Spices Cut the Fat

Antioxident SpicesMany spices are known for their antioxidant potential, that is, they are able to prevent the breakdown of other substances by oxidation.  In this case, we are the other substance.  Eating a diet beautified with spices, such as cinnamon or turmeric, reduces the body’s negative response to eating high-fat meals.  Such dining experiences may have a cumulative toll in elevated triglyceride levels, a marker for increased risk of heart disease.

Penn State University researchers, under the guidance of Professor Sheila West, found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride (TG) response by thirty percent, compared to a similar meal without spices.  The team was looking for influence on postprandial cardiac markers by adding, “…14 g of a high antioxidant spice blend to a 5060-kJ (1200 kcal) meal…” wondering how and if plasma antioxidant status and metabolism would be affected.  In a cross-over study, healthy overweight men were enlisted to eat either a control meal or a spiced meal.  They swapped diets after a week’s hiatus between testing sessions.  It was learned that, “The…oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of plasma…was increased by spices,” and that, “The incorporation of spices into the diet may help normalize postprandial insulin and TG and enhance antioxidant defenses.”  (Skulas-Ray. 2011)

Just because this is welcome news doesn’t mean we should jog to the fast-food joint and fill up on burgers and fries, and then swallow half an ounce of cinnamon candies.  The detriments of high-fat meals are real and absolute.  There’s no way to escape them, but it appears they can be mollified.   And even then, we need to tread carefully.  Prior to this report from Penn State, the U of Maryland was performing its own work on high-fat meals, looking into the ameliorative effects of fruit and vegetable phytonutrients, learning ultimately that the outcomes are favorables if consumed regularly before eating a fatty meal.  This study, performed eight years earlier, concluded that daily use of a fruit/vegetable concentrate is able to reduce the immediate effects of a high-fat meal on the activity and function of blood vessels.  (Plotnick. 2003)  It added that taking a high dose of the antioxidant vitamins C and E immediately prior to a high-fat feast could blunt the effects, as well, although the scientists were more interested in the power of foods than in the power of supplements.

The danger of taking this good news to heart (no pun intended) is the accidental consumption of too many calories, which, themselves, are deleterious in high numbers.  The inner lining of blood vessels, the endothelium, is grossly insulted by a fat attack, and the response happens so fast that it can be documented a couple of hours after eating.  Blood vessels act abnormally after high-fat meals and fail to dilate in response to blood flow.  This activity is attributed to oxidation and the immediate accumulation of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins.  (Plotnick. 1997)

To the culinary purist, the general term, “seasonings,” might be more applicable, since spices come from the harder parts of a plant (seeds, roots, bark) and herbs come from the softer parts (leaves) and may be dried or fresh.  Spices are more common to the Eastern and tropical countries; spices to the whole planet.

Antioxidant herbs were given a hierarchical order in a study parallel to the one at Penn State, where curries (curry chicken), Italian herbs (bread), and cinnamon (biscuits) were used.  Superoxides are pro-oxidants that  need to be attenuated.  Herbs with such capability include, in descending order of efficacy, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, cumin, savory, basil, thyme, fennel, coriander, and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  (Kim. 2011)    Though vitamin C is not exactly in the category, it is the frame of reference for antioxidant activity.

Since obesity is growing faster than your money market fund, you’ll still want to control calorie intake.  Control portions and balance the meals.  But if the occasion introduces high fat content, now you know how to handle it.

References

J Nutr. 2011 Aug;141(8):1451-7. Epub 2011 Jun 22.
A high antioxidant spice blend attenuates postprandial insulin and triglyceride responses and increases some plasma measures of antioxidant activity in healthy, overweight men.
Skulas-Ray AC, Kris-Etherton PM, Teeter DL, Chen CY, Vanden Heuvel JP, West SG.

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2003 May 21;41(10):1744-9.
Effect of supplemental phytonutrients on impairment of the flow-mediated brachial artery vasoactivity after a single high-fat meal.
Plotnick GD, Corretti MC, Vogel RA, Hesslink R Jr, Wise JA.

JAMA. 1997 Nov 26;278(20):1682-6.
Effect of antioxidant vitamins on the transient impairment of endothelium-dependent brachial artery vasoactivity following a single high-fat meal.
Plotnick GD, Corretti MC, Vogel RA.

Int J Mol Sci. 2011;12(6):4120-31. Epub 2011 Jun 21.
Antioxidant activities of hot water extracts from various spices.
Kim IS, Yang MR, Lee OH, Kang SN.

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Jan;51(1):13-28.
Spices as functional foods.
Viuda-Martos M, Ruiz-Navajas Y, Fernández-López J, Pérez-Alvarez JA.

Before you eat that burger stop and think…
Just one high-fat meal can alter proper blood vessel functioning, according to a UM cardiologist

Dr. Gary Plotnick

Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. Vol. 24 (2001) , No. 10 1202
DPPH (1,1-Diphenyl-2-Picrylhydrazyl) Radical Scavenging Activity of Flavonoids Obtained from Some Medicinal Plants
Masafumi OKAWA, Junei KINJO, Toshihiro NOHARA and Masateru ONO

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Oct;50(9):822-34.
Cinnamon and health.
Gruenwald J, Freder J, Armbruester N.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Germs At The Gym

Germs at the GymPutting in time at the gym is supposed to make you healthier, but if you’re not careful, it could be the cause of an unexpected surprise—sickness.  The gym is one of the best places for pathogens (germs) to hide.  It provides germs exactly what they need to thrive and multiply:  dampness, darkness, and warmth.  While other body systems and tissues may be affected, skin is the primary site of exogenous infection.

Although the exposure of athletes to various routes of physical insult has been recognized since humans ran from predators, only in modern times has attention been paid to the specifics. That covers everything from respiratory irregularities to athlete’s foot.  Most common, however, are attacks on the skin, and these account for more than half the outbreaks of infectious diseases that occur among participants in competitive sports. It’s been noted that, “viral, bacterial and fungal infections are common in athletes due to heat, friction and contact with others,” in a study reported in Canada. (Conklin. 1990)  Lesions from herpes, tumors from molluscum, and painful plantar warts may be transmitted from surface-to-person and from person-to-person at the gym. On the upsides, there is hope because “antibiotics are effective against mild infections.”

Do you pay attention to your skin after a day at the gym?  Probably not.  You might wash it, but do you examine it? In the worst possible scenario MRSA, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, may appear.  This germ is usually associated with hospitals and nursing homes, but of late has been associated with schools, playgrounds, and your gym, but thankfully not as an epidemic.  MRSA can start as a tiny pimple and grow to the size of a softball in a short time, requiring hospitalization, surgical cleaning of the wound, stitching, and a course of antibiotics. MRSA infections commonly start at sites of visible skin trauma, such as cuts, scrapes, and abrasions, but also show up at places where there is hair, such as the back of the neck, armpit, and groin.  There have been cases of MRSA beginning on feet.  That makes sense because you tend to go barefoot in the locker room…when flip-flops are more in order.  Direct and indirect contact with the lesions and seepages of others make the skin vulnerable to a host of problems.  While MRSA may be the worst, it may also be the least likely of our worries. (Ryan. 2011)  More common are athlete’s foot, jock itch, impetigo, herpes simplex, and ringworm, among a few others.

There are preventive steps you can take. Covering any breaks in the skin is of paramount importance. It doesn’t take much for an opportunistic bacterium to worm its way in.  Do not shave prior to visiting your gym. That goes for gals as well as guys. Razor nicks open the door for infections. Do not go barefoot. The heat in the shower room, the darkness of the area, and the dampness provide the ultimate environment for the propagation of fungi and other pathogens. Wear flip-flops or water shoes. Besides, they’ll keep you from slipping on wet tiles.

It’s a nice courtesy for your gym to provide disinfectant sprays that you can use before attacking a machine or stretching on a mat. If it doesn’t, bring your own, along with paper towels.  What’s wrong with a rag?  It’ll transfer germs from one place to another.  Or bring disposable wipes.  More men than women shower at the gym. Make sure your towels are clean, and try not to use the one from your feet on the rest of your body if you’ve been barefoot or if it fell onto the locker room floor.  Don’t share towels, either.  Nor soap, unless it’s a liquid in a pump bottle.

Be religious about doing your laundry.  Don’t let wet stuff sit in your gym bag to ferment.  No matter how clean you think you are, stuff will grow there.  If you have kids, be especially vigilant.  Molluscum contagiosum is commonly seen in youngsters, usually being spread from skin to skin, but also by sharing a towel.  Meticulous hygiene is imperative.  Lots of men—more than women—walk around the locker room in the buff.  Wearing a towel places a barrier between you and the bench or any other shared surface.  The last place you want an itchy infection is where you sit.

References

Sports Med. 1990 Feb;9(2):100-19.
Common cutaneous disorders in athletes.
Conklin RJ.
Department of Dermatology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Am J Infect Control. 2011 Mar;39(2):148-50.
Are gymnasium equipment surfaces a source of staphylococcal infections in the community?
Ryan KA, Ifantides C, Bucciarelli C, Saliba H, Tuli S, Black E, Thompson LA.

AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control. Vol 37, Iss 6 , Pp 447-453, Aug 2009
A critical evaluation of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other bacteria of medical interest on commonly touched household surfaces in relation to household demographics
Elizabeth Scott, PhD; Susan Duty, RN, ScD; Karen McCue, BS

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1980 Oct;3(4):415-24.
Dermatologic aspects of sports medicine.
Levine N.

Adv Dermatol. 1989;4:29-48; discussion 49.
Sports-related skin injuries.
Basler RS.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Who Needs Electrolytes and Why?

Many people talk about electrolytes but do you have any idea what electrolyte really is? Being among the smallest of chemicals important to a cell’s function, electrolytes are crucial to the manufacturing of energy, the maintenance of membrane stability, the movement of fluids in the body, and a few other jobs, such as contracting a muscle, like the heart.

No Sweat

You know that you’ll taste salt if you lick the back of your hand after jogging or cutting grass on a hot summer day. Sodium is one of sweat’s main ingredients, along with chloride and potassium. All three are carried to the surface of the skin by the water made in sweat glands and the salt stays after the liquid evaporates. The purpose of sweating is regulation of body temperature, which is achieved by the eccrine glands that cover much of the body. An adult can easily sweat two liters an hour (Godek, 2008), up to eight liters a day (Vukasinovic-Vesic, 2015). It’s the evaporation of the water that has the cooling effect. Some animals do not have efficient sweat glands, such as dogs that have to pant to cool down, or hogs that needs to wallow in mud or cool water.

After exercise — or other cause of heavy perspiration — it’s important to restore fluid balance, especially in hot weather when it is easy to get dehydrated. Rehydration occurs only if both water and electrolytes are replaced. The amount of electrolytes lost through sweat varies from person to person. Accurately matching beverage electrolyte intake with loss through sweat is practically impossible. If you are eating at the same time as drinking plain water, this may suffice for rehydration. Otherwise, inclusion of electrolytes is essential.

What Are They and What Do They Do?

In the body, the electrolytes include sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride, and phosphate. Not all are contained — or needed — in an electrolyte replacement beverage. Sodium, the main cation outside the cell, controls total amount of water in the body, regulates blood volume and maintains muscle and nerve function. You need at least 500 mg a day. The suggested upper level is 2300 mg, but most Americans ingest more than 3000. Chloride, also from table salt, is an anion. Found in extracellular fluids, chloride, in the company of sodium, helps to maintain proper fluid balance and pressure of the various fluid compartments.

Potassium is the major cation inside the cell, where its job is to regulate heart beat and blood pressure while balancing the other electrolytes. Because it aids in transmitting nerve impulses, potassium is necessary for muscle contractions, actually the relaxation half of the contraction. Deficiency of potassium is more common than overdose, and may arise from diarrhea or vomiting, with muscle weakness and cramping being symptoms. Intake of potassium is generally much lower than the recommended 4700 mg a day, which is not surprising in light of the deficits in food caused by insulting agricultural practices. Perhaps the most under-appreciated mineral in the nutrient armamentarium is magnesium, not only a constituent of more than three hundred biochemical reactions in the body, but also a role player in the synthesis of both DNA and RNA. As an electrolyte, magnesium supports nerve and muscle function, boosts immunity, monitors heart cadence, stabilizes blood glucose, and promotes healthy bones and teeth. With half the U.S. population deficient, Mg is the orphan nutrient that is able to prevent elevated markers of inflammation (such as CRP), hypertension (It’s called nature’s calcium channel blocker), atherosclerotic vascular disease, migraines, asthma, and colon cancer (Rosanoff, 2012). Supplementation with magnesium is uncertain because absorption is inverse to intake.

Like the others, calcium is involved in muscle contraction and the transmission of nerve messages, but also in blood clotting. Calcium tells sodium to initiate a contraction so that you can pick up a pencil or scratch your nose. In opposition, magnesium tells potassium to let the pencil go or to move your arm back down. Because the heart needs calcium for a strong beat, it will pull the mineral from bone if dietary sufficiency is missing. After calcium, phosphorus — phosphate — is the most abundant mineral in the body. This anion helps to produce energy inside the cell besides being a bone strengthener. It’s a major building block of DNA and the cell membrane. Bicarbonate keeps pH in balance and is important when muscles make lactic acid from work.

Where Can I Get the Electrolytes I Need?

There are scores of electrolyte replacements on the market and entirely too many with sugar or additives. The issue with electrolytes is, in all honesty, that they taste bitter and salty. The fact that sugar is a carbohydrate hinders the processing of a hydration drink because absorption is slowed. That’s what carbohydrates do. Sugar concentrations in many sports drinks are higher than that of body fluid, so will not be readily absorbed. Plain water passes through too fast; carb-laden drinks pass too slowly. Therefore, an electrolyte balanced drink will do the job better and faster. Sodium and potassium, after all, encourage fluid retention and help to reduce urine output.

It is common knowledge that most of us gravitate to sweetness in times of dehydration; saltiness less so. But when you need rehydration, choose the real stuff, BodyBio’s E-lyte and E-lyte Sport, two electrolyte replacements that copy the mineral balance of the body. Elyte may be used as a daily addition to the diet, and is effective to restore homeostasis in times of virus-induced gastrointestinal distress for adults and children, in electrolyte deficit from uncontrolled diabetes and even for restless leg syndrome. When sodium loss is high from exercise, chose Elyte Sport.

References

Coyle EF.
Fluid and fuel intake during exercise.
J Sports Sci. 2004 Jan;22(1):39-55.

Robert W. Kenefick, PhD and Michael N. Sawka, PhD
Hydration at the Work Site
J Am Coll Nutr. October 2007; vol. 26 no. suppl 5: 597S-603S

Meurman JH, Härkönen M, Näveri H, Koskinen J, Torkko H, Rytömaa I, Järvinen V, Turunen R.
Experimental sports drinks with minimal dental erosion effect.
Scand J Dent Res. 1990 Apr;98(2):120-8.

Noble WH, Donovan TE, Geissberger M.
Sports drinks and dental erosion.
J Calif Dent Assoc. 2011 Apr;39(4):233-8.

Sports Med. 2002;32(15):959-71.
Hydration testing of athletes.
Oppliger RA, Bartok C.

Sawka MN, Montain SJ, Latzka WA.
Hydration effects on thermoregulation and performance in the heat.
Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2001 Apr;128(4):679-90.

Convertino VA, Armstrong LE, Coyle EF, Mack GW, Sawka MN, Senay LC Jr, Sherman WM.
American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Exercise and fluid replacement.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Jan;28(1):i-vii.

Rehrer NJ.
Fluid and electrolyte balance in ultra-endurance sport.
Sports Med. 2001;31(10):701-15.

Maughan RJ, Shirreffs SM.
Dehydration and rehydration in competative sport.
Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2010 Oct;20 Suppl 3:40-7

Gal Dubnov-Raza, Yair Lahavb, and Naama W. Constantinic
Non-nutrients in sports nutrition: Fluids, electrolytes, and ergogenic aids
e-SPEN, the European e-Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism. 6(4); Aug 2011: pp. e217-e222

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Maple Syrup – M’m! M’m! GOOD!

anti-diabetes maple-syrupAstounding as it may seem, maple syrup—real maple syrup—has been found to have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties. Plant researchers at the University of Rhode Island have isolated compounds from maple tree sap that are strikingly beneficial to human health. What’s more, some of these compounds are brand new, and surface only after the sap is processed into syrup.

A Science Daily report from March, 2011, announces that the University of Rhode Island medicinal plant researcher, Navindra Seeram, has discovered thirty-four new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup to be added to the twenty he found the year before, “…five of which have never been seen in nature.” The researcher is quoted, “It’s important to note that in our laboratory research we found that several of these compounds possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which have been shown to fight cancer, diabetes and bacterial illnesses.” Seeram applauds Mother Nature as the best chemist, commenting that, “…maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it.” (Science Daily; Mar. 30, 2011) Seeram’s team acknowledges that inflammation is at the center of several nefarious disease, including heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The maple syrup compounds may show medicinal promise, but the scientists suggest that consumers not consume large quantities of the syrup, but to use it instead of artificial products found in the marketplace.

The scientific names of the compounds derived from maple syrup are enough to scare you away.  With thirty or more letters and numbers, these unpronounceable words sound serious.  And they are.  Among them are phenolic compounds and plant lignans, the former having anti-oxidant properties and the latter having hormonal properties.  Of these two major constituents, the phenolics are more active (Li and Seeram. 2010), and were found to be comparable to vitamin C (Li and Seeram. 2011).

Plants make certain chemicals for themselves, often to remain protected from predation or environmental damage, as may occur from heavy metal exposure via exhaust from the electric company’s smokestack, which often contains mercury.  These beneficial chemicals transfer to us when we eat those plants, where they may act as chelators besides anti-oxidants.  The more a plant is stressed, the more it produces phenolic anti-oxidants, the bioflavonoids being the best-known among them.

Real maple syrup demonstrates quite a nutritional profile compared to the fake stuff, which is primarily high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) flavored with a synthetic ingredient.  Ounce for ounce, maple syrup has slightly fewer calories and carbohydrates than HFCS, eleven times the calcium, and more magnesium and zinc.  Plus, it tastes a whole lot better.

Two phenols in maple syrup, ethyl acetate and butanol, are able to inhibit enzymes that are relevant to Type 2 diabetes (Apostolidis. 2011), with butanol being more active.  Additionally, butanol converts to butyric acid, which plays a role in DNA transcription.  Real maple syrup is allowed to be labeled as such.  In Quebec, the largest producer of real maple syrup, the locals refer to imitation syrup as “pole syrup,” implying that it has been tapped from telephone poles.  That’s not too outlandish a comment.   In fact, a brand new compound that forms only during the processing of the sap has been named quebecol, in honor of the Province.  (Li and Seeram. J Func Food. 2011)  It is not uncommon for heat (in this case, sap boiling) to separate chemical components and then rearrange them to form something else, all mass being retained.

It had already been established that anti-oxidants reside in the leaves, bark and twigs of the maple tree, so examining the sap is a logical step.  Exposure to direct sunlight appears to enhance anti-oxidant production.  Besides Seeram, other research teams, especially from Canada, have hopped onto the maple syrup train.  Because all these scientists are headed in the same direction, why not?

References

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110330131316.htm
54 Beneficial Compounds Discovered in Pure Maple Syrup
Science Daily (Mar. 30, 2011)

J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (22), pp 11673–11679
Maple Syrup Phytochemicals Include Lignans, Coumarins, a Stilbene, and Other Previously Unreported Antioxidant Phenolic Compounds
Liya Li and Navindra P. Seeram

J. Agric. Food Chem., 2011, 59 (14), pp 7708–7716
Further Investigation into Maple Syrup Yields 3 New Lignans, a New Phenylpropanoid, and 26 Other Phytochemicals
Liya Li and Navindra P. Seeram

Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 3, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 100-106
In vitro evaluation of phenolic-enriched maple syrup extracts for inhibition of carbohydrate hydrolyzing enzymes relevant to type 2 diabetes management
Emmanouil Apostolidis, Liya Li, Chong Lee and Navindra P. Seeram

Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 3, Issue 2, April 2011, Pages 125-128
Quebecol, a novel phenolic compound isolated from Canadian maple syrup
Liya Lia and Navindra P. Seeram

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Sunflower Seeds Lower Cholesterol

plant sterols and stanolsSunflower seeds and pistachio nuts are top snacks for reducing cholesterol. Scientists have known for a long time that nuts and seeds are rich sources of phytosterols, plant compounds that are structurally related to cholesterol and may lower LDL levels. Keeping cholesterol in check may be your goal, but it’s not realistic to accomplish this without some work…as in exercise.

It’s been a few years since Science Daily first reported the news that chemists at Virginia Polytechnic Institute found the plant sterols in pistachios and sunflowers seeds to be valuable assets in the fight against rampant cholesterol numbers.  (ScienceDaily, 7 Dec. 2005. Web. 19 Aug. 2011.)  “Sesame seed and wheat germ had the highest total phytosterol content and Brazil nuts the lowest,” said scientists at VPI. (Phillips. 2005)  But these are not typically consumed as snack foods.  Sunflower seeds and pistachio nuts, on the other hand, are, and were found to be richest in these compounds.

Dietary phytosterols favorably alter cholesterol metabolism in a dose-dependent manner by reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption.  (Racette. 2010)  Even a moderate intake can be obtained from a healthy diet, without supplementation.  Of course, you have to eat the right foods.  Plants contain a large range of phytosterols, which are structural components of the cell wall.  (Plants have cell walls and cell membranes; animals just the membrane.)  What phytosterols do for plants, cholesterol does for animals.

As functional foods, plant sterols and stanols demonstrate a strong lipid-lowering effect. (Moore. 2011)  Including them as part of the diet may reduce risk for heart disease.  Studies at McGill University concentrated on patients with Type 2 diabetes and found that plant sterols had a significantly more profound effect on the cholesterol levels of Type 2 patients than on patients with high cholesterol without diabetes. (Lau. 2005)  LDL levels were lowered while the desirable HDL was relatively untouched.  Additional lipid study in Israel learned that consuming plant sterols also results in a drop in circulating insulin levels, pointing to their use as food enhancers that can reverse insulin resistance and hyperlipidemia, and possible help to control body weight.  (Ziv. 2009)

Controlling lipid levels with food or supplements is considerably more desirable than using drugs.  Suggested intake of two to three grams of these plant compounds a day, either from food, fortified foods, or supplements, can reduce lipids by almost ten percent.  (Baumgartner. 2011)  More than that affords no increased benefit.

Whether raw or roasted, sunflower seeds have a dedicated following.  Because they’re high in oil, the seeds are prone to rancidity, so refrigeration is a good idea.  They aren’t just for snacks, either.  They match pretty well with all the food groups and can really up the ante on nutrition.  Sauté them with vegetables, add them to your salads, fold them into meatloaf and mix them with baked goods and even eggs.  An ounce will give you two grams of fiber, almost half a day’s vitamin E, and a healthy ration of minerals.

References

American Chemical Society.
Sunflower Seeds, Pistachios Among Top Nuts For Lowering Cholesterol.
ScienceDaily, 7 Dec. 2005. Web. 19 Aug. 2011.

J. Agric. Food Chem., 2005, 53 (24), pp 9436–9445
Phytosterol Composition of Nuts and Seeds Commonly Consumed in the United States
Katherine M. Phillips, David M. Ruggio, and Mehdi Ashraf-Khorassani

Am J Clin Nutr January 2010 vol. 91 no. 1 32-38
Dose effects of dietary phytosterols on cholesterol metabolism: a controlled feeding study
Susan B Racette, Xiaobo Lin, Michael Lefevre, Catherine Anderson Spearie, Marlene M Most, Lina Ma, and Richard E Ostlund Jr

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2011 Aug 11. [Epub ahead of print]
Functional foods and cardiovascular disease risk: building the evidence base.
Moore LL.

Am J Clin Nutr June 2005 vol. 81 no. 6 1351-1358
Plant sterols are efficacious in lowering plasma LDL and non-HDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic type 2 diabetic and nondiabetic persons
Vivian WY Lau, Mélanie Journoud and Peter JH Jones

Lipids Health Dis. 2009 Oct 12;8:42.
A high oleic sunflower oil fatty acid esters of plant sterols mixed with dietary diacylglycerol reduces plasma insulin and body fat accumulation in Psammomys obesus.
Ziv E, Patlas N, Kalman R, Pelled D, Herzog Y, Dror T, Cohen T.

Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(9):922-32.
Plant sterols and stanols in the treatment of dyslipidemia: new insights into targets and mechanisms related to cardiovascular risk.
Baumgartner S, Mensink RP, Plat J.
Department of Human Biology, School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Glutathione: It’s Your Gut

glutathione levelsSome things are so grossly unconventional that we think they’ll never get off the ground. To the contrary is the ultimate use of waste water, but not the kind you’re thinking of. This is olive water, the leftovers from the olive grinding mill. It seems that this material is able to influence some measures of oxidative stress in humans by affecting levels of glutathione, the body’s premier endogenous (self-made) antioxidant, able to be synthesized by all cells of the body.

It has already been accepted that plant phenols are beneficial compounds. Because of increasingly sophisticated testing techniques, those in olives are receiving more and more attention as amplifiers of the body’s antioxidant capacity. A French study performed in 2009 discovered that olive mill waste water has a positive effect on plasma antioxidant potency. Ingesting a mere 2 milliliters of this benevolent elixir contributed to,”…a significant increase in total plasma glutathione concentration…,” involving, “…both the reduced and oxidized forms…”  (Visioli. 2009)  It is widely recognized that specific groups of individuals benefit substantially from increased glutathione levels, most notably the geriatric population. Research has robustly demonstrated that the natural compounds in olives and now, apparently, their waste, play important roles within the living organism.

Glutathione is made from three amino acids—cysteine, glycine, and glutamine—none of which is absolutely essential.  In times of great physical stress, such as major surgery, however, glutamine may be conditionally essential, meaning it has to come from a food or a supplement. Glutathione is your personal antioxidant powerhouse, and it pays super dividends to keep stores as healthy as possible. It’s the presence of a sulfur group on the cysteine portion of the molecule that’s at the foundation of its powerful antioxidant capacity.

Widely found in all forms of life, glutathione plays an essential role in the health of an organism. Cysteine, the businessman of the molecule, but itself a relatively insoluble entity at normal pH, needs to be part of the glutathione tripeptide to do its work. Glutathione synthesizes and repairs DNA, transports amino acids, metabolizes toxins and carcinogens, strengthens the immune system, prevents oxidative damage, and activates enzymes.  It’s pretty busy, don’t you think? Levels of glutathione increase during exercise, but fall with old age, and are found to be deficient in age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, lung and gastrointestinal disease, pre-eclampsia, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurological maladies.

Glutathione exists within cells in its reduced form (GSH), meaning it has an extra electron. In the process of neutralizing reactive oxygen species it becomes oxidized (GSSG), but reacts with another oxidized glutathione to become glutathione disulfide.  Because of enzymatic activity, glutathione is self-healing, particularly in the presence of available cysteine.  (Miller. 2002)  In healthy cells, more than ninety percent is the reduced form…and it should stay that way.  (Owen. 2010) This has strong implications for dietary habits.

Raising GSH through direct supplementation is difficult.  Research suggests that oral glutathione is not well-absorbed across the gastrointestinal tract, since it may be inactivated by peptidase enzymes in the gut.  (Witschi. 1992)  At least in the brain, GSH may be elevated by vitamin D. (Garcion. 2001)   However, the supplements, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and lipoic acid can increase GSH levels.  (Gross.1993)   (Busse. 1992)   (Shay. 2009) Ongoing research will determine the true bioavailability of oral supplementation.  In cases of Acetaminophen (Tylenol) poisoning, the number one cause of emergency room poisoning visits, the hospital will likely use NAC as an antidote.  Among health care providers, at least a little speculation has focused on the inclusion of NAC in acetaminophen tablets and capsules.

Although no specific foods contain glutathione, there are some that can elevate levels, most by virtue of their sulfur content, including animal products, red peppers, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, oats, lentils, beets, eggs, and parsley.  Because it is fundamental to a raft of physiological process, especially as an antioxidant, it’s wise to eat the foods that will ramp it up, including olives.

References

Visioli F, Wolfram R, Richard D, Abdullah MI, Crea R.
Olive phenolics increase glutathione levels in healthy volunteers.

J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Mar 11; 57(5):1793-6.

Lauren T. Miller, Walter H. Watso, Ward G. Kirlin, Thomas R. Ziegler and Dean P. Jones
Oxidation of the Glutathione/Glutathione Disulfide Redox State Is Induced by Cysteine Deficiency in Human Colon Carcinoma HT29 Cells
J. Nutr. 132:2303-2306, 2002

Owen JB, Butterfield DA.
Measurement of oxidized/reduced glutathione ratio.
Methods Mol Biol. 2010;648:269-77.

Witschi A, Reddy S, Stofer B, Lauterburg BH.
The systemic availability of oral glutathione.
Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 1992;43(6):667-9.

Garcion E, Wion-Barbot N, Montero-Menei CN, Berger F, Wion D.
New clues about vitamin D functions in the nervous system.
Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Apr;13(3):100-5.

Gross CL, Innace JK, Hovatter RC, Meier HL, Smith WJ.
Biochemical manipulation of intracellular glutathione levels influences cytotoxicity to isolated human lymphocytes by sulfur mustard.
Cell Biol Toxicol. 1993 Jul-Sep;9(3):259-67.

Busse E, Zimmer G, Schopohl B, Kornhuber B.
Influence of alpha-lipoic acid on intracellular glutathione in vitro and in vivo.
Arzneimittelforschung. 1992 Jun;42(6):829-31.

Kate Petersen Shay, Régis F. Moreau, Eric J. Smith, Anthony R. Smith, and Tory M. Hagen
Alpha-lipoic acid as a dietary supplement: Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 October; 1790(10): 1149–1160.

Wu G, Fang YZ, Yang S, Lupton JR, Turner ND.
Glutathione metabolism and its implications for health.
J Nutr. 2004 Mar;134(3):489-92.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Plate and Weight

portion controlPortion control and super-sized everything have taken their toll on the waists of the world, especially in the United States. In every town and city you’ll find an all-you-can-eat buffet within easy driving distance. If not that, how about a diner / restaurant that piles the food so high you can’t see the person across the table? The dining establishments may be feeding the frenzy, but it is the consumers who are getting out of control. And not just when eating out. Dinner plates are larger than ever, and, being good Americans, we feel obligated to empty them.

An article in the July, 2007, edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association defines at least one cause of the expanding American waistline:  overeating.  The indictment that, “…portion distortion begins as early as 3 years of age” is quite the slap.  Regardless of gender or hemisphere of residence, education or employment, portion size has the same impact.  “People tend to eat more from larger-sized restaurant portions (in the general range of 30% to 50% more) and they tend to serve themselves and eat more from larger-sized packages (in the general range of 20% to 40% more).”  It really is easy to “make room for more” when your plate is filled, when, all along, you’d have been satisfied with six ounces of spaghetti instead of the ten sitting in front of you.  All of us are unable to estimate the number of calories we’ve just eaten, and it gets harder to do as the pile of food gets taller and wider.   “…even registered nurses and dietitians—are inaccurate at estimating the calories from large portions.”  (Wansink. 2007)

Bigger is better when it comes to the size of the guardian angel that accompanies you through that dark alley downtown on your way home from the late shift.  Besides that, a pile of fifties is better when bigger.  When it comes to food, though, we need to be more aware of bigger.  Early in 2001, the Centers for Disease Control noticed that 61% of Americans are overweight, an increase from the 55% of only a few years earlier.  (Peregrin. 2001)  That can’t be blamed on the food industry, whose job is to sell food, not good nutrition.

Lots of us were taught by Mom to clean our plates.  That wasn’t too much of a concern when the dinner plate was 9 inches in diameter.  Somewhere along the line, though, it grew to ten inches, then to twelve, and, in some venues, fourteen.  We have a friend who bought a farmhouse built in the 1940’s—a real beauty, too.  When his wife tried to put the dinnerware into the built-in cabinets, the plates wouldn’t fit.  They were too big.  A little nosing around found that dinner plates were less than 9 inches in diameter back then.

Since we’re unlikely to change plates at home, we can settle for smaller servings.  But the psychological factor might make us feel deprived.  Using a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-incher will save between 100 and 500 calories a day.  A pound equates to about 3500 calories, so the  math is easy.  By swapping out plates, you can lose between 0.2 and 1.0 pounds a week.  Losing weight slowly gives you ample time to get accustomed to the new regimen…and you likely will not regain what you’ve lost.

Many Americans view eating out as a treat, meant to be a full, rewarding experience.  In a group, it’s difficult to spoil it for others by ordering an appetizer as an entrée.  On the other hand, many restaurateurs disagree, saying an appetizer is perfectly acceptable as a main meal.  Although you can’t order half a meal and expect to pay half the price, you can take it home.  With home cooked meals, in lieu of buying new dinnerware, try using a salad plate.  In a little while your appetite will shrink to fit the size of the dish… and so will your belt.

References

Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Vol 107, Is 7 , Pp 1103-1106, July 2007
Portion Size Me: Downsizing Our Consumption Norms
Brian Wansink, PhD, Koert van Ittersum, PhD

Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 101(6); Jun 2001: 620
A Super-sized Problem:  Restaurant Chains Piling on the Food
Tony Peregrin

Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 103(2); Feb 2003: 231-234
Expanding portion sizes in the US marketplace: Implications for nutrition counseling
Lisa R Young, PhD, RD and Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH

Arch Intern Med. 2007 Jun 25;167(12):1277-83.
Portion control plate for weight loss in obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a controlled clinical trial.
Pedersen SD, Kang J, Kline GA.

Plate Size Might Influence Weight Gain
MELISSA CONRAD STÖPPLER, MD
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=77662

Size of a Diet Plate
Ashley Jacob, RD
http://www.livestrong.com/ARTICLE/469270-SIZE-OF-A-DIET-PLATE/

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Hot Dog!

Processed MeatsAre we knowingly jeopardizing our collective lives? Common more to developed countries, colon cancer is the third most frequently diagnosed form of the disease. The risk in the United States is about 7%, but is based on certain factors: family history, colon polyps, and age among them. At the 2009 All-Star Game, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) posted a 48-feet-wide billboard on the highway near Busch Stadium in St. Louis proclaiming the causative nature of the lowly hot dog in colorectal disease. Why? Because processed meats have been convincingly linked to colorectal cancer.

The physicians hoped to persuade the baseball commissioner, Bud Selig, to put a warning label on hot dogs, similar to that on cigarette packs.  In fact, the billboard portrayed a handful of franks posed inside a cigarette pack, which was labeled, “Unlucky Strike.”  Krista Haynes, a dietitian for the PCRM’s Cancer project, stated that, “Baseball stadiums need to be frank about the cancer risk posed by hot dogs and other processed meats,” adding that, “Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps baseball fans and other consumers understand the health risks.”
(http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=1686)

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council projected that more than 21 million hot dogs would be sold at ball games that year.  Two years earlier, the American Institute for Cancer Research published a report showing that just one 2-ounce serving of processed meat ingested daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 21%.

To add salt to the wound—if not to the hot dog—the PCRM filed lawsuits in New Jersey against Nathan’s, Kraft/Oscar Meyer, Sara Lee and other processors for failing to warn consumers that hot dogs increase the risk of colon cancer.

Hot dogs were probably chosen because of their ubiquity.  Colorectal cancer is not the only disease linked to processed meats.  So, too, are pancreatic, breast, and prostate cancers.  In past years, conventional medicine blamed the saturated fat content of processed meats for risk of disease, but it ignored what are probably worse offenders:  toxins in the fats and, more importantly, additives.

Fats accumulate whatever toxins to which they have been exposed over the lifetime of an animal…or person.  Considering that a cow eats tons of grass in its lifetime, it collects and concentrates toxicants that fell in the rainfall, were sprayed on crops ten miles away (or farther), or that showed up in its man-made supplemental feed.  Heavy metals, pesticides, and even PCB’s have been found in meat, and not just from cattle.

The additives in processed meats include substances that are identified as being carcinogenic, especially the nitrites.  The stuff that meat packers put into sausages and hot dogs makes a list much too detailed to be addressed in this epistle, so attention will be put on what is most likely to cause colorectal cancer.  This does not necessarily apply to red meat—meat from four legs—that is unprocessed.

Nitrites and nitrates historically came into use as naturally occurring contaminants in salt.  People found that meats cured with these contaminants tasted better than meats without them.  After they were identified, nitrites and nitrates (synthetic, of course) were added on purpose.  Both can be toxic, and have to be used carefully.  Natural nitrites come from the breakdown of plant material, particularly from root crops and leaves.  Celery provides a natural source, and is deemed safer than the man-made material, which is cheaper.   Besides adding flavor, they act as antioxidants to prevent rancidity, and they stop bacteria from taking residence in your canned ham.  Think botulism.  Nitrates are not as effective as their cousins until they are broken down into nitrites by micro-organisms.  The problems surface when nitrites form nitrosamines in the digestive system and get into the bloodstream to raise havoc with internal organs.  The government tried to ban this ingredient in the 1970’s, but succumbed to the pressures of the meat industry, which cried that there was no alternative.

Proteins naturally break down into amines and they will mate with nitrites under the right conditions to make nitrosamines.  Such exists in the environs of human stomach acid.  The high cooking temperatures of frying can enhance the formation of nitrosamines.  Ascorbic acid, aka vitamin C, controls the production of this compound, and has been added to some processed meats for a few years.  Canadian cancer scientists discovered that adding salt to processed meats at the table further intensifies the carcinogenic nature of the initial product.  In this case, the list of affected organs expands to include the stomach, bladder, kidneys, and blood (leukemia).  (Hu. 2011)  The possibility of stroke and coronary heart disease are other additions.  (Micha. 2010)

Though it seems that simple red meat is blameless, its cooking process makes a difference.  High-temperature cooking and excessive charring, especially in well-done meats from the grill, add to the burden of cancer risk.  (Sinha. 1999)  This means that nitrite-laden hot dogs need to escape the charring that many people find alluring.

Hot dogs and most other sausage-type meats are normally gray, just like fresh kielbasa or Italian sausage.  People associate the color of their food with quality, red in the case of hot dogs. Nitrates are color fixers besides color enhancers.  Since the USDA and other agencies seem more interested in promoting the interests of industry than the health of the public, we are responsible for assuming our own safety strategies.  Taking vitamin C, and maybe even vitamin E, prior to a nitrite meal is a protective strategy that prevents the formation of nitrosamines.  (Tannenbaum. 1989)  (Tannenbaum and Wishnok. 1991)

References

http://www.pcrm.org/search/?cid=1686
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.  Aug. 2009
Hot Dogs Strike Out at All-Star Game and in New Jersey

Eur J Cancer Prev. 2011 Mar;20(2):132-9.
Salt, processed meat and the risk of cancer.
Hu J, La Vecchia C, Morrison H, Negri E, Mery L;
Canadian Cancer Registries Epidemiology Research Group.
Collaborators (8)Paulse B, Dewar R, Dryer D, Kreiger N, Whittaker H, Robson D, Fincham S, Le N.

Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 1989;30:109-13.
Preventive action of vitamin C on nitrosamine formation.
Tannenbaum SR.

Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):247S-250S.
Inhibition of nitrosamine formation by ascorbic acid.
Tannenbaum SR, Wishnok JS, Leaf CD.
SourceMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2010 Jul;3(7):852-64. Epub 2010 Jun 8.
Meat processing and colon carcinogenesis: cooked, nitrite-treated, and oxidized high-heme cured meat promotes mucin-depleted foci in rats.
Santarelli RL, Vendeuvre JL, Naud N, Taché S, Guéraud F, Viau M, Genot C, Corpet DE, Pierre FH.
SourceUniversité de Toulouse, ENVT, INRA, UMR Xénobiotiques, France.

Circulation. 2010; 121: 2271-2283
Expand+Epidemiology and Prevention
Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus  A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Renata Micha, RD, PhD; Sarah K. Wallace, BA; Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Cell Phones and Cancer

cell phones and cancerThey are called international experts. They work for the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization (WHO), and are highly respected in their field. Their recent statement about cell phones and their relationship to cancer has drawn a ho-hum reaction from the garrulous public. This august body has reviewed possible connections between the kind of electromagnetic radiation in cell phones and irregularities in body tissues that might cause brain tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous, and tumors of the auditory nerves and salivary glands.

Oddly, last year’s studies on the same topic found no direct link of cell phone use to tumor formation anywhere in the body. But there are groups that recoil at the hint of the slightest relationship. Studies conducted in Europe, the United States and New Zealand found that brain tumor patients had not used their cell phones any more often than unaffected persons. Most of the studies fail to show a dose-response relationship, such as would be sought in drug trials. What has been shown in Swedish studies is an increased risk for tumors on the side of the head where the cell phone was held, especially with ten or more years of use. Nonetheless, the WHO team grouped cell phones with category 2B carcinogens that include internal combustion exhausts and DDT, as well as postmenopausal estrogen-progesterone therapy, potassium bromate (a bread additive banned in Europe, Canada, the UK and Brazil, but not in the U.S.), and fiberglass, all of these being modified by the term, “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Some of the verifiable dangers of cell phone use include crashing into your garage door, misjudging the arc of a left-hand turn, and getting a ticket in a venue that outlaws the use of such a device while driving.  None of these, however, is 100% predictable.  There are too many “ifs” to allow a definitive answer.

When they became widely available in the early 1990’s, cell phones were suddenly de rigueur.  From the outset they emanated radio waves, the frequencies of which fall between microwaves and FM radio waves.  This might make you feel as though you were caught between a rock and a hard place, being forced to make a decision between your jazz station and the TV dinner.

Your cell phone is more a glorified walkie-talkie defined by a geographical grid in which it will work.  Inside the myriad grids are cells that cover smaller areas.  Each cell uses a set of frequencies to provide service in its specific zone.  Because the power of these frequencies is controlled according to distance from the tower, thus limiting range, the same frequencies may be used in neighboring cells.  Modern antennas are wireless, so they may be set up almost anywhere:  church steeples, trees, atop flagpoles and on tall buildings.  They can even be blocked by trees and topography, just like radio waves.  Your cell message may be routed through the air to a landline, and then through the air again to the person you are calling.  Other times the message goes from your phone to the transmission tower, and then to your recipient.

If you happen to be moving while conversing, the signal weakens as you leave your cell.  At that point your call is handed over to an antenna with a stronger signal.  As long as wireless providers get along with each other, your signal may be relayed to a different provider than yours, who then keeps you in touch.  This is called roaming.

Cell phones cannot cause cancer by directly affecting DNA.  These radio frequency waves are not nearly so strong as x-rays or ultra-violet light.  They are non-ionizing, like visible light waves, heat waves, and FM radio waves.  However, what they do is to heat up the body’s tissues, just as the microwave does to your Idaho potato.  Heating from the inside out, a microwave causes molecules to vibrate and to rub against each other—friction.  This creates the heat that cooks your dinner.  In this cooking technique, a medium-rare piece of meat would be cooked on the inside and pink on the outside, exactly the opposite of what happens inside a broiler, oven, or sauté pan.  Purportedly, the same action occurs when you use a cell phone.  You get hot in the head, if only by a fraction of a degree.  It is speculated that this affects only the cornea of the eye (which, because of lack of vascularization, has no blood vessels to keep it cooled down) more than the rest of the head.  Yet, no cataracts or other pathologies have been noticed.

There is no definitive answer to this poser other than an increase in glucose metabolic activity at the site of cell phone-head contact.   The significance of that is unknown.  People with pacemakers have no special warnings to follow, even if the garage door opens when they cough.  Nonetheless, it is advised that they keep their cell phones out of breast pockets, which is the equivalent of staying indoors to avoid being hit by a meteor or Mary Poppins.

If you have concerns about this issue, you might want to limit cell phone usage.  If you’re a teenager reading this, forget it. You won’t listen, anyway.  You could opt to move the antenna away from your head, which means you either have to yell with all your might and listen really, really hard, or use some kind of hands-free device.  Another option is to buy a phone that gives off very low levels of electromagnetic waves.  What about cordless phones in the house, you know, the kind with a base set and a wireless handset that is lost somewhere in the sofa cushions?  Not a problem, since their power is only .17% (that’s 17/100 percent) of a cell phone.  The last alternative is two tin cans and a string, a very long string.  Except for chemistry, physics and mathematics, most sciences are not as exact as we would like them to be, and reports of their research are sometimes confusing, contradictory, or both.  In some circles these sciences are called practices.

References

International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (April 1998).
Guidelines For Limiting Exposure To Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, And Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz) (PDF).
Health Physics 74 (4): 494–505.

Schüz, J; Jacobsen, R; Olsen, JH; Boice, JD; McLaughlin, JK; Johansen, C (December 2006). Cellular Telephone Use and Cancer Risk: Update of a Nationwide Danish Cohort.
Journal of the National Cancer Institute 98 (23): 1707–1713.

Interphone Study Group (2010).
Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: Results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study.
International Journal of Epidemiology 39 (3): 675–694.

Volkow, Nora D.; Tomasi, Dardo; Wang, Gene-Jack; Vaska, Paul; Fowler, Joanna S.; Telang, Frank; Alexoff, Dave; Logan, Jean et al. (2011).
Effects of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Signal Exposure on Brain Glucose Metabolism.
JAMA 305 (8): 808–13.

Comments on the Danish cohort study on mobile phones (in German).
Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz [Federal Office for Radiation Protection].
2007-02-22. Retrieved 2010-09-23.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Calorie Restriction Extends Lifespan

calorie restrictionCalorie restriction (CR) in animals extends longevity by a considerable margin. Both primary and secondary aging processes are decelerated by limiting foods to those that are high in nutrients and relatively low in calories. Studies on humans are only now in progress, while those in animals have been unfolding for a few years. One of the boons of CR is a lowered core body temperature, which is that at which all physiological activity is most efficient. Not only this, but also fat reduction and consequent cardiac health can defer the foibles and imperfections of old age.

Studies at Washington University (St. Louis, MO) and the U. of California at San Francisco, sponsored in part by the Calorie Restriction Society, have found that” (calorie) restriction in animals seems to be the fountain of youth…” Studies on people may or may not yield the same results, primarily because free-living humans are not accepting of the same externally imposed restrictions as are endured by the animals. Human variables that need to be addressed include alterations in cognitions, behaviors, responses to stressors, and effects on other markers of health. However, humans have shown some of the same “…adaptations that are…involved in slowing primary aging in rats and mice.” Most notable here is a reduction in the inflammatory markers known as C-reactive protein and Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha.

Primary aging is the gradual and inevitable process of physical deterioration that occurs throughout life.  You know, the aches and pains, the slowed movements, the loss of 20-20 vision, decreased resistance to infections, impaired hearing, and the rest of the baggage.  Secondary aging results from diseases and poor health practices (read lifestyle) that include smoking, torpor, booze and obesity, all of which can contribute to diseases in the first place.

Does CR work in people?  Yes, as long as it is reasonable…and that varies from person to person.  Decreasing calorie intake by only a few hundred can make a significant difference in health and longevity by reducing body fat, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and avoiding degenerative diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.  Don’t forget about lowered body temperature, where the Washington University researchers learned that life expectancy was increased in animals. (Soare, 2011)  Of course, we can’t definitely tell how this affects people because we don’t know when each is programmed to die.  It is such, however, that family history of salubrious long life can be predictive of an individual’s longevity.

You might be interested to know that a nutritional supplement demonstrates an effect that mirrors calorie restriction.  We advise that you not yet jump for joy without the realization that this needs to be approached sensibly, which means being attentive to calorie intake. You can’t go wild on doughnuts, white flour bagels, ice cream and other culinary nonsense. You see, the mechanism behind calorie restriction’s success is not completely understood, but it is presumed that a protein called sirtuin is responsible for control of the aging process, and that CR directs the activity of sirtuin. Part of the aging procedure involves cellular stress, particularly in the mitochondria, the power plants of the cell that make energy. If we can slow down oxidation by ramping up the mitochondria’s defense mechanisms and simultaneously inhibiting the attack of reactive oxygen species, then we might be able to stave off the pangs of aging.  How do we do that without restriction of calories?  What supplement is held in such high regard? Resveratrol, the red wine polyphenol!

Independent of each other, Zoltan Ungvari (2009) and Thimmappa Anekonda (2006) discovered that resveratrol may have therapeutic value in the treatment of metabolic and neuronal diseases, based at least partially on the activity of sirtuin.  What is known about resveratrol’s mechanism of action is that it encourages the sirtuin homologue SIRT1 to ply its trade as a cellular regulator, where it slows down metabolism and any stimulatory reactions to environmental toxins, thus placing an organism into a defensive state so it can survive adverse circumstances.  Tobacco smoke-induced oxidative stress even becomes minimized.

We are individuals with different needs and responses to interventions, whether dietary or medical.  You will differ in your response to calorie restriction from your twin. You will differ in your response to resveratrol, if that is the route you choose.  But it seems more than likely you will experience a strengthened immune system, heightened energy, a healthier reproductive system, increased stamina…and looser trousers.

References

Exp Gerontol. 2007 Aug;42(8):709-12. Epub 2007 Mar 31.
Caloric restriction in humans.
Holloszy JO, Fontana L.

Toxicol Pathol. 2009;37(1):47-51. Epub 2008 Dec 15.
Caloric restriction and aging: studies in mice and monkeys.
Anderson RM, Shanmuganayagam D, Weindruch R.

Aging (Albany NY). 2011 Apr;3(4):374-9.
Long-term calorie restriction, but not endurance exercise, lowers core body temperature in humans.
Soare A, Cangemi R, Omodei D, Holloszy JO, Fontana L.

Free Radic Biol Med. 2011 Apr 22. [Epub ahead of print]
The controversial links among calorie restriction, SIRT1, and resveratrol.
Hu Y, Liu J, Wang J, Liu Q.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2008 Jun;294(6):H2721-35. Epub 2008 Apr 18.
Vasoprotective effects of resveratrol and SIRT1: attenuation of cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress and proinflammatory phenotypic alterations.
Csiszar A, Labinskyy N, Podlutsky A, Kaminski PM, Wolin MS, Zhang C, Mukhopadhyay P, Pacher P, Hu F, de Cabo R, Ballabh P, Ungvari Z.

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009 Nov;297(5):H1876-81. Epub 2009 Sep 11.
Resveratrol attenuates mitochondrial oxidative stress in coronary arterial endothelial cells.
Ungvari Z, Labinskyy N, Mukhopadhyay P, Pinto JT, Bagi Z, Ballabh P, Zhang C, Pacher P, Csiszar A.

Brain Res Rev. 2006 Sep;52(2):316-26.
Resveratrol–a boon for treating Alzheimer’s disease?
Anekonda TS.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.