1. Iron linked to diabetes

    Could this essential mineral CAUSE diabetes?

    We all know we need iron.

    It's an "essential" mineral, after all -- and if your levels are too low, you could face serious problems such as fatigue, dizziness, weakness, and even heartbeat trouble.

    But these days, there's a much bigger risk, especially for older men.

    It's not too little iron.

    It's too much!

    And if you're an "IRON MAN" yourself, you're not getting a metal suit with super powers in the deal.

    You could get diabetes!

    New research shows how guys are up to 61 percent more likely to develop the disease when compared to women -- but the difference isn't due to gender alone.

    In many cases, it's the iron. Men's bodies tend to accumulate it more than those of women.

    And high iron and diabetes go hand-in-hand so often that the researchers say it explains up to 40 percent of the gender difference in diabetes risk, according to the study in the Annals of Clinical Biochemistry.

    Obviously, you don't want to go to any extremes, because you don't want those levels to fall too far, either.

    The study even finds that LOW levels will ALSO increase your risk of the disease!

    The key is to get somewhere right in the middle of the range for your age.

    The problem, of course, is that most folks not only have no idea where they are in that range, but they don't even know what the range is.

    Don't expect your doc to tell you where you stand, either. He can't -- because he doesn't know himself!

    Many doctors don't check for iron, and those that do run incomplete tests by measuring only one form. If you're concerned (or just curious), ask your doc to test both your circulating iron as well as your ferritin levels.

    Low iron levels can often be fixed easily with supplements, but don't start taking them without speaking to your doctor about it first.

    And if your levels are too high, the answer is usually a few tweaks to your diet.

    A study a few years back found men who eat meat four or more times a week have the highest levels of iron. That's no doubt due to the fact that meat contains the "heme" form of iron, which is more easily absorbed by your body than the nonheme form found in vegetables, such as spinach.

    Cut back on meat, boost your intake of fruits and veggies and your iron levels should return to normal… but get checked again just to be sure.

    And if you're in the San Diego area, I can run those tests right here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

    Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

  2. Balanced diet and balanced sleep

    Eat variety for good sleep

    Eat well, sleep well -- on the one hand, it really is that simple.

    On the other, it really is that complicated -- because eating well is about more than just eating healthy foods.

    It's about having a balanced diet with a wide range of healthy foods -- and a failure to get the right variety could be what's keeping you up at night. In fact, a new study finds that people who regularly get the 7-9 hours of sleep needed for proper rest are people who eat the widest variety of foods and maintain a balanced diet.

    It's easy to see why. Poor sleep can be caused or worsened by nutritional deficiencies. When you eat a wide range of foods, you're more likely to get a wide range of nutrients and have a balanced diet.

    And when you get a wide range of nutrients, you're less likely to be deficient in any of them.

    On the other hand, a lack of variety means you could miss out on essential nutrients -- and in particular, people with poor sleep habits have low dietary intake of vitamin C, lycopene, selenium, iron, and zinc.

    They also don't eat enough protein or drink enough water, and tend to get the wrong amount of carbs (either too much or too little), according to the study published in Appetite.

    But while a balanced diet is essential to good sleep, your eating habits are only part of the picture. What you drink is also critical -- and if you booze it up before bed, your sleep will suffer.

    Caffeine can also keep you up -- and not just caffeine at night. If you're sensitive to this stimulant then soda or coffee in the afternoon can actually lead to tossing and turning hours later.

    The catch here is that you could be sensitive to caffeine and not even know it. Most people don't, so if you're having trouble sleeping, try eliminating all sources of caffeine first and see if it makes a difference.

    In addition, lifestyle habits, illness, and hormonal issues can all affect how well you sleep. A holistic physician can run some tests that will help you figure it all out.

  3. Iron deficiency may not be why you're tired

    Fatigue is a common problem, but while studies show iron can help you shouldn't take this supplement unless you've been diagnosed with a deficiency.
  4. Too much of this mineral can be bad for the brain

    Most nutrients are not only safe in high amounts, they're necessary -- because too many people simply don't get nearly enough of the essentials from diet alone.
  5. Risky vitamins? Don't believe it!

    Common, safe nutrients and ordinary multivitamins are being blamed for everything in the book -- and now, a new study claims any number of vitamins will cause women to die early.

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