Weight Loss

Carb Blockers for Weight Loss & Blood Sugar Control


Carb blockers have been around a long time, but I’ve always been kind of skeptical about them. Recently I’ve came across some new research on carb blockers which has made me take another look at them.

Carb blockers are supplements that inhibit the body’s absorption of carbohydrates, so they pass through the body undigested. When those extra carbs are not digested the body does not receive all the calories from that meal.

There is a branded carb blocking extract from white kidney bean called Phase 2, which is an alpha-amylase inhibitor. It’s unique in that it works to slow the digestion of excess starches without affecting the digestion of healthy carbs like those from whole grains and fruits.

Research on that Phase 2 carb blocker has been very positive. In one study of one hundred and twenty three volunteers, participants who took the Phase 2 carb blocker lost an average of seven pounds more than the placebo group over the course of three months. Additionally, 73% of the participants who lost weight with the supplement kept it off for the next six months (the length of time the study followed the participants). Interestingly, the people who took the Phase 2 carb blocker had less food cravings than those used tried dieting alone.

Another benefit of carb blockers goes beyond weight loss. Carb blockers can also be useful for diabetics or people watching their blood sugar. One study gave volunteers four slices of white bread and margarine; half the group received the branded Phase 2 carb blocker. The researchers reported that carbohydrate absorption was inhibited by 66% in the supplement group. The participant’s blood sugar readings also returned to normal after eating faster for those who took the carb blocking supplement.

The research is definitely positive on carb blockers, but for them to be effective, it’s important to pair them with a healthy diet. I think sometimes people think of carb blockers as a free pass to eat junk, but that is not the way that they will help you lose weight.

Another nice thing about carb blockers is that they do not boost metabolism, so they can be taken at night without interfering with sleep, or taken by people with high blood pressure who may not be able to take other weight loss supplements.

When paired with a healthy diet and exercise, carb blockers are supplements that seem to really be able to help! Stop by the store so we can help you to find the product that's right for you!

Help for New Year Resolutions

Two things we usually think of when the New Year rolls around are detoxing and weight loss. I’ll attach a few links below on articles about both. 

For weight loss, this is a great overview of different weight loss supplements, and how they work:

How to Choose the Right Weight Loss Supplement

This is an article on garcinia cambogia, a very well researched supplement that aids weight loss in a number of different ways. The garcinia cambogia product we recommend the most is Jarrow, since it has the highest potency per pill of any other garcinia cambogia formula, and is also better absorbing. Our Jarrow garcinia cambogia will be 25% off for the month of January.

Garcinia Cambogia: A Weight Loss Supplement that Really Works

Below are two articles on detoxing and cleansing for the new year:

Q & A: Detoxing for the New Year

Nature’s Plus Complete Body Cleanse

For those who want to do a simpler cleanse, we’d recommend Nature’s Secret’s 15 Day Cleanse and Flush. It’s a one bottle product that is on sale for 25% off- less than $10 a bottle. It’s a nice, easy way to start fresh and is also a nice way to begin a new diet regimen.



All About Curcumin and Why It's So Great

I wanted to write about curcumin again. It has become incredibly popular for helping with reducing pain and inflammation in the body- and rightly so- it really does work. New research is coming out all the time confirming its many benefits, which go far beyond just pain relief.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has been said by many to be “the most anti-inflammatory herb on the planet”. It is difficult for the body to absorb, however, and in the past, people needed to consume mass amounts of the strongly pigmented yellow spice to be able to get enough of that beneficial extract, curcumin, to make a difference. I love eating turmeric (turmeric is the yellow spice used in many curries), but ground turmeric root is generally only 4% curcumin, so supplements are the best answer if you’re looking to get the benefits reported again and again in the scientific studies.

Even supplemental extracts of turmeric or curcumin can be difficult for the body to absorb, which is why there are very specific forms that we recommend. The company Solgar has a branded extract that they use which has been scientifically documented to be one hundred and eighty-five times better absorbed than standard curcumin extracts. If you’re interested, you can search go to our website for more information and the links to the study, or go to PubMed.gov, since I fully agree that it almost sounds too good to be true. 

We are all about science at Pass Health Foods. Sometimes I think people have the idea that natural products, vitamins, and herbs are a bunch of “hippie nonsense”, but in our store, the products we recommend are scientifically backed by research. There are times when conventional pharmaceuticals are necessary, but if you can find natural products that legitimately work, without the side effects of conventional medicines, it can be a wonderful thing.

So, back to curcumin: studies have shown again and again its benefit for pain relief, finding it equal to commercially available pain medications and NSAID drugs, but without the strain those medicines have on the liver. Ibuprofen and other drugs definitely do help with pain, but they are not meant to be taken over and over again on a daily basis. Curcumin is a great alternative, which rather than being hard on the liver, it can actually help with liver function.
In addition to pain relief, curcumin supplements have also been shown in research to have impressive results for reducing anxiety and depression, one study even found curcumin supplementation to be as effective as a prescription drug for depression, but without the side effects.

New research has also introduced curcumin as a possible aid to weight loss. One thirty day study followed people who were already on a diet and exercise regimen. They found an increased percentage of weight loss in the group who took curcumin, but even more than that was the reduction of body fat percentage for the people who took curcumin vs. the placebo group. Over thirty days the group who used diet and exercise alone had a .70% reduction in total body fat loss, but the group who used curcumin had an average of 8.43% reduction in body fat!

Curcumin supplementation has also been linked to a reduction in several types of cancers. In the past, the poor absorption of curcumin supplements was a problem for showing results in human studies, but now with newly formulated extracts like Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin, which have significantly increased the body’s ability to absorb the nutrient, that is changing. Curcumin has been shown to inhibit cancer cells, prevent tumor formation, as well as slow cancer progression, and can be a helpful adjunct to traditional cancer therapies (though as with everything, be sure to inform your physician of any natural products you are taking, especially during cancer treatment).

So to sum up, while curcumin is best known for reducing joint pain and inflammation, it has many other scientifically documented benefits. Not all turmeric or curcumin supplements are equal in how well they are absorbed, so at this time, the only curcumin product we truly recommend is Solgar’s Full Spectrum Curcumin, for the simple reason that it has been shown to be so much better absorbed than any other. Since it’s a product we recommend so highly, we were able to work out a deal with the company to be able to offer 25% off on our Solgar curcumin on an everyday basis at Pass Health Foods. Stop by the store for more information, we’d love to help you further.


Garcinia Cambogia for Weight Loss - It Really Works

Q: I want to lose weight but I’m not sure what supplements are really best for weight loss and what really works. Do you have any recommendations?

A: The supplement that we would recommend the most is the extract of a tropical fruit found in Indonesia called garcinia cambogia. Of all the weight loss supplements available, we believe that there is the most positive scientific research for garcinia cambogia over any other weight loss supplement. Dr. Harry Press, a researcher from Georgetown University, reports that garcinia cambogia is three times more effective than diet and exercise alone. It’s not a miracle pill, but when combined with diet and exercise, it can make a real difference.

Garcinia cambogia works in several different ways to aid weight loss, which is part of why it’s so effective. First, it works to delay the emptying of the stomach, and also prolongs glucose absorption from the small intestines, both of which help you to feel full and satisfied longer after a meal.

Another way that garcinia cambogia works in the body is that it helps to boost serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, in the brain. Higher amounts of serotonin in the body help with reducing appetite and stress eating, as well as boosting mood overall, which is always a good thing. The only concern would be for people taking SSRI antidepressants (like Prozac) which also boost serotonin; if you’re on a prescription SSRI antidepressant, it would be best to avoid garcinia cambogia. 

Garcinia cambogia also helps with weight loss in another way- it helps fat to be used as energy rather than stored as fat deposits. Since it is helping the body to burn fat more effectively, garcinia cambogia works best when people are not consuming excessive dietary fats or a high alcohol diet.

Of any garcinia cambogia supplement, we’d recommend the brand Jarrow. They have the highest amount of the active ingredient in garcinia cambogia per pill over any other brand we’ve seen. Also, their specific garcinia cambogia extract is actually protected by nine different US patents, and has been shown to have better absorption and a higher range of benefits when compared with other garcinia cambogia extracts.

Finally, making sure you’re taking the recommended dosage is important for seeing true effectiveness. One other thing to mention would be that in a few studies, it took one to two weeks of supplementation before weight loss began, so if you start taking garcinia cambogia, be patient. The science it behind it is solid, it really does help with weight loss. Keep in mind however, it’s meant to be an aid to weight loss, giving an extra boost to diet and exercise. Another benefit of garcinia cambogia is that unlike some other weight loss supplements, it's safe for people with high blood pressure.

Unfortunately, the miracle pill that will let us sit on the couch all day eating junk while looking like a supermodel has yet to be invented, but every step makes a difference for leading a healthier life. Weight loss is not just about being happy about how you look in a swimsuit, excess weight literally impacts every aspect of health, so making a change for the better can truly give you a better- and longer- life!




Help for New Year's Resolutions


Many people make resolutions at the start of the year, one of the most common of which is to lose extra weight. First, let me say that there is no miracle pill (unfortunately!), but there are some natural products that can really help.

This is a great rundown the different weight loss ingredients out there, and how they work. Everybody’s different, so reading it might help you to find the weight loss aid that’s right for you.

Another goal many people have for the new year is to live a healthier, more natural lifestyle. If that’s the case for you, be sure to read our article on whole body cleanses in this month’s newsletter. Additionally, this article on natural household cleansers (and their chemical laden counterparts) may be a helpful read.

Finally, if your resolution is to try to have a more calm and stress free 2017 (wouldn’t that be great?), here are a few articles that might help: 

Natural Ways to Reduce Stress

Theanine, a Pass Favorite

Two Fantastic Natural Mood Boosters

We wish you the very best for this New Year.  Be well.

The Importance of Exercise: More than Just Weight Loss

With spring in full swing, I wanted to write about exercise, since April is a great time to begin an exercise regimen with such nice mild weather outside.  First, I wanted to say that I think it’s a good idea to start thinking of exercise in a different way.  We usually think of exercise as connected with weight loss, and while exercise and weight loss do go hand and hand, it seems to me that connecting exercising with trying to lose weight can put exercise in a negative light, as something that can almost be a discouragement and easily set aside as “too hard” or too large of a problem to overcome.

If we begin to shift our thinking from the idea of exercising to lose weight to instead, deciding to make a change to a healthier, more active lifestyle, I think it can make a real difference.  “Dieting” can feel like such a negative thing, and can be something that’s difficult to maintain.  For example, my dad (I hope he doesn’t mind me writing about him) was overweight for years, and would joke every week about how he was, “restarting his diet” each Monday- something which never stuck.  Then, a couple years ago, he and his wife decided to make a change, and they took up biking.  At 73, he has gone from being overweight and unhealthy to biking huge distances, sometimes up to 50 miles at a time!  I am amazed by him, and really proud.  I wanted to tell his story as an example that anyone can make a change, today, and turn their life around to a healthy, active life, no matter how sedentary you may be.   It doesn’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen if you don’t start.

Being active is about much more than weight loss- exercise is one of the top ways to prevent heart disease.  Exercise improves blood flow, lowers blood pressure, and strengthens the heart, all of which lead to a longer life!  The official recommendations for exercise are 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise a week.  That number seems like a lot, but is completely doable when broken up into small minutes each day.

Many people say that they don’t have enough energy to exercise.  If that’s the case, supplements like ginseng can really help.  Ginseng is a herb used for thousands of years for vitality and stamina and is something that can help you to get going in the morning.  In fact the German science commission has approved ginseng’s use in reducing fatigue.  Studies have shown that ginseng helps with increasing stamina during exercise, allowing a person to sustain aerobic activity for a longer period of time with less fatigue.  A typical dose is two five hundred milligram capsules first thing in the morning.  Ginseng is slightly more effective on an empty stomach, though it can be taken with food.

Another supplement that can be helpful for people starting an exercise regimen is CoQ10.  CoQ10 is most well known for its benefits to heart health, though it is also useful for improving stamina and energy during exercise and even helping with improving recovery after exercise.  CoQ10 has so many proven benefits and is a supplement everyone would benefit from.  If you’re interested, you can search “CoQ10” on our website for many, many articles on the benefits of CoQ10. 

The standard dosage is 100mg per day.  CoQ10 is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it should be taken with food for the best absorption.  We currently have a buy one, get one free two pack of CoQ10 by Natural Factors at Pass Health Foods which is a really great deal.

The last recommendation I would make would have to do with protein.  After exercising, particularly strenuous exercise or exercise where you’ve worked your body hard, it’s a good idea to use a protein shake.  There is a “magic window” of 45 minutes after exercise where ingested protein can make a real difference for muscle repair and synthesis.  That protein does not need to be in the form of a protein shake, though I have found protein shakes to be the most convenient after exercise, since they’re simple and fast. 

If you consume dairy products, whey protein is a fantastic, easily absorbed protein source, and the company Jarrow has a line of whey protein powders which are very high quality as well as a good value.  If you’re dairy-free, as I am, I’d very much recommend Garden of Life’s Organic Plant Protein.  It’s the one I use, and I really love it.  Also, while supplies last we have a number of really nice shaker cups that are free with any full size Garden of Life protein powder.  I use a shaker cup all the time; you can put a serving of protein powder in a shaker cup to take along with you when exercising at the gym and then add water and drink immediately after exercising, since protein shakes are best when drunk right after mixing.  Protein shakes taste best when mixed with milk or in a smoothie, but they are perfectly acceptable when mixed with water- plus it’s easier and has less calories.

Finally, I want to say two more things- the first is that exercise can be enjoyable, and not everyone likes the same things.  We live in an area with a huge amount of paved forest preserve trails, and Lake Katherine and Swallow Cliff are nearby as well.  If you don’t like biking, try walking, or running, or hiking.  Numerous studies have shown the benefits to stress relief simply by being outdoors, and even more have shown exercise’s ability reduce stress and improve mood.

In closing, I again want to encourage you to start being more active and to begin to add exercise as a regular component to your day!  Nothing happens overnight, but it all starts with a choice, and taking that first step.   Good luck!


If you’re interested in further information, here are two of our past articles that go into more detail about protein shakes:

Exercise and Protein Shakes

Protein Shakes for Weight Loss


Healthy Q & A: Probiotics for Weight Loss

Q:  Do probiotics help with weight loss?

A: Probiotics are one of my favorite supplements since they are so multifunctional.  I love when one supplement helps with numerous functions in the body.  Probiotics are most commonly taken for aiding digestion and boosting the immune system- two areas in which they really shine.  Clinical research has also recently linked probiotics to weight loss, however, though primarily just for specific strains- Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri. Those probiotic strains were especially effective for helping women lose weight.

The strains of good bacteria which have been focused on as an aid to weight loss are not found in most probiotics.  Luckily, we have been able to find a few products that contain those two strains, which we’ve only just started carrying in the store.  The probiotic supplement that I would recommend most for weight loss is a new one by Garden of Life called Fitbiotic.  Their Fitbiotic contains those two strains mixed with twelve other active strains in the body to equal a total of 50 billion beneficial organisms per serving.  The probiotics in Fitbiotic are combined with a fiber blend specially formulated to help to create a feeling of fullness and satiety, which helps weight loss even further.



Healthy Q & A: How to Choose the Right Weight Loss Supplement

Q: I am so confused with the different weight loss supplements available. Could you please give a brief rundown of the main weight loss supplements so I can see the differences between them?  One of my resolutions for the New Year is to get into better shape.

A: There are so many different weight loss supplements available, which can be helpful for different reasons. I’ll list the main benefits of some of the most common weight loss supplements below, in the hopes that it helps you to find the one that’s right for you.

Garcinia cambogia
Garcinia cambogia is also known as Citrimax, and its active ingredient, HCA, has been in numerous studies over the years for its benefits to weight loss. 

It works in part by inhibiting an enzyme that stores sugars and carbohydrates as fat, blocking the process of fat production.

Garcinia cambogia can help lower both cholesterol and blood pressure.

For the best results for weight loss, it’s recommended to take 500-1000mg of HCA three times a day, 30-60 minutes before a meal.  In the studies, higher dosages produced more weight loss.  It is an effective weight loss aid, though it’s important to take the recommended dosages.

Raspberry Ketones
Helps the body to break down fat inside cells, which in turn helps the body to burn fat faster. 
They are also claimed to increase levels of adiponectin, a hormone that helps to regulate fat metabolism.

Green Coffee Bean Extract
Helps to increase fat burning and metabolism. 

It is thought to affect how the body handles blood sugar and metabolism. It also may help with reducing blood pressure.

Helps the body to burn fat, but doesn’t raise metabolism so it can be taken in the evening without interfering with sleep. Studies say you have to take 3-4 grams a day for optimum effectiveness.

Suppresses appetite and does not raise metabolism.

Helps weight loss by reducing stress eating and also boosts serotonin. Do not take H-HTP in conjunction with SSRI antidepressants.

A special type of fiber that increases many times its size in the stomach, so makes a person feel more full so that they eat less.  Does not raise metabolism, so it can be taken at night.                                                                                                                                                      
Whey Protein
A very well absorbed and quickly utilized form of protein sourced from dairy products. Increasing protein consumption can help a person to feel satisfied, longer, often leading to a reduction in calories. Whey protein also helps with muscle repair and synthesis after exercise.


We also have a brand new supplement I thought I would mention- Jarrow’s Slim Whey. It combines 1500mg of garcinia cambogia with 15 grams of whey protein concentrate. 

Come by the health food store and we’d be happy to help you to find the supplement that’s right for you to aid in reaching your weight loss goals. As with anything, there is no magic pill for losing weight (sadly!); though the above supplements can be extremely helpful in combination with diet and exercise to help in weight loss.

Healthy Q & A: Protein Shakes for Weight Loss

Q: I’ve heard protein shakes are good for weight loss, but there are so many choices I don’t know what is the best (or even if protein shakes will help).  Do you have any advice?

A: Protein can be a fantastic aid to weight loss.  Adding additional protein to your diet can help you to feel more satisfied, which can help with dieting.  Protein also helps with muscle recovery after exercise.  For best results for building muscle, a protein shake should be consumed within 45 minutes after a workout.  All of the below protein powders can be mixed with water in a shaker cup, or milk for a creamier shake.  A scoop of protein powder is also wonderful addition to a smoothie.

When it comes to protein shakes for weight loss, not all shakes are created equal.  We have three different protein shakes that I would especially recommend as weight loss aids.  The first is a brand new one we’ve found, Betty Lou’s Low Glycemic Protein Shakes.  I’m particularly fond of it since it is a whey protein shake (whey is a protein from milk which is very easily absorbed), that has fibers added to help increase the feeling of being satisfied.  It also has vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and enzymes added, and is sugar, gluten, and soy free.

Another great protein shake I’d recommend is Jarrow Formulas Greek Yogurtein.  I wrote a feature on it a few months ago, since I was so impressed with it.  It combines quick absorbing whey protein, with a second milk protein, micellular casein, which is very slowly digested.  Since it stays in the stomach a long time, it can help you to feel full for longer period of time.

The final protein shake I’d recommend is Garden of Life’s Raw Fit.  It is different from the previous two in that it is a dairy free, plant based protein shake.  It sets itself apart as a weight loss protein shake since it has additional diet aids like green coffee bean extract, as well as chromium and cinnamon for balancing blood sugar.  It also contains vitamins, minerals, fiber, enzymes, and probiotics.  It’s a fantastic protein shake suitable for dairy free and vegan diets.


Holiday Wellness Survival Guide

The holidays are a wonderful time of joy, togetherness, and goodwill… but they can also be a time of stress, anxiety, digestive maladies, and weight gain.  I put this Holiday Wellness Survival Guide together to hopefully cope with the latter so we can experience more of the former.

Stress and Anxiety

December usually heralds in party after party while we joggle work and family.  While these get togethers can be wonderful, they can also cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.  L-Theanine is an amino acid derived from green tea that works very well to curb anxiety, without tiredness.  Studies have shown that theanine stimulates alpha brain waves, which are associated with relaxation and mental clarity.  Theanine can be taken daily or just on days when you know you’ll be going into a situation that can be stressful.  Another supplement that many people find helpful for stress and anxiety is the herb valerian, which is known by many as “nature’s Valium”.  Valerian is best known for its benefit as a sleep aid, but in lower doses it is very effective at reducing anxiety, though unlike Xanax or valium it is completely non-addictive.


The holidays are a time when we eat many foods that we ordinarily don’t, and that fact can bring on many digestive complaints like bloating, stomach upset, and gas.  Digestive enzymes are very effective in treating digestive complaints at the cause instead of simply trying to mask a symptom of poor digestion.  Our bodies naturally contain digestive enzymes, though the number of digestive enzymes naturally present in our bodies decrease as we age, increasing digestive problems.  Digestive enzymes work by helping to naturally break down food in the stomach, so that food is digested more easily.  How many times have you overeaten and then felt like there was a brick in your stomach?  Digestive enzymes help with that problem.  By helping food to digest properly, they can help keep problems like bloating, stomach upset, and gas away since food is more easily digested.

Avoiding Weight Gain

Weight loss, or wanting to avoid packing on holiday pounds is on many people’s minds this season.  It’s easy to overeat and consume many more calories than we ordinarily would at holiday parties.  A good suggestion is to avoid “grazing” at holiday buffets.  When you take the time to fill up a plate and sit down to eat it can help you realize how much you’re eating instead of mindlessly eating calorie after calorie standing over the appetizer table.  One supplement that can be especially beneficial to prevent holiday overeating is glucomannan.

Glucomannan is a type of fiber (available in easy to swallow capsules) that expands many times its size in a person’s stomach, helping them to feel more full.  By taking glucomannan before a holiday party it can help you to feel more in control of your eating, since you won’t feel as hungry.  Glucomannan is nice because it’s stimulant free, so it can be taken at night and won’t keep you up when it’s time for sleep. 

Staying Healthy

As the weather gets colder, sickness becomes more and more prevalent- a lack of fresh air and being indoors is a big contributing factor.  There has even been recent research that has suggests that much of the increase in illness during winter is as a result of vitamin D
deficiency (our body manufactures vitamin D from skin exposure to sunlight).  One recent study involving African-American postmenopausal women found a 60% reduced risk of colds and influenza for those taking 800 IU/d vitamin D3 and 90% reduced risk for those taking 2000 IU/d.

Elderberry syrup is another supplement which is great for the immune system- especially
combating against viruses, specifically the flu.  In one study, a clinical trial on patients
displaying full-blown flu symptoms took place in Israel in the middle of a flu epidemic. Half were given the black elderberry extract and half a placebo. Within 48 hours 75% of patients who had been given elderberry had clearly improved and within 72 hours 90% were symptom-free. Only 16% of patients on placebos had shown any improvement after two days, and the rest took at least six days to recover. 

Another supplement that is especially effective on viruses is a mushroom complex called AHCC.  AHCC is a common supplement to be taken by cancer patients, for its anti-tumor benefits, but is beneficial in combating the flu as well.  AHCC is commonly prescribed in Asia for immune health.  Both human and animal studies have shown AHCC’s ability to enhance the activity of natural killer cells (NK cells).  Those NK cells are the first defense for the body’s immune system and are able to launch a rapid attack against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses while the other parts of the immune system are still mobilizing.  A quick immune response to bacteria and viruses can often make the difference between getting sick or staying well.
The last supplement I’d recommend that’s a favorite of ours for immune health is Irwin Naturals Immuno Shield, which is a very well put together combination of several different herbs, probiotics, and more to help boost the immune system.  It can be taken in low doses as a preventative measure, or in higher concentrations if you do get sick.  We’ve found it really does help to get you better faster.