Blogging with Lee

Swanson Is More Than Cheap Vitamins

Lee SwansonAs President of Swanson Health Products, I have the honor of carrying on my father’s legacy, building on his goal to bring affordable natural health products to everyone in America. Over 40 years after our modest beginnings, we have expanded our reach and now proudly proclaim our mission: bringing wellness to the world.

We continue to offer the lowest prices, highest quality and absolute best value on vitamins, herbs and dietary supplements; but it’s not just about selling products. My goal is to help you make informed decisions about your health, learn and grow in your understanding of wellness and discover alternative ideas that may help you and your loved ones live more active, fulfilling lives. My blog gives me the opportunity to share with you some of the research I run across in my daily reading, keep you posted on issues relevant to natural health and notify you of important business developments that affect us all. Thank you for reading.

As always, I wish you the very best of health.

What Are Free Radicals and Why Do I Need to Worry about Oxidation?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 by Lee Swanson

Dear Friends,

You've probably heard about free radicals and oxidation, but do you really know what they are and how they may be impacting your overall health? In the short video interview below, Dr. Jim Stringham explains how both oxidation and free radicals are related to one another, and he also talks about what you need to know about the antioxidant lutein and how it can help combat free radicals. Watch the video and share your feedback in the comments at the end of this page. 



Interviewer: You mentioned oxidation, free radicals. Explain that. What's going on that 's naturally kind of damaging those tissues that lutein might help with?

Dr. Stringham: So probably the best example of an oxidative process that can do damage at a crucial time period is in utero. You've got the building blocks of development: amino acids, proteins, fats, and oxygen. Oxygen, you need it to live obviously. Unfortunately it also ends up killing us - and we rust. Which is kind of a silly idea, but it's the truth. And so what we're going to do is limit the rusting, slow it down. And you do this, you limit that oxidation with something that can donate an electron basically to these oxygen molecules that are kind of spinning out of control. So the idea is that a free radical oxygen means that it's unbalanced, and so it doesn't have a nice paired balanced electron structure in the outer shell. It loses it for whatever reason: little bit too much energy, too little energy, poof it's gone! And it seeks another electron from often tissue. It can damage the tissue, it can damage the DNA of a particular piece of tissue that it's around. It can exchange electrons from other free radicals. It's nasty what it can do. Well, lutein and other carotenoids, but in this case let's say lutein in the eye, there's a free radical there.

Well it can actually donate an electron to it, quench that free radical so it stabilizes it. And then the magical thing about lutein is that it can regenerate itself. Most carotenoids, for instance lycopene, it quenches the free radical and then it goes away with it. Now lutein is special, because it quenches the free radical, donates, and then it rolls it along its long structure, and then the only reaction is heat - it gives off a little bit of heat, and then it's there to do it again. So potentially it can do it ad infinitum, it can do it forever. So I tell people if you've got some lutein in your retina, it might be from when you were four and your mom made you eat your peas, or something like that. It can last that long, it's super robust. So oxidative damage is at the root of a lot of disease: macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, those kinds of things. You'll probably hear more about it and their relation to lutein in the near future.

Going Gluten-Free: Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

Monday, May 19, 2014 by Lee Swanson

Dear Friends,

More and more people are going gluten-free these days, including many who don’t even know what gluten is. A recent episode of the Jimmy Kimmel Live show featured a segment where they asked people on gluten-free diets, “What is gluten?”---in response to which they received a hilarious mix of bad guesses and sheepish “I don’t knows.” It was a nice bit of comedy, but it also underscores the general lack of good information surrounding the nation’s latest, greatest food fad. The information we do have tells us most of the people scouring menus and ingredient listings searching for the dreaded gluten are probably wasting their time, not to mention missing out on a lot of healthy whole grain foods.

What is Gluten? - Clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC


Gluten is a protein composite comprising two proteins—soluble gliadin and insoluble glutenin—conjoined with starch, found in wheat and related grains like rye, barley and spelt. In genetically predisposed individuals who suffer from the autoimmune condition known as celiac disease, gliadin triggers an inflammatory reaction in the small intestine, which can cause abdominal pain, cramping and bloating. Over time, the inflammation can damage the finger-like villi that line the intestine, inhibiting their ability to absorb nutrients (malabsorption), which can lead to additional health problems.

Gluten Free DietsBecause there’s no cure, it’s important for people with celiac disease to follow a strict gluten-free diet. But celiac disease is estimated to affect only about one percent of the U.S. population; so why do so many people report improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms after going gluten-free? For many so-called “gluten-intolerant” people, the real culprit may not be the gluten they’ve been so assiduously avoiding, but rather a group of short-chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols known as FODMAPS (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols). FODMAPS commonly found in foods include fructose, lactose, fructo- and galacto-oligosaccharides (fructans and galactans) and sugar alcohols (polyols) such as maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol and xylitol.        

FODMAPS can contribute to the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) thanks to a combination of three functional properties: (1) they are poorly absorbed in the small intestine; (2) they are small, and thus osmotically active, molecules; and (3) they are rapidly fermented by gut bacteria. FODMAPS not absorbed in the small intestine proceed to the large intestine, where their osmotic properties can increase fecal liquidity, causing loose stools, while rapid bacterial fermentation releases hydrogen, which can cause gassiness, flatulence and bloating. Researchers emphasize that FODMAPS do not cause the underlying FGID, but that they provide an avenue toward reducing symptoms in susceptible individuals.

Numerous studies have shown low-FODMAP diets to reduce FGID symptoms, but the most effective approach is typically one tailored to the individual patient. While some FODMAPS (oligosaccharides and polyols) are poorly absorbed by all people, others, such as fructose and lactose, can vary widely in their degree of malabsorption between individuals. The ideal approach requires cooperation between a physician, who can diagnose FGID and evaluate fructose and lactose malabsorption via breath hydrogen tests; and an experienced dietician, who can work with the patient to develop an individualized low-FODMAP diet plan.   

As always, I wish you the very best of health,


3 Ways Capsaicin Can Help You Lose Weight

Thursday, May 15, 2014 by Lee Swanson

Dear Friends,

When you think about weight loss and healthy weight management, capsaicin may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Dr. Richard Bloomer discusses how capsaicin works in your body and covers three unique ways it may actually help you manage your weight. Find out three different ways capsaicin may help you lose weight in this short video interview...

Video Transcript:

Interviewer: Doctor we discussed a little about the benefits of capsaicin, can you explain how they work, when we adjust them what exactly is going on?

Dr. Bloomer: Sure, sure, a few different mechanism of action actually. The first we mention before that the capsaicinoids often times not always, but often times in most studies have been reported to increase in energy expenditure. Typically this is something referred to thermogenesis, or the production of heat energy. Typically when we consume food, carbohydrate and protein in particular, as well as dietary fat of course, the dietary fat, the carbohydrate, the protein will be broken down into particular components and those components can then be used as a substrate for ATP energy productions.

So in terms of dietary fat for example, the dietary fat can be oxidized and it generates these electron carriers and without getting to technical, those electron carriers and those hydrogen ions that are produced can actually be used to generate ATP energy. Well the presence of the capsaicinoids, the capsaicinoids actually stimulates that have been called the uncoupling protein, and there are actually several uncoupling proteins but in particular the capsaicinoids stimulates the activity of the uncoupling protein called uncoupling protein 1, or UCP1 thermogenin. This particular protein allows for the hydrogen that are produced that particularly create ATP energy to be dissipated as heat so those hydrogens, rather than producing energy that is now available to our bodies to use it as a fuel source are to be stored those hydrogen ions that are actually producing heat energy. And we can actually measure this in the laboratory typically through a technique called indirect calorimetry where we collect expired breath samples from the individual.

We do this before ingestion of the capsaicinoids or other components as well as after the ingestion. And across time we see that capsaicinoids tends to stimulate the increase in heat energy production and they do this again by upregulating or increasing the activity of uncoupling protein, a protein that is involved in the generation of heat energy so that would be one mechanism of action. Another would be the capsaicinoids have been reported to stimulate something called the catecholamines.

People are familiar with the adrenaline, for example, or with noradrenaline. Well by doing this the catecholamines have an end result through a rather complex mechanism of increasing the availability of free fatty acids into the circulation so that can be broken down through a lot of complex process and then these fatty acids from the fat molecule can actually be released into the circulation. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're gonna be burned, sometimes you hear the term fat burning, but what we're saying those fatty acids are freed up and now they would be available to undergo oxidation or to be used as a fuel source. So if an individual is engaged in an exercise session etcetera and they had more free fatty acids available to them to use as a fuel source this may actually be an outcome.  So that's number two.

So thermogenesis, elevating free fatty acid levels and the third the capsaicinoids have been reported to reduce appetite. That maybe due to the increase catecholamines, because there's an anorectic effect of catecholamine. Some literature suggests that it comes from animal models that may regulate another important hormone that regulates the appetite called ghrelin. There's not a lot of evidence for that at this point but the bottom line is in some, not all, studies, but in some studies, that capsaicinoids have been noted to decrease appetite.

So collectively increasing the energy expenditure, increasing the availability of the free fatty acids in the circulation and some studies had reported a subsequent increase in fat oxidation and then third potentially a decrease in appetite. So when you look all those things together, you can understand why these particular nutrients whether it's from a whole food or from a supplement form, may actually have favorable outcomes in terms of weight management across time.

STOP the Salt Shame... Just Choose the Right Salt

Thursday, April 17, 2014 by Lee Swanson

Dear Friends,

It’s time to stop shaming ourselves over sodium. We’ve been taught a lie over the past several decades—a lie that began with good intentions—that salt is bad for us. The truth is, the wrong salt is bad for us, but the right salt, the naturally produced salt given to us by Mother Earth, feeds and energizes our bodies. This healthy salt delivers crucial minerals our bodies need to function at its best. And that’s the truth. And that’s why it’s time to set the record straight on salt...


Stop Feeding Your Family Chemically-Concocted Table Salt

Today’s common table salt has nothing in common with natural salt, formed over millions of years. In fact, table salt isn’t even natural at all. It’s a chemical concoction made with about 98% sodium chloride and a 2% mixture of random chemicals like moisture absorbents and iodine... a far cry from anything one would consider natural.


What about Sea Salt or Rock Salt?

If you think about all the pollution and toxic contaminants that have been dumped into our oceans over the past decades, you’ll easily understand why sea salt is no longer a healthy option. Rock salt, a seemingly better choice, is still nutritionally deficient...

Himalayan rock saltWhy? Because rock salt didn’t form over hundreds of millions of years under great pressure, which, in the case of Himalayan Crystal Salt, locks in the salt’s inherent minerals and trace elements in colloidal form, making these important nutrients readily available to your body’s cells.


Switch to Energizing Himalayan Crystal Salt Packed with Bioavailable Minerals

Himalayan Crystal Salt’s natural nutritional profile includes over 80 energizing minerals and important trace elements that your body needs for optimal function. It is the only healthy option for you and your family. It’s pure. It’s unrefined. And it’s the only salt that delivers life-giving, natural vibrational energy you can feel.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Himalayan Crystal Salt:

Question: Is Swanson Himalayan Crystal Salt tested for heavy metals? I'm specifically concerned about the arsenic levels in this salt.

Answer: Yes, it is. The spec sheet for our salt specifies the following...

Lead:                       2.75 µg/maximum daily dose                        

Arsenic:                  10 µg/maximum daily dose                             

Cadmium:               4.1 µg/maximum daily dose                           

Mercury:                0.3 µg(organic)/maximum daily dose                  

                                 3 µg(inorganic)/maximum daily dose                  

The maximum daily dose must be based on the maximum daily dose on the product label. While there may be arsenic in it that might be higher compared to some other foods, it will be less than 10 mcg per max daily dose (¼ tsp). With that being said, arsenic is a chemical that exists in very trace amounts in most all of your food (as it is found in the soil), water, and even the air you breathe. The concern for getting too much arsenic from one single source is minimal, especially with the FDA limitations that would require a product too high in arsenic be pulled from the market.

Himalayan Crystal Salt comparison

Question: I use both Himalayan and sea salt for their mineral content, but how do they compare with iodized salt for iodine content? If I'm not using iodized salt, do I also need to supplement iodine? I have gotten iodized sea salt but it is not always available.

Answer: Himalayan Crystal Salt doesn’t have any added iodine like the iodized salts do, so you would still want to ensure you are getting at least the RDA of iodine from other sources in your  diet or with the help of iodine supplements.


Himalayan Crystal Salt

Question: I switched from Celtic Sea Salt to Himalayan Crystal Salt when Swanson had an interview with Barbara Hendel and then had a huge sale on her salt.  Last week, I happened across a comment that stated that Himalayan Sea Salt has aluminum in it.  I'd appreciate any info regarding this.

Answer: Actually, ALL natural salts, including Celtic Salts and Sea Salts, will have some small trace amounts of aluminum as well as the scary things like lead and mercury… but it’s such a small trace amount that you’re likely to get more from any of the fresh fruits and vegetables out of your own garden. The unfortunate fact of nature is that all of those trace minerals exist in very trace amounts in all of the soil and all of the water in the world. The very fortunate fact is that your body has filtering organs like the liver and kidneys to remove toxins and other things you don’t want in your body.


Question: Why is Himalayan Crystal Salt considered more pure than sea salt?

Answer: Unlike a sea salt gathered from the open sea, which is exposed to the atmosphere and subject to environmental contamination, the Himalayan Crystal Salt is mined from deposits of ancient sea beds deep in the earth which have been shielded from environmental contamination.


Question: Where can you buy Himalayan Crystal Salt?

Answer: There are a lot of stores that sell Himalayan Salt online. Naturally, we recommend you shop with us. We have guaranteed low prices, the highest quality crystal salt, and amazing customer service. You can buy Himalayan Crystal Salt here.