By Al Sears, MD
Most of the “advice” I see on Dr. Oz and Oprah, in Women’s Health and in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday seem to center on the same things.
These reports I’ve been seeing lately give women advice like suggesting you eat fake, processed “health” foods like flaxseed. But they’re unnatural to your body. People used to wear flax, not eat it.
And animal studies have found that overdose of flaxseed may cause shortness of breath, rapid breathing, weakness or difficulty walking, and may cause seizures or paralysis.1
Too many articles I’ve read also recommend you load up on more calcium than you could ever want or use. Meanwhile, studies show too much calcium puts you at a 31 percent greater risk for heart attack.2
And did you see the report on women’s heart health from the director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University? It’s one of the most prestigious research universities in the country. And here she is, concluding that women should eat whole grains instead of vegetables.
Today I’m going to show you some real ways to stay healthy. Forget junk foods like soy, flax and whole grains. Here are four things you can use to avoid disease and help you stay happy and strong for life.
1) Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The Nurses’ Health Study followed more than 76,000 women over a period of 16 years. It found that women who got the most ALA — an omega-3 fatty acid — each day had a 21 percent reduced risk of heart disease and a 46 percent lower risk of suffering sudden cardiac death.3
Another study followed over 4,500 people and found that for women who took in the most ALA, the odds of getting heart disease were reduced by over 50 percent!4
Have you heard the story of how I discovered the richest source of ALA on earth? It happened by accident…
I had gone to the Amazon jungles of South America in search of healing herbs. There, I met up with Dr. Octavio Zolezzi from Lima University who insisted he show me an incredible healing plant in its native state.
We made our way down from the Andes mountain range, driving for hours on the world’s highest paved road. As we hit the jungle floor we zigged and zagged over winding dirt roads until we reached the village of Satipo. It sits on the banks of the Rio PerenÃ©, which opens into the Amazon.
From there we had to travel by boat to reach Porta Copa, the last jungle outpost and home of the native Ashanikas. But we weren’t there yet.
Dr. Zolezzi took me even deeper into the jungle. As we walked, I was trying to get used to the odd chirping, trilling and buzzing of the rainforest when Dr. Zolezzi called out, “Here it is!”
He was standing next to a bushy plant that was completely unremarkable… except for its green, star-shaped fruit. He cracked one open and put the seeds in my hand. Instead of an herb, I had found something else: Sacha Inchi — the “super food” that powered the ancient Inca Empire.
The oil from each nut is 48 percent ALA, the most of any known plant. Butternuts have 16 percent and English walnuts have 13.1 percent alpha-linolenic acid. Several seeds are loaded with ALA. They are Perilla, chia, cowberry and sea buckthorn seeds. Cod liver oil is also packed with ALA.
The benefits of ALA start at around 1.5 grams a day, but I recommend you get from 3 to 6 grams of omega-3s per day.
2) Magnesium. Most women don’t get enough of this important mineral. If you’re deficient you could be experiencing anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches or muscle cramps. Low levels can also contribute to serious problems like diabetes and sudden death from heart attack.
In another finding from the Nurses’ Health Study, a review just completed last month found that women with the highest dietary intake of magnesium were 41 percent less likely to suffer a fatal cardiac event.5
Another study showed that magnesium improves insulin sensitivity, helping protect against diabetes.6 Plus it can ease stress and help your bones use calcium more efficiently. You need at least 400 mg of magnesium every day.
3) Testosterone. The idea that testosterone has no place in a woman’s life is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. When your levels drop, you’ll feel it. You lose motivation, have heavy fatigue, and little to no interest in the things that usually make you happy, including sex.
I’ve discovered compelling studies that support what I’ve known for years: Testosterone is critical for women, especially for staying fit, lean, and sexually active. Also, testosterone — NOT calcium — is your #1 bone builder.
That’s because bone building is hormonal. In women, estrogens are the main regulators of bone health and breakdown. Progesterone controls the rate of new bone deposition. But testosterone is central for bone mass and strength.
I have great success with low-dose natural testosterone in women. The herb I recommend to boost testosterone is called tribulus terrestris.
It’s effective for women because it helps restore natural testosterone levels.
You see, if you take a testosterone precursor without doctor’s supervision, you could force your body to make more testosterone than you need. Tribulus works differently. It increases luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is your body’s natural way of “telling” itself to produce testosterone.
A dose of 500 mg of tribulus every day will help restore your natural testosterone you so can stay sensual, energetic and motivated.
4) Methionine. This amino acid is especially important for women because it:
- improves the tone and pliability of your skin
- conditions your hair
- strengthens your nails
- detoxifies your tissues
- helps break down fat
- builds choline, which improves your focus and energy
- turns into the nutrient SAMe, which fights depression.
It’s an essential amino acid, which means you can’t make it in your body. You have to get it from food.
Most fruits and vegetables contain very little. A few — broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, avocados, and bean sprouts — have less than 100 mg per serving.
Eggs are a good source of methionine, with around 128 mg in each one. Sesame seeds and Brazil nuts have lots of methionine, too. But meat has the most. Beef, tuna, turkey and free-range elk all have over 500 mg in every 3 ounces.
You should get at least 1 to 3 grams of methionine each day.
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 “Flaxseed and flaxseed oil (Linum usitatissimum),” Mayo Clinic, www.mayoclinic.com, July 8, 2010
 Bolland, Mark J., et al, “Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis,” BMJ 2010; 341:c3691.
 Peck, Peggy, “Alpha-Linolenic Acid Intake Inversely Associated With Cardiac Events,” Results from American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2004, Medscape News, www.medscape.com
 DjoussÃ©, Luc, et al, “Relation between dietary linolenic acid and coronary artery disease…”American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Nov 2001;74(5): 612-619
 Chiuve, S.E., Korngold, E.C., Januzzi, J.L. et al, “Plasma and dietary magnesium and risk of sudden cardiac death in women,” Am. J. Clin. Nutr. Feb. 2011;93(2):253-60
 Guerrero-Romero, F., RodrÃguez-MorÃ¡n, M., “Magnesium improves the beta-cell function to compensate variation of insulin sensitivity,” Eur. J. Clin. Invest. Apr. 4, 2011;41(4):405-10