Nutrition: Your Only Hope

Posted by myhealthexperts on January 15, 2008

Summary: In an increasingly contaminated environment our exposure to known and unknown toxins has increased significantly. This has resulted in an increasing array of health (physical and emotional)problems, many of which in all probabililty affect you right now. Increasing nutrition in the body is the only way to help our bodies compensate and effectively remove these poisons before they cause serious harm. Children especially need to have proper nutrition since they are more sensitive to toxins than adults.

Face it, many things we do are unhealthy, even without our knowing it. Exposure to environmental toxins, pesticides and now other chemicals such as plastic compounds in our food, stress, and poor nutrition all take a toll. All produce chemical ‘scars’ (wounds)such as free radical damage, on our bodies. We age faster, gain fat easier and look older sooner. Every day a new company is admitting it sold products that it knew were dangerous, such as Merck and Pfizer selling dangerous drugs like Vioxx and Celebrex, or Dupont that knew its plastics were toxic in their no-stick cookware.

Most of us do not see just how much a threat toxins are to us and especially our children. Children are more sensitive and can pick up toxins from seemingly safe items such as the floors in your house: Walking in the house with shoes leads to increased levels of petroleum based toxins on the floors and carpets that kids get on their hands, and since their hands go into their mouths often – they ingest these toxins.
Nutrition is a compensation factor for all the other unhealthy things we do. Nutrients detoxify the liver, slow free radical damage, facilitate normal functioning of various systems, like our immune system, and in men for example- the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Testicular-Axis (HPTA). They maintain cell membrane integrity and assist in receptor viability. The list goes on and on, detoxification, sex drive, brain chemistry (mental state), are all affected by these natural substances.

The medical model of nutrition is extremely antiquated. I audited a nutrition class for medical students at New York Medical College, and found it lacking scientific validity. How ironic, the teacher (a Physician (a man of science)) is unaware that the themselves show how incredible and effective nutrition and natural compounds really are. The medical model states that all you need is the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of nutrients – the amount to prevent a “disease of deficiency” for that particular nutrient. So for example, Vitamin C, the RDA is 60 mg. (milligrams). This amount prevents most people from getting scurvy – the disease you get with low Vitamin C levels. It does not optimize health.

And to many, nutrition and supplements are fake and don’t really have any effect. Granted some supplements are hyped up and claims overstated, such as the anti-aging ‘GH’ pills and many of the “Viagra” type products on the market. And the scammers of Enron can be found in this and any industry also. But in truth many herbs and nutrients are very powerful. In fact about 40% of all medications are derived from plants. If you doubt this, do a search on any nutrient you choose on Medline or ChemAbstracts databases. You’ll be surprised at the thousands of scientific studies showing that nutrients are powerful.

So what do you want: to prevent scurvy or maximize your health? Many studies done on farm animals and lab animals(because animals are a business for which maximizing profit is important) show that high levels of nutrients make them healthier, live longer and get less disease. Studies on people also show that most of us are sub-clinically malnourished, we get enough nutrition to not get acute sickness, but not to be healthy. So which do you want – the Medical Model or the Scientific Model? Remember too that disease is how medical and pharmaceutical professionals earn a living. A little conflict of interest here? And we all know how easily people are swayed – just look at the headlines, or look at the Tobacco industry. I often joke that “M.D” stands for “Manage Disease”!

Are Naturalists Who Shun Supplements Correct?
Many health gurus believe that food gives us all the nutrients we need. I disagree. First off, naturally we were designed to live to only about 30-40 years of age. So our bodies did not evolve to require long term nutrition status for maximum longevity. Our bodies evolved to make babies and die by 30 or 40. Living to 80 or more requires a different perspective. Living to 80 or more and having the vitality of a 40 yr old requires an even more cutting-edge perspective. Also our food is not near as healthy as when we were all natural. Food now is processed, heated, cooked, stored etc. all of which depletes nutrition content of the foods. On top of that, we consume much higher (unnatural amounts) of sugar, unhealthy fats, and chemicals not normally found in food, such as xenoestrogens (which mimic estrogen in our bodies with unhealthy results). Every day the list of exposures grows: lipstick & cosmetics, plastics used for water and food, cell phones are just a few.

So, under scrutiny, the natural perspective does not hold up as valid. Unless you wish to die young. And according to the latest research, even 80 is young. People who eat healthy, exercise and take supplements are pushing the boundaries of our idea on aging – we will see more healthy and young looking 80-100 yr old’s in the near future according to researchers. So, optimal levels of Vitamin C are above 1,000 mg per day. Perhaps as high as 5,000 to 10,000 mg. Most primates (our closest relatives) consume 5,000+ mg per day of Vitamin C for example. The list goes on and on, Vitamin A, all B Vitamins, D, E, and so on. And then we have the newest area where other important plant based nutrients are now being discovered. This is the cutting edge for health conscious, anti-aging, and sports performance people. Alpha lipoic acid, grape seed extract, resveratrol, bioflavinoids, flavones, MSN, amino-acid therapies, herbal extracts like green tea.

Nutrition Science: One Example 

Let’s take one nutrient and look at what it does. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a key anti-oxidant because it acts on both water and fat soluble reactions to stop free radical proliferation. Even more critical is that ALA acts at the mitochondria(1). In order to burn fats and carbohydrates to give us energy, mitochondria take electrons from oxygen and shuffle them among a suite of molecules in a complex chain reaction. Invariably, some of the electrons get misplaced, creating free radicals. Mitochondria produce more oxidants than any other single site in a cell, the main offenders being superoxide, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals. Even worse, unlike DNA in the nucleus, there are no repair mechanisms for mitochondria DNA. This is why many experts think aging and disease begins here, in the mitochondria. This is why ALA is so important! It works at a key area of free radical damage, and it also assists in the metabolism of fats and carbs! In a sense, free radicals are like an engine overheating- and anti-oxidants like ALA act as a cooling system to keep the engine running stronger! ALA also increases the number of Glut-4 receptors on the cell membrane, specifically muscle cells. What does this mean to you? This increases the ability of glucose to be driven into muscle cells instead of fat cells, hence a partioning effect. ALA in doses of 300mg up to 1200 mg are well tolerated and effective.

How good is ALA? In fact Nestle Corporation is applying for a patent on a combination of nutrients to slow aging. And they are both critical mitochondria DNA repair agents: ALA and Acetyl-L-Carnitine(ALCAR). ALCAR is another key nutrient for many aspects. ALCAR has been shown to increase IGF levels(2). It also can reverse DNA damage in the mitochondria(3). When rats, and humans are stressed, cortisol levels rise, and Testosterone drops! This change in hormone levels is what leads to disease and aging. Yet even under stress, which reduced Testosterone levels, ALCAR kept them up(4). It can also have a positive effect on the testes(5) , aiding older men and bodybuilders in post cycle recovery. ALCAR is effective at doses of 1,000mg to 10,000 mg (taken on an empty stomach or with juice.) Dr. Bruce Ames made these two agents famous in his research showing that their combination was a key to slowing down and reversing many effects of aging!

References:
1.Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2002 Jul 1;182(1):84-90. Antioxidant and prooxidant activities of alpha-lipoic acid and dihydrolipoic acid. Moini H, Packer L, Saris NE.
2.Acetyl-L-carnitine administration increases insulin-like growth factor 1 levels in asymptomatic HIV-1-infected subjects: correlation with its suppressive effect on lymphocyte apoptosis and ceramide generation. Di Marzio L, Moretti S, D’Alo S, Zazzeroni F, Marcellini S, Smacchia C, Alesse E, Cifone MG, De Simone C. Department of Experimental Medicine, University of L’Aquila, L’Aquila, Italy
3.Mitochondrial decay in aging. Reversal through supplementation of acetyl-L-carnitine and N-tert-butyl-alpha-phenyl-nitrone. Hagen TM, Wehr CM, Ames BN. Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California at Berkeley 94720, USA.
4.Effect of different chronic intermittent stressors and acetyl-l-carnitine on hypothalamic beta-endorphin and GnRH and on plasma testosterone levels in male rats. Bidzinska B, Petraglia F, Angioni S, Genazzani AD, Criscuolo M, Ficarra G, Gallinelli A, Trentini GP, Genazzani AR. Department of Endocrinology, Medical School of Wroclaw, Poland.
5. The effect of L-acetylcarnitine on some reproductive functions in the oligoasthenospermic rat. Palmero S, Leone M, Prati M, Costa M, Messeni Leone M, Fugassa E, De Cecco L. Istituto di Fisiologia Generale, Universita di Genova, Italy.

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