The cost of pre-approval for supplements would be so prohibitive for producers that most supplements would simply disappear from the shelf. Let’s not forget that the average cost for drug pre-approval has reached $1 billion and that supplements, unlike drugs, have no patent protection.

Please oppose the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act!

By Natural Advocate | September 23, 2013 - 9:27 pm - Posted in Detoxify

I’m not one of those people who can just eat whatever I want and everything goes “smoothly” with my digestion and elimination process. No…not by a long stretch of the imagination.

I always need help for my finicky system to keep things moving, reduce the amount of gas and discomfort that I tend to get even from some healthy foods, and to generally keep things operating yonder like they are supposed to so I have minimal colon health problems as I get older.

I do eat a high fiber diet on most days, and I’m very aware of the foods that set me off track when it comes to my digestive and colon health. However, that doesn’t mean that the healthy diet always works for me or that I always follow it 100% of the time.

Which is why I do like to keep some good probiotics around the house so that they can help keep me on the right track of digestive health and ease of elimination and digestion. Boy, I sound like an ad for Activia yogurt or something! But seriously, as we get older, it really is important to keep our digestion easy and smoothe, and it’s just plain more comfortable when everything is in working order.

I’ve tried a great many probiotics, some expensive and some cheap. I’ve tried them in pill form, liquid form, and of course yogurt form. I’ve found that one supplement works for me best personally, and no other one in pill form quite does the trick like it.  Most pills really don’t digest right for me, or they just don’t work the way they are supposed to.

It’s almost like they pass right through my body, having zero intended effect.  That changed when I found and tried the Schiff brand of probiotic. Schiff has a whole line of supplements. I initially tried their krill oil supplement a while ago, and I’ve also used their vitamin D supplements and they’re really great. I’ve found all their stuff to be very effective for a reasonable price.

The Shiff Digestive Advantage Probiotic formula was no exception.  I love the fact that I only have to take ONE pill in the morning and that’s it. It’s not these ridiculous directions to take three or where you have to remember to space them out or take them at certain times a day.

It’s a very simple one a day formula that you take ( I take mine in the morning, that works best for me), and it really does help. I did notice the first few times I took it I had some discomfort, but I think that’s just because the probiotics were killing off some seriously bad bacteria in my gut and this caused a sort of war in my belly that hurt.

After that, I notice an immediate benefit in ease of elmination, less gas, bloating and discomfort and a generally smoother, more effective digestive system.  I would highly recommend this product to anyone who is like me and has a lot of issues with digestion, constipation or irritable bowel syndrome. It really is a must-have in my house now. 


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